Located on Lake Ontario, Toronto is the perfect summer escape, offering waterfront fun, internationally renowned cultural festivities, innovative cuisine, and numerous amenities – not to mention acclaimed institutions and museums. Check out a cheap flight to Toronto and you can join the city's 2.6 million residents who enjoy round-the-clock access to fabulous restaurants and cafes, immaculate beachfront areas and green parks. Plus, you’ll also get to check out the fabulous shopping and entertainment located within the lively downtown Toronto area.
Hit the Beach
In Toronto, you don't need to leave the city to enjoy the beach. Right in the heart of downtown Toronto is the relatively new HTO Park, a sandy lakefront park opened to the public in 2007. The stately CN Tower is in full view from HTO Park, which is six acres of public space along the harbor. The name "HTO" was chosen to symbolize the improved relationship between the city of Toronto and the waterfront. Once abandoned and polluted by industry, the city cleaned up what is now HTO Park, and rebuilt the space into one of Toronto's favorite summertime recreational parks. The park features giant plastic bright yellow umbrella installed in the ground so that beachgoers can enjoy both the city skyline and Lake Ontario without getting sunburned. Sitting amongst the yellow umbrellas feels like participating in a Jean -Claude and Christo installation art exhibit.
Another area of Toronto that was once industrial wasteland has been re-imagined into a hipster mecca for shopping, dining, and art. The Distillery District, which reopened in its current state in 2003, is a cluster of aging Victoria-era brick buildings and cobblestone streets. It is also Toronto's only pedestrian village, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and prepare to meander through the neighborhood's many boutiques, cafes, and galleries. Here, you can buy handmade jewelry, crafts, clothes, accessories, artisanal foods, or just sit in Balzac's Cafe and people watch. Of all the coffee shops in the world, Balzac's stands out, and has been dubbed "a time warp but with a modern espresso machine." The cafe is a two-story 1895 harbor front pump house renovated into a funky Parisian-style cafe now pumping coffee. A diaphanous chandelier looms overhead, while upstairs, an orange sofa offers another view of the CN Tower as well as a chance to sit and enjoy art work by local artists.
Dance the Night Away
The Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Toronto is one of North America's largest Caribbean festivals, running now until August 4. Marking its 46th year, this hugely popular cultural event features the infectious rhythms of Caribbean Calypso, reggae and steel drum bands, as well as food, visual and performing arts. Formerly known as Caribana, the festival brings the Toronto's streets to life for three straight weeks and ends with a grand parade on August 3, filled with colorful costumes, plumage, and music. A full schedule of events is listed on the carnival's website.
For more information about visiting Toronto this summer, visit www.seetorontonow.com.
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Photo credit: ilkerender