Toronto was like coming home. It was the first place I ever traveled to when I was six months old to visit my Canadian family. And it’s been the one city I’ve visited at least once every year or two ever since. But most of my time in Toronto was always with family, so while we occasionally ventured out to explore and see places like Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake or spent time in downtown for dinner, the ballet, or of course the Hockey Hall of Fame, this particular week in Toronto showed me a side of the city I’d never seen.
My first surprise was how fun and funky the Queen’s West section of the city core had become. Gladstone Hotel was once a very seedy place, but it’s now super funky and trendy with a SoHo sort of artsy vibe. The cocktail scene in Toronto was also impressive! Bar Chef is pure entertainment with molecular cocktails the specialty at the hands of mixologist extraordinnaire Frankie Solarik (beware the $45 Hickory Smoked Manhattan), and The Black Hoof was tops for delicate craft cocktails. We had a run-in with a New York Times reporter while there and it made for an interesting night of competitive journalists dueling and conniving for the perfect soundbite.
The theme for the week though was urban adventure with a artsy, foodie twist. It began with biking through downtown to check out Graffiti Alley (including taking our bikes ON the subway at one point – that was a first!). Then it was on to a culinary adventure scavenger hunt with Chef Scott Savoie in which we had to carry a suckling pig on a hockey stick through Kensington Market.
We went salmon fishing in Lake Ontario one morning and that afternoon we checked out the hipster distillery district for craft brews. Another morning we enjoyed cooking with the chefs at St. Lawrence Market, the best market in the world. And we took in the views of the city skyline twice from the Toronto Harbour, once while on a gorgeous sailboat and once from a voyager canoe which we paddled to and from the Toronto islands for a delicious picnic.
But by far the high of the week (literally) took place atop the CN Tower. Edgewalk is Toronto’s newest attraction and while I’m not one to shy away from adrenaline inducing activities, this one took my breath away.
At 1,168 feet above the ground, you walk OUTSIDE — that’s right, outside! — the top of the tower’s revolving restaurant. On a four-foot platform with no side rails, you circumnavigate the tower, secured by a harness that is attached to a rail above.
During the walk, you can literally hang over the city, faced forwards or backwards. I’m not quite sure if it was the city and skyscrapers below or not, but this particular adventure was the mental challenge of a lifetime for me. Skydiving? No problem. This? Vertigo central. The impulse to jump? Real. If ever in Toronto, it’s a must-do for adventure enthusiasts.
My story in the Tennessean:
Urban Adventure in Toronto (print)
Go on an urban adventure in Toronto (online)
Here’s my post on Johnny Jet for the Top Five Urban Adventures in Toronto.