EXPLORE TORONTO - ON FOOT
October 2, 2017 - MCI Canada
Toronto is a city that deserves to be explored by foot. Whether you’re searching for the biggest sights and the best food, or hoping to uncover a quieter, greener side of the city, walking is a fantastic way to really get a feel for Toronto. If you’re visiting for a medical conference, the city’s walkability will be a major draw—whether you’re tacking them onto a full day of seminars or decide to extend your stay, these walking routes will help you uncover the city and gain a real sense of what it has to offer.
Make the Most of a Walkable City Centre
Given that it’s Canada’s biggest city, Toronto is surprisingly accessible by foot. Take a stroll through the narrow streets of Kensington Market to explore Toronto’s quirkiest vintage stores and best alternative eats. This is the perfect place to start your walk if you need a caffeine kick, but you could also end here for drinks and appetizers on a patio—Kensington has the highest concentration of coffee shops in the city, and a number of eclectic patios to people watch from once the day is done. Casa Coffee, a neighbourhood favourite, is a great spot for both.
Once you’re done exploring Kensington Market, continue south through Chinatown and grab some of the most authentic dim sum in the city at Rol San. At the end of Chinatown, turn right down Graffiti Alley to see the latest Toronto street art before heading back up to Queen Street West. Filled with trendy boutiques, small art galleries, and hip bars, this section of Queen Street is a favourite for visitors and locals alike. Walk east and you will eventually come to Nathan Phillips Square, home to Toronto City Hall and numerous cultural events throughout the summer.
Crossing the square, you will reach the Eaton Centre, a great place to pick up souvenirs from your time in the city. If you’d rather skip the shopping trip, pass straight through to find yourself in Yonge-Dundas Square. Toronto’s answer to New York’s Times Square, Yonge-Dundas Square is best visited at night to see the city’s focal point illuminated by the surrounding billboard screens and building lights. This is a top location for Toronto’s many events, from protests and rallies to free public concerts, and you never know what you may stumble upon.
Tour Toronto’s Sportier Side
For the sports fans among you, Toronto will not disappoint. Home to the much-loved Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, Raptors, and Argonauts, Toronto is a sports town through and through. The Hockey Hall of Fame is a great place to learn more about Canadian sports history while wandering among the memorabilia of hockey legends.
From there, head west on Front Street, passing Union Station. Stop by The Loose Moose or Jack Astor’s for a drink and some food, and catch the latest sports news and games live on any of their many screens. Re-energized, continue towards the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium to Rogers Centre, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays. Once you’ve had your fill of these major attractions, head north up Blue Jays Way to Wayne Gretzky’s, a fantastic sports bar filled with the legendary name sake’s personal hockey memorabilia. Finally, pop around the corner to the ping-pong bar, SPiN, to try your own hand at a bit of sport.
Take a Peaceful Stroll Around the Toronto Islands
If your idea of a vacation isn’t Toronto’s downtown entertainment district, head to the lakeshore. Start your adventure off in Roundhouse Park, home to the Toronto Railway Museum. Pop into Steam Whistle Brewing for refreshment before continuing to the waterfront.
Take the Ward’s Island Ferry across the Inner Harbour to the Toronto Islands; a quick 15-minute ride. Once there, wander through the beautiful parkland, rent a kayak, or play some frisbee golf. If you follow the signs on the paths, it’s 3km from Ward’s Island to Centre Island. Time your walk just right and you can catch a stunning sunset view of the Toronto skyline as you look back across the harbour.
The ferries run until after 11pm all summer, so relax and enjoy your peaceful evening. Or, let the bright lights draw you back into the city, and return to Harbourfront for fun events like Dancing on the Pier. Finish your night off at the Amsterdam Brewhouse — a rare waterfront watering hole option.
Whether you want to explore the city streets, see the major sights, or spend an evening at a Blue Jays game, there’s a walking route for anyone and everyone visiting Toronto for the first time. With evenings free from conference events, take time to explore the city on foot; you never know what you may find. If you want to know what else to see and do while in Toronto, check out our guide for first-timers in Toronto.
There are endless restaurants, events, and sights to keep you busy during a trip to Toronto. Discover it all by attending ISA 2018.
Photo: Shutterstock / Lissandra Melo, Shutterstock / ckchiu, Shutterstock / TRphotos, Shutterstock / Jon Bilous