Toronto, Canada will forever be one of my favorite places to visit. For one, it’s the fourth largest city in North America (after Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles) so it comes at a fast pace and is constantly evolving with new ideas and business. It’s also one of the most multicultural cities, which means there is tons of diversity, history and of course different types of authentic food from across the world. It’s also the kind of city that encourages an active lifestyle- noted by the airport fitness center and the number of bike commuters peddling through the city. But most of all I love that if you combine all of this, you will find a city with off the grid adventure that’s unique to Toronto. Here are three spots to mark up your itinerary on your next visit.
EDGEWALK AT THE CN TOWER
The adventure starts with Edgewalk at the CN Tower, the tallest building in Canada at 1,168 feet. Daredevils walk around the entire main pod of the tower hands free after being harnessed into an overhead safety rail via a trolley system. We eased into the tour by first putting our toes over the edge while watching the city below and finally, leaning straight over the city with our arms stretched out, Titanic style.
Cost: $195 (includes a photo package, DVD of your experience and re-entry to the tower.)
Insider Tip: Afterwards eat at 360 Restaurant at CN Tower for a revolving view of the city while you cut into some regional favorites like tender short rib and fresh salmon.
TORONTO BICYCLE TOURS
Toronto Bicycle Tours leads a tour through Toronto Islands, the largest car free community in North America. After a 15 minute ferry ride, our guide and company owner, Terrence Eta has the perspective you want in a guide because he actually attended a summer camp here and shares personal stories along the way. We pedaled to see dynamite views of the city skyline, Canada’s oldest light house( Gibraltar Point Lighthouse), beaches, a petting farm and residential homes.
At face value, Chinatown’s across the globe start to blend together and can feel like a tourist trap. But a tour with resident John Lee, who grew up in the neighborhood after his family immigrated from Korea, brings an insider perspective, making this experience different. In Chinatown (centered around Spadina and Dundas), Lee walks us past extremely affordable fruit and spice markets, saying hello and introducing us to some shop owners, speaking their native tongue.
He tells about the strong sense of community that proves itself when big business like Wal-Mart, Nike and Starbucks have tried to move in but have been shutdown with petitions and outcry. He talks about wealthy investors coming in from Hong Kong creating new infrastructure that is juxtaposed next to much older because some residents refuse to sell so they can hold tight to the history and look of the area.
We weave our way to Kensington Market, which started as a Jewish neighborhood in 1920, a time when families would set up stands in front of their homes and sell different goods to one another. The area is now full of different types of boutique shops, thrift stores, restaurants and coffee shops. Here, everything is in tight quarters and even feels a little crowded compared to downtown Toronto, but somehow it makes you feel part of the community and more apt to chat with locals. The kind of locals who all rallied together to help Tom’s Place, a suit store, reopen after it burned down in a fire.
For more on our adventures in Toronto, check out this video.