When visiting a hotel you are often faced with the challenge of designing your own itinerary but that can often be an uphill struggle. Guests staying at The Fairmont Royal York, Toronto no longer have to experience this unnecessary stress thanks to Paul Marino, Chief Concierge at the hotel. Paul has provided a few examples that he thinks will make your stay in Toronto a memorable experience!
What better way to start the journey across Toronto than to be sandwiched between the city’s bustling Chinatown to the east and Little Italy/Little Portugal to the north and west at Kensington Market, where you will be faced with a maze of narrow streets and alleys lined with colourful Victorian houses.
During the 1920’s the “Market” was settled by predominantly Jewish immigrants and became known as the “Jewish Market”. The neighbourhood flourished with small shops such as furriers, tailors and bakers and there were over 30 synagogues in the area. Over the years as the Jewish population moved north waves of immigrants from every corner of the world settled in the area. Today the market is packed with shops selling goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Kensington Market is a unique neighbourhood that still exudes the eclectic charm of old Toronto. So put on your culture hat because a trip to Kensington Market is like taking a trip around the world within a few short blocks!
When you have finished soaking in the colours of Kensington Market, it doesn’t take Paul or myself to tell you where to look for the CN Tower. Standing at 553 metres and completed in 1976, the CN Tower was billed as the world’s tallest free standing structure until it lost the title in 2010 to Dubai (Burj Khalifa). Today the tower remains the tallest free standing structure in the western hemisphere and in 1995 the American Society of Civil Engineers named it one the seven modern wonders of the world.
The 360 degree revolving restaurant contains the world’s highest wine cellar at 351 metres…don’t worry it moves slowly so you will be able to keep your wine down! On a clear day you can see across Lake Ontario to the mist of Niagara Falls.
Are you daring enough to attempt the EdgeWalk at the CN Tower? It is the world’s highest full circle hands free walk at 356 metres/116 storeys. Trained EdgeWalk guides encourage participants to push their personal limits, allowing them to lean back over Toronto with nothing but air and breathtaking views of Lake Ontario beneath them. So will you take a glance over the edge?
Something you must not miss is taking the opportunity to step into the heart of Downtown Toronto’s Old Town. People visiting Toronto can visit the number one food market in the world in the St. Lawrence Market. It has been serving Torontonians for over 208 years so why not join in the tradition? There are over 120 vendors, merchants and artisans all under one roof.
Once you are done satisfying your pallet it is time to take the ten minute ferry ride from the bottom of Bay Street to Toronto Islands and leave the hustle and bustle of the big city behind you. Covering an area of 570 acres the Islands comprise the largest urban car free environment in North America. The largest of the islands is ‘Centre Island’ which is also the main area for tourists and visitors.
Strap on your helmet and hop on two wheels because the best way to explore the Islands is by bicycle and rentals are available on Centre Island, a short walk from where the ferry disembarks. There are over 15 kilometres of trails available for cycling, rollerblading and walking.
You can even cycle up to the Gibralter Point Lighthouse, which being built in 1808 is the oldest existing lighthouse on the Great Lakes. Follow the path over to Ward’s Island where approximately 400 people reside year round. Visit the Rectory Café at 102 Lakeshore Avenue and enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner on Toronto’s most beautiful lake side patio…sounds delicious!
After a day of cycling around the Islands enjoy a less taxing venture to The Distillery District. Once an abandoned historic and entertainment area it is located just east of downtown Toronto. It contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The 13 acre area comprises more than 40 heritage buildings and 10 streets, and is the largest collection of Victorian era industrial architecture in North America.
The new owners refused to lease any of the retail and restaurant space to chains or franchises, and accordingly, the majority of the buildings are occupied with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, jewellery stores, cafés, and coffeehouses, including a well-known microbrewery, the Mill Street Brewery. The Distillery is also home to Eastern North America’s only Saki Brewery, The Ontario Spring Water Saki Company.
For guests that are looking to unleash the artist within they can visit the “AGO”. Containing over 44,600 square metres of space, it is one of the largest art museums in North America. It contains over 80,000 works of art including the world’s largest collection of Canadian art…now that is a lot of artistic inspiration in one place!
The gallery underwent a major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008. This was a special project for him as he grew up just around the corner from the AGO – talk about living the dream!
Now when visiting the largest city in Canada you will no longer feel like a little fish in a big pond thanks to the exciting information that Paul Marino has shared. So what are you waiting for, release your cultural side!
Contributor: Guy Hough in conversation with Paul Marino
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is a client of Magellan PR. For more information, please visit http://www.fairmont.com, follow them on twitter @FairmontHotels, on Facebook/Fairmont Hotels and on Instagram and Pinterest, look for FairmontHotels. Their community website is www.everyonesanoriginal.com. The Fairmont Royal York, Toronto is on twitter: @FairmontRYH and on Facebook/FairmontRoyalYork
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