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Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment

For full Toronto arts and entertainment listings, click here.

If there’s one thing Toronto does best, it would be the festivals. No matter what month you are in the city, there’s sure to be something going on.

Some of the main Toronto festivals to look for are:

  • Taste of Danforth, which previously was used to promote the Greek restaurants in the area, but now features booths from diverse cultures along Danforth. The Taste of Danforth has turned into the largest street festival in Toronto.

  • International Film Festival, which brings all the stars to Toronto in the fall.
  • Caribana Festival, featuring everything Caribbean, and holds one of the best parades the city of Toronto has to offer. Not to mention the authentic food, music and costumes!

  • Gay Pride Parade is considered Toronto’s largest parade both in viewers online and attendees. It is a celebration of diversity and unity, one that Toronto society holds close to their hearts.

  • Cavalcade of Lights, where Toronto lights up its streets and its city on festive colours, each region of Toronto different.

Toronto summer festivals, fall festivals, spring festivals and winter festivals are always done to the nines, and the turnout is incredible. For some Toronto festivals, they block off entire streets in downtown Toronto for a whole weekend!

Another huge Toronto entertainment sector is concerts.

Toronto concerts are a big favourite among locals and tourists alike. You can attend your favourite concert in venues such as the Molson Amphitheatre, Massey Hall or the Ricoh Coliseum. Other popular Toronto entertainment venues include the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Rogers Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, The Guvernment, Yonge-Dundas Square, and Kool House.

You can visit local live bands at various pubs, clubs and bars around Toronto. The Indy rock scene has exploded, especially with the university/college students. For instance, some Universities downtown will offer discount prices to local shows in the area.

Live music in Toronto is rich with flavour and character. For example, Billy Talent became well known after playing in the Toronto live music scene for 10 years (until 2001).

Toronto is considered the 3rd largest theatre city in the world, closely following Broadway powerhouses New York and London. Toronto theatre shows are always being performed at Toronto’s favourite venues.

Some of the better-known Toronto theatre venues are:

  • The Opera House
  • Royal Alexandra Theatre and
  • Prince of Wales Theatre.

There are usually packages for dinner and a show, and sometimes a night in a hotel is included in the fee! A package will include a discount dinner for two/four and a theatre show. If you are visiting from out of town and plan to stay in a hotel, that hotel might have a package deal set up. Most of the restaurants that affiliate with the Toronto Theatres can be found in the Toronto Entertainment District.

The Toronto Entertainment District is located between University Ave and Spadina Ave, within the King St West area. Many of the Theatres are located here as well as a great shopping section, restaurant strip, and great pub selections. Since Torontonians do experience a cold winter, when the sun finally comes out make sure to hit up those patios – this is also a great area for dancing.

The Toronto nightclub scene is at its strongest between spring and fall. Torontonians do not let winter ruin their night out, but the patios are closed during that time. The clubs are divided by music genre and age. So it doesn???t matter if you are an all-age, rock nightclub fan or a 25+, top 40 nightclub fan; you will find it in Toronto.

Toronto comedy clubs have taken over the city, whether it’s at Yuk Yuk’s or Second City, Toronto brings comedy to a whole new level. Ticket prices can vary depending on the night of the show, who the comedian is, and if you are buying at the door instead of online.

From festivals to nightclubs to Broadway, there truly is never a dull moment with Toronto Entertainment.

Cinema and Movies

Cinema and Movies have been a big part of Toronto since the early 1900’s. As the years have past, not only has Toronto seen the construction of aesthetically and acoustically pleasing theatres, there has also been a growing desire to produce films in Toronto.

The City of Toronto is affectionately known to film experts as “Hollywood North.” Over the last 20 years a number of blockbusters have been produced in Toronto and numerous stars have acted in those movies. 

People like Al Pacino, Colin Ferrell, Katie Holmes, Helen Hunt, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo are just a few of the celebrities that have worked on films in Toronto.

Watching a Show

Toronto and the area surrounding it, known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), has over 30 movie theatres and cinemas for your viewing pleasure. 

Both Cinemaclock.com and Tribute.ca list the theatres and movies playing in the city. Tribute also has trailers, movie trivia to test the avid film buffs and interviews with stars. You will quickly discover that it is easy to take advantage of Toronto Cinema and Movies.

Cineplex Entertainment is the largest movie chain in Toronto and the country with over 120 cinema locations.  When people think of going to movies in Toronto, one of the first names that pop into their mind is Cineplex. 

The Corporation has gone through many changes since it was established in 1979. They have merged and bought several other motion picture companies and today represent 8 top brands in the industry including; Galaxy, Famous Players, Silvercity, and Colossus. You can find Cineplex Entertainment on the web at www.cineplex.com.

The oldest Cinema in Toronto is the Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue. It opened in 1912 and although it has been designated a heritage site by city officials, it is still open to the public for shows. What makes it even more unique is that today it is run by a non-profit film society.

Larger than Life Theatre

Toronto’s famous amusement park, Ontario Place, has a huge IMAX 3D Cinesphere and is considered one of the best movie experiences you can have. Along with Hollywood hits, the Cinesphere shows educational films.

The Ontario Science Centre is also located in Toronto and has an IMAX theatre as well. It allows visitors to explore films that focus on underwater adventure, weather phenomena and scientific discovery.

Those who are familiar with it call it a “hidden gem;” the Toronto Underground Theatre. Situated in a condominium building on Spadina Avenue, the Underground features B movies, Indie films and some of the best Hollywood pictures. 

The TIFF Bell Lightbox became a reality in 2010. It is a 5-storey centre at the corner of King Street and John Street. Designed around the hugely successful Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Lightbox is a great meeting place for film professionals. Check out all that TIFF has to offer at www.tiff.net/tiffbelllightbox.

The National Film Board of Canada is a way for film lovers to access groundbreaking productions. The NFB mediatheque offers digital viewing stations, educational programs, and special events all year long. For more information follow this link: http://www.onf-nfb.gc.ca/eng/mediatheque/

Film Festivals

While Toronto is known around the world for TIFF, there are over a dozen other film festivals you can enjoy in the city. Some of these events celebrate specific subjects like the annual “Breast Film Festival” that chronicles stories surrounding breast cancer. There are film fests that celebrate the making of short movies, the environment, ethnic cultures and independent productions.

Drive-In Theatre

When it is summer in the city, there is nothing like heading to the drive-in for a night out. The Polson Pier Drive-In is on Cherry Street in Toronto and features the latest Hollywood flicks, much like Cineplex does. If you’d like to take a drive outside the city you will find similar theatre experiences in Barrie, Sharon and Oakville.

Toronto Movie Stars

Part of the Toronto Cinema and Movie experience is to see films that star some of the biggest celebrities who hail from this great city. Keanu Reeves, Mike Myers, Ryan Gosling and Martin Short, Dan Ackroyd and Jim Carey all came from the Toronto area.

Film Schools

There are a number of Toronto Film Schools that focus on movie magic. Some are part of college or university programs, while others are independent organizations or government funded. 

Perhaps the most well-known school is the Canadian Film Centre, established by award winning director, Norman Jewison. Toronto is also home to several acting schools that have led performers to successful theatre, television and film careers.

Cinema and Movies are a big part of the Toronto culture. The making of movies has pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, and showcasing the end product has brought enjoyment to countless movie viewers. 

There is no doubt that when it comes to Cinema and Movies, the city of Toronto is on the map.

Comedy Clubs

Toronto’s most talented comedians are waiting for you to enjoy a good laugh in some of the best comedy clubs in Toronto, Canada.

Look no further as information on Toronto comedy events, stand-up comedy locations, dinner shows, comedy bars and restaurants, and other places where the most talented comedians in Toronto are all here.

Toronto’s comedy venues and clubs bring people from all over looking for a fun time out. In downtown Toronto, comedy clubs are one of the top events people attend, and are often open five to six days a week. Many comedy shows are also very affordable, and offer dinner show packages as well as cocktail drinks and bar food.  

The ambiance in a comedy club, restaurant, or comedy bar, are generally alike: casual or elegant. This setting is perfect for those on a date or simply an evening out with friends. Either way, an outing to a comedy club is always a popular choice. 

Some of the most popular comedians began their career in Toronto and perform frequently. 

Catherine O’Hara was born and raised in Toronto and was a comedian for The Second City. She wrote a sketch for Second City TV and was, considered one of the funniest sketches for the show. She is well known from Saturday Night Live, actress in Home Alone, Beetle Juice, and many other popular movies.

Commonly known from television show, Deal or No Deal, Howie Mandel, is another famous comedian from Toronto and has performed on numerous occasions at Yuk Yuk’s Stand-up Comedy where he began his career. 

Mike Myers, famous actor and comedian was born in Scarborough and began comedy and entertainment at the Second City in Toronto. Myers received a star on the Canadian walk of fame in 2003. He has been successful in his comedy and acting career for the better part of his life. Credits include: Austin Powers, Wayne’s World, Saturday Night live, etc. 

The home for some of the most popular comedians are listed below:

  • Yuk Yuk’s Stand-up Comedy

One of the most popular comedy club’s is Yuk Yuk’s Stand-up Comedy. It has been a successful comedy club since 1977. Some of the most successful comedians have performed at this club: Rick Moranis, Larry Horowitz, Tom Green, Jim Carrey, etc. 

  • The Second City

The Second City is another popular club. New York times has called it “A Comedy Empire.” 

For years this comedy club has made an influence in the entertainment industry. The performance in this theatre is strictly improvisation. The Second City also offers training programs to welcome new talent to the city. Tina Fey, Steve Carell, John Belushi, and many others comedian careers began at The Second City. 

  • Absolute Comedy

For a great atmosphere, good laughs and affordable evening, Absolute Comedy is the comedy place for you. The club is located conveniently on the main street in downtown Toronto. Comedians who perform at this comedy location include: Dave Regnier, Frank Spadone, Ryan Maglunob, etc.

  • Bad Dog Theatre

At Bad Dog Theatre, they provide guests with talented improvisation by their team of learning comedians. They have been reffered to by NOW Magazine: “The Improv Hub of Toronto.” This theatre is very affordable as the comedians are not as well known as others; however, the Bad Dog Theatre has excellent reputation of entertaining guests and developing  up and coming talent. 

“The acts include a mix of some of the edgiest stand-up, sketch and character work around here,” have been written by NOW Magazine for Comedy Bar in Toronto. The laid back atmosphere, drinks and laughs location, has featured appearances from many stand-up comedians including: Sean Cullen, Trevor Boris, Jared Sales and much more. 

  • The Laugh Resort

The Laugh Resort is Toronto’s single independent comedy club. Acts are mainly stand-up solos with an occasional improvisation. It has featured such talented and well known comedians as: Gilbert Gottfried, Paula Poundstone, and Ray Romano.

  • The Rivoli

If you prefer an outing in a restaurant atmosphere, The Rivoli has appearances from talented musicians and comedians. For those who prefer a more intimate meal setting, The Rivoli is an excellent choice. 

  • Massey Hall

At Massey Hall, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, there are performances from very popular comedians, bands, singers, and orchestras as well. Comedy events at Massey Hall are something a visitor does not want to miss. There are appearances from many well known actors and comedians including The Trailer Park Boys television show, Andrew Dice Clay, and many more. 

The comedians performing at the Toronto comedy clubs are constantly changing, which makes an outing to a comedy event something new and exciting each time you visit one of the venues listed above. 

Yuk Yuks

Concerts

Toronto has a bustling music scene, and on any given night one can check out a range of concerts from indie rock to classical music. 

Big Shows

Toronto is lucky enough to be a major stop for musical tours travelling across North America. When the biggest bands in the world come to Canada, almost without fail they will come to the city.

 These popular international artists and groups tend to perform at large downtown venues like the Air Canada Centre and the Molson Amphitheatre, located on the west end waterfront as part of the Ontario Place complex

Of course, the very biggest draws might choose the Rogers Centre baseball stadium for their show, as U2 recently did. Large-scale concerts and festivals are also sometimes held north of the city at Downsview Park, a former Canadian Forces airbase. This was where the famous “SARS-Stock” was held in 2003.

Concert Halls

Artists both big and small come to Toronto, and as a result the city enjoys a variety of venues where they perform. After the big stadiums, the next tier of venues is concert halls, which attract other popular and critically acclaimed international and domestic acts. 

The downtown Theatre District is home to several venues, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s home on King Street West, Roy Thomson Hall.

Roy Thomson Hall and its cousin Massey Hall host many types of concerts, from classical music and choirs, to popular rock bands and international pop stars. 

Also downtown is the Sony Centre, a venue featuring a similar variety of music, theatre and shows. That venue is located at the intersection of Front Street and Yonge Street.

Over to the east-downtown waterfront, The Kool Haus also tends to attract big-name musical groups. Recent artists to pass through there have included Kings of Leon, Nine Inch Nails, and Lady Gaga. 

The Sound Academy, also on the waterfront at Polson Pier, is another popular concert spot. The Harbourfront Centre, on Queens Quay West, holds a full schedule of festivals and free concerts through the warmer months of the year. 

Located on Queen Street East, The Opera House regularly hosts popular rock, hip hop, electronic and indie bands. Also just east of downtown, on Sherbourne Street, is The Phoenix Concert Theatre, a trendy venue that attracts many up-and-coming groups.

Bars and Small Clubs

While well-known artists and big tours regularly pass through Toronto, the city has a vibrant local music scene with great local bands to check out. 

Local shows tend to be featured in bars and clubs clustered along certain main streets, including College Street, Bloor Street, Ossington Avenue and Queen Street West

Bloor Street in the Annex is the home of Lee’s Palace, a Toronto musical institution. Opened in 1985, the club regularly hosts popular and up-and-coming bands from around the world, particularly alternative rock. Other smaller concert venues in the area include The Tranzac and Clinton’s.

Queen Street West is a particularly hot spot for shows, particularly on weekends. Downtown venues like The Horseshoe Tavern and The Rivoli are cultural icons in Toronto, having been ingrained in the musical scene for decades. 

Many big name artists have passed through on their way to stardom, including Bryan Adams, The Police, and the Rolling Stones. Other Queen Street concert venues include The Drake, hotel-bar-lounge with a noteworthy patio, and The Rex Jazz and Blues Bar, one of the most popular jazz and blues venues in the city.

Festivals

Among its many characteristics, Toronto is a city of festivals. Some of these are devoted entirely to music, while others include concerts as part of a larger cultural event. 

There are festivals happening in the area throughout the year, but the pace picks up during the summer when concert space opens up outdoors.

One of the big annual events is the North by Northeast festival in June, which brings together rock, pop, electronic and hip hop artists from Canada and around the world. 

Also known as NXNE, its centrepiece is a series of free concerts held at Yonge-Dundas Square. In addition to this, free concerts are held there throughout the year, or at least until the snows set in. 

Like North by Northeast, Canada Music Week in March has shows spread out over dozens of venues across the city. As an added bonus, during those events many bars have extended hours, with some serving drinks until 4 a.m.

Another major summer event is the Beaches International Jazz Festival in July, when bands line the streets for over two kilometres along Queen Street East and the surrounding areas. 

Meanwhile, it would negligent not to mention the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly Caribana. Every August this massive festival brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Toronto to celebrate Caribbean culture, especially music like reggae, hip hop, soca, and calypso.

In late August through the Labour Day long weekend, the Canadian National Exhibition puts on a series of big-name concerts as well. 

Other events over the course of the year that feature concerts include the Luminato Festival, Nuit Blanche in October, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Overall, there is rarely any lack of concerts going on in the city, many of which are free to the public. The best place to check out what’s going on is the concert listings are in one of the Toronto’s weekly entertainment papers. Now Magazine and The Grid are the two most prominent of those.

Entertainment Districts

The average visitor to Toronto enjoys the culture of the city, the sights, and the sounds of a large cosmopolitan metropolis with a multi-cultural twist. Yet often as the sun sets, everyone has a hard time deciding on where to go to party the night away.

The Entertainment district of Toronto is the center of a vibrant nightlife scene, and provides an array of options for visitors to the city, which tends to be more alive at night then during the daytime hours.

Many Toronto residents are experts on having a night out exploring the different opportunities available from many different and distinct districts being located in the downtown Toronto core area. 

These popular Toronto Entertainment Districts include:

  • Yorkville
  • Downtown Yonge Street
  • St. Lawrence Market
  • Kensington Market, and 
  • the upscale areas of King West

All of these entertainment districts cater to crowds looking for a night out with friends, and to a public interested in mingling with the locals over a few drinks making memories of a night on the town in Toronto.

Yet the average visitor is often on a budget. Many visitors are not interested in going out for a night and having to break the bank on drinks, coat check fees, cover charges, and other unaccountable expenses.

The Entertainment District provides the requirements a visitor to the city would have, as well as being easily accessible throughout the downtown core.

The entire area located between University Ave, and Spadina Ave. and centred between Queen Street and Lakeshore boulevard offers many visitors the entertainment they are seeking.  The central location of the area within the downtown core makes it easily accessible to many residents staying within the downtown area, as well as those having a slight commute staying around the Yorkville and Bloor areas.

There are over 300 restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and lounges within the 2 square Kilometre district. Walking from one bar to another is an effective mode of transportation, due to a grid like pattern of the streets and the accessibility of the TTC along King Street, Queen Street, and Spadina Avenue streetcar lines.

There are two subway stops along University Avenue at King street. St. Andrew Station and Osgoode Station located at Queen Street, providing access late into the night for those entering and exiting the Toronto Entertainment District.

The Entertainment District is also known as an area of Toronto that is alive at night, more so then it is during the hustle and bustle of the day. The neighbourhood also has a distinct feel when it comes down to the overall atmosphere of the area. Being described as eclectic, with a blend of cultural crowds often visible and present in the area, including those going to bars or lounges, which may be parallel to another crowd going to restaurants and nightclubs.

There are three basic types of establishments common throughout the area including:

  • Bars,
  • Nightclubs
  • Lounges

A bar is generally used for the sale of alcoholic beverages, and come under different names such as pubs or taverns, and tend not to have loud music and a more laidback atmosphere, along with a variety of “pub grub”.

The average bar within the area will accept patrons that are 19 years or older, are inexpensive, typically costs run $10-$15 for coat check, cover fee, and a drink. 

Some notable Toronto Bar establishments that come under personal recommendation include:

  • Elephant & Castle on King Street 
  • Gabby’s Grill and Bar on King Street 
  • An Irish pub on Duncan Street under the name of Grace O’Malley’s

If a visitor was to look for lounges within the area, there are practical solutions for a night out. Lounges tend to have mainstream progressive music and tend to be more expensive then their bar counterparts. Lounges main focus are on the sale of alcoholic drinks with a cocktail hour environment.

They typically attract a higher age category of 21 to 25 year olds with an average entrance fee, along with the cost of a drink and coat check hovering in the $15-$40 range. 

Businesses anchored within the area under the Toronto Lounge atmosphere include: 

  • The Fifth Social Club on Richmond Street 
  • 7 Lounge on Richmond street 
  • Schmooze Lounge on Mercer Street

Lastly the typical visitor to the area may have a desire to just dance the night away. They often visit nightclub style establishments centred on music.

Nightclubs tend to be larger in size, and focus on the sale of alcoholic beverages to compliment the music within the atmosphere of the establishment. 

The Entertainment District in Toronto offers many such establishments including: 

  • Tryst Nightclub on Peter Street 
  • Century Room on King Street 
  • Circa on John Street

The average age of entry for these establishments is 19 years or older, and costs range in the area of $20-$40 for a drink, entry fee, and the coat check. 

The variety of shops present in the Entertainment District located in downtown Toronto provide a viable option for the average visitor on a budget looking to have a night out, and making lasting memories of their stay in Toronto. 

The Toronto Entertainment district is able to provide as the name suggests, entertainment for a variety of different cultures and crowds.

Festivals

Every year, Toronto hosts various festivals across the city.  The festivals keep Toronto’s residents as well as its guests cheerful, delighted, and entertained. 

Throughout the seasons, Toronto shines through its festivals.  The city itself can actually be thought of as a festival on its own because there are constantly events happening to keep people engaged and active.  These events celebrate Toronto’s multiculturalism.  

Summer is the peak season for Toronto festivals where Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto Pride Festival, Caribana Festival, Festival of Beer, and Woofstock Toronto (for those dog lovers), are the key events to follow.  

  • Canadian National Exhibition, on top of being Canada’s largest fair and attracting more than a million visitors annually, is also the greenest in North America.  

  • Toronto Pride Festival celebrates diversity between sexual and gender identities, and Toronto will actually be the host for the World Pride Parade in 2010.  

  • Toronto’s Festival of Beer exhibits brewers of Canada and their accomplishments.   

  • Caribana Festival is the largest Caribbean festival in North America and is over 35 years old.  

  • Woofstock Toronto celebrates dogs and is more or less like a dog beauty pageant with over 300,000 visitors per show.  

The very famous Toronto International Film Festival and The Word on the Street keep Toronto busy in the fall.  

  • Toronto International Film Festival, also known as TIFF, attracts worldwide attention and brings Hollywood celebrities to the city.  

  • The Word on the Street is Canada’s largest book and magazine festival and commemorates writing, reading, and literacy.  More than 200,000 visitors come out annually.

Toronto’s extremely cold winters warm up the hearts of Torontonians with Winterlicious and Icefest Festival.  

  • Winterlicious engages restaurants to participate in offering visitors scrumptious food at a lower price than usual that everyone can afford.  

  • Icefest Festival exhibits original, creative, and very artistic Canadian ice sculptures.  Sculptures include national creatures such as a moose, polar bear, geese, and beavers.  

  • Spring Fling brings crowds out of their home in the spring.  Mostly focused on the younger crowd, it is the largest indoor carnival that offers various rides, activity areas, and an inflatable sports zone.  

The Toronto festivals mentioned above are the most visited festivals in Toronto but are just a few of the many that occur in the city.  

Toronto festivals include:

  • Luminato Festival of the Arts and Creativity 
  • Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival 
  • Tase of Little Italy
  • The Worldwide Short Film Festival
  • Toronto Jazz & Blues Festival
  • Toronto International Brazilfest
  • The Pirate Festival
  • Pilaros Taste of the Danforth Festival
  • Toronto Chinese Lantern Festival
  • Gourmet Food & Wine Expo
  • Kensington Market Festival of Lights
  • Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Many of the festivals mentioned above are situated in the core downtown of Toronto, while some are in specific neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area.  All are easily accessible by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC); therefore anyone can come, no matter where in Toronto they are situated.  

Also many festivals such as events at Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity, Woofstock Toronto, Taste of Little Italy, Pilaros Taste of the Danforth are free, and many others reasonably priced thus giving everyone an opportunity to have fun, enjoy, and celebrate various festivals across the city.  

Let’s not forget about admission-based festivals such as Toronto Jewish Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, where visitors can enjoy the celebrity-like atmosphere that surrounds them.  Admission based festival tickets can cost anywhere from $10 and up, depending on the festival and what it has to offer. 

There is no age limit for most festivals and events unless alcoholic beverages are involved. Festivals such as The Beer Festival of Toronto, that are focused specifically on such products, require identification with proof of legal drinking age – in Toronto that is 19 years old. 

Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, and that can be noticed especially through various festivals that the city hosts.  Tourists, as well as citizens, can get a taste of Toronto’s multiculturalism by attending events such as Taste of Little Italy, Caribana Festival, Pilaros Taste of the Danforth, Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Toronto Chinese Lantern Festival, Toronto International Brazilfest, etc.   

For visitors, regardless of the time of the year chosen to visit Toronto, there are many festivals and events happening almost every weekend, and although sometimes it may not be a major city festival, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic time.

Fall Festivals
Food Festivals
Jazz Festival
Spring Festivals
Summer Festivals
Taste of the Danforth
Toronto International Film Festival
Winter Festivals

Leisure Activities

Whether you’re visiting Toronto for a month or only for the weekend, the city has a wealth of leisure activities available throughout the year.

1. Leisure activities in Toronto are particularly bunched together in the downtown waterfront area. The Harbourfront Centre is a hot spot for such activities, as well as regular music, arts and food festivals, especially in the summer. Canoe and kayak rentals are available there, where rates run from $3 for a short canoe ride to a full day at $60 for a canoe and $85 for a two person kayak. Other boat rentals are available, such as sailing or power boats, but require booking ahead of time.

2. Also in the downtown waterfront is the area known as Polson Pier. Just a few minutes east of the Harbourfront Centre, the large entertainment complex includes facilities for miniature golf, go-carting, rock climbing and beach volleyball. There is also a driving range, which converts into a drive-in movie theatre at night during the summer.

3. In addition, the Harbourfront area also serves as the gateway to the Toronto Islands. A ferry runs across to the islands regularly, with a return ticket costing $6.50 for adults, $4.00 for students and seniors, and $3.00 for children under 12. Once on the island, there are many activities including boat rentals, bike rentals, beaches, volleyball nets and even a disc-golf course (also known as Frisbee-golf, or “frolf”).

4. When looking for somewhere to cool off on a hot day, Toronto Islands are a great spot, but it’s not the only place to enjoy the water. On the eastern side of the city, Ashbridge’s Bay Park and the area known as The Beaches are popular summer hangouts for locals and tourists alike. On the Lakeshore West area there are a series of beaches as well, although that area is more popular for sunbathing and biking along the waterfront.

5. During the summer, the city of Toronto operates dozens of public swimming pools that are free to the public. Some of the best spots include the pool at High Park, which features a popular water slide, as well as the Sunnyside-Gus Ryder Pool, which is located in the Lakeshore West area right on Lake Ontario, and is the city’s largest pool. 

6. Also located along the downtown waterfront is Ontario Place, a seasonal entertainment venue and amusement park. One of the complexes main attractions is a large water park, known for its water slides and raft ride. If you’re willing to travel a little further from the downtown area, there are also large water parks located within the amusement parks at Canada’s Wonderland, north of the city, and Fantasy Fair, west of the city near the airport.

7. At first glance, Toronto may appear to be a rather urban city, but it also has many parks and trails which are great for hiking, biking and nature watching. One of the distinctive features of the city’s geography is a series of forested deep ravines that have almost entirely escaped development. The city maintains a sprawling network of trails that follow these ravines throughout much of the city.

Just east of the downtown core, the Don Valley is the most prominent of these forested ravines, with a series of trails that run for over 8km in a valley along the Don River. For those on a road bike or roller-blading, there are paved trails, while those on mountain bikes or on foot can try off-road trails of a variety of difficulties.  

8. There are numerous locations throughout Toronto where you can rent bicycles. Depending on your cycling plans, you can rent by the hour, by the day, or by the weekend/week. Daily rates tend to range from about $25 to $40. Popular cycling locations within the city, such as High Park and Toronto Island, generally feature bike rental facilities on site or nearby. 

9. For those looking for something a little different, Segway rentals and tours operate out of the Distillery District on the east side of downtown. There are several different tours available any season of the year, including a Segway ‘Ghost Tour’ in the evening.

10. In the winter, a popular outdoor winter activity is ice skating on one of the city’s many outdoor ice rinks. Toronto has over 50 rinks, operating from mid-November to early March. The rink at Nathan Phillips Square and the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre (Canada’s largest artificially cooled outdoor rink) are the most popular, and both have skate rentals available for visitors. The Natrel Rink also offers regular skating lessons for all skill levels.

11. Another classic Toronto winter activity is tobogganing. There are many parks throughout the city that offer great hillsides, and during the winter season there is rarely any shortage of snow. Popular spots include Christie Pits, located on Bloor Street West, and Riverdale Park, on the eastern edge of the Don Valley. You can purchase cheap sleds at any local sporting good store, although you can also rent toboggans through the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

Live Music

Toronto is a major stopping point for artists from around the world, who play concerts in one of the city’s numerous venues. However, music-lovers will be pleased to find that the charm is not just from big concerts. Toronto loves entertainment in the way of live music. This is an extensive live music guide, showcasing some of the city’s best live music bars, pubs and clubs.

Downtown

Great live music venues in the Downtown Toronto regions are;

  • Circa: Originally founded by legendary club king Peter Gatien, this massive nightclub attracts big name international DJs and artists. 
  • This is London: Another popular nightclub featuring local and international DJs, as well as fashion shows and special events.
  • Reservoir Lounge: Popular downtown-east swing-jazz and blues bar, decorated in 1930s style. 
  • Bier Market: Downtown pick-up bar with two locations and wide selection of beer. It features regular live music during the week. 

Queen Street West

Live music venues that are popular in Queen West are; 

  • Horseshoe Tavern: A Toronto musical institution that has seen many huge bands pass through on their way to stardom. A wide variety of music can be heard here from country, to punk, to hip hop, but indie-rock is their staple.
  • The Rivoli: Another classic Toronto venue, although perhaps more famous as a comedy bar, having hosted such legends as Kids in the Hall. Eclectic music shows from cabaret to punk.
  • The Rex: One of the city’s foremost jazz and blues bars, with 19 shows a week.
  • Cameron House: Artsy Queen West bar/music club with bands playing front and back stages on a daily basis.
  • The Drake Hotel / Drake Underground: Multi-floor bar lounge with famous rooftop patio and live music venue in basement. It is known in particular for local and Canadian indie band shows.
  • Bovine Sex Club: Gritty bar that is home to edgy rock, punk, metal, retro 70’s 80’s, and Brit pop seven days a week.
  • Wrongbar: Lively bar/club that regularly features trendy indie-rock, dance music and DJs. Known for attracting up-and-coming artists.
  • Cadillac Lounge: Retro-themed design complete with old Cadillac car. This music club features rockabilly, alt-country and blues.

Queen Street East

Look for these live music destinations in the Queen Street East area;

  • The Opera House: This larger venue is a staple of the Toronto music scene, and has a balcony with a great view of the stage. It features popular Canadian and international bands and artists.
  • Dominion on Queen: Historic bar/music club with selection of microbrewery beers and regular live jazz, blues, and Irish music. 
  • The Duke Live: Traditional rock-and-roll bar with live bands, including cover and rock tribute bands.
  • The Avro: Hip bar with local folk and indie-rock bands and DJ nights.

Bloor Street West / The Annex

The Annex has some of the best live music venues;

  • Lee’s Palace: Another renowned Toronto music club that regularly hosts popular and up-and-coming bands from around the world, particularly alternative rock.
  • XO Karaoke: While not featuring live music per se, this is one of the top spots to see your friends try their best imitation.
  • Clinton’s: Small bar/tavern firmly embedded in the Toronto indie music scene.
  • James Joyce Pub: Irish pub with regular live Maritime/Celtic style music and cover bands.
  • Tranzac Club: Smaller non-profit local concert spot and arts space.
  • The Piston: Popular bar in up-and-coming neighbourhood of Bloorcourt. Live music and DJs throughout the week.

Danforth Avenue / East End

When out in the East End, make sure to catch the live music at;

  • Phoenix Concert Theatre: Fashionable larger music venue and club that attracts bigger name hip artists. Featuring rock, hip-hop, electronic artists and DJ nights.
  • Black Swan Tavern: English-style pub with live music all week. Good spot for local blues artists.
  • Allen’s: Restaurant/pub inspired by Irish-American saloons. Regular traditional Irish music.

Ossington Avenue / West End

Ossington Avenue also has some great live music spots to check out;

  • Dakota Tavern: Country-fried hipster bar decked out in saloon-themed decor. Famous for their Sunday “Bluesgrass Brunch.”
  • The Painted Lady: Intimate Ossington music spot featuring jazz, folk, rock, and open-mic Mondays.
  • The Garrison: Up-and-coming local music hotspot with a fairly large capacity. Hipster approved. 
  • Hugh’s Room: This Roncesvalles establishment is one of the city’s best spots for live folk and roots music. 
  • Parts and Labour: Trendy Parkdale bar located in an old hardware store. Features hip music ranging from punk to dance to hip hop.
  • Lula Lounge: Dundas West centre of Latin food and live music that also offers dinner and dance lesson packages.

College Street/Kensington

Kensington and College Street are well known for its local and indie live music bars and lounges;

  • The Mod Club: One of the most popular live music venues in the city. They feature a wide range of genres including rock, hip-hop and electronic, and also feature regular DJ nights
  • Silver Dollar Room: Popular grungy rock club with 50’s décor. Music here usually ranges from blues to rock.
  • El Mocambo: Famous Toronto landmark said to have hosted music since 1850. Has experienced a resurgence in the past decade, and has two stages playing rock, heavy metal, reggae and hip hop.
  • Rancho Relaxo: Small local music venue with cheesy VCR movies playing behind the bar at all times.
  • The Boat: Former Portuguese seafood restaurant turned hipster music location.
  • Supermarket: Tasty Kensington restaurant-bar with stage in the back. DJ nights on the weekend and live music during the week, including a “new talent” spotlight series on Wednesdays.
  • Revival: Little Italy lounge is the most recent host of the locally-famous monthly “Hip Hop Karaoke” series.
  • Sneaky Dee’s: Staple of the Toronto indie-rock scene. Upstairs is the music venue, while downstairs serves famous nachos deep into the night.

Yonge Street / Midtown

Midtown has some fantastic live music bars;

  • Alleycatz: Live jazz bar in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood.
  • The Unicorn Pub: Irish pub with live music Thursday-through-Saturday and open-mic night on Wednesdays.

Live music is a popular industry in Toronto, you can find new, old, and local bands throughout the city almost every week. Browse around Totally Toronto and find more great Toronto information!

Patio Guide

Toronto patios are a hot commodity during the warmer seasons. Seats go fast and bills run high as Toronto soaks up the sun after the long winter.

How do you know where to go to ensure a great patio experience? This Toronto patio guide will go through the city by neighbourhood, dining, parties or more specific criteria to help you find the patio for you. 

There are many fantastic Toronto patios scattered throughout the city, so the best place to start would be by Toronto neighbourhoods. Toronto is divided into separate regions and neighbourhoods, each one offering something a little different to the public. 

By Neighbourhood

The best neighbourhoods in the West End of Toronto for patios are Liberty Village, Little Italy, Parkdale/Queen St West and King West. Some establishment names to look out for are; the Brazen Head in Liberty Village, Utopia in Little Italy, The Beaver in Parkdale and Bar Wellington in King West.

The Toronto neighbourhoods in the East End that have great patios are The Danforth, The Beaches and Leslieville. Keep an eye out for places such as; Asteria on The Danforth, Murphy’s Law in The Beaches and Joy Bistro in Leslieville. 

The North End of Toronto has some of the best patios. Toronto neighbourhoods in the North End that have popular patios are Midtown and Uptown. Patio names to look for when in these neighbourhoods are the Duke of Kent and The Granite Brewery

Downtown Toronto neighbourhoods are well known for patios. Being one of the busiest places in the Toronto, you are guaranteed to find the best patio for you. Neighbourhoods to hit up when looking for patios in Downtown Toronto are Church & Wellesley Village, Entertainment District, Downtown (Core), The Annex, Yorkville and Ossington Avenue

Other downtown venues you must visit are; O’Grady’s in Church & Wellesley Village, Elephant & Castle in the Entertainment District, The Victory Cafe in The Annex and the Golden Turtle on Ossington Avenue. 

By Price

While patios are great to sit on under the sun, you can’t forget two vital things to consider; how expensive is it and how good is the food?  Like any form of restaurant, Toronto patios can be broken down by price range. So for an expensive patio meal, try a place like the Fifth Gem or Sidecar

If you want a full out fine dining experience on one of Toronto’s great patios, you have several options. Brassaii is one of those great options; the restaurant is located inside a heritage building. 

It offers the finest in fine dining, all from their fabulous patio. Another great choice is Bymark, which is located in the Financial District. 

For those who do not mind spending a little cash (more mid-ranged prices), an establishment like Torito in Kensington Market would fit the bill, literally! There are also a good number of budget friendly patios that offer a cheaper alternative such as Julie’s Cuban or The Rebel House in Rosedale.

For the Lunch Hour

The busiest time for a patio is lunch time or right after work (after 6 o’clock). So you can expect a rush and a race to get seats on the best Toronto patios. 

But what are the best patios for that lunch time meal/drink? Some of Toronto’s best lunch-rush patios are Vertical, Wheat Sheaf and Urban. This is barely scratching the surface though. 

Patio Party Spaces

If you are tired of running to get a table at Toronto’s great patio restaurants and bars, then perhaps you would benefit from renting out a patio! 

Toronto patios are great for summer parties and range in sizes to fit 50 people all the way up to 150. A couple patio names to look into are The Madison Ave Pub and the Cadillac Lounge.

If you don’t want to rent, then crash in on the regular parties happening at these Toronto patios. Many bars and pubs are open till 2am with great drinks and fun vibes. 

Toronto patios at bars that you have to put on your list are the Black Bull Tavern, Oasis and The Drake Hotel. The Black Bull Tavern offers great beer and pub food while the Drake Hotel is rocking the cocktails. 

For Dates

Another great use of patios is dates. Whether it’s your first date, fifth date or two year anniversary, you can truly create a romantic atmosphere under the stars. 

Places like Biagio and George really help pull the romantic settings together with gardens, fountains and secluded tables.  Or you can take your date to a patio with a spectacular view such as Polson Pier or the Joy Bistro

For those looking for a quiet place with friends or family, try Toronto patios like The Done Right Inn and Allen’s. Places like these have perfected the art of quiet and peaceful dining. 

And for those lone diners who enjoy eating in silence, you might want to look into Toronto patios such as Hemingway’s or the Ultra Supper Club. These kinds are great for people watching, some of them are even known to house a few celebrities every once in a while…

Toronto patios are like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want quiet, music, or fine dining you can be sure you will find a patio that can accommodate you. 

Theatre

Lively, uplifting, tragic, romantic, humorous, and thought-provoking; these are all words that describe Toronto theatre. The city has a distinguished Theatre District that is known to art and culture enthusiasts around the world.

The Theatre District in Toronto is in the King St and Bathurst area, not far from the Entertainment District of Toronto. Hundreds of productions are staged at various venues here, including Tony award winning shows. 

Toronto has truly become a major international centre for theatre performance. Some of North America’s best directors, producers and actors are driven to work in Toronto Theatre.  

The following list of large venues helps make up Toronto’s Theatre District: The Canon Theatre, The Princess of Wales Theatre, Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, Royal Alexander Theatre, Panasonic Theatre and Roundhouse Theatre. You can get detailed information about each at www.mirvish.com.

Not far from these stages you will find the Four Seasons Centre on Queen West, originally built for opera and ballet, you can now see all kinds of shows here. 

To the north of the downtown area sits the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The musicals “Showboat” and “Ragtime” had their premiers at the TCA and both won Tony awards. It is never difficult to find quality Toronto musical shows.

Here is a list of other Toronto Theatres in and around the downtown core.

  • Panasonic Theatre
  • Tarragon Theatre
  • Young Peoples Theatre
  • Cameron House
  • Soulpepper Theatre Company
  • Bathurst St. Theatre
  • Factory Theatre

Not all Toronto theatres are created alike. For instance, some are designed for traditional theatrical performances and musicals, while others focus on concerts, stand-up comedy, dance and other forms of artistic expression. 

There are several venues that include both traditional and non-traditional shows. The Four Seasons Centre, as well as the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the Young Centre for the Performing Arts falls into this category. 

Dance Theatre

Toronto is home to award winning dancers and choreographers. Dance theatre is very big in the city. The Toronto Dance Theatre, Fleck Dance, and Arabesque Dance Company and Orchestra all draw substantial audiences

Large Halls

Realistically they are not considered theatres, but many mistake some of Toronto’s large concert halls for theatrical venues. Although from time to time actors and actresses take to the stage at places like Roy Thompson Hall and Massey Hall, these types of venues are most often used for music or comedy performances.

Theatre Acting

While there are many places in the city to learn the craft of acting, the Centre for Indigenous Theatre is unique to Toronto. Founded in 1974, it is a special training facility for native theatre artists. 

Students are given the opportunity to perform publicly and have had a big impact on the arts. For more information visit www.indigenoustheatre.com.

The Wylde Project, Randolph Academy, Ryerson Theatre School and Dragontails Drama are a few other Toronto theatre schools.

Famous Toronto Appearances

The staging, lighting, direction and music of Toronto theatre is as good as it gets. The city has enjoyed a strong reputation for top-notch theatre production for many years. 

It’s no wonder that some of the best actors and actresses in North America have come to Toronto to work in theatre. Some of those famous people have included Donald Sutherland, Eugene Levy, Donny Osmond, Shirley Douglas, Andrea Martin and Hugh Jackman. 

It is also not uncommon for some of Hollywood’s big names to visit the city in order to attend the theatre. Actress Katie Holmes who has performed in several theatre productions in the United States has been known to visit Toronto with daughter, Suri to take in shows here. 

Since there are so many world-class Toronto shows to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what performances to attend.  There is a way to narrow down your search. 

You can visit www.scenechanges.com and www.torontostage.com for previews and reviews of many of the Toronto theatre productions. 

The magnificent theatre in Toronto is constantly changing and growing. The theatre community has so much to offer in terms of both performance and education. There is always exciting news coming out of the Theatre District. If you love the arts and are planning a visit to Toronto, a trip to the Theatre is highly recommended. 

For a glimpse of what shows are currently playing check out www.torontolivetheatre.com or www.Toronto-theatre.com. You won’t be disappointed.

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre
Pantages Theatre
Princess of Wales Theatre
Roy Thompson Hall
Royal Alexandra Theatre
Theatre and Performing Arts Venues

Things to Do in Toronto

As Toronto can be hard to navigate around, we begin the list of Things to do in Toronto from the heart of downtown Toronto.

Things to Do in Toronto are:

  • The city’s main landmark is the CN Tower. Standing at a whopping 1,815 ft tall, it dominates the Toronto skyline. The elevator ride up this massive structure takes approximately 3 minutes and the views from inside the top are the best you will find in Toronto. The CN Tower has a restaurant that slowly revolves while the guests eat, giving them a 360 degree view of the city. This beloved landmark was the first of its kind and is considered the pride and joy of Toronto.

  • The Distillery District is one of Toronto’s oldest and best preserved heritage sites. This 13 acre district has many restaurants and cafes, along with biking paths and art galleries. Walking along one of the many streets of the Distillery District is like walking down Toronto in the year 1830.

  • Another great area to go for a walk in dowtown Toronto is the Harbourfront. Extending from Yonge Street to Bathrust Street, Toronto’s Harbourfront stretches along the shore of Lake Ontario. There are always festivals going on here, and great bars and pubs with open patios. The most famous place along Harbourfront is the Harbourfront Centre which holds galleries and exhibits. The best time to visit this area is in the summer time.

  • Next on the list is Toronto’s main art gallery and museum. The first being the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) which has over 6 million items contained within 40 galleries. This massive world culture and history museum is a hot spot for tourists and locals. The most recent exhibit here was the Dead Sea Scrolls. The second Toronto gallery is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Being the 10th largest art gallery in North America, it holds 68,000 beloved works of art from present day to as far back as the 1st century.

  • Heading a little further out from the centre of downtown Toronto is the magnificent castle known as Casa Loma. You’ve probably seen it before and just did not know it. This was the site of the famous school for mutants in the blockbuster movie X-men. With its Gothic Revival style, it was built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt around 1911. It is now a Canadian Landmark and museum.

  • A must see when in Toronto is the Kensington Market. Situated at the west end of Spadina Ave, this eclectic collection of vintage shops, cafes and restaurants has been around since 1920. It is a fascinating place to people watch and also offers imported products. December brings the Solstice festival to Kensington Market.

  • Moving towards the outskirts of Toronto, you will come across the Toronto Zoo in the Scarborough district. Stretching across 710 acres, this is the third largest zoo in the world. The Toronto Zoo is seperated into 8 different regions of the world and houses more then 490 species. It is a great place to bring the family or for a stroll by yourself.

  • If you feel like a day trip while visiting Toronto, no place is better then Centre Island. Also known as Toronto Island, it is a short ferry ride away. This is a nice place for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city with large green spaces and recreation areas. Toronto Island is a classic 150 year old community that is great for picnics, sports, hiking paths and renting boats. Its a beautiful escape for the weekend and usually holds festivals all year round.

  • Jump on the Queen Street streetcar coming east from downtown Toronto and travel into the Toronto Beaches. This is known for dog walking, independent shops and strolling down the Boardwalk along Lake Ontario. Like most regions in Toronto, the culture in the Beaches are very different from downtown Toronto. The small-town atmosphere only adds to its charm as you walk past classy homes and condos or sip a drink at one of the many patio pubs. Make sure you look to the west for a fantastic view of the Toronto skyline.

  • Last but not least on the top ten list are the culture inspired districts of Toronto. Travel around the world in one day as you visit Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Little Portugal and Little India. We feel this has to be on the top ten list of places to see in Toronto because it is the epitome of Toronto culture. Everything is authentic from the food, fabrics to the clothes.

So when visiting Toronto, mark these places on your ‘must-see’ list and have fun. Enjoy the beauty of Toronto and the many things to do in Toronto.

Top 77 Places to Pick Up

Toronto is such a busy city, and yet it’s still easy for the single folks out there to get lonely from time to time. The good news is that there are so many things to see and places to be in Toronto, which means plenty of opportunities to meet a special someone. Here are a few of our choice spots to look for love;

Bars and Clubs

Lee’s Palace/Dance Cave: Check out a cool band at this Annex music venue and later chat up the person who was bobbing their head next you. If not maybe find someone to dance with later at the busy nightclub upstairs.

The Brunswick House: This infamously seedy Toronto tavern has cleaned up in recent years, but is still a favourite meet-market with cheap drinks and loud music.

Cirro’s: This hub for beer connoisseurs is a gem in the rough of the Bloor and Lansdowne neighbourhood. With over 100 varieties of brew on hand at any given time, it might be the best place to try out your beer-related pickup lines.

Dakota Tavern: A hipster country bar located at Dundas Street and Ossington Avenue. A great place to show off your best flannel shirt.

Woody’s: One of Toronto’s most popular gay hangouts, located at the corner of Church Street and Maitland Street.

Crocodile Rock: A busy downtown club that tends to attract students and former students who have entered the Toronto business world. Purportedly one of the city’s spots for cougars and the young men who love them.

Devil’s Martini: King West club that is a pick up spot for the fun-loving twenty-something crowd. Dance the night away to a musical selection of top 40, hip hop, dance and ’80s classics.

Einstein Café & Pub: This casual College Street bar is favourite spot for University of Toronto students to mingle over a pint.

Brant House: Bar/club located in a spacious former factory. DJs spin lounge and house beats while partiers mingle by candlelight.

Bedford Academy: A warm and inviting bar and restaurant with a lively atmosphere and good beer selection. Located in the Annex near Avenue Road.

Lula Lounge: Toronto’s favourite spot for Latin grooves and grub. The regular live music and dance nights can provide singles a spicier evening than your average club.

Le Petit Castor: Notorious pick up spot for the more mature Rosedale crowd. A place to try out the skills again after that tough first marriage.

Real Sports Bar and Grill: Recently rated the best sports bar in North America, a great place to show off your impressive knowledge of hockey trivia or baseball statistics.

Menage: A bustling King West nightclub that is known for its popular “Wayback Wednesday” retro dance party. Has a patio with a great view to set the mood.

Bovine Sex Club: Don’t let the name give you any weird impressions, nonetheless this gritty Toronto music club is always a popular place for punk and rock & roll types.

Chick’n’Deli: Located northeast of downtown on Mount Pleasant Road, this is an infamous pick up bar for the more mature set. The dance floor here sticks mainly to classic rock.

The Crooked Star: A fun place to go on Ossington Avenue where you can try out the variety of international-themed Caesars offered at the bar. They make for a great conversation starter.

Thymeless: Toronto’s go-to spot for reggae. Head here on any weekend and bump and grind to the music deep into the night.

Bistro 422: While certainly not the most romantic spot in the city, bond with other drinkers here at the home of Toronto cheapest pint of beer.

Harbord Room: A classy cocktail lounge where the trendier citizens of the city come to enjoy unique cocktails and acclaimed food.

Sweaty Betty’s: This hip Ossington bar is small, making for an evening of close quarters with other potential singles.

Fox and Fiddle: This standard British-style pub has multiple locations around the city. Perhaps your best bet is to show up on karaoke night and show off your pipes.

Remy’s Restaurant: Home of one the most popular patios in Yorkville. A casual place to meet some of the city’s young professional set.

Guvernment: One of the city’s most popular and highest profile clubs. A place to dance all night with the hardiest of partiers. Conversations? Not so much.

Yuk Yuk’s: A popular downtown comedy club that regularly attracts big names. Laughter is the best aphrodisiac, right?

Fly Nightclub: Large, very popular club located in the Gay Village. Show off your dance moves on the sweaty dance-floor.

Big Daddy’s: This King Street Cajun bar and restaurant is known especially for its oyster bar. You know what they say about oysters.

Hugh’s Room: This intimate bar and concert hall is located in the west-end neighbourhood of Roncesvalles. A place to go for lovers of folk and roots music.

Bar Volo: A cozy bar that is one of the city’s leading destinations for unique beers on tap. Come here to show off your beer connoisseur skills.

Annex Wreck Room: If you’re a student looking to drink and dance all night to rock music, this spot is the meet-market for you.

The Painted Lady: A trendy Ossington music spot with ambience to spare, featuring jazz, folk and rock. A good place to meet a hip, artsy type.

Mod Club: One of Toronto’s most popular music venues. When there aren’t bands playing the place is a full-out bumping and grinding nightclub.

The Boat: This Kensington bar is a full dance club on weekends, with themed nights playing ’80s classics or ’50s and ’60s doo-wop.

Club V: Rich people and the singles who love them frequent this exclusive Yorkville nightclub.

The Dog’s Bollock’s: A pub with a good vibe and some of the cheapest drinks in town. The long tables encouraging mingling between groups of strangers.

Mill Street Brewpub: Located in the Distillery District, this bar and restaurant is an easy place to chat with other fans of Toronto’s favourite independent brewery.

Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub: This busy Irish pub tends to attract a friendly crowd of people originating from outside Toronto, especially Ottawa and the Maritimes. 

Restaurants, Shops and Indoor Attractions

Coffee shop: It might be a bit cliché, but the city’s thousand or so odd coffee shops are prime ground for picking up. Chat up the person in line behind you, or maybe that gorgeous barista. Important note: Tim Horton’s is not the best place to start.

Eaton’s Centre: Toronto’s biggest shopping mall is both a major tourist attraction and a magnet for young people.

Royal Ontario Museum: Visit Toronto’s most popular museum for the opportunity to show off your brain or simply try out your dinosaur jokes. They also put on a regular single’s night.

The Big Carrot: Voted by many to be the city’s best organic food store. A great place to meet fellow vegans and earth-lovers.

Bata Shoe Museum: For the gentlemen, this spot might not be on your radar, but the demographics of visitors here tilts towards the female side of the balance.

Hockey Hall of Fame: On the other hand, for the ladies this sports Mecca provides you with a distinct demographic advantage.

Smoke’s Poutinery: This relatively new entry into the city’s junk-food landscape attracts those individuals who know what real late-night food should taste like. Last-chance saloon for the after-bar crowd.

Sonic Boom: This Annex music store provides rows upon rows of new and used CDs, DVDs, and records. Find the music-nerd partner you’ve been looking for.

Bloor Cinema: Independent cinema where one can check out non-mainstream films and discuss them with other cinephiles. However, don’t try the popcorn trick until at least the third date.

SOMA Chocolate: This world-famous chocolate factory is a must-see stop on any visit to the Distillery District. After all, chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

World’s Biggest Bookstore: The bookstore is a classic pick up spot, what with the ability to gauge personalities based on choice of book. While this store, located near the Eaton Centre, has had its title contested in recent years, why not apply the maxim of bigger is better to the dating game?

The Beguiling: A great store in Mirvish Village to find fellow lovers of the graphic novel.

Village By The Grange: If you’re a downtown office worker, this downtown food court is both a great place to eat and mingle among the pack of white-collar singles.

Outdoor Attractions 

Trinity-Bellwoods Park: Take your pooch for a walk (or borrow your friends), and chat with other dog owners. If not, maybe invite some other park-goers to toss a Frisbee around with you and your friends.

Sunnyside-Ryder Pool: Spend a hot summer afternoon at the city’s largest public pool. Hang out and impress people with your tanning skills or maybe with your cannonball.

Bickford Park: It’s hard to deny the conversational appeal of a cute dog, and this is another popular spot to bring them to run around. Otherwise, maybe invite that cutie over to join your impromptu soccer or softball game.

Withrow Park Farmer’s Market: Strike up a conversation about those juicy strawberries or firm cantaloupes at this busy east-end farmer’s market. It happens every Saturday from May to October.

Toronto Island: A great place to spend a summer afternoon and hang out with the many downtown city dwellers escaping the heat. Maybe you can meet someone on the ferry, or for the very confident, there is always the nude beach at Hanlan’s Point.

HTO Park: This downtown park is part of the city’s ongoing revitalization of the waterfront. Mingle among the yellow umbrellas on this sandy urban beach (just don’t swim here!).

TTC: While it’s not the easiest place to pick up, riding along the subway or streetcar provides numerous opportunities to chat up other commuters, especially while commiserating over a delay. Or maybe meet the driver, if you have a thing for the uniform.

Ashbridge’s Bay Park: Show off your beach body or join in on a game of volleyball happening at this, one of Toronto’s most popular beaches.

Queen West: Take a cruise down bustling Queen Street West and chat up one of the other trendy twenty-somethings shopping there during the day and partying at night.

Christie Pits Park: Another of Toronto’s most popular parks, located north of Bloor Street West in Koreatown. Find a fellow recreational sports enthusiast here playing anything from soccer to baseball. In the winter people love to toboggan here — maybe bring two sleds.

Nathan Phillip’s Square: In the winter, the ice rink in front of city hall is both a great place to bring a date and somewhere to meet ice-loving types.

Don Valley: For outdoorsy types trapped in an urban environment, it’s not a bad place to meet singles out biking or hiking on a sunny weekend afternoon.

Festivals and Events

North by Northeast: Every June this festival fills up the bars and clubs of the city with music lovers listening to rock, pop, electronic and hip hop artists from Canada and around the world. As a bonus, participating bars are granted an extended 4:00 a.m. closing time.

Taste of Little Italy: Foodies flock to this culinary festival that shuts down College Street from Bathurst Street to Ossington Avenue. Every food stall lining the street is another opportunity to meet someone new.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Everyone has heard of the Toronto International Film Festival, but go to this event to schmooze with fellow fans of horror, sci-fi and cult movies.

Beaches International Jazz Festival: This huge east-end music festival attracts thousands of jazz lovers, many of whom are single.

Toronto Buskerfest: This wacky August street festival gives you so much to talk about it’s almost impossible not to strike up a conversation with that clown next to you.


Toronto Caribbean Carnival: Formerly known as Caribana, every August this massive festival brings hundreds of thousands of visitors (and singles) to Toronto to celebrate Caribbean culture, dance and party.

Pride Toronto: The event of the year for Toronto’s gay community, this bumping street party features live bands, DJs, and innumerable special events. It’s a giant single’s mixer for the LGBT community.

Doors Open Toronto: This popular annual event allows visitors to check out over 150 significant buildings that are not otherwise open to the public. Strike up a discussion on the spooky history of the Don Jail, or the retro-futurism of Toronto City Hall.

Toronto Beerfest: Maybe a little on the nose, but this annual festival of lagers attracts singles both young and old. There’s nary a bad mood at this party.

Nuit Blanche: Every October this all-night “art-happening” takes over downtown Toronto, with people crowding the streets to check out the many bona-fide conversation pieces on hand.

Toronto Freedom Festival: This celebration of cannabis culture takes place in the spring at Queen’s Park, and is quite the mixer for the stoner crowd (or those who simply love snack foods). 

Toronto Comic Con: Finding the right place to pick up is all about knowing what you’re looking for. For the nerd at heart, you just might find that someone here.

Toronto Fringe Festival: Meet fellow devotees of the arts at this, Toronto’s largest theatre and performance festival.

Canadian National Exhibition: Impress that hottie over there by winning them a giant stuffed animal from the carnival games, maybe just by buying them a pack of legendary Tiny Tom donuts. 

Browse around Totally Toronto and find more great listings!