Insider Guide: Best of Toronto
Toronto would be just another dot on the map of the United States had Canadian, British and First Nations warriors not banded together to beat the Americans and win the War of 1812.
Two centuries later, the city once known as York is the biggest in Canada and one of the most multicultural in North America, home to 2.5 million people (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA) of more than 200 distinct ethnic origins.
Other Canadians often mock Torontonians for their center-of-the-universe attitude, but top dogs are always targets for those with bones to pick. This city is the country’s economic and social powerhouse.
Once ruled by Victorian and Protestant morality, it has matured over the past few decades into a truly international destination, with a vibrant bar, restaurant and club scene, not to mention world-class sports teams and arts institutions.
Toronto the Good, as it was once called (and sometimes is still called in jest), isn’t afraid to show its bad side -- or any of its sides.
It’s a city of neighborhoods -- Chinatown, Little Italy, Riverdale. It’s a city of festivals -- the Toronto International Film Festival, Caribana, Gay Pride. But above all, the best of Toronto makes it a livable city, one full of promise and potential.
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
With its glossy wood, big brass maple leaves, neutral earth tones and original artwork, the Ritz-Carlton is a luxurious tribute to Canadiana.
The hotel’s 267 guest rooms, all at least 41 square meters, provide views of the CN Tower and Lake Ontario. Rooms on floors 18 to 20 have the views -- if you go lower than that, condos partially block the lake.
The bathrooms are decked out in marble, with deep tubs and in-mirror TVs.
One of the Ritz-Carlton’s best of Toronto restaurants, TOCA (short for Toronto, Canada), sports a menu filled with dishes created with only local, naturally raised ingredients.
The cutting-edge cocktails mixed at the DEQ Terrace and Lounge draw in all sorts of customers, who are encouraged to dabble in mixology.
The Ritz-Carlton also lays on a customized wellness program, with experts who tailor everything from facials to fitness to the needs of each guest.
181 Wellington St. W.; +1 416 585 2500; from C$345 (US$342) per night; www.ritzcarlton.com
The Fairmont Royal York
The Royal York is the Grand Dame of Toronto’s hotel scene, an imposing stone and copper-roofed structure that’s firmly anchored in a sea of steel and glass. It’s been a star since it officially opened in 1929, a favorite for royalty, celebrities, movie directors and regular folk who want to soak up its Old World charm.
A C$100-million renovation that finished in 1993 helped keep this property in good shape.
Rooms have an elegant, Victorian style, with antique furniture, quilted bed covers and thick curtains and valance.
The Royal York is located across the street from the grand Union Station (and connected to it via underground walkway), Toronto’s main train station, which is also built in a neoclassical, Beaux-Arts style.
100 Front St. W.; +1 416 368 2511; from C$289 (US$288) per night; www.fairmont.com
This contemporary hotel, situated in a slick condominium complex, is a short walk from the shops and restaurants on King West and Queen West, plus the bars and clubs in the Entertainment District.
SoHo's 92 guest rooms, which are 55 square meters on average, feature ultra-soft Frette linens and towels, natural down duvets and bathrooms with deep tubs and heated floors. Lights, blinds and the “do not disturb” sign can be manipulated by remote control. Thick windows block out sound, but guests have the option of opening them.
Big spenders can book the 370-square-meter penthouse suite, which has an in-suite glass elevator, two bedrooms, two fireplaces, a state-of-the-art kitchen, plus a rooftop terrace with a barbecue and an eight-seater hot tub.
The bakery/bar/restaurant Sen5es (get it?) is attached to the hotel, serving up baked goods and a solid menu, including a dinner deal for C$50 that provides one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert.
318 Wellington St. W.; +1 416 599 8800; from C$200 per night; www.metropolitan.com
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Travelers who have spent a night in a Thompson Hotel in cities such as New York and Chicago will feel at home in this modern property, located in the burgeoning King West Village neighborhood.
The 102 guest rooms (some with balconies) have floor-to-ceiling windows, heated bathroom floors and unique lighting features, along with plasma TVs and iHome docking stations. Orange and red accents stand out against the dark, hardwood floors.
The hotel's offer attributes include a 24-hour American-style diner, a rooftop bar and infinity pool, a 40-seat theater ideal for private film screenings, and the 1812 Lounge, named in cheeky commemoration of the war between the United States and Britain.
550 Wellington St.; +1 416 640 7778; from C$409 per night; www.thompsonhotels.com
A home-away-from-home in Toronto’s trendy West Queen West neighborhood. From the teeny tiny Solo room to the extra large Suite (and not forgetting the Crash Pads, Dens and Salons in between), the Drake Hotel is the perfect place for travelers looking for a more eclectic place to lay their heads.
But getting to bed early will be a challenge once you get a look at everything the Drake has to offer: a cool club for indie bands, DJs and film screenings; a raucous restaurant with a menu heavy on the meat, fruits de mer and comfort food options such as mac ‘n cheese; and a chill lounge, with a rotating art collection, culinary cook-offs, trivia and weekend oyster bar.
The best of Toronto rooftop Sky Yard is dubbed an “all-season space” by management (um, in Canada?), where patrons sip cocktails and roast marshmallows.
1150 Queen St. W.; +1 416 531 5042; singles from C$169, doubles from C$189. www.thedrakehotel.ca
HI-Toronto Youth Hostel
A solid option for travelers searching for less-expensive digs, HI-Toronto sports everything from 10-bed dorms to private rooms with double beds. It’s close to much of downtown's shops, restaurants, sports and entertainment facilities, plus it’s a short walk from other neighborhoods, such as Cabbagetown and the Gay Village.
HI-Toronto staff lead guests on pub crawls on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and they also show popular sporting events on the hostel’s big screen TV (English Premier League, Champions League Football, Rugby World Cup).
76 Church St.; +1 416 971 4440; from C$22 for members, C$26 for non-members; www.hostellingtoronto.com
A million-dollar facelift in 2011 gave Canoe even more Canadian-style glamour. This dining institution is filled with custom wood and stone, from the carved walnut chandeliers to the soapstone bar.
The “Masters of the Universe” from Bay Street (Toronto’s Wall Street) love to congregate here for power lunches. Canuck celebrities also dine at Canoe (Neil Young, William Shatner). It really doesn’t matter who you are, if you can afford the C$19-27 starters and the C$37-47 mains, you’re in.
The updated menu is oh-so-Canada, coast-to-coast: maple-torched B.C. salmon, pan-seared Quebec foie gras, Alberta lamb and New Brunswick sturgeon.
The atmosphere can feel hip, relaxed or stuffy depending on the night and, perhaps, the company. Two things stay the same, though: the food is inventive and tasty, and the view is one of the best in the city.
66 Wellington St. W., 54/F, TD Bank Tower; +1 416 364 0054; expensive; www.oliverbonacini.com
Everyone seems to be either eating at Acadia or talking about it.
As the name suggests, the focus is on Acadian food, with nods to Louisiana, South Carolina and Canada’s Maritimes. Toronto’s food critics love this place. One called it among “the most relentlessly original, ambitious and technically bang-on kitchens in the city.”
Menu items, which can vary with the season, are standouts in taste and in name: pickerel fish accompanied by early spring succotash, scuppernong mustard, soft shell shrimp and fish boudin; ecolait veal cheek merged with date and sorghum molasses, satsuma and chicory; Yarmouth albacore drizzled with brown butter emulsion, dill and blackened spices.
50C Clinton St.; +1 416 792 6002; moderate; www.acadiarestaurant.com
Osteria Ciceri e Tria
A hole-in-the-wall, rustic Italian restaurant centered on a long communal table, with smaller satellite tables. The menu is filled with Pugliese food (fare from Italy’s “heel of the boot” region) and it changes daily, although the orecchiette con rapini and the orecchiette de farro make regular appearances.
All of the pasta is made fresh. And all of the antipasti dishes are worth a try, the fava bean purée with cicoria and the pan seared scallops with cauliflower purée to name just a couple.
Run by the same group that owns the city’s trio of Terroni restaurants, this is best of Toronto Italian done right, comfort food drenched in olive oil that’s best accompanied by a glass or two of wine (bottles range from C$40-110; half and quarter sizes sold).
106 Victoria St.; +1 416 955 0258; reasonable; osteriacicerietria.com
The Black Hoof
This restaurant is a haven for carnivores and foodies who love snout-to-tail eateries. The folks at Black Hoof have been winning praise for their self-proclaimed “off-cut meat-centric menu” since 2008 (fish and veggie options also available).
The space is tight and reservations are a no-no, so when it’s busy, you’ll have to wait in line.
Diners tuck into dishes ranging from beef tongue brioche to spicy horse tartar to roasted bone marrow. It all gets rave reviews, including, believe it or not, a carrot cake that’s topped with seared foie gras. The Black Hoof also has a bar (923 Dundas St. W.; +1 416 792 7511), which serves custom cocktails (C$11-17) and wine and cheese plates.
Just don’t expect to find any vodka-based drinks on the menu -- read the owner’s tell-us-how-you-really-feel rant “Vodka is stupid” to find out why.
928 Dundas St. West; +1 416 551 8854; reasonable; theblackhoof.com
Fresh started out in the 1990s as a mobile juice bar and has evolved into Toronto’s premier vegetarian and vegan restaurant, with three locations to its name.
Its employees still blend up juices -- fruit smoothies, power shakes, immune elixirs, you name it. But they also create Asian-inspired salads (Tangled Thai), rice bowls (Buddha) and burgers (miso burger), all enjoyed by veggies and meat eaters.
The sweet potato fries should not be missed. Ditto the decadent desserts, which are vegan and change daily (you should hope for a carrot cake day).
Fresh’s main location is at 326 Bloor St. W.; +1 416 599 4442; reasonable; www.freshrestaurants.ca
Cherished by university students and working stiffs, Salad King is a Thai food-lovers paradise.
The layout is cafeteria style, with friends and strangers rubbing elbows at long tables. The food is fast and fresh. The menu is simple enough to memorize.
And everyone has their favorite dishes -- ours include the green chicken curry and the golden tofu curry. Word of warning: the spice quotient ranges from mild (a bit spicy) to 20 chilies (could set some stomachs aflame).
340 Yonge St.; +1 416 593 0333; affordable; www.saladking.com
Aunties and Uncles
No big city is complete without a great place to grab breakfast or brunch, and Aunties and Uncles is one a best of Toronto fave.
The former barbershop, anchored in Toronto’s Kensington Market/Chinatown neighborhood, is old-school-American-diner meets hip-thrift-store, with Formica tables, vintage posters and action figure dolls.
The cool kids love to come here, and they even line up on weekends for a spot (it’s quieter during the week).
The menu is designed to suit sweet or salty tastes, with banana oatmeal pancakes and Belgian waffles sharing top billing with omelets and breakfast tacos.
Best of all, everything is under C$10, with lattes and cappuccinos running C$3. Aunties and Uncles doesn’t take reservations, so get there early.
74 Lippincott St.; +1 416 324 1375; affordable; www.auntiesanduncles.ca
Locals flock to Jet Fuel for good coffee, fresh pastries and a healthy dose of attitude. This café, located in the Cabbagetown neighborhood, is a favorite hangout for musicians, actors, dancers and bike couriers.
The music can be loud. The seating can be limited. But the coffee is always strong and reasonably priced.
519 Parliament St.; +1 416 968 9982; jetfuelcoffee.com
This is London
Downtown dwellers and suburbanites jam Toronto’s Entertainment District on weekends (and some weeknights) to dance, drink and be seen in the city’s nightclubs, many of which are located on Richmond and Adelaide Streets.
This is London is one of the pillars of the scene. Built inside a former warehouse -- complete with exposed beams and piping, carpets, plush furniture and chandeliers -- this club is spread out over multiple levels, racking up the requisite pounding music, dance space, bottle service, VIP areas (for the likes of Mick Jagger, Kate Hudson, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez), stone-faced bouncers and expensive drinks.
The women’s washroom is done up like a luxurious spa, complete with its own DJ booth and, on Saturdays, complementary hair stylists and makeup artists.
364 Richmond St. W.; +1 416 351 1100; cover around C$20, dress code; www.thisislondonclub.com
Just steps away from Church Street, the backbone of Toronto’s gay village, Fly is an institution known for a range of weekly, monthly and special event nights.
Expect a mix of fit urban professionals grinding to Donna Summer numbers alongside an otherwise rather more varied crowd.
8 Gloucester St., +1 416 410 5426; cover C$10-20; www.flynightclub.com
The Roof Lounge
Showcasing best of Toronto views, the Park Hyatt’s iconic Roof Lounge has been luring patrons to its perch above the city for decades.
It’s a favorite all year round, but is especially crowded during the Toronto International Film Festival. Leather chairs, dark suede walls and a fireplace help reinforce the 1940s/1950s feel. Drinks are pricey. Space is limited.
4 Avenue Road, +1 416 925 1234; www.parktoronto.hyatt.com
The Horseshoe Tavern
Toronto has a vibrant music scene and the legendary Shoe’s been one of the best venues to catch a live show since 1947.
The bar is at the front. The stage is at the back. The decor (old wood, stickers from various bands) really feels like an afterthought -- the Horseshoe's got too much cred to care.
Some of the best Canadian bands have jammed here. So have The Rolling Stones. It’s a can’t-miss stop on a music-lover’s tour of Toronto.
370 Queen St. W; +1 416 598 4753; ticket prices vary; horseshoetavern.com
An English-style pub that matches a tasty food menu (burgers, fries, curries, pastas) with an even tastier drinks' list, filled with craft beer favorites.
Where else in the city can you get a pint of Flying Monkey Smashbomb Atomic IPA?
Victory Cafe is on a quiet, tree-lined street on the western edge of Toronto’s Annex neighborhood. It’s simple, yet warm atmosphere provides the perfect location for friends to get together, catch up and share some laughs.
581 Markham St.; +1 416 516 5787; victorycafe.ca
7 West Cafe
This cafe/restaurant/lounge (open 24 hours a day, seven days a week) has been a funky after-hours staple for 20 years.
Wooden tables, chairs and benches are spread out over a few different floors inside a narrow old house that drips with character.
Exposed brick, stained glass, chandeliers and heavy curtains help reinforce the late-night feel, with clouds painted on the ceiling to take the edge off. 7 West sports a menu filled with salads, sandwiches, pastas and appetizers, but it’s probably more popular for its pies and cakes.
7 Charles St. W.; +1 416 928 9041; www.7westcafe.com
This downtown mall, which occupies two full city blocks, lures 50 million visitors a year. The more than 230 stores and restaurants are spread out over five floors, including a sprawling basement food court.
Designers modeled the glass dome that runs the length of the center after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade in Milan. A large mobile of Canada geese helps provide a sense of place.
Mall management added a more modern piece of art in 2011. Slipstream is a 135-meter LED installation that changes based on the movement of the sun and meteorological factors.
Eaton Centre is easily accessible by transit (TTC) -- streetcars, subways and buses stop here. It also has an entrance facing Yonge-Dundas Square, the Times Square of Toronto.
220 Yonge St.; +1 416 598 8560; www.torontoeatoncentre.com
A short walk north from the Eaton Centre, you’ll find one of Toronto’s toniest shopping and dining districts. Bloor-Yorkville has been going through a period of revitalization in recent years, with new buildings going up, parking lots turning into parks and sidewalks being beautified.
Visitors will have no trouble finding their fine fashion favorites here, including Prada, Hugo Boss and Chanel, along with lower-cost options such as Banana Republic and Club Monaco.
They can also wander the back streets to discover small boutiques, art dealers, galleries and heritage buildings, stopping along the way to grab a coffee or eat in the many cafés and restaurants.
Hundreds of retail outlets, restaurants, cafés and bars line Queen Street West. This neighborhood, between Simcoe and Bathurst Streets, used to epitomize hip.
It’s still a cool place to stroll, shop and eat, but big brands such as H&M and Zara have moved in and changed the landscape.
The smaller boutique and fashion scene has moved west, spawning a neighborhood between Bathurst and Gladstone Avenue called West Queen West (home to one of our hotel picks, the Drake).
Shoppers heading here will stumble on gems such as bag and accessory maker A2ZANE, the recycled vintage fabric fashions of preloved and the mid-century modern furniture and design store Atomic Design.
The Canadian government designated Kensington Market a National Historic Site in 2006, calling it a "microcosm of Canada's ethnic mosaic."
People of all stripes have been coming to this neighborhood since the first wave of immigrants settled here in the mid-to-late 19th century. Kensington is filled with eclectic shops, bakeries, restaurants of all flavors (Latin American, Jamaican, French, Thai) and grocery stores selling fruit, veggies, meat and spices.
Shoppers often drop by this neighborhood’s vintage clothing stores to try on old jeans, retro T-shirts and the odd fur coat. Favorite haunts include Courage my Love (14 Kensington Ave.) and Exile (22 Kensington Ave.).
West of downtown, bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas, Bathurst and College streets; www.kensington-market.ca
This 553-meter-high communications and observation tower has been marveled at and mocked since it opened in 1976. For years, it was the world’s tallest freestanding structure (beaten by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai) and the world’s tallest tower (beaten by the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China). Its views of Toronto and Lake Ontario are still a draw.
It takes 58 seconds to zip up the 346-meter LookOut level (adults C$23.99, seniors C$21.99, children C$15.99). An extra C$10 will get you to the 447-meter SkyPod. The CN Tower also gives visitors a chance to walk on the roof of its restaurant, which is 356 meters above the ground.
EdgeWalk tickets cost C$175 and include videos, photos and access to the rest of the tower.
301 Front St. W.; +1 416 868 6937; www.cntower.ca
St. Lawrence Market
Part food market, part flea market, the St. Lawrence Market is one of Toronto’s most treasured landmarks and institutions.
It opened in 1803 and has evolved from a wooden structure to a brick building, been rebuilt after fire, renovated and reimagined.
Today, the market consists of three buildings: the South Market, the North Market and St. Lawrence Hall.
More than 120 vendors occupy the main floor and lower level of the South Market, selling fresh produce, meat and cheese, along with baked goods, coffee, clothes, jewelry, accessories and much more. The North Market hosts a Farmers’ Market on Saturday, featuring seasonal produce from Southern Ontario. On Sunday, more than 80 antique dealers set up shop in the North Market and the surrounding plaza.
92-95 Front St. E.; +1 416 392 7120; www.stlawrencemarket.com
Toronto sports scene is rock-solid, with a number of pro teams.
The Toronto Argonauts have been around the longest, one of eight clubs in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Their home is the Rogers Centre, which has a retractable roof (the building used to be called the SkyDome). The CFL season runs from June until November.
The Toronto Blue Jays share the Rogers Centre with the Argos. The former back-to-back World Series champs play their regular Major League Baseball season from April until October.
This being Canada, you’ll find most sports fans are more interested in hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been chasing pucks around since 1917, although they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. They play at the Air Canada Centre (regular season October-April), sharing the space with the NBA’s Toronto Raptors (regular season October-April) and the Toronto Rock lacrosse team (regular season January-May).
Toronto enjoys its fair share of green space, from the small to the sprawling.
High Park is the city’s largest public park, located on 1873 Bloor Street and easily accessed by subway, streetcar and bus. Along with trees and trails, it has a pond, sports facilities (tennis, baseball, soccer), picnic areas and a dog run. During the summer, a Shakespeare play is staged in its amphitheatre.
Dufferin Grove Park (Dufferin Street between College and Bloor) feels like a true neighborhood green space and is well loved by locals. It’s easy to spend a day there checking out its play structures and unique wading pool, baking pizza or bread in one of the public wood-fired brick ovens or picking up produce at the farmers’ market (Thursday).
Another favorite for outdoor activities are the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario, just a short ferry ride from the harborfront. Centre Island is the biggest in the chain, boasting the largest urban car-free community in North America. The Toronto Islands have parks, picnic areas, beaches (Hanlan’s Point is clothing-optional), an amusement park and more spread out over some 240 hectares.
Toronto’s former leaders and officials have taken a lot of flak for allowing developers to do doing away with some of its architectural heritage. The building boom of the 1950s and ‘60s led to the destruction of many 19th-century buildings. In the decades before that, two great fires (1849 and 1904) burned up big chunks of downtown.
In these days of condo creep, city planners are stricter about saving heritage buildings. They’ve also approved projects to renovate old sites or allowed new projects to go ahead, leading to yet another building boom.
Toronto is a relatively young city, so its heritage buildings were constructed in the 1800s and 1900s.
One of the oldest areas is the Fork York National Historic Site. The British built the fort in 1793 and rebuilt it after the Americans torched the place during the War of 1812. Visitors can tour the fort’s eight historic structures, along with seeing musket and music demonstrations (250 Fort York Blvd.; +1 416 392 6907).
Toronto is home to a number of Victorian-style buildings, and many of them can be found in the neighborhood of Cabbagetown. Residents developed the area in the late 1800s. Go for a stroll on your own, or link up with the folks at Heritage Toronto for one of their free walking tours. You can get to Cabbagetown by taking the TTC 506 streetcar, which leaves College Station and runs along Carlton Street.
The University of Toronto (27 King’s College Circle; +1 416 978 2011) contains a number of historic structures designed in the Romanesque or Gothic Revival styles. University College, Soldiers’ Tower and Convocation Hall are three worth checking out.
Also take time to walk through the buildings and grounds of Trinity College. You’ll feel like you’re at Cambridge or Oxford. The Trinity College Chapel is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in North America.
Casa Loma was once considered the most creative buildings on the continent. Some men want their home to be a castle, and Canadian millionaire Sir Henry Pellatt spent a fortune, and eventually went bust, turning his vision into reality. Casa Loma merges elements of Norman, Gothic and Romanesque-style architecture. The City of Toronto owns the property. Tours are available every day of the year, except December 25. Guided garden tours run from May 1 to October 31 (1 Austin Terrace; +1 416 923 1171).
The Distillery District (55 Mill St.; +1 416 364 1177) started out as the Gooderham & Worts distillery in the 1830s. It produced millions of gallons of whiskey and spirits in its more than 150-year history, surviving a fire and a brief period of prohibition before shutting down in 1990.
After a stint in the 1990s as the top film location in Canada, developers renovated the complex and reopened it in 2003, giving new life to the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America. Its car-free, brick-lined streets and restored buildings are home to galleries, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, dance studios, a craft beer brewery and a sake brewery.
The folks who run Steamwhistle Brewery (255 Bremner Blvd.; +1 416 362 2337) started fermenting their award-winning craft pilsner in 2000 in the historic John Street Roundhouse. The building, just south of the CN Tower, opened in 1929 as a steam locomotive repair facility. The environmentally friendly brewery runs tours and hosts events. Go to see the building, stay for the beer. Or just go for the best of Toronto beer.
The Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Ave.; +1 416 596 7670) is Canada’s first large-scale community and environmental center. The development is built on the site of the former Don Valley Brick Works. National Geographic named the Brick Works one of the top 10 geotourism destinations in the world in 2010. Visitors flock here to take part in interactive workshops (bike repair 101, urban gardening, cooking), tour the farmers’ market and watch environmental documentaries.
Toronto’s landscape has been transformed over the past decade, with new buildings popping up and older ones getting facelifts.
One of the first buildings to open, in 2004, was the stunning Sharp Centre for Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design (100 McCaul St.; +1 416 977 6000), a table-top structure with “black-and-white pixelated skin.”
Another addition to the cityscape is the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.; +1 416 363 6671), with its sweeping glass-and-brick facade. Inside, more glass and plenty of wood enhance acoustics. The FSC was built specifically for opera and ballet and is home to the Canadian Opera Company and The National Ballet of Canada.
Two of the world’s best architects gave two of Toronto’s best-loved museums makeovers in recent years.
Daniel Libeskind reimagined the exterior of the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen’s Park; +1 416 586 8000), home to dinosaur skeletons, armor, statues and a host of other exhibits. Libeskind merged the old ROM building with what’s called the Michael-Lee Chin Crystal (named after the guy who donated C$30 million to the museum’s renaissance project). The interlocking structure, made of 25 percent glass and 75 percent extruded-brushed, aluminum-cladding strips, has transformed the museum and the street corner it occupies.
Not to be outdone, management at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St. W.; +1 416 979 6648) hired Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry, the mastermind behind the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, to redesign their building. The AGO’s new facade is made of gently curving glass and Douglas fir. Other touches include an impressive sculptural spiral staircase in the new south wing.
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The Toronto International Film Festival has been around since 1976, but it only got a home befitting its global stature in 2010. The TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. W.; +1 416 968 3456) is part cinematic culture center and part condo tower, home to five state-of-the-art cinemas, two galleries, three learning studios, retail space and restaurants.
The Toronto Society of Architects runs tours showcasing the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the ROM, the AGO and a number of other buildings in Toronto.