Toronto Insider: Head downtown – wait a minute, you’re already there

Eaton Centre Toronto ()

Above: Toronto’s Eaton Centre (credit wikicommons)

Shop till you drop

You have to go to the Toronto Eaton Centre. Built in 1977, the Eaton’s chain filed for bankruptcy in 1999 with assets acquired by Sears Canada Inc., but the centre has kept it’s name. It’s huge and it’s one of Canada’s best-know shopping spots – with more than 230 retailers, including everyone from Apple and Starbucks to Swarovski and Sunglass Hut, with Sak’s Fifth Avenue on the way. 

Um, does shopping make you hungry? 

Check out the St. Lawrence Market. There’s a reason why National Geographic ranked this market #1 in the world. Yeppers, in the world. Toronto’s oldest and largest indoor market housed in a historic building features some of the very best food you can buy – everything from incredible fruits and veggies to flowers and coffee. Also, head to the Carousel Bakery, known as the home of the award-wining World-Famous Peameal Bacon Sandwich. 

Look at beautiful things

With a huge collection of Canadian and European art and a special collection of the work of Henry Moore, the AGO is a hub of art activity. Check out the changing exhibitions and events. In October, you can view “Camera Atomica,” the first substantial exhibition of nuclear photography to encompass the entire postwar period from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011.

It’s our only castle

Originally the home of Sir Henry Pellatt, one of Edwardian Canada’s wealthiest men, Casa Loma, took 300 workmen three years to complete. Now it’s a museum and landmark, so you can tour the house, walk around the lovely gardens and take in a breathtaking panorama of the city. And while you’re here, visit Spadina House, just a few steps away and see how Torontonians lived in the 1920s and ’30s. 

Under the sea

It’s Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and with galleries such as Canadian Waters, Dangerous Lagoon, Planet Jellies and Stingray Bay, you will be amazed at the life that goes on underwater – like barracudas, giant sharks, moray eels and adorable little seahorses. Give yourself two to three hours to walk through the aquarium, hop on a moving glide path and watch dive shows.

Does looking at fish make you want to eat them? 

I ask only because sometimes that happens to me sometimes. If so, go west on College Street, OK at #797 College St. W. It’s a little west of downtown, but worth the trip to Bar Isabel. It’s a cosy place with Spanish influence, creative plates and craft beers. Enjoy fresh oysters as an appetizer, then go for roasted king crab, halibut or half a grilled octupus. Or if you are starving, treat yourself to a whole octopus.

It’s full of flowers

It’s a small urban park and an indoor botanical garden with six greenhouses comprising more than 16,000 square feet. The conservatory, designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, was built in 1910, and features plants and flowers from around the world, a permanent collection of exotic plants and beautiful seasonal flower shows. 

In the heart of the downtown waterfront

Harbourfront Centre brings together the best in Canadian culture and the rich mosaic of cultures from within our country and around the world. Shopping, sailing, powerboating, theatres, restaurants and a public gallery of contemporary visual art, The Power Plant, all live here happily. But it’s also fun just to walk around the 10-acre site, nestled along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Ontario. 

It’s like a home away from home

No, you won’t find it on Airbnb, but the Fairmont Royal York luxury hotel is just what a hotel should be: Opened in 1929, the Château-style building was the tallest building in Toronto at that time with 28 floors lol. Just visit this beautiful place, please, if only for a drink at the Library Bar, brunch at Epic restaurant or dinner at Benihana Japanese Steakhouse. 

OK, seriously, last word about food

David Chang’s Momofuku, a cool collection of eating spots in the Shangri-La Hotel, starts with the Noodle Bar. If you can get it together because you have to order it 24 hours ahead, get the fried chicken, a large-format meal, feeding four to eight people, including two whole fried chickens, one southern-style and one Korean-style. Two more restaurants: Shoto offers tasting menus and Daisho is fantastic for people with lots of money to blow on dinner. Then head upstairs to the Milk Bar for a slice of crack pie, aptly named and, really, the way most Torontonians enjoy their crack.

If you haven’t yet booked your place at the FIPP World Congress, which takes place on 13-15 October 2015 in Toronto, find out how to do so here.

Any questions?

Get in touch with FIPP’s events manager, Claire Jones.

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