Toronto and New York are similar in a lot of ways, but they’re also very different. New York is bigger, denser and more populated, which of course is going to mean that New York exists on a larger scale – more people, more attractions and more things to see and do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a New York experience in Toronto. In fact, there are a lot of ways you can have a Big Apple-like experience without actually going.
Visit High Park
New York has Central Park, Toronto’s answer to that is High Park, the largest public park in the city. Located in the west end of Toronto, the nearly 400-acre park gets more than one million visitors annually and it’s not hard to see why. Hiking and walking trails can make you feel as if you’ve left the city for a weekend and there are beautiful gardens, picnic areas, a children’s garden, play areas and Grenadier Pond, one of the prettiest areas in the park. In the spring, the large collection of Japanese cherry trees are an attraction in their own right when they’re in bloom and High Park is flooded with visitors snapping photos of the cherry blossoms. The park also has an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts and a trackless train that offers a 30-minute scenic ride.
Shop the second coolest ‘hood in the world
Vogue recently ranked Toronto’s West Queen West the second coolest neighbourhood in the world, behind Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa neighbourhood. Bushwick in New York City was listed seventh, so Toronto wins the hip ‘hood competition in this case. West Queen West is filled with independent boutiques, art galleries, vintage clothing stores, bars and restaurants, and makes a great place to spend an afternoon shopping for unique items you might not find elsewhere in the city. You’ll also find the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art here as well as two of the city’s best boutique hotels, the Drake and the Gladstone.
Head to Yonge-Dundas Square
New York has Times Square, Toronto has Yonge-Dundas Square, a public event space that is also one of the busiest intersections in the city. The square is used for events throughout the year including concerts, movie screenings and festivals. Summer is when the square really comes to life and there seems to be something going on every weekend. Nearby is the Eaton Centre, one of Toronto’s biggest malls. There are two movie theatres in the area as well as many shopping opportunities. There’s free Wi-Fi in the square and this is also where you’ll find the T.O.TIX box office where you can pick up tickets for many of Toronto’s events.
Go up to the top of the CN Tower
If it’s amazing views you’re after, you can get them with a trip to the top of the CN Tower, one of the highest buildings in the world (and at one time, the highest). You can start at the Lookout level, which is 346 metres above the city or go one level down to the glass floor – look down only if you dare. If you want to go higher, the SkyPod is at 447 metres where visibility is over 160 kilometres, and really brave souls can try the EdgeWalk, the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk 116 stories above the ground below.
Explore one of Toronto’s many diverse neighbourhoods
Like New York, Toronto is a city made of up of a variety of diverse neighbourhoods and exploring them is one of the best ways to get to know both cities. Get a TTC day pass and use it to hop from neighbourhood to neighbourhood to experience just how unique a city Toronto really is. Chinatown, Kensington Market, Little Italy, Leslieville, the Junction, Bloor West Village and Little India are just a few gems to explore.
Eat your way through the city
Toronto might not be as big and densely packed as the Big Apple, but it does have a reputation for being a city made for foodies. Bring your appetite with you when you come to Toronto to experience the wide range of cuisines found here. No matter what you’re in the mood for, be it Indian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Ethiopian, Chinese – it’s all here and so much more. Whether you want fine dining, a casual meal or something quick from a food truck, you’ll be able to find it in Toronto.
Just like in New York, you can easily get your culture and history fix with visits to some of Toronto’s best museums and galleries dotted throughout the city. Start with the two biggest – Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Other must-see options include the Bata Show Museum, The Gardiner Museum, Museum of Inuit Art, Aga Khan Museum and The Textile Museum of Canada.
Featured image: Robert