Toronto is about 500 miles, or 800 kilometers, from New York City. It is is Canada's largest city. Over 2.7 million people live in Toronto. The greater metropolitan area has a population of more than 5 million.
Toronto is a great place to visit, particularly in the fall as the autumn colors are so lovely. It's also less crowded in the autumn than in the busy summer months. It is about a two hour drive to the United States border.
This city is Canada's main financial and media center. It has several nicknames, with T.O. being the most well known. It's also called Broadway North, as it has the second largest theater district in North America.
Some Canadians refer to the city derisively as The Center of the Universe. This is due to the perception that Toronto has too much power and influence compared to the rest of the country. This was more of an issue years ago.
Western cities like Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton have grown tremendously in recent years. As a result, these cities have a lot more influence than they did years ago. We are a vast country with a very small population compared to many other nations. There are about 35 million people living in Canada, which is less than the population of California.
Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario. Our nation's capital is Ottawa, which is about a five hour drive away. Some foreigners believe Toronto is our capital, probably because it is our most well known city.
The city has a reputation for being one of the safest places in North America. The crime rate is considerably lower here than in most cities of similar size. Perhaps that is why it has another nickname, Toronto the Good.
What to See in the Toronto Area
Toronto is in a very scenic area, situated on the shores of Lake Ontario. Toronto Harbour Tours offer trips where you can view the city's skyline, as well as the busy waterfront and nearby Toronto islands. Daytime tours are from April to October, and evening cruises are available in the summer time. Passengers can disembark at the islands and return later, so there is plenty of time to explore. A bird and wildlife sanctuary is located here.
The most popular destination for tourists is the iconic CN Tower. It was the world's highest tower at the time it was built, and remains the largest in North America. Here you can enjoy sweeping views of the city and Lake Ontario. If the weather conditions are good, you may be able to see Niagara Falls and New York state, which is about a two hour drive from the tower. People who are looking for a once in a lifetime adventure may be interested in the EdgeWalk, which goes around the entire ledge of the tower's main pod. This is at a height of 1168 feet! It is the highest outdoor walk of its kind in the world.
Participants are secured with a harness that attaches to a safety rail. This is not an activity I would dream of doing and it's definitely not for the faint hearted. However I'm sure it is a memorable experience for those who are brave enough.
The Tower also has a revolving restaurant. There also is a cafe style restaurant with reasonable prices, although that one does not revolve. The CN Tower uses different lighting at night some times to commemorate holidays or special occasions. It is green and red at Christmas, and red for Valentine's day. Sometimes the tower will change colors to honor the team that wins the Grey Cup in November, which is our equivalent of the Super Bowl.
Toronto's art gallery is one of the largest in North America, with about 80,000 works available for viewing. The gallery contains collections from 2000 years ago to the present day. Also featured here are sculptures and a large library.
CN Tower Edge Walk
I'd never have the nerve to do this, but it's interesting to watch
Toronto Neighbourhoods and Other Attractions
Toronto has several distinct neighbourhoods. Cabbagetown, Rosedale and Casa Loma are upscale areas that feature a lot of Victorian style architecture. Casa Loma also refers to a castle and gardens that was built in the early 1900s for a wealthy family. It is now a major landmark and tourist attraction.
One neighbourhood worth exploring is the pedestrian friendly Distillery District. The cobblestone streets in the center of the district are for pedestrians and cyclists only. This historic area contains boutiques, restaurants, galleries and coffee houses. It has been designated a National Historic Site. You will not find any franchise or chain stores here, as all stores and restaurants are privately owned. Personally, I think that is very nice.
Toronto also has an excellent zoo and museum. The city has a lot of cultural activities, and features the National Ballet of Canada, and the Canadian Opera. There is a thriving theater district and symphony orchestras.
There really is something in Toronto to please everyone. Professional sports teams include the NHL Leafs, NBA Raptors, MLB Blue Jays, and CFL Argonauts.
The city is easy to get around with an excellent subway and bus system. You really don't need a car to visit the main attractions. In fact I wouldn't encourage it as the downtown area is very congested at times, just like other large cities. Public transportation is a very inexpensive way to see all that Toronto has to offer visitors.
Tours can be booked for day trips to Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls. I highly recommend both. The scenery is outstanding, and the drive through southern Ontario is lovely. There are wineries and lots to see along the way. It takes an hour and a half to two hours to get to Niagara on the Lake, and then it's just a short drive from there to the falls.
Summers are hot and very humid. Spring and fall are the nicest times to visit if you want to avoid the heat. Attractions are not as busy either. If you don't like to wait in long lines, May, September or October would be a good time to plan a holiday there.
I hope this has given you some idea of what a nice city Toronto is. There is so much to see and do in our country's most exciting city.