As the largest metropolis in Canada, the city of Toronto has much to offer business travellers during their downtime. From the city’s vibrant art and culture scene, to the numerous neighbourhoods and world-class dining, shopping and nightlife, there’s an array of ways to wind down after a busy day of meetings. Take a look at our guide to being on business in Toronto next time you’re in town.
Where to stay: Contemporary style and art greets guests of The Shangri-La Hotel, with one of the city’s most popular lobby bars, the serene Miraj Hammam Spa, and a location adjacent to the only Canadian outpost of Chef David Chang’s noodle bar, Momofuku. Steps from downtown icons CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, The Ritz Carlton Hotel’s elegance attracts guests looking for luxurious public spaces, as well as TOCA Restaurant, known for its modern Mediterranean cuisine and palate-pleasing cheese cave. Travellers who seek boutique style will appreciate Le Germain Hotel Toronto Maple Leaf Square for its sleek environment, located close to the Air Canada Centre, Union Station and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Where to eat: Bay Street power players regularly meet at Canoe on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, for its panoramic views and locally-sourced cuisine, while the ground-level long bar at Nota Bene is a welcome perch for contemporary Italian meets Canadian dishes. Richmond Station celebrates seasonal ingredients from Chef Carl Heinrich, a Top Chef Canada winner, while Bar Raval, picked as one of Canada’s best new restaurants in 2015, offers diners the opportunity to savour its Spanish small plates on hip College Street. Wander the Victorian industrial Distillery District, where cobblestone streets will lead diners to colourful El Catrin Destileria for modern Mexican, hearty eats and over 60 house-made beers at Mill Street Brewery, fresh seafood at Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill or French classics at Cluny Bistro.
Where to go for evening cocktails: For a cold pint, Beer Bistro offers an elegant post-work environment as well as a curated list of draught beer from microbreweries across Canada and around the globe. For the oenophile, Reds Wine Tavern offers over 300 vintages from around the world, while Carbon Bar and Barchef are the perfect places to enjoy handcrafted cocktails while on business in Toronto.
Top Sights: After a visit to the illustrious CN Tower, visit some of the city’s other nearby sites, including the historic St. Lawrence Market (voted the best public market in the world by National Geographic), the Design Exchange, housed in the former Toronto Stock Exchange, and the Four Seasons Centre, which is home to the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The Bloor Street Culture Corridor includes the popular Royal Ontario Museum, a natural history and arts museum, the Gardiner Museum, featuring a global collection of ceramic art, and the Bata Shoe Museum, offering world history as told by different footwear.
Great Gifts: Retail therapy is easily achieved in the city’s Yorkville neighbourhood, where global brands have made this stretch of Bloor Street a catwalk for the fashionable to peruse boutiques from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Tiffany & Co., Coach, Dolce & Gabbana and Cole Haan, as well as Canadian luxury retailers Holt Renfrew and Harry Rosen. Yorkville Village is an upscale shopping centre, featuring independent boutiques, Whole Foods Market and the new home to beautifully curated gift shop Teatro Verde, while nearby Kidding Awound offers toys and gifts for all ages. The newly updated Toronto Eaton Centre is the flagship shopping experience of downtown for a wide variety of well-known brands. Make sure to also stop by the first Canadian location of Saks Fifth Avenue, for a wider selection of souvenirs and gifts to take home.
Going Local: Explore the Waterfront Trails of the city, where locals walk, run and cycle along Lake Ontario, or peruse Harbourfront Centre and its offerings like the Power Plant Gallery, Bill Boyle Artport, WestJet Stage and Toronto Music Garden. Yonge-Dundas Square is home to regular free events, concerts and outdoor movie screenings. Alternatively, explore the city’s many cultures in Kensington Market‘s shops and vintage boutiques, or go for a stroll and see a play by Shakespeare in High Park, Toronto’s largest city park.
Where to break curfew: Queen Street West offers several nightlife options at live music venues such as The Horseshoe Tavern or The Rivoli for up and coming indie bands. There are also arthouse offerings at The Drake or The Gladstone, and on College Street The Mod Club offers an endless schedule of well-known local and international bands. Those is need of a late night meal can find plenty of options at the city’s Chinatown on Spadina Avenue, which stays open until 4am.
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Have you been on business in Toronto? Did you visit any of the locations mentioned here? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Waheeda Harris