Toronto – Energize Your Vacation With Sights, Sounds & Food
My love of big cities goes beyond U.S. borders, and one that always energizes me is Toronto. It is the only city in North America that, like New York, has electricity in the air. And Toronto, also like Manhattan, is a great business center and tourist destination.
The image that often comes to mind when people think of Toronto is the CN Tower. It is the world’s tallest freestanding structure at 553 meters (1,815 feet) and a good place to start your visit. From its observation deck, you can identify the sights and various neighborhoods to take in during your vacation. In addition to being Toronto’s most famous tourist attraction, the CN tower was designed with functionality in mind; on its roof are the antennas for 6 TV and 10 FM stations. The CN Tower also contains the world’s largest revolving restaurant, which turns a full 360 degrees every 72 minutes.
The CN Tower is located near the Harbourfront, facing Lake Ontario. In the 1980’s, the area came alive with new parks, walkways, hotels, apartments and cafes. The Molson Amphitheatre is an open-air concert venue at the Harbourfront, where performances take place on summer evenings.
A couple of important structures sit a short distance from the Harbourfront. If you’ve been to Canada, you have likely heard the name Rogers, the communications giant, similar in stature to Comcast in the U.S. The Rogers Centre, the first stadium in the world with a fully-retractable roof, is home to baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. The nearby Metro Toronto Convention Center houses large-scale trade and consumer exhibitions.
A very distinctive building downtown is the Toronto City Hall. It consists of two crescent-shaped office towers and still has an ultra-modern look after being in service for 46 years. Its contrast with the city’s elegant Old City Hall, built in the 19th century, is absolutely striking.
Toronto has its share of excellent museums, the most acclaimed of which is the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), specializing in art, archaeology and natural science. Its new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal wing has a dramatic interior and houses cutting-edge galleries. Other ROM highlights include a spectacular dinosaur gallery and China temple art.
One of my favorite Toronto attractions is Casa Loma, which sits on a hill well north of downtown. The main reason for my infatuation with Casa Loma is probably its architectural splendor. The Greek revival mansion was the dream of Toronto businessman Sir Henry Pellatt, who made his fortune in the hydroelectric and railroad industries. When completed in 1914 at a cost of $3.5 million, Casa Loma was the largest residence in North America.
Yorkville, just north of downtown, is an oasis of Victorian houses as well as art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. The neighborhood is a perfect place to relax at an outdoor cafe, enjoy a fine dining experience; or shop at exclusive retailers such as Gucci, Hugo Boss and Cole Haan.
In the 1990’s, a wave of prosperous Chinese emigrated from Hong Kong and relocated to Toronto, helping make the city’s Chinatown the second-largest in North America. The area is located on Spadina Avenue between College and Dundas streets. Restaurants offering delicious Asian fare as well as stores and sidewalk stalls evoke a feeling of being in Hong Kong.
Toronto is an excellent restaurant town, especially if your tastes lean toward Italian, French or Mediterranean cuisine, but it’s not the place for seafood lovers. Toronto rivals New York for the quality of its bagels.