QUICK TRIP TO TORONTO
I am of the mindset to take every travel opportunity out there. Work trip to Orlando, Florida staying at the Universal Hotel? Sure! New York in the humidity of summer? Why not? Toronto in the middle of winter? Of course. When I was asked if I wanted to travel to Toronto I was excited by the idea of seeing what the city had to offer. Sure, it is in the middle of one of the coldest months of the year but just put some extra layers on and tough it out.
That's what I thought. That was until I got to Toronto and, after one bone-chilling walk outside, I decided to wear TWO coats and three layers of clothes under that. I cannot communicate just how cold it is but the show had to go on. It was nice to see the city a bit quieter than usual and I got my winter fix before heading back to a nearly 70 degree San Francisco.
Toronto surprised me in the best way possible. From the overly friendly people (most stereotypes about Canadians are, in fact, true) to the beautiful historic buildings I really fell in love with the city despite its frosty welcome. While I didn't get to do a lot of the big things in Toronto because I was there for work, I saw quite a bit of the city. Hey, it gives me a reason to go back again. Here were some of the places I visited while I stayed there.
Because I was there for work, we stayed at the Thompson Toronto. I loved the location in the West King's district. There were so many cute restaurants and a pretty lively night scene in the area. Things were very walkable (if you were bundled properly) and perfect for staying in for a few nights. The picture below is from their gorgeous roof deck which opens in summer for beautiful views accompanied with drinks.
Portland Variety - The perfect place to meet up for brunch, work solo or grab a coffee and pastry on the go. I loved how I was able to camp here and work while munching on a yummy avocado toast.
Quantum Coffee - Speaking of work, this place was perfect for getting things done. It has the feel of a college library or workspace but with fancy coffee. Get there early because it got really busy by the afternoon.
IQ Foods - I went here three days in a row. In a city with an affinity for potatoes and meat, it is refreshing to pick up a green smoothie to balance things out. I do have to say though their turkey chili was a hit and the perfect lunch to warm up after walking around in the cold.
Cluny - This space in the distillery district has so much charm. While the dining room was fully booked for brunch, we showed up at 10:30, right when it opened, and were able to score a seat in the bar. It was the perfect place to catch up with friends over a really great Americano.
C'est What - If you want to be instantly cozy, head to C'est What. They have an extensive beer list and we loved their pulled pork poutine. Snag a seat on the couches by the fire for the ultimate Toronto winter experience.
There are countless places to visit in Toronto but when you only have one day to explore the city, head to the Distillery District. As you guessed it, this area used to distill alcohol. During the prohibition in the US in the 20s, these gorgeous brick buildings were bottling alcohol to smuggle into the US. When the prohibition ended, the demand dwindled and the buildings were abandoned. Now they have been repurposed for shops, restaurants and art galleries. There actually even is a new distillery that is continuing the tradition, called Spirit of York. Their beautiful tasting room just opened in November. The sweet smell of rye when you walk in the room surrounds you. You can taste their whiskey, gin, vodka or aquavit. It is a great place to stop and warm up when we were walking around. I also recommend stopping by Deciem for efficacious skincare at affordable prices. I picked up hand cream plus a few face oils and serums. There are also lots of yummy chocolate shops and home goods. Just wander around and explore and I'm sure you will find something to bring home with you.
On your way back towards the hotel, you should stop at St. Lawrence market. It is a European-style market with plenty of cheeses, meats and seafood. Pick up supplies for a picnic or just enjoy the samples they give out at the stands. Make sure to grab a few mustard samples using bacon as your spook at Kozlik's.
While I feel like I covered so much on my trip, there are so many more things to see in this amazing city. I am looking forward to visiting in the warmer summer months sometime very soon!