25 ways to explore downtown Toronto this summer
A guide to all the best spots and events in the city, from Riverdale's newest dining sensation to Trinity Bellwoods' funkiest shop
The park under the Gardiner comes to life every weekend with the Bentway Beer Garden's Sunday Social Series
Still planning that staycation? Here's an insider’s list of all the best and worst-kept secrets of downtown Toronto. Whether you crave drinks from on high with a bird’s-eye view of the city, low-key eats on Queen West, vegan beers, sketch comedy, or night markets and food festivals — it’s all here.
Tapas and Tokyo in the market
What lies beneath
Get lost in the FAIRLAND FUNHOUSE, an experiential art maze collaboration between local artists and musicians under a 1950s grocery store.
241 Augusta Ave.
Treats from the east
Japanese convenience store SUKOSHI MART carries a fine selection of imported candy, cookies and salty snacks, as well as freshly made bento boxes.
160 Baldwin St.
Time for tapas
Grilled quail, Roman bruschetta, mussels and more await to grace your plate at BONAFIDE, Kensington’s newest go-to.
209 Augusta Ave.
Crafting Kensington’s Instagrammable art maze
Parkdale’s gone plant-wild
Get your fill of danishes and cupcakes without any of the animal products at COPENHAGEN VEGAN CAFE & BAKERY — from the folks behind Doomies, in partnership with the family behind Thornhill’s Vegan Danish Bakery.
1312 Queen St. W.
If you cook it, they will come
The VEGANDALE FOOD & DRINK FESTIVAL (Aug. 11 and 12) is a two-day extravaganza devoted to all things plant-based.
250 Fort York Blvd.
Cheers to vegan beers
Bet you didn’t know that beer wasn’t already vegan. VEGANDALE BREWERY takes animals out of the equation with “morality on tap” (and beer, too).
1346 Queen St. W.
Enjoy some meat-free fun at Vegandale
View the city with drinks from on high
Swim in the sky
For unforgettable eye candy, BISHA’s rooftop patio and pool offer up the quintessential Toronto skyline view. Grab a drink, your bathing suit and plenty of sunscreen while you enjoy the cityscape on a sunny day.
80 Blue Jays Way
Unique vantage point
Although the BROADVIEW HOTEL used to house a disreputable strip club, the 127-year-old building underwent a total transformation from sketchy to luxury. The delightful rooftop patio gives visitors an eyeful of downtown from the east end of the city.
106 Broadview Ave.
CARLOTTA BAR and resto on the Beverly Hotel’s rooftop is a great vantage point for stellar downtown views and refreshing fruity cocktails.
335 Queen St. W.
Bisha’s stunning rooftop patio
Queen Street’s hottest new store and beer hall
Forage at the flea
It’s the fourth anniversary of the TRINITY BELLWOODS FLEA. The end-of-summer market takes place Sunday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Great Hall, and is Trinity’s trendy hot spot for local goods made with local love.
1087 Queen St. W.
Queen Street style
Get back to basics with KOTN, an affordable purveyor of fine Egyptian cotton, which is considered softer and more breathable. Kotn’s mission is to provide high-quality clothing and to bolster the Egyptian cotton industry.
754 Queen St. W.
A German classic
Nothing goes together quite like beer and sausages. Stop by OTTO'S BIERHALLE for a platter of bratwurst, weisswurst, schnitzel and a craft brew.
1087 Queen St. W.
The choucroute platter from Otto’s Bierhalle
Little Italy’s Western cousin has come alive
What’s old is new
An alternative to Queen Street’s commercialism, this hood has one-of-kind shops. ELEPHANT IN THE ATTIC houses a charming collection of hand-picked vintage items, artworks and objects upcycled into works of art, such as succulents in teacups.
1596 Dundas St. W.
Top gift shop
Visit SAUDADE, a small, bright shop brimming with Portuguese design to add a bit of a zhuzh to your home. Pick up one of the gorgeous charcuterie boards or pieces of hand-thrown pottery for a one-of-a kind housewarming gift.
1191 Dundas St. W.
Recent media coverage may have highlighted chef Michael Hunter as more of a controversial figure, but ANTLER is still at the top of its game. Find out what all the fuss is about with some tender Bruce Country, Ontario, venison.
1454 Dundas St W.
Saudade stocks stylish items for the home
One of T.O.’s best shopping and dining strips
How do you like them apples?
Whether your tastes skew sweet, tart or dry, CIDER HOUSE has got you covered with a wide selection of rotating craft ciders like Reinhart’s Red Apple or Ernest Honey Dry, plus a cider-friendly menu to pair.
391 Roncesvalles Ave.
Roncy is one of T.O.’s best ’hoods for small business boutique shopping. Visit new kid on the block SUETABLES, a Mt. Pleasant store that recently expanded into the west end. Pick up a piece of totally customizable hand-stamped jewellery for yourself, or as a gift.
363 Roncesvalles Ave.
Discerning diners know that a good olive oil makes all the difference. At MY OLIVE, you can sample a range of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars before you make your choice — a bottle or three to take home.
151 Roncesvalles Ave.
Enjoy refreshing libations at Cider House
Say hello to Leslieville’s edgier neighbour
Wine and dine
From Jeff Bovis, who brought us the excellent Ufficio on Dundas West, comes WYNONA, an appealing little Italian joint with fresh pastas made in-house. So order up some carbs and sip a biodynamic vintage from the diverse wine list as you enjoy the sunlit patio.
819 Gerrard St. E.
Arts and culture
Riverside’s arts scene is in full bloom with the thriving Crow’s Theatre and venerable concert venue the Opera House. Another unique gem is the RED SANDCASTLE THEATRE. A hub for the city’s improv and sketch comedy scene, check out the Me You & Us series with the hilarious Elvira Kurt amongst others, running Aug. 7, 21 and 28.
922 Queen St. E.
Craft Breweries are popping up all over the place, and Riverdale is no exception. Stake out a spot at SAULTER STREET BREWERY and then mosey on over to EASTBOUND BREWING CO. for a few more pints.
1-31 Saulter St.; 700 Queen St. E.
Wynona boasts a tasty Italian menu
NIGHT MARKETS & FESTIVALS
Three choices for whatever you fancy: food, wine or beer
Waterfront Night Market
Billing itself as a “Pan-Asian food festival and lifestyle expo” the WATERFRONT NIGHT MARKET, from Aug. 10 to 12 boasts dishes from more than 100 food vendors.
Ontario Place, 955 Lake Shore Blvd. W.
Bentway Beer Garden
Each weekend until Aug. 12 the park under the Gardiner comes to life with music, fun games and abundant food and drinks for the SUNDAY SOCIAL SERIES.
250 Fort York Blvd.
The Rosé Picnic
On Aug. 11, sip pink wine in the sun to your heart’s content. The ROSÉ PICNIC features food, entertainment, libations and a very strict pink and white dress code.
Stanley Barracks at Hotel X, 111 Princes’ Blvd.