48 Hours in Toronto, Canada

Getting back to Canada after the borders being closed for over a year and a half due to the pandemic was like coming home for me. No matter where I’m at in Canada I feel a sense of belonging, whether it be the middle of bustling Downtown Toronto, the edge of the continent in Nova Scotia, or above the clouds in British Columbia.

Toronto will always hold a special place in my heart since it was the first place in Canada I had ever visited as well as the first place outside of the US I had the chance to experience. What was different about my most recent Toronto trip was that it was the first time I had ever been to this city in the summer time. All of my past trips had been in late fall or early winter, making for a blustery, cold, and sometimes snowy few days in the True North.

Unlike those trips that required a parka, toque, and mittens, this summer time getaway was the perfect long weekend trip that only called for a light sweater for your early morning walk through the city.

After experiencing a variety of seasons in Toronto, I have to say I prefer the summer time which allows for more exploration of the city. I sure did miss being in Toronto for the height of hockey season though, so I wouldn’t dismiss a trip in the winter again. With thoughts of cold weather aside, here’s how I spent 48 hours in Toronto, Canada in June 2022.

Our 48 hours in Toronto started off with what all good trips should start with: lunch. We had just driven six hours from Pittsburgh, PA to our Canadian destination so of course our first stop had to be one with food, drinks, and maybe a table outside that had a view of the city we had been missing for the past year.

We ended up dining at The Goodman Pub & Kitchen along the Harbourfront, which had a nautical theme inside of the restaurant and plenty of covered outdoor booths that faced the lake. Our table had a beautiful view of the water and the incoming planes to Billy Bishop Airport on one of the Toronto Islands.

I went with the fish & chips as my lunch option here and was not disappointed. Of course I also decided to partake sampling the local beer because, when in Rome, right?

After lunch it was time to explore the city! We had never walked the Harbourfront before since Toronto had always been a winter destination for us in previous trips so we took to the boardwalk and followed the lake shore. Since we arrived on such a beautiful, clear day the water of Lake Ontario was a deep blue that made you believe you could be walking along the harbour of an ocean.

As we continued along the Harbourfront we came to HTO Park, a small section of the lakefront that had been developed into a beach, complete with umbrellas and chairs to relax in. The best part about this beach was that it was a complete 360 experience with the lake on one side of you and the CN Tower behind you.

We enjoyed sitting in the chairs on the beach and people watching. If you’re up for something a little more exciting than relaxing on a city beach, then you can always kayak or canoe the lake or do a Segway or bike tour of the city. You can also head over to the CN Tower and take a ride up to the top to get a birds-eye view of the city, (although that ride and view will cost you a pretty looney… is that a phrase?)

If you feel like staying on the ground and saving that $$$ the CN Tower is still a great site to see from below. Since the tower is located right in the heart of Downtown Toronto there’s really no bad view from any vantage point. While we were here exploring the area around the tower we watched a wedding party ascend to the top of the CN for what had to be quite the reception.

Now the purpose of all of our Toronto trips are always driven by sports- usually for hockey, but this time it was so the boys could see a Toronto Blue Jays game. The home of the Blue Jays, Rogers Centre, is located right next to the CN Tower and has a great view of the city from inside of the stadium.

This area of the city is very walkable and during Blue Jays games becomes a hub for sports fans far and wide. There’s also plenty of food options here no matter what type of cuisine you’re looking for. If you’re in town for a Blue Jays game like we were, then you have to make sure to book a table at Sportsnet Grill. This restaurant is located in the Marriot City Centre Hotel and has a wall that is all windows that looks out onto the Blue Jays field. Tables against the windows are available during all home games and pregame practice.

Sportsnet Grille, although not widely known, is a must for any baseball fan. You’re practically inside of the baseball stadium without having to purchase a ticket to the game. The food here is your standard Americ- I mean, Canadian fare, but its the view that steals the show. We ate here for dinner on our first night in Toronto and loved the uniqueness of the dining experience. I called Sportsnet two weeks in advance to book a pregame practice table, so if this is something on your Toronto must-do list then make sure to book it early.

Our second day in Toronto started off with a bit of a chill in the air but that certainly didn’t stop us from setting out early to see more of the city.

Our first stop of the day was Nathan Phillips Square, a city-centre plaza that houses city hall and, in the winter time, and epic outdoor ice skating rink. The main draw to this location though is the large TORONTO sign to remind everyone of where you are when you share photos on social media.

From Nathan Phillips, we walked through downtown with our Tim Hortons coffee cups until we came to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Having been to Toronto many times before specifically for hockey games, we had already toured the HHOF and opted to spend our time on this trip elsewhere. However, if you’re a first timer in Toronto and have any interest in hockey, you need to visit this place. Getting to touch (and kiss, if you’re that brave) the Stanley Cup is enough of a draw in of itself but the interactive games and activities in the Hall of Fame are great for families with young kids to get them interested in hockey and the history of the sport.

On our way to our next stop we came upon Berczy Park, a green space in the city that had the cutest fountain with statues of pups and dogs in and around it. This park was a welcome escape from the continuous city blocks and offered dog owners a place for their four-legged friends to play and roll around.

This park is also right next to the Gooderham Building, a skinny corner flatiron building that makes you wonder just how many square feet the rooms on the end are and how much rent they cost per month.

If you’re a foodie at heart like me, then you can’t go to Toronto without stopping at the St. Lawrence Market. We always make time for this market when we come to Toronto and enjoy seeing the different cuisines and treats that we can’t find back in the states. While the meat, bakeries, and produce here are top of the line, I love to pick up some maple syrup, mustard, and other condiments that vendors sell here. On this trip I bought a spicy garlic brown mustard from the market that is fantastic!

After our morning tour of downtown, it was time for the boys to head to their Blue Jays game and the girls were headed out to the islands to explore a part of Toronto that we had never been to before.

To get to Centre Island we went to the Ferry Terminal and took a traditional, old-timey ferry to our destination. The views of the city from the ferry were beautiful, especially with the blue sky and water to frame the skyscrapers and city scape. The island was… a bit strange.

I certainly didn’t think the island was going to be built up, but I wasn’t expecting so many areas that were run down and overgrown. There is an amusement park on the Centre Island as well as a few restaurants and cafes, a walking/biking trail, and a few beaches. We did not go into the amusement park but did have lunch at a carousel-themed restaurant right outside of the park.

The best part of the Toronto Islands, for me anyways, had to be the view of the city. The island is quite the contrast from Downtown Toronto with ample green space and lack of city noise that you come to expect when visiting a big city. The islands were a nice escape from that hustle and bustle and I can see why locals would come here to get back to nature and take a break from their city life.

I enjoyed the beaches on the non-city-US-facing side of the islands. The water was clear and beautiful and the sand felt like a beach that you’d find along the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately on the day we visited the islands there were many, MANY people so it was tough to find distance from other parties, especially at the main beaches and along bike paths.

During our day on the island there was an international dragon boat race competition going on, so the main part of the islands was immersed in a festival-type atmosphere with Asian-inspired food, music, shows, contests, and history lessons. It was interesting to watch the dragon boats, as that’s something I had never seen before.

Trying to get back to the city was a bit of a struggle with so many people needing a ferry at the same time. We waited an hour in line for a ferry back to the city and when we did finally return to downtown we were happy to leave the islands behind us. I think for us the islands were a “one and done” deal- It was neat to see the city from a distance and enjoy some beach time, but when in Toronto I want to be in Toronto.

Our 48 hours in Toronto came to a close with dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory which has become a favorite of ours in our Canadian travels. My favorite dish here is the spaghetti with brown butter and mizithra cheese. We love that this place is all included in the price with a choice of appetizer, entrée, and ice cream. It also helps that we love spaghetti…

One last thing we did before heading back to the states was stock up on our favorite Canadian snacks that are not available back in the US. Doritos has a BBQ flavor and jalapeno flavor that just never make it south of the border. On this trip I discovered honey mustard Pringles which are now my new go to snack. If you’re an American visiting Canada, make sure to stop in the local grocery store for all of these great food items we don’t have back home! Pizza pops- look them up when you’re in Canada- you won’t be disappointed considering the US is lacking in this product.

Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, Toronto has something going on at all times of the year. 48 hours certainly isn’t enough time to see and do everything, but it’s a good starting point, and I can’t wait to get back up to this area of Ontario again soon to discover something new.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s