Saturday, June 01, 2013

Tops in Toronto for TBEX Attendees

ChloƩ playing Scrabble in Trinity Bellwoods Park last summer, with Prosecco for word-smithing fuel.
Since TBEX Canada started two days, I've found myself turned into an impromptu tour guide. Nobody wants to know about me, my blog, the Go Global Expos or Verge Magazine—they want to know the best place to get thai food near their hotel (Salad King, 340 Yonge Street), or where I managed to find the sweet vintage-inspired Canadian-made dress that I'm wearing (Charlie Boutique, 809 Queen Street West).

Fair enough.

I actually don't mind. Although the Albertan in me is loathe to admit this, I've lived in Toronto for almost a decade (give or take the months that I've spent overseas and back home). And in that time frame, I've managed to find a few spots in the city that rarely appear on tourism "best of" lists.

If you've got a few days in Toronto spend post-conference, here's what you need to do:

Visit the Evergreen Brick Works.

It's a pain in the ass to get to without a car, but this is one of my favourite spots in Toronto, particularly for the farmers' market on Saturdays. Nestled in the Don Valley, the Brick Works is home to Evergreen, a charity devoted to greening urban spaces. Grab a coffee and a breakfast biscuit at Cafe Belong (all made from locally farmed and produced foods) and take a walk through the property's back trails.

Walk down West Queen West. 

No, not Queen West. The tour group already took you there. I'm talking West Queen West. Starting at Bathurst and Queen, walk west and dip into cafes, boutiques and art galleries along the way. Grab an ice cream at White Squirrel (named for the legendary critters that roam the area) and take a break in Trinity Bellwoods. At this weekend hipster hotspot (where yes, you can get away with drinking beer midday in public), you can watch pups play on the  in the "dog bowl"on the north end of the park.

Afterwards, keep walking down Queen until you hit Ossington, which is largely home to restaurants and vintage stores. If you're feeling ambitious, continue north until you hit Dundas. Although the area is still largely Portuguese, there are pockets of awesome vintage stores and restaurants between Ossington and Brock.

Skip Niagara-on-the-Lake and head to Beamsville or Elora instead.

To quote my friend Mel, Niagara-on-the-Lake "is a zoo." I much prefer the Elora area for a weekend getaway. But if wine tasting is on your must-do list, Beamsville or Prince Edward County are where you want to head.

Eat at House On Parliament.

Even after a decade, this Cabbagetown institution is my fave meal in the city. Think classic pub fare, but fresh and delicious. (And vegetarians: tons of options!) Their brunch is just as delicious as their dinner though, so you may have to go twice.

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