Toronto is one of the most accessible cities in North America. It is only a one hour drive away for about five million Canadians and within a 90-minute flight for 60 per cent of the U.S. population.
Once you arrive in Toronto, the city is easy to navigate with a strong grid street layout, one of the most extensive public transit systems in North America and a large number of attractions concentrated in a walkable downtown.
Toronto has always given visitors a warm Canadian welcome, and starting in 2015, that welcome will be even more special when they are greeted by the Union Pearson (UP) Express.
Passengers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport will be just steps away from boarding this express rail service to Union Station in downtown Toronto.
The many residential communities of Toronto express a character distinct from that of the skyscrapers in the commercial core. Victorian and Edwardian-era residential buildings can be found in enclaves such as Rosedale, Cabbagetown, The Annex, and Yorkville. Wychwood Park is historically significant for the architecture of its homes, and for being one of Toronto’s earliest planned communities. The Wychwood Park neighbourhood was designated as an Ontario Heritage Conservation district in 1985. The Casa Loma neighbourhood is named after Casa Loma, a storybook castle built in 1911 complete with gardens, turrets, stables, an elevator, secret passages, and a bowling alley. Spadina House is a 19th-century manor that is now a museum.
The City of Toronto encompasses a geographical area formerly administered by six separate municipalities. These municipalities have each developed a distinct history and identity over the years, and their names remain in common use among Torontonians. Throughout the city there exist hundreds of small neighbourhoods and some larger neighbourhoods covering a few square kilometres. Former municipalities include East York, Etobicoke, North York, Old Toronto, Scarborough, and York.
Toronto has a diverse array of public spaces, from city squares to public parks overlooking ravines. A group called the Toronto Public Space Committee was formed to protect the city’s public spaces. Nathan Phillips Square is the city’s main square in downtown, and forms the entrance to City Hall. Yonge-Dundas Square, a newer, privately owned square near to City Hall, has also gained attention in recent years as one of the busiest gathering spots in the city. Other squares include Harbourfront Square, on the revitalized Toronto waterfront, and the civic squares at the former city halls of the defunct Metropolitan Toronto, most notably Mel Lastman Square in North York.
There are many large downtown parks, which include Grange Park, Moss Park, Allan Gardens, Little Norway Park, Queen’s Park, Riverdale Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Christie Pits, and the Leslie Street Spit, which mainly consists of Tommy Thompson Park and opens on weekends. The Toronto Islands have several acres of park space, accessible from downtown by ferry. Large parks in the outer areas include High Park, Humber Bay Park, Centennial Park, Downsview Park, Guildwood Park, and Rouge Park. An almost hidden park is the compact Cloud Gardens, which has both open areas and a glassed-in greenhouse in downtown Toronto.
Nathan Phillips Square, Harbourfront Centre, and Mel Lastman Square feature popular rinks for public ice-skating. Etobicoke’s Colonel Sam Smith Trail opened in 2011 and is Toronto’s first skating trail. Centennial Park and Earl Bales Park offer outdoor skiing and snowboarding slopes with a chair lift, rental facilities, and lessons.
Toronto theatre and performing arts scene has more than fifty ballet and dance companies, six opera companies, two symphony orchestras and a host of theatres. The city is home to the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, and the Canadian Stage Company. Notable performance venues include the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Massey Hall, the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (originally the “O’Keefe Centre” and formerly the “Hummingbird Centre”).
Ontario Place features the world’s first permanent IMAX movie theatre, the Cinesphere, as well as the Molson Amphitheatre, an open-air venue for music concerts. In spring 2012, Ontario Place closed after a decrease in attendance over the years. Although the Molson Amphitheatre and harbour still operate, the park and Cinesphere are no longer in use.
Each summer, the Canadian Stage Company presents an outdoor Shakespeare production in Toronto’s High Park called “Dream in High Park”. Canada’s Walk of Fame acknowledges the achievements of successful Canadians, with a series of stars on designated blocks of sidewalks along King Street and Simcoe Street.
The production of domestic and foreign film and television is a major local industry. Toronto as of 2011 ranks as the third largest production centre for film and television after Los Angeles and New York City, sharing the nickname “Hollywood North” with Vancouver.The Toronto International Film Festival is an annual event celebrating the international film industry. Another prestigious film festival is the Toronto Student Film Festival, that screens the works of students ages 12-18 from many different countries across the globe.
Many of Toronto’s waterfront parks have sand or cobble beaches for you to enjoy. Soak up the lakeside atmosphere, come for a picnic or some beach volleyball, or go wading or take a dip at one of 11 designated swimming beaches.
Toronto has more than 1,600 public parks and 600 km of trails. The parks system covers 8,000 hectares, or roughly 13% of the city’s land area. It includes about 40% of Toronto’s natural areas, many of which lie within the ravine system and along the Lake Ontario shoreline. City parks also feature beaches, playgrounds, sports fields, gardens, conservatories, ice rinks, special events and much more for you to enjoy.