Toronto is awesome year-round but once the sun is out, the people and the festivities are too. If you’re heading to the T.O. during the summer months, you’re in for a treat. Here are some things to do if you’re looking to make the most of your time!
Check out the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Every year, photographers from across the globe showcase their work in multiple galleries and venues across the city. Each time there is a new theme that brings together all of the different collections. Last year’s theme was Field of Vision: the exhibitions and installations explore the way we see the world through photography, considering the art form as an “expansion of sight, where the camera’s field of view extends the eye’s field of vision”. With ten major shows, public installations, and over a thousand open-call artists, you are bound to find something that speaks to you.
With both traditional and experimental photography as well as contemporary and historical pieces, the CONTACT Photography festival will definitely get you thinking about how we as travel photographers, writers or videographers represent our subjects.
Plan your visit
Enjoy SOMA Chocolatemaker
Their flagship location in the heart of a National Historic Site, the Distillery District, makes SOMA Chocolatemaker more than just a sweet indulgence—it is also a cultural experience. Using an 80 year-old mélangeur, they make their own chocolate on-site from cocoa beans they select and are one of the few chocolatemakers in North America to do so.
Check out their factory and peruse the boutique for truffles, speciality bars, or hot chocolate to take home. In the meantime, be sure to a purchase a gelato or sorbetto made from fresh and seasonal fruits and herbs to accompany you as you explore the District—it has the largest collection of Victorian-era buildings on the continent.
32 Tank House Lane, Distillery District; or 443 King Street West, for the new location.
Happy Hour, Toronto Style
Toronto has a lavish and beloved patio culture, which means al fresco and drinking and dining as soon as the clock is punched out. For a special treat take a trip to Oasis, the rooftop patio above Wayne Gretzky’s bar. The extravagance mixed with a casual dress code and a beautiful view means this place gets up and moving most nights of summer. Don’t be deterred by the trek up multiple flights of stairs; cabanas, lounge furniture complete with cushions, bistro tables and a fully-equipped bar await you at the summit. Oh yeah, and there’s a waterfall.
For something a little more laid-back, head to Pauper’s Pub, which hosts lively crowds and affordable drinks. Located in the Annex, where students, left-wing intellectuals, expensive real estate but quirky restaurants co-exist, it’s comfortable, charming and high above the hustle and bustle of Bloor Street.
Live it Up
Oasis: 99 Blue Jays Way, South of King Street W. East of Spadina.
Pauper’s: 539 Bloor Street West at Bathurst.
Eat fresh at Evergreen Brick Works’ Farmer’s Market
With friendly market sellers, trails to explore and the location being dog-friendly, this Don Valley farmer’s market is one of my favourites in the city. Besides promoting organic, fair-trade and non-GMO food, they host workshops and provide DIY bike repair space (tools included). Open Saturdays from 8AM-1PM (2PM for the food court), you can enjoy fresh-pressed juices, crepes or waffles, stock up on your local dairy, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and buy artisanal wares or other farm products. Artwork on-site reflects the heritage of the location—a former quarry and industrial site, the Brick Works was restored to be used as a community and cultural centre.
A free shuttle departs from the Erindale Ave parkette, just north of Broadview subway station. See the schedule here.
Ride the 501 Queen Streetcar
Forget the Jump-On Jump-Off Toronto tour—get yourself a TTC day pass, grab your camera and mix with the plebs. Running approximately 24.8 kilometres (15.4 miles), this line is the longest surface route in North America and one of the longest in the world. You will be chauffeured through a number of Toronto neighbourhoods and experience their distinct personalities. If you sit next to someone friendly you can ask what they know about the Beaches, Corktown, the Gladstone Hotel and High Park, which are just some of the sights you can see. I always like to have a look at what the hipsters are up to at Trinity Bellwoods Park—last time it was tightrope walking practice!
Take the 501 Queen Streetcar from anywhere on Queen Street. Look out for the short-turn lines—though it just means more adventure! It’s the best $3 you can spend in the city.