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10 Best Things About Toronto I’ll Miss

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Soon, I’ll be packing my bags and heading to Lisbon for the summer. While I’m looking forward to being in Europe sipping on an Americano on a patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, seeing friends I only get to see once a year, and taking care of the ancestral home Isabel and I inherited, I can admit that there are certain things about Toronto that I will miss (besides my manicurist and hairdresser!). Maybe not right away, but after being away for a while, I know I’ll think of these 10 best things about Toronto that I’ll miss.

Toronto Skyline
(The Toronto Skyline)

Being able to live in Europe for any length of time is such a luxury and a privilege. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to live in two places (Canada and Portugal), and to be able to enjoy what both countries have to offer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy some of what I’ve listed here or be inspired to look around your own city and find things you can enjoy.

#1: Watching Movies at the Revue Cinema

When I was growing up, Isabel and I would board the streetcar from our west-end neighbourhood and go to the Revue Cinema, an independent movie theatre that’s been in operation since 1912. The Revue is a pillar of the community and has always maintained a low-key, vintage feel (no video games or loud music in the lobby, this place has an old-fashioned ticket booth, a plain popcorn machine, and a modest, yet yummy candy selection.

This is where I’ve been able to see foreign films, classic films, as well as blockbuster ones. I still remember seeing “Wuthering Heights,” here when I was a kid and loving how other-worldly the entire evening felt. It’s a true treasure.

Currently, the Revue is undergoing difficulty in renewing its lease. As of this writing, they’ve been able to have a court injunction to stop an eviction. Hopefully, it’ll be able to stay as it’s been such a nice, understated presence in Toronto for a very long time, and is definitely one of the best things about Toronto.

#2: Taking a break in High Park

Just a few blocks away from the Revue Cinema is High Park, a park that is nearly 400 acres in size and a sanctuary within the hustle and bustle of a big city that I’ve been going to since I was little. I even have photos taken with my family members, dressed in their Sunday best, next to the tulips that have become a High Park Signature. That and the cherry blossoms that attract many tourists each spring.

Interestingly, there has been a lot of conflict regarding High Park and who has a right to frequent the park – those who live in the neighbourhood or everyone who lives in Toronto, no matter what their postal code. There’s also been a lot of discussion regarding driving, cyclists, and speed limits. As an aside, the founder of High Park, John Howard, donated the park to the city with a few stipulations:

  • No alcohol can be served in the park
  • It would always be free and open to the public

Because High Park was considered to be outside of Toronto (John Howard and his wife, Jemima used their house Colborne Lodge as their summer cottage), it’s always been a commuter park. There’s a ton of beauty, tranquility, and peace in High Park. I know I’ll miss the grounding quality this park provides.

#3: Walking through Kensington Market

One of Toronto’s most famous neighbourhoods, Kensington Market is also one of my favourites. I’ve been going to Kensington since I can remember (I also attended Kensington Public School), and I have lots of great memories of it. I can still remember walking through the streets and seeing chickens strutting around the front of stores, and my mom buying fresh fish from the Portuguese shops. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been there twice for a cup of coffee and loved being able to be in such a vibrant place, and truly appreciated how its character is still intact.

beads on display
Beads on display in Kensington Market

#4: Spending an afternoon on Centre Island

I’ve always loved to take the ferry across Lake Ontario and dock at Centre Island. There are actually three islands, all connected, and Centre Island is in the…center.

You can enjoy a picnic, spend an afternoon enjoying the rides at Centreville, or one of my favourite things to do is meander through the residential houses on the island. It’s a tight-knit community with a few rows of houses that are incredibly charming. Part of what makes this community maintain its quaintness is that there are strict rules regarding selling and buying one of these houses. If you’re interested in reading more about this process, take a look here.

#5: Jogging by Lake Ontario’s boardwalk

There are a few different places where I like to jog near the water. It has a mostly-flat road and in some cases a boardwalk, and being by the water is calming which makes going for a run a soothing experience.

#6: Exploring the latest shops on Queen Street West

Queen Street West has changed a lot since I started to frequent this neighbourhood. While a lot of its indie music scene and thrift shops are a thing of the past, I still enjoy walking this stretch of Toronto’s downtown. If only because it allows me to revel in some nostalgia.

#7: Shopping at Yorkdale Mall

One of the best shopping malls in Toronto. It has a ton of great shops, excellent restaurants, and free parking!

#8: Spending rainy afternoons at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Lisbon has wonderful museums, so I know I will have many to choose from there, but I’ve always enjoyed visiting the AGO. I especially love the occasional exhibits. I loved the Frida Khalo exhibit was particularly fascinating. Bonus: Wednesday evenings are always free to the public.

#9: Experimenting with different kinds of food

Lisbon has a lot of wonderful cuisine, the hamlet I live in and surrounding area, not so much. There are all sorts of foods in Toronto that I know I will miss.

My top three:

  • Scones from Baker and Scone (Amazing, amazing, amazing)
  • Sushi from Yumi Sushi (I always order sushi from here)
  • Plant-Based Food from Fresh Kitchen (I love their Buffalo Wrap, Squash Tacos, and any of their smoothies and juices)

#10: Taking a day trip to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a short drive from Toronto, and sometimes when I need to go away, but can’t take a big trip, Niagara Falls satisfies.

Niagara Falls
(On the Canadian side: the Horseshoe Falls)

Are there any places in your city that you think you’d miss? Let me know in the comments below.


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