If your first 24 hours in Toronto were meant to check the big tourist attractions off your list, day two will take you out of the buzzing and notoriously heavily trafficked downtown to where the locals hang — in scenic neighborhoods and peaceful natural spaces. Your second day in the city will be focusing on taking in some art and architecture from the streets and getting to know the less-touristy culinary and nightlife scenes of Ontario’s capital. You’ll be spending a little more time walking and outdoors than you did on your first day on the tourist trail, so dress for the season — this is still Canada, after all.
Coffee, eggs, and a dose of culture
Head to Aunties and Uncles for breakie. This retro-style diner, tucked away on a residential street, is a favorite among locals. It has modest prices, delicious egg creations, and a cozy patio if you visit on a summer morning.
Once you’re full, head to Yorkville. If walking doesn’t phase you, enjoy a 30-minute wander, and if it does, hop on a streetcar to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). This museum is as amazing from the outside as it is inside, so even if you don’t feel like getting in, you’ll get an eyeful of beauty. The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the beautiful prismatic structure that works as an extension of the original heritage building was inspired by the museum’s gem and mineral collection and is a sight to see. If you do want to check the displays of art, world culture, and natural history inside, make sure to block out a couple of hours to do so. The dinosaur fossils are always a crowd-pleaser, but the gallery dedicated to First Peoples’ art and culture is a must-see if you want to learn more about Canada’s traditional landowners.
A castle visit with lavish views and a deluxe lunch
A quick walk from the ROM will bring you to the center of upscale Yorkville. Here you can visit Toronto’s only castle, Casa Loma. This gothic revival mansion and garden was privately constructed in the early 1900s. The castle hosts exhibitions and guided visits, but exploring the grounds and admiring its architecture is worth the trip as well. To reach Casa Loma, begin at the bottom of the Baldwin Steps, a public outdoor staircase dating back to the 19th century. Be prepared for a workout before the views — it’s a hefty 134 steps to the top.
Keep the fancy vibe going by having lunch at Hemingways, a popular spot among locals serving upscale pub fare and 45 beers on tap. Head to the rooftop patio that is open year round for the best seats in the house.
Street art and some much-needed green space
Take the streetcar or hop on the subway to make your way to Queen West. Start your walk at the intersection of Spadina Street and Queen Street and go west until you hit Graffiti Alley — the center of Toronto’s street art and a great photo opp. Keep walking on Queen West and make sure to stop in the various vintage and specialty shops along the way. When you reach the massive Trinity Bellwoods park, take a break and lounge on the lawns, away from traffic and crowds.
Rest your legs in front of a beer
All that walking means you’ve earned a refreshment. Trinity Bellwoods Brewery is a small brewhouse located across from Trinity Bellwoods Park on Ossington Avenue. It offers a diverse selection of beers from IPAs to sour barrel-aged wild ales and stouts brewed on site, as well as amazing shoe-string fries.
Take Michelle Obama’s advice for dinner and head to the tavern for some wild fun
If you’re not already full of beer and fries, get your legs working again for about 20 minutes to reach Gusto 101. This Italian restaurant is a Toronto staple specializing in Southern Italian fare. Try the delicious pizzas or Tuscan wood grill specialties like the grilled mediterranean sea bass or certified Angus beef. Gusto 101 has such a reputation that Michelle Obama once dined there.
Just around the corner on Queen Street West is the Horseshoe Tavern. If you have any energy left in you, spend it dancing (and sometimes headbanging) to some local rock bands until closing time at 2:30 AM.