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A Weekend as a Toronto Local
Being a #Toronto transplant, as many of us here are, I love spending time discovering my own city. I'm a true believer in this city's ability to have something for everyone, from #relaxation with the girls in a spa or ultra luxurious hotel, to #unique and trendy restaurants in my favorite neighborhood, Queen West.
I have travelled to a number of cities in a number of countries and I still feel that Toronto is an amazing, multi-cultural city with so much to offer anyone who is looking to visit. Every weekend, as I enjoy all that the city has to offer, I think about how grateful I am to live here, a relatively “new” Toronto arrival from Canada’s West Coast. Before I start writing Yonderbound stories that reflect my travel adventures, I felt that I needed to showcase this amazing city that I call home.
I felt that I needed to showcase this amazing city that I call home
After completing my week’s grocery shopping at St. Lawrence Market, I often spend my weekends strolling along West Queen West or Kensington Market, popping into some of my favourite shops or stopping for an espresso or snack. In summer, I can catch some sun and relax in Trinity Bellwoods Park or at the Waterfront’s Sugar Beach. In winter, I will grab my skates and skate on a number of the city’s open-air ice surfaces (Trinity Bellwoods, Harbourfront Centre or Nathan Phillips Square).
On days where I’m looking for something a little more decadent, I’ll meet one of my girlfriends for a relaxing facial or massage at the Park Hyatt’s Stillwater Spa and follow that with a reservation for gluten-free high tea at the Shangrila Hotel or King Edward Hotel. If art or culture is what I am craving, I’ll spend an afternoon wandering through the Art Gallery of Ontario or check out what is happening at the TIFFLightbox and any of the live-performance venues (Roy Thomson Hall, Mirvish).
Shangri-La Hotel Toronto
There are a number of large brands along Queen West but I am a big believer in supporting local entrepreneurs and try to support them where I can – whether it is sourcing local meat and produce at the market or buying clothes. Some recommended shopping, services and snacks along Queen West:
Early Bird Espresso: An open-spaced coffee shop just before Spadina. They serve their espresso-based drinks on beautiful wooden boards with a sparkling water accompaniment. One of the best-drawn espressos in the city.
Coal Miner’s Daughter: Unique ladies clothing made by Canadian designers and makers. You will rarely find someone else wearing your frock at a party. A go-to for statement pieces that will make your wardrobe pop.
Canon Blanc: Owned by a friendly French couple, they source unique pieces from European designers. I love to poke around in here looking for statement pieces that I know will stand the test of time.
Fuzz Wax Bar: Whether you’re just dropping in for a brow touch up or looking for more, Fuzz is clean, fast and friendly. There are different levels of membership with the best value being “Fantatic” which gives you three waxing services a month for $55 plus tax.
The Ten Spot Beauty Bar: Not the grungy nail place commonly seen around the city. Expect to be treated to your choice of sparkling or flat water, tea or coffee while having your nails beautified. Sparkly clean with beautiful décor, Ten Spot also offers free toe waxing for those of us with hobbit feet.
Kit & Ace: Coming to you from the family that introduced Lululemon, Kit & Ace is luxury leisure with a soft technical cashmere blend. I’m currently wearing the simple black turtleneck and coveting a number of their bigger ticket items.
Feast: This little gem is not only gluten-free, it is allergen free. They offer a range of pantry products that can be hard to find (hello, Schar bread!) and sweet treats in the form of donuts and ready-made snacks such as savoury pocket pies, shepherds pie and “cheesy” mac. Grab a donut and stroll across the street to Trinity Bellwoods to eat it and people-watch.
Park & Province: A new men’s wear addition on the street, you can shop in store or online. The owners are helpful and stock easily recognized brands like New Balance and Levis and funky, international brands like Grown Alchemist and La Paz. While the boyfriend shops, I like to amuse myself smelling the candles.
Town Moto: Okay, so they’re not officially on “Queen West” and located on the Ossington strip, however, I would be remiss not to mention this great little shop for motorcycle gear. Almost every piece of gear that the boyfriend and I own has come from here. They carry men’s and women’s and brands such as Roland Sands, Deus, Aether and Triumph. Everything I’ve purchased transitions well from the bike to the street and the owners are friendly, helpful and as avid motorcycle enthusiasts as their clientele.
Looking for a hotel to stay for the night? Check out the Beverly or The Drake for a boutique hotel, The Thompson, the Shangri-la, or The Four Seasons for a luxury experience.
Hotel Four Seasons Toronto
For a taste of history, the Omni King Edward or the Fairmont Royal York have it in spades.
Hotel The Fairmont Royal York
Toronto Bike Tour
Toronto Beer Tour
Getting into the city is becoming easier all the time with Porter and Air Canada flying into the Billy Bishop downtown airport, VIA Rail arriving at Union Station and the UP Express delivering you from any of the airlines at Pearson to Union Station in less than 30 minutes.