Perhaps obviously, we encourage our friends from out of town to visit Toronto in the summer rather than in the dark depths of winter.
After all, there’s no better time to enjoy – and show off – everything that Toronto has to offer than in the warmer months (and if your friends touch down when it’s a cool -20°C, they may never come back).
So here are 11 things to do with your tourist friends before this summer is over.
1. Harbour Cruise With Mariposa Cruises
You can show off our city’s skyline to all your friends coming from far and wide with Mariposa Cruises and their new Toronto Harbourfront app. Not to mention, with the help of their skilled tour guides and all the information tucked away in the app, you may even pick up on some exclusive facts along the way.
2. EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
If you’re looking for a view and you and your friends share the daredevil gene, hit the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower (come on, it’s been years since you graced the building’s elevators). Rather than showing off the city from inside the CN Tower restaurant (so typical), wow your guests by doing so from its roof. Afterwards, you can shake off your adrenaline by the water with some locally brewed beer at the nearby Amsterdam Brew House.
3. St. Lawrence Market
Pick up some beloved sandwiches and snacks from the many vendors available at the sprawling St. Lawrence Market – and get them all to go. You can make a picnic out of it at St. James Park, at your favourite public space in the city, the Toronto Island (the ferry docks are just a short walk away), or even eat your goodies on the go while you give your friends a walking tour of Toronto.
4. The AGO
Swing by the AGO to get your art fix. From contemporary art and photography to historical Canadian and European art, the AGO has the means to satisfy everyone’s artistic taste. Afterwards, you and your buddies can people watch in Grange Park or walk up to Baldwin St. to get some ramen noodles. (Pro tip: the AGO is free on Wednesdays after 6pm).
5. TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sure, your friend has a movie theatre back home, but it’s most likely nothing like the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Classics, foreign films, documentaries, independent films – you can see them all here. Afterwards (or before), grab a casual bite at Canteen on the main floor or Luma upstairs if you’re feeling a little fancy.
6. Toronto’s cultural neighbourhoods.
Show your friends how Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world by renting bikes and taking them to Little Italy, Little Portugal, The Danforth, or Chinatown. Each destination has something unique to offer, from cheap yummy eats to great bars and little boutiques and cafes.
7. Trinity Bellwoods
Numerous restaurants and cafes surround one of Toronto’s most beloved parks. Whether it’s Chippy’s, Porchetta & Co, Swan Restaurant, or Fresh (just to name a few), you can get your food to go and join the many others relaxing and eating in the park. Afterwards, you can head to Ossington to enjoy a much-deserved cocktail; your friends are in town, after all.
8. Kensington Market
A trip to Toronto isn’t complete until you’ve visited Kensington Market. Yes, it has definitely changed over the years, but a) your friends don’t know that and b) it’s still a great place to be. You can score some great finds at the many vintage shops and then celebrate by eating from the variety of restaurants available (we’re talking affordable Mexican, vegetarian, burger joints, Thai, etc.). Afterwards, you can head up to College St. for an evening of bar-hopping… or just some casual gelato and ice cream.
9. Sunday Brunch
Sunday brunch is “the thing to do” in Toronto and it’s an experience your out-of-towners probably shouldn’t miss. The options are truly endless; in fact you may be better off checking our “Toronto’s Best Brunch” poll for some ideas. Afterwards, you can always take a nice stroll in the surrounding neighbourhoods and discover some new boutiques and hidden gems.
10. Distillery District
The Distillery District, with its brick roads, old stone buildings, and beautiful architecture, is a must-hit when friends and family come to town. The area boasts great Cafes, restaurants, boutiques, design stores, and Canada’s largest urban theatre, Soulpepper. Because of its aesthetic, the Distillery District is the perfect photo-op location for you and your friends to document your time together (and you won’t even need to put a filter on it).
11. Microbrewery Tour
Better than a pub crawl, take your out-of-towners on an evening adventure exploring all the best microbreweries in the west end. For starters, there’s Indie Alehouse on Dundas West, Junction Craft Brewing on Cawthra Avenue, and Bellwoods Brewery on Ossington. Afterwards, we highly recommend ending your night at The Lakeview Restaurant, where you can order burgers, milkshakes and poutine 24/7.