My picks below, to have a quintessential Toronto experience, are aimed at getting you away from the urban bustle and immersed into appealing natural or man-made environments with their distinctive sights, sounds, and tastes.

1. Take in the fall colours at Taylor Creek Park.

Taylor Creek Park

Toronto, Canada

Around mid to late October, Taylor Creek Park offers one of the best displays of fall colours in the city. Known almost exclusively to locals, a 5-kilometre paved path starts near Victoria Park subway station, then follows a creek through forested parkland. You’ll share the space with bicycles and people pushing strollers. Bring water. Washrooms are often locked. #walking #park #fallcolours #autumn

2. Watch jazz at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Toronto, Canada

On the second Friday of every month, the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada transforms itself into a jazz club with live jazz band, and drinks available from cash bars. You may be surprised at how well jazz and sharks go together! Come a little later for a mostly adult crowd but give yourself at least an hour and a half to visit all the tanks and watch the band. Don’t miss the jellyfish. #aquarium #jazz #music #drinks #fish

3. Wander through Graffiti Alley.

Graffiti Alley

Toronto, Canada

Graffiti Alley runs between Spadina Avenue and Portland Street, just south of Queen Street West, and features some striking street art. Up until it appeared on a TV show, few people knew about i. Have your picture taken in front of the quirky underwater scene that covers the entire wall of a three-storey building. #art #graffiti #culture #alley

4. Catch the cherry blossoms in High Park.

High Park

Toronto, Canada

For about a week in late April or early May, cherry blossoms blanket High Park, Toronto’s largest public park. Keep an eye on their website to know the exact time. Most of the cherry trees (sakura) are near Hillside Gardens, between the restaurant and the pond. Bring a picnic. Or come early to avoid the crowds. #park #sakura #cherryblossom #trees #spring

5. Get away from traffic on the Toronto Islands.

Toronto Islands

Toronto, Canada

Bicycle, rollerblade, or walk from one end of the Toronto Islands to the other, over 6 kilometres of car-free paved paths. This is where those postcard photos of the city skyline fronting the lake are taken from. Bring a picnic or stop at one of the two cafes on Ward’s Island and enjoy your green surroundings. The ferries leave from the foot of Bay Street for the 5 to 7-minute ride (more frequent in summer). #walking #cycling #park #views

6. Land at one of the most scenic airport approaches in the world.

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Toronto, Canada

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is located on an island right across from downtown and has been voted one of the most scenic airport approaches in the world. As you come in to land, you’re at eye level with the city skyscrapers, flying over water until about 10 seconds before touching down! Sit on the right side of the plane if you’re flying West. #airport #downtown #toronto

7. Take in Toronto’s only Christmas Market.

Distillery Christmas Market

Toronto, Canada

Get into the Holidays’ spirit at Toronto’s only Christmas Market in the Distillery District. Come on a weekday to avoid the insane crowds and admission fee. Mulled wine (a must), spiced nuts (my favourite snack), German sausages, live music, fire pits, and a giant Christmas tree all add to the cheer. This year it starts on November 18 and runs for a whole 5 weeks. #market #food #music #handicrafts #drinks #christmas

8. Get an adrenaline rush at the CN Tower.

CN Tower

Toronto, Canada

Go up the CN Tower, stand on the glass floor, and look at the ground 342 metres below. Jump up and down if you dare! Adrenaline junkies can try the “Edge Walk” on the 1.5-metre wide ledge encircling the tower’s main pod, 116 storeys above ground. Whatever you do, pick a clear day so you can enjoy the views. #tower #views #daredevils

9. Have an iconic peameal bacon sandwich at Paddington’s Pump.

Paddington’s Pump

Toronto, Canada

Peameal bacon is a true Ontario product that was developed right here in Toronto. Although there is more interesting food in this city, you must try this iconic meat at least once. The peameal bacon sandwich from Paddington’s Pump restaurant at St-Lawrence Market is one of the tastiest. Sit down at a table or order a sandwich to go from the counter. #cheap-eats #food #meat #market