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How to see Toronto like a local

Topic Canadian Travel

How to see Toronto like a local - Image

You probably don't need to be told that Toronto is a fantastic Canada travel destination, but like any vacation hotspot, it's all too easy to spend your time there going from one tourist spot to another without ever getting a feel for what the city is really like. Toronto's cosmopolitan nature means that it offers something for everyone, so be sure to do some digging and find the spots that suit you best, rather than the ones that show up in every guidebook.

Music mecca
The city has become a haven for music buffs in recent years, and for good reason. From the aggressive guitars of Death from Above 1979 to the raucous anthems of Broken Social Scene and the melancholy dance tunes of The Weeknd, plenty of diverse musical acts call Toronto home. That reputation for turning out beloved bands has also drawn musicians from around the world to play live shows in the area. Toronto boasts dozens of music venues, ranging from the gargantuan Air Canada Centre stadium to bars like the Dakota Tavern that host small shows every night. There's bound to be a concert going on that will get you dancing. NOW Magazine maintains exhaustive listings of these performances, so grab a copy when you arrive and start planning out your polyphonic spree in the city.

Toronto's quirky side
NOW can also guide you to the best plays, readings and restaurants in the city. If you're looking to get all those and more in one place, you can't go wrong with a visit to the Kensington Market. Time Out magazine called the neighborhood one of the best in the city and it's easy to see why. Bookstores, galleries and coffee shops dot the Kensington Market, which has rightfully earned a reputation for being one of Toronto's most eclectic and exciting hangout spots.

View from the top

Visitors to Toronto often gravitate to the jutting spire of the CN Tower, but a trip up to its peak can be a toss-up. There's no denying that the views from the top of the tower are as inspiring as they are dizzying. However, the journey upward does have its drawbacks. For one, there's the cost. It costs anywhere from $21 to $32 per person to ascend in the tower, depending on the age of everyone in your party and whether you book tickets ahead of time online. Visiting the SkyPod observation platform even higher up the tower costs an additional $12 per person. Still, Time Out recommended visiting the landmark, so it's up to you whether it's worth the price.

Hot and cold getaways
For those travellers who want another kind of view - and one that's more beloved by locals - Conde Nast traveller suggested taking a trip to the Toronto Islands. A short boat trip from downtown, the Toronto Islands offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city while still being close enough to provide a stunning view of the skyline. The islands can be busy in the summer months, but they still provide an escape into nature on their beaches.

If you're visiting during the winter, you may want to check out the Toronto Zoo instead. Most people tend to think of zoos as summer destinations, which is exactly why a winter trip is the best. Some animals won't be active, of course, but you'll also face much shorter lines and less crowded walkways. The city's zoo also offers five indoor areas and a wealth of cold-weather animals that can be seen even more authentically if you visit when the temperature drops, according to its website.