The Toronto Guide
Just an hour-long flight from JFK, Canada’s largest city is both refreshingly urban and small town, with its network of singular neighborhoods making up what is arguably one of the most underrated destinations around. There’s opportunity for everything, be it let-your-hair-down revelry, a world-class food crawl, or a quick change of scenery for vacation-drunk kiddos. Every street corner is occupied by a cozy café, microbrewery, sustainability-focused restaurant, or any one of the many gems that make up Toronto’s culture scene. While the long winters are glacial at best, the whole place hums with the kind of subzero-induced energy that makes spending the bulk of your time indoors a blast.
Aga Khan Museum77 Wynford Drive, Don Mills | 416.646.4677
Light served as the main inspiration for Pritzker Prize–winning architect Fumihiko Maki when tackling this commission. Situated on seventeen acres, the building is saturated with light, and, depending on the time of day, it animates the walls with color. The museum, a passion project of Aga Khan (a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad), is meant to foster a mutual understanding and respect between cultures, and to highlight the creative contributions of Islam. The collection comprises over 1,000 pieces of art, pottery, manuscripts, and drawings.
Art Gallery of Ontario317 Dundas St. W., Grange Park | 416.979.6648
Reimagined in 2008 by Frank Gehry (who incidentally grew up just down the street), the AGO's exterior resembles a giant wood-framed glass ship gliding through the city. The permanent collection is equally impressive, with over 5,000 Inuit works, Postimpressionist and Dutch Master paintings, plus the biggest collection of Henry Moore sculptures anywhere in the world (reason alone to visit). If you haven’t caught it in Copenhagen or LA, the traveling Yayoi Kusama exhibit arrived at the AGO in March 2018.
Daniel Faria Gallery188 St. Helens Ave., Brockton Village | 416.538.1880
After several years honing his craft, Daniel Faria, a veteran of the Toronto gallery scene, was ready to go it alone. His namesake gallery—housed in a rapidly gentrifying part of town in what was once a body shop—now plays host to Canadian and international artists, like Douglas Coupland. The high-ceilinged, open space is a perfect match for the large-scale installations and performance pieces that come through. If you miss out on a visit while in you're in town, the gallery has a presence at almost all the international art fairs.
After undergoing a full hipster-inflected gentrification, this part of town is packed with some of the city's coolest bars, eateries, and shops. A maze of streets and alleyways is packed with brightly hued Victorian-era houses and standouts including April Bloomfield's Blackbird Bakery and Oddity Kombucha.
Scarborough BluffsScarborough Bluffs, Toronto
High above Lake Ontario, about a forty-minute drive northeast of central Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs make for an ideal outdoorsy day trip from the city in nice weather. The nine-mile-long stretch of glacial cliffs contain several parks for hiking, biking, or picnicking on a grassy lawn overlooking the water. Our favorite park, Bluffers, has direct access to the lake with a long, wide, and beautiful beach. It can get crowded during the height of summer, which makes early fall and late spring the best times to visit. Image courtesy of todocanada.ca.
The Royal Ontario Museum100 Queens Park, Yorkville | 416.586.8000
A serious cultural destination, the Royal Ontario Museum consistently has an enviable roster of exhibits, plus a notable permanent collection under its belt. With no specific focus, the permanent galleries span African and Middle Eastern art, Chinese architecture, ancient dinosaurs and mammals, Bronze Age artifacts, and textiles to name a few. Recent exhibits have included a retrospective of Christian Dior haute couture, an exploration of the Vikings (perfect for kiddos), and a unique examination of the role played by architecture in Auschwitz titled The Evidence Room.