In a new series for Creative Boom, we're calling upon our creative community to share some travel tips from their home cities. You know, to give some hints and tips on where to go if you've only got a limited amount of time to sample some creativity and culture.
First up, is Canadian photographer Connor Dudgeon whose stunning work we recently featured. He lives in Toronto and kindly showed us around the Canadia hub, sharing his recommendations of places to sleep, eat, drink and explore. Connor, it's over to you!
The best place to stay in Toronto
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W) is a charming boutique art hotel in between two great neighbourhoods, West Queen West and Parkdale. It’s Toronto’s oldest continually operating hotel. It’s centred around arts, culture and dining, the rooms are designed by local artists and there are art exhibitions, karaoke nights and great food and drinks in the bar. It’s a sweet place to go, regardless if you’re staying the night or just passing through.
Kick things off with a hearty Canadian breakfast
Saving Grace (907 Dundas St W) has a delicious classic breakfast and lunch options with fresh ingredients and always lots of new exciting specials on the chalkboard. It has a bright, relaxed feel with friendly staff, and feels like hanging out and eating at a friend’s house. A perfect place to start the day, but make sure to get there early as it gets busy, especially at weekends.
Enjoy some art and shopping to while away the morning
Dundas Street W has become an arts hub for Toronto, especially with the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St W) having one of the biggest and greatest art collections in Canada. They’ve shown some huge exhibits, like Yayoi Kasuma: Infinity Mirrors while doing so much for local talent. It’s an awesome place to get lost and explore.
Next up, walk across the street and grab a coffee at the Art Square Café & Gallery (334 Dundas St W), a large gallery space with tonnes of photography and rotating art exhibits.
Neighbouring this is the Bau-Xi Gallery (350 Dundas St W), home to many great national and international photographers and artists, both emerging and established. It’s an amazing place to see what some of the best artists are putting out to the world.
For lunch, it's got to be pizza
The perfect lunch is a quick pizza so you can move on with your day, so why not make it a good one! Maker Pizza (59 Cameron St), owned by famous Canadian chef and TV personality, Matty Matheson, is a go-to spot with amazing original pizza flavours (and names) and killer crusts. It’s really hard to skip – be sure to try their Frank’s Best or Apocalypse Cow.
Spend a happy afternoon of culture and creativity
The area of Ossington Ave. and Dundas St. W is the perfect place to explore shops and to spend the afternoon. Lots of coffee spots, bars, restaurants and retail. Some hotspots are: Rotate This (186 Ossington Ave), a chill record shop that’s been in the city for years. It’s a great place to find the latest music as well as classics, and one of the few places selling concert tickets to every venue in the city, so check out the huge list of shows to attend by the door.
Bellwoods Brewery (124 Ossington Ave) is one of the nicest breweries and local hangs in the city, with some amazing food. One of the only patios in the area, it has a super chill vibe and a huge heated patio out-front, great for people watching. Their beers on tap are always changing, a personal favourite is their Wizard Wolf brew. In the warmer months, you can grab a few of their beers from their takeout counter and walk over to Trinity Bellwoods Park (just a block away) and hang in the sun.
Lost & Found (44 Ossington Ave) is a menswear shop that stocks some great brands from all over the globe with athe style that is timeless and high-quality.
Stephen Bulger Gallery (1356 Dundas St W) is a photo gallery that has been in Toronto for over 20 years, with lots of great photographer exhibitions coming in throughout the year and a huge library of photobooks to explore through and purchase. An amazing place to get inspired.
Blink and you'll miss it, ODDSEOUL (90 Ossington Ave) has an amazing vibe, small dark, gritty, with insanely good food. Korean tapas. The food is small in size, so ordering multiple dishes is a must, the sandwiches are like nowhere else. The cocktails add a perfect balance to the experience. The owners have several other restaurants to try once you are done with this one, Pinky’s Ca Phe, Hanmoto, Cold Tea and Seoul Shakers, all of them off the beaten path.
A little drinking and culture to finish the day
At Dundas St. W, Mahjong (1276 Dundas St W) has a bodega in the front with an expansive, hip bar in the back. There may be a line out front if you show up too late. Chill music, nice décor and delicious drinks make it a really sweet place to check out for the night. The City Pool (1307 Dundas St W) is a down and dirty billiards bar with darts and games, a local hot spot for people that don’t want anything pretentious and just want to hang with friends over some cheap beer.
Looking for a dark foggy basement to listen to some electronic music? Bambi’s (1265 Dundas St W) is awesome because it’s intimate and has great local and international DJs. They call it the grotto since it’s a basement with exposed concrete walls and exposed pipes - gets busy and pricey depending on the artist.
Another option for a busy different part of the city is Kensington Market, it’s full of character and excitement. Day or night, there’s lots to explore here. Cold Tea (60 Kensington Ave) is the perfect showcase for things that are hidden in the market, tucked away in an urban mall (keep going, you will find it!).
Tequila and mezcal your thing? El Ray Mezcal Bar (2a Kensington Ave) is a tiny bar right at the entrance of the market, with a cosy vibe to it.
Finally, Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave) is a great hip little lounge, frequented by local and smaller artists, you can always catch a great show here (and if not, go for the cheap drinks!)