‘Tis the season for visiting guests.
Whether it’s your childhood best friend who you only get to see once a year or your slightly awkward cousin, odds are they’re going to look to you for things to do when in town.
And you don’t want their Toronto memories to be limited to the freezing cold and worse-than-ever traffic, do you?
Here are 8 things to do with visiting friends and relatives this holiday season in Toronto.
1. The Windows at The Hudson’s Bay Company
The amazingly detailed and charming windows of The Bay at Yonge and Queen have been a Toronto holiday tradition for decades, and if they don’t give you that warm fuzzy holiday feeling, we don’t know what will. It doesn’t take too long, is free of charge, and you can cross a few names off your gift list in the process at the Eaton Centre.
2. The Rink at Nathan Phillips Square
Sure, it may be packed with children, but good, old-fashioned ice-skating never gets old. Plus, it’s probably been years since your guests have laced up a pair of skates. A far cry from your local community centre, the rink comes complete with all the lights and sounds of the city core – and you can walk on over to The Bay to see the windows right after.
3. The Christmas Market at the Distillery District
There’s a reason that the Distillery District’s Christmas Market is dominating your Instagram feed at the moment. The European-style market will offer a quainter glimpse of the city than the hustle, bustle and beat pumping of the downtown core.
4. Shopping in Yorkville
If there’s ever a time to stroll around Yorkville, it’s in the summer (complete with a visit to Summers) or during the holidays. The historic heart of Yorkville is reminiscent of Christmases past and is movie-esque with its trees and lampposts adorned with holiday lights and decorations. Plus, holiday season may be the only time your can justify making a major dent on your wallet within the rows of high-end stores. You’ll take care of it in January, right?
5. The Rooftop Lounge at The Thompson Toronto
If you’re looking for one of the best views of the city, coupled with no shortage of those over-priced cocktails we all know and love, hit the Rooftop Lounge at The Thompson Toronto. To avoid the circus of a rowdy late-night crowd (and potentially not getting up the elevator), go after work on a Wednesday or Thursday.
6. Friday Night at The Drake Hotel
If your friends (or said awkward cousin) want to hit the town, our go-to is The Drake Hotel. No matter the type – from starving artist to wannabe hipster to trust fund kid – your friends will have a good time. The venue caters to such a diverse crowd and each level offers a different vibe, from the live music downstairs to the fire pits on the rooftop.
7. Michelangelo at the AGO
For a little mix of culture into a hard-partying weekend, hit the Art Gallery of Ontario for Michelangelo: Quest for Genius now until January 11th. You can expect to see 30 drawings by the Renaissance sculptor, painter, poet, and architect Michelangelo Buonarroti. Never before seen in Toronto, the architectural and figural sketches come from the esteemed collection of the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, a house purchased by Michelangelo in 1508 but never occupied during his lifetime.
8. A Leafs Game at Real Sports Bar and Grill
You can’t experience Toronto without something hockey-related. Though in an ideal world you’d be sitting front row with your friends in the ACC, most of us are already spending enough on gifts and vacation plans to make that a reality. For the next best thing, join the high-energy vibe of fellow Leafs fans at Real Sports Bar to watch the game on their massive screen and dozens of TVs. And arrive hungry: the food is a far cry from your typical pub grub.
Cover photo from: Christmas Market at the Distillery District