This past weekend, I helped celebrate a girlfriend’s birthday. For the last month or so, we deliberated on where to go, discussing the usual spots, such as Miami, Nashville and Charleston. I came up with the idea of Canada. For us Americans, it’s (unfairly) something we never think to visit and yet, it’s a beautiful country. Although snowy and cold this time of year, a winter/holiday jaunt in a new city sounded like a lot of fun to all of us. Below is our itinerary of where we stayed, visited and dined. We highly recommend a visit there!
CN Tower and 360 Restaurant Holiday Brunch
When in a new city, you have to be a tourist, right? The CN Tower was the tallest tower in the world (at 1,815 ft.) until 2010. It’s about a 70 second elevator ride to the rotating restaurant, 360 The Restaurant, which sits at the top (check out the video below).
It takes 70 minutes to do a complete rotation, giving you views of Toronto and Lake Ontario. We managed to see one and a half rotations. Check out the pics below:
Price: $65 per person
Royal Ontario Museum
Our next stop was the Royal Ontario Museum to see the “Fashion Follows Form” exhibit. This museum kind of has a little bit of everything in it (think of it as a Smithsonian mashup) – dinosaur bones, animals, bugs, gemology (my favorite), artifacts from around the world, an art gallery and this.
The exhibit deserves it’s own post (which can be found here) but if you do have the time to go to this museum, I highly suggest it – it’s always great to get in a little culture.
Price: $10 per person
Visiting Santa and The Eaton Centre
One of the best parts about visiting a wintery place during the holidays, are all of the holiday decor and events going on. Behind our hotel (Marriott Eaton Centre), was a back entrance to the Eaton Centre mall. Along the path to get there, was a little Christmas cottage with Santa clearly napping inside. His “helper” let us in to take a couple of pics, by which he was then quite “jolly”.
On the 54th floor of the TD Bank building (66 Wellington W.) sits one of Oliver and Bonacini‘s award-winning restaurants, Canoe. Known in Toronto for their impeccable menus and service (as well as locations), it was the restaurant I was most looking forward to experiencing, and we were not disappointed. We were given a table overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario at night, which was beautifully lit and quite peaceful. The ambience definitely gave you a first class feel and the food portions were perfect. I can’t wait to come back and try the other ones in their portfolio.
Price: About $100 per person, including two glasses of wine.
High Tea at Fairmont Royal York
If there is one experience you should do around the world (wherever it is provided), it would be high tea at the Fairmont. Having never done this before, it was one of the most incredible “dining” experiences I’ve ever had. The Fairmont in Toronto is just exquisite, even more so because of how impeccable it was decorated for Christmas.
In the Library room, we had a staff of three providing us with amazing service, even remembering to make me gluten-free versions of the finger sandwiches, scones and pastries they set out. It was such a lovely, relaxing experience that we vowed to not just do this tea wherever we are, but to also never stay in any other hotel again (I’m starting a Fairmont travel fund).
Price: $60 per person
… I mean how could you NOT want to go there? It’s a fun experience for a few hours. The Toronto Christmas Market is set in the Distillery District, amongst boutique shops, art galleries, breweries and restaurants. There are spirits vendors, providing free samples of holiday cocktails, holiday-inspired treats, performances, Christmas ornament vendors and more!
Some things to note on travel:
- Porter is the easiest way to get to Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) on a direct flight, although not all U.S. airports include Porter.
- YTZ has a lounge with free beverages (coffee, tea, sodas and water), free wi-fi, and a living-room like atmosphere to relax in before you are paged for your flight.
- Yes, you need a passport to get in and out of Canada and their security rules follow the same rules as the U.S.
- Taxis are not always available in Toronto. They have rotations – we discovered that between the hours of 2-5, it’s their “break” time, so don’t be surprised if no one stops!
- There is Uber but that is just as difficult to get
- You can calculate taxi fares here. But note that with traffic, two miles is about $13.
- Conversion rate – $1 for 1 CAD. Banks will be different – USAA’s conversion rate was $.88 for 1 CAD
- You need an international cell plan for Canada – definitely don’t forget that!