An Awesome Holiday-Inspired Getaway In Toronto

An Awesome Holiday-Inspired Getaway In Toronto
29 Nov 2022

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Toronto is one of the most visited cities in North America, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a city with much to offer tourists at any time of the year. With a rich history and culture, amazing food, and plenty of things to do, there’s always something new to discover. Whether you’re looking for museums, restaurants, or nightlife, Toronto has it all.

I recently did a 2-day solo getaway in Toronto, with an itinerary designed to combine a few things I have never done before with one that I have… just not at this time of year. I also got to enjoy a few meals at places I have never eaten and stay at a hotel I have never stayed at. It was a whole lot of “never have I ever” rolled into 2 amazing days!

city sightseeing bus tour toronto

City Sightseeing Toronto Bus Tour

One of the best ways to see a city is on a sightseeing tour, especially one with multiple stops that allows you to hop on and hop off. The City Sightseeing Toronto Bus Tour allows you to do just that. The narrated trip starts at Yonge – Dundas Square and continues on to 20 fantastic stops. Some of those stops include Yorkville, Casa Loma, the Bata Shoe Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Scotiabank Theatre, TIFF Bell Light Box, CN Tower, the Hockey Hall of Fame, St. Lawrence Market, and the Distillery District. You really do get to see a lot of Toronto on this bus tour! Your ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you can enjoy this tour at a slower pace to spend some time at some of the locations.

Location

The City Sightseeing Toronto Bus Tour begins at 1 Dundas Street East in Toronto.

Dinner at Madrina Bar y Tapas

Madrina Bar y Tapas is Toronto’s destination for a delightful tapas-style meal. Catalonian-born Chef Ramon Simarro leads the kitchen brigade at this vibrant eatery that combines traditional Barcelona classics with a modern flare to create a very unique menu. It’s the perfect example of old meets new.

madrina tapas dishes toronto

What I Ate

I started off with Pa Amb Tomàquet (Catalonian crispy bread with tomato, extra virgin olive oil) and Chorizo Ibérico De Bellota (paprika cured acorn-fed pork sausage). I ordered the Shrimp Croquetas (fried in tempura batter, nori seaweed powder, kimchi dip) and Tortilla De Patatas (Spanish potato omelette, confit onion, aioli, chili and olive oil caviar, cooked ‘a la minute’). I finished off my tapas experience with a delicious Half Roasted Lobster (garlic, chili and herb butter, bonito flakes, sage).

All of the food I had was really amazing! Madrina is not just about great food… it’s about a great dining experience. Highly recommended!

Location

Madrina Bar y Tapas is located at 2 Trinity Street in Toronto’s Distillery District.

The Winter Village at Distillery District

I’ve been to the Distillery District in Toronto a few times, but never experienced the Winter Village until my last visit to Toronto. This festive experience puts you in the mood for the holidays with holiday music, Christmas decorations, and lots of food and craft vendors. On top of the restaurants and shops at the Distillery District, the Winter Village is truly an amazing experience.

Tickets are required on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays after 4:00pm, and December 27-31 after 4:00pm. Access is free other days and times, and tickets are not required.

Because the Winter Village can get very busy, it is recommended to take public transit or ride share. Paid parking is available.

Location

The Winter Village is located at 55 Mill Street in Toronto’s Distillery District.

tbar breakfast chelsea hotel

Breakfast at T|bar in the Chelsea Hotel

T|bar at Chelsea Hotel offers a refined dining experience in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The food is mouth-watering and well-presented. T|bar is a great option for breakfast, dinner, pre-dinner drinks, or late-night dining.

I had the Devonshire County: Slow cooked oatmeal with fresh berries, Ontario maple syrup, raisins, toasted almond, steamed milk, and raw sugar. It was so good, and a great way to start my day!

Location

T|bar is located at 33 Gerrard Street West inside the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto.

vortex room museum of illusions toronto

Museum Of Illusions

The Museum of Illusions is a truly unique experience! There are over 80 illusions, holograms, installations, and exhibits that will keep you entertained, and offer amazing photo opportunities. This unique experience will test your senses, problem-solving skills, and even have you questioning the laws of gravity.

Exhibits include an Infinity Room, Anti-gravity Room, The Vortex Tunnel, RGB Light Room, Infinity Tunnel, Kaleidoscope, Clone Table, Head on the Platter, Rotated Room, The Chair Illusion, Holograms, Optical Illusions, Photo Illusions, Turntables, Ambigous Cylinder, and so much more.

Location

The Museum Of Illusions is located at 132 Front Street East in Toronto.

Global Eats Tour

Looking to unleash your inner foodie? Then put your destiny in the capable hands of Aashim and his Toronto Global Eats Food Tour. He curates private food tours where he sources the best of Toronto’s diverse culinary scene, and works with his clients to create an amazing and memorable food experience.

Our first stop was at Lao Thai Restaurant in West Queen West. Ash ordered one dish for us to share – Nam Kao with Som Moo: Laotian crispy coconut rice salad dressed with cilantro, green onions, lime juice, chillies, Asian ham, and served with lettuce. This dish was over the top amazing! The mixture of flavours and the texture of this dish was so incredible. It was so good, I got another order to go!

chen chens nashville hot chicken sandwich toronto

Our second stop was at Chen Chen’s Nashville Hot Chicken in Toronto’s West Queen West, where Szechuan and Nashville styles merge to create a unique taste experience. Ash ordered us a medium-heat Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich: a Nashville Hot Fried Chicken thigh served on a toasted brioche bun, with southern slaw, pickles, and homemade aioli. The heat was perfectly offset by the sweetness of the pickles. The chicken is crispy and extremely flavourful, and the brioche bun is like the cherry on top. It’s messy, so extra napkins are required.

desserts at bom dia cafe and bakery toronto

Our third and final stop was at Bom Dia Café & Bakery for some sweet treats. Ash ordered Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. They were some of the best of ever had. And trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of them. Crispy and flaky crust with a creamy custard filling. The addition of powdered sugar and cinnamon was like the cherry on top. We also ordered a Canudo (cone-shaped pastry filled with custard and whipped cream) to share. The pastry was covered in coarse sugar crystals and had a delicious creamy filling. So amazing!

My private food tour was fantastic! Aashim is an amazing and knowledgeable tour guide. I highly recommend booking your own custom private food tour with Aashim.

cn tower toronto

CN Tower

Toronto’s CN Tower was the world’s tallest freestanding structure in the world for over 30 years! Construction of this concrete communications and observation tower was completed in 1976. It is 1815.5 feet tall, has 11 high-speed elevators, and has 1,776 stairs. The elevator will take you from ground level to the main observation deck in 58 seconds.

The CN Tower attracts over 2 million international visitors each year and remains an iconic staple in Toronto’s skyline.

cn tower skypod toronto

It’s been several years since I visited the CN Tower. One thing I never got to do was visit the SkyPod, which is located 33 stories above the main observation deck. On this visit, I got to experience the SkyPod. The view of Toronto from up there is spectacular!

Location

The CN Tower is located at 290 Bremner Blvd in Toronto.

toronto railway museum

Toronto Railway Museum

The Toronto Railway Museum is a must-see for any train enthusiast. Located in the heart of the city, the museum offers a unique look at the history of rail travel in Canada. Visitors can explore exhibits on the early days of locomotive development, the rise of the passenger train, and the role of the railway in shaping the country. The museum also features a variety of interactive displays, making it a great place for families to learn about Canada’s rich railway heritage. Whether you’re a railways enthusiast or simply looking for something fun to do, the Toronto Railway Museum is sure to delight you.

Location

The Toronto Railway Museum is located at 255 Bremner Blvd in Toronto.

congee queen toronto

Dinner at Congee Queen

I have never eaten at a congee restaurant before, so I wanted to ensure this was on my itinerary. Congee Queen came highly recommended by a friend of mine who frequently raves about how good the food is there. There are several locations in the Greater Toronto Area. I chose the new location at Yonge and Dundas, close to where I was staying.

The ordering process is pretty interesting. First, you enter your name on an iPod at the front desk to join the waiting list, and they text/call you when your table is ready.

When they call you, they hand you a printout with a QR code and your table number and seat you at your table. When you get to your table, you can scan that code and order right from your phone. When you submit, that order goes to the kitchen and they start to prepare your order. Or, you can order the traditional way from the printed menu on your table. Just a heads up… the menu is extensive!

congee queen food toronto

What I Ate

I started with the deep-fried dough fritters as an appetizer. Then moved on to the stir-fried beef with ginger and green onion, beef with mushroom on a sizzling hot plate, Cantonese chow mein, and beef brisket rice. I was not expecting the portions to be so big! The food was delicious, and I had a wonderful meal. There was so much that I was able to take leftovers home.

Congee Queen has a few locations. If you’re looking for a very tasty meal, this is definitely the place!

Location

Congee Queen is located at 362 Yonge Street in Toronto.

craig in opening scene friends experience toronto

The FRIENDS™ Experience Toronto

“So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke
Your love life’s DOA
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but
I’ll be there for you!”

If you are a fan of the “FRIENDS” sitcom that ran from 1994 to 2004, then not only were you singing along to those lyrics above, but you also need to check out The FRIENDS™ Experience in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall.

You get to explore set recreations like Monica and Rachel’s kitchen, Joey and Chandler’s apartment, Central Perk, and see some of the amazing props from the show.

craig in monicas kitchen friends experience toronto

Once you watch a short briefing video, you enter into the opening credits scene with the fountain and couch. After a few photo ops, you wander through a room that shows each character’s fashion choice. Then it’s time to help Ross move a couch up the stairs. Do not resist the urge to yell “Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up!” when Ross keeps saying “PIVOT”! After trying on all of Chandler‘s clothes, you get to take a ride in a comfy recliner and play foosball in Joey and Chandler’s apartment. Then it’s on to Monica and Rachel‘s apartment where you can show your culinary skills and pose with the famous purple door. But a trip to The FRIENDS™ Experience wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Central Perk. You can busk with Phoebe Buffay‘s guitar while singing “Smelly Cat”, make yourself a cup of Java, and enjoy it on the couch.

This amazing exhibit is on until January 2, 2023, so be sure to PIVOT your schedule to fit it in before it is gone!

Location

The FRIENDS™ Experience Toronto is located inside Yorkdale Mall at 3401 Dufferin Street in North York.

chelsea hotel lobby

Chelsea Hotel

Of course, if you’re going to be in Toronto for a couple of days, you’re gonna need a place to stay. Chelsea Hotel offers a great home base with a unique and vibrant atmosphere. You’ll find everything from affordable rooms to lavish suites, making it perfect both for tourists and business travellers. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Toronto, just steps away from some of the city’s top attractions including restaurants, shops, bars, and cool experiences. The hotel is also directly connected to the subway system, so getting around the city couldn’t be easier.

Check-in was quick and easy, and I was able to park my oversized vehicle in the covered parking area near the hotel’s Elm Street entrance.

chelsea hotel room

My newly renovated room had everything I needed for a wonderful stay. Large flatscreen TV, work desk with lamp, and a very comfortable king-size bed.

Location

Chelsea Hotel is located at 33 Gerrard Street West in Toronto.

art gallery of ontario toronto

Two Amazing Days In The Six!

Toronto is a great city to visit with lots of things to do. Whether you are looking for museums, parks, restaurants, or nightlife, Toronto will not disappoint.

I had 2 amazing days visiting some of Toronto’s hot spots, and eating some amazing food. And did I mention how comfy the beds were at the Chelsea Hotel? Talk about a great night’s sleep!

If you get the chance, make plans to spend some time in this vibrant metropolis. Toronto is easy to get to, and easy to get around. Lots to see, lots to do, and a very diverse menu of places to eat. Now there’s a recipe for a wonderful getaway!

Cheers,
Big Daddy

If you are a PR agency or brand and would like me to review a travel destination, vehicle, restaurant, product or service, please send me an email.


Craig Silva

Craig is a husband, a father, team leader, travel and food writer, senior youth group coordinator, designer, brander, community builder, volunteer, and social media strategist. Craig likes to travel, go camping, go on road trips, watch movies, build stuff, operate the grill, and sing with his band. Craig is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada. In June 2017, PR firm Cision identified Craig as one of Canada’s top 10 most popular male bloggers in the parents and family space.

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