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Toronto

5 Reasons Why You Should Take the Train Across Canada

By BRITTANY HENDRY

The Canadian passing through Alberta (Photo: Jamie McCaffrey)

Via Rail’s long-standing passenger route across our homeland, aptly named The Canadian, is one of the most exquisite ways to experience the vast space between Toronto and Vancouver. Covering 4,466km, the train offers incredible views of the Rockies, the Coast Mountains, the Prairies and the pre-Cambrian shield. Here, we offer the five top reasons to experience this unforgettable journey.

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The 7 Most Luxurious Hotels in Toronto

By LINDA LUONG

Toronto's Most Luxurious Hotels

A luxury hotel, Toronto style: the lobby of the Trump Tower (Photo: David Wittaker)

1. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto
The Donald’s sole Canadian property is worth $500 million, and exudes opulence extravagance from the penthouse straight down to the lobby, where guests are surrounded by black marble cladding and can admire the Swarovski crystal sculpture behind the front desk. At 65 storeys, the building holds the title for tallest Canadian residential building. There are 261 guest rooms and suites at this luxurious Toronto hotel, plus 118 condo units for residents. The luxury isn’t just for guests, though. Anyone with the funds can broker a deal at the aptly named Stock Restaurant Bar and Lounge, have a nightcap at Suits Lobby Lounge (where a stock market ticker can be found behind the bar) or get pampered at Quartz Crystal Spa, which is located on the 31st and 32nd floors and offers expansive views of the Toronto skyline. Guests are also invited to swim laps in the heated 65-foot-long infinity pool designed with Calacatta marble and to rest their heads on Italian Bellino linen. Looking for a place to host a luxurious event in Toronto hotel? There’s a 12,000 square-foot grand ballroom with ornate black chandeliers that will be sure to impress your invitees.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto, 325 Bay St., 416-306-5800, trumphotelcollection.com/toronto, map and reviews

See the rest of our guide to the most luxurious hotels in Toronto »

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Things to Do With Kids in Toronto: 21 Children-Friendly Attractions

By EVA VOINIGESCU

Things to Do in Toronto With Kids

21 things to do with kids in Toronto: Canada’s Wonderland, with it’s enormous water park, makes our list (Photo: WomEOS)

When looking for things to do with kids in Toronto, visitors can be overwhelmed with options. Luckily, many of Toronto’s most interesting attractions for adults—museums, galleries, historic sites—also have special programs or areas for children. Many have great group rates, too, meaning family fun doesn’t have to strain your travel budget. Our Toronto experts have compiled this list of 21 fun things to do with kids in the city, all at reliable, long-standing attractions designed to put a smile on a child’s face.

See the list of 21 things to do with kids in Toronto »

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Vintage Stores in Toronto: 10 Top Shops With Unique Finds

By EVA VOINIGESCU

Vintage Stores Toronto

Vintage stores in Toronto take many shapes—like Love the Design, an interiors store in Leslieville

Toronto has no lack of high-end shops—Chanel, Hugo Boss, Holt Renfrew—but the shopper looking for affordable and unique pieces should turn to the other side of the retail market: vintage stores. Toronto is blessed with many such shops, and they run the gamut from clothes to house wares, and from menswear to womenswear. Here, our list of top Toronto vintage stores, organized by product.

See our compilation of vintage stores in Toronto »

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Best Toronto Restaurants of 2012

Best Toronto Restaurants

Best Toronto Restaurants 2012: a pizza from F’amilia, our pick for the best new Italian restaurant (Photo: Renée Suen)

Toronto restaurants have always produced great chefs. Traditionally, they’ve learned their trade at the city’s top kitchens—places like Scaramouche, Splendido and Canoe—and then left the city to work in Europe or the U.S. Over the past five years, though, something incredible has happened: they have stayed or come back, opening casual-chic restaurants in their own backyards. This past year has continued the tred, making our round-up the best Toronto restaurants to open in the past 12 months all the better.

See our list of the 10 best Toronto restaurants of 2012 »

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Porter Airlines is Still King of the Island (Airport)

Free coffee and water in the lounge at the Island Airport in Toronto (Photo: Tom Purves)

When Air Canada moved back to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport last year, flying a limited number of routes from the downtown terminal, business travellers collectively wondered if the good days were over. With multiple carriers using the island airport, would the free cappuccinos, wifi and newspapers—always provided by boutique Porter Airlines, previously the island’s only carrier—now a thing of the past?

The answer is no. On a recent flight, the departure lounge was busier than it was in former days, but it still offered all those endearing perks. And while Air Canada is there, this is still clearly Porter’s show. The airline operates the majority of flights here, and dominates the prime spots in the lounge. There have even been additions, most notably a grab-and-go sandwich and salad spot.

The bottom line: while it may be a little harder to find a seat, flying Porter from Billy Bishop is still a pleasure.

—Tim Johnson

 

Best Stargazing Spots at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival

By KAREN CLEVELAND

There are better ways to spot celebs at TIFF than by waiting behind the red-carpet ropes (Photo: Christopher Harte)

Toronto is truly at its finest when it plays host to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) each September. The streets buzz with pride as locals share their favourite haunts with an influx of visitors. And while stars are masters at surreptitiously sneaking through the streets unnoticed, frequenting some key spots just might increase the odds of finding yourself accidentally-on-purpose across the room from your most admired luminary. (more…)

Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral at Dusk

Every Friday we feature an inspirational travel photo of a Canadian destination taken by one of our readers.

Why we chose it: Now that winter is nearly here, it can be depressing to see the skies darken in the afternoon. But if we all had this view from our balconies, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. In capturing a gorgeous combo of man-made and natural light, the (lucky) photographer, who took this photo from home, makes Canada’s largest metropolis look downright cozy.

Want to be featured in our Photo Friday? Join our Flickr Group and upload your favourite travel shots! We’ll credit you and link to your photo.

Photo by BriYYZ.

Is Montreal-Based BIXI Going Bust?

Photo by tcp909

By Carissa Bluestone

Popular bike-sharing network BIXI is experiencing more shakeups in its home city only several months after Montreal’s government approved a $108 million bailout to cover the company’s deficits. On Friday, CEO Roger Plamondon resigned amid controversy over the deal with the city.

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Coming Soon to Toronto: Canada’s First Urban National Park

Rouge Valley Park. Photo by Paul Henman.

On Wednesday, the Canadian government started the ball rolling on Canada’s next national park—Rouge Valley, in the Greater Toronto Area. A preliminary “visioning” workshop was attended by park stakeholders: representatives from the Province of Ontario, local municipalities and community groups.

Not mentioned among the workshop attendees was David Suzuki, longtime proponent of a Rouge Valley national park.

The government’s intention to upgrade Rouge Valley Park to national park status was first introduced in June’s Speech from the Throne. Among the details to be hammered out: the park’s boundaries, which could expand well beyond the current 12,000 acres.

Rouge National Park will be Canada’s first urban national park, and will be easily accessible to a fifth of Canada’s population who live in and around Toronto.

Getting to the Sweet Spot in BIXI Bike Pricing

Photo by Ian Muttoo

By Amanda Yiu

Montreal-based bike-sharing company BIXI, which launched in Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston in the past few months, may be expanding to Vancouver in the near future, and plans for a 10,000-fleet New York City launch are set for next summer.

BIXI has grown rapidly since first launching in Montreal in 2009, beginning operations in Toronto, Ottawa and Boston in the past four months and rolling out overseas in 2010, in London, Melbourne and DC. The bike-sharing program is undeniably popular, with more than 3 million BIXI trips taken since the beginning of 2010.

For visitors, borrowing a bike at a pay-as-you-go rate can be a fabulous way to explore the city. But be sure to keep your ride short. A friend visiting from Australia last month made the mistake of taking out a BIXI bike in Toronto for the full day and ended up paying over $100 in usage fees. As the breakdown of non-subscriber fees (below) shows, long trips can add up quickly. (Subscribers can pay $95 for a one-year membership, waiving the $5 daily flat fee, but the same time-of-use rates still apply.)

BIXI fees for 8 hours of continuous usage:

$5 flat 24-hour access fee (includes first 30 minutes)

+ $1.50 for 31–60 min

+ $4 for 61–90 min

+ $104 for additional 6.5 hours ($8 x 13 half-hour increments)

= $113.50 before tax

Additionally, a $250 security deposit is charged to your credit card and refunded after 10 days.

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Interview With DobbernationLoves’ Andrew John Virtue Dobson

Dobson at a noodle house in Tokyo, Japan.

Andrew John Virtue Dobson started his blog DobbernationLoves (on Twitter: @dobbernation) after his first solo backpacking trip through Europe. The Toronto-based blogger’s day job is at Planeterra Foundation, the charitable arm of Gap Adventures, the Canadian-based travel company that hosts tours around the globe. The blog’s title is a clever play on Dobber (a nickname) and Nation (which he sees as “an authoritative stance on what I was doing and where I was going”). Dobson describes DobbernationLoves as a “lifestyle blog with an encyclopedia’s worth of information on travel, Toronto-based restaurants, cheese, wine and beer. I post consistently throughout the week all of the things I love, whether it be covering a fashion or arts based event, or some recipe I came up with over the weekend. I share whatever makes me smile.”

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