If you’re planning a trip to Canada — specifically Toronto — for your summer vacation, the blogging best friends from East Coast Contessas are here to help!
We were pleasantly surprised by this lake-side community’s unique old-city charm, paired with its rugged modern flair. In addition, we were overwhelmed by its ever-expanding selection of innovative and flavourful new restaurants, food stands, and bars.
One thing is for sure — Toronto is one of North America’s top destinations for foodies and families alike.
Attractions – what to see
The CN Tower
First on our list of Toronto’s must-see attractions is the famous CN Tower. While this might appear as the most touristy thing to do in Toronto, the view’s truly breathtaking and isn’t one to be missed.
The lookout provides 360° views of the city, and the endless blue waters of Lake Ontario from the tower’s infamous fine dining rotating attraction, the 360 Restaurant.
Patrons can sit and enjoy delicious dishes such as the ‘Roasted Ontario Chicken Supreme’ with blackcurrant and pink pepper jus, three onion marmalade, crème fraiche, whipped potato, and a glass of 2015 Gamay while taking in the views. Make your reservations here!
General admission tickets for adults cost CAD $36 each, but if you don’t mind paying more, you should visit the Skypod observation level. Here you’ll see a glass floor suspended above the bustling sidewalks below.
The CN Tower also offers something for the adventurous at heart - the ‘EdgeWalk.’ For $225, visitors can experience the world’s highest hands-free walk on a 5ft wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower, 1168ft (116 stories) above the ground!
Be warned: this attraction is certainly not for those afraid of heights.
Tall Ship Kajama
Ahoy, mates! For individuals and families interested in experiencing what it’s like to be like a pirate for a day, hop on board the Tall Ship Kajama, a 165ft, 3-masted Schooner boat cruise.
The ship offers daily cruises (including full dinner cruises at night, perfect for couples and large groups) that set sail on the open waters of beautiful Lake Ontario.Sailors, or pirates in this case, won't go hungry while sailing this magnificent ship.
The ship’s fully-equipped, along with a professional violinist, and they provide a great selection of snacks and a full wet bar with assorted wines, cocktails, and beer.
Sit back, relax, and listen to the fire of cannons (or plug your ears!) and maybe even get a little tipsy while taking in the stunning views of Toronto. Check the website for a full list of prices and sailing times.
Who says Europe’s the only continent that's home to all the cool castles? Not us! In fact, one of the most beautiful castles we've ever visited (and we’ve visited quite a few) is located in Toronto.
Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival style house and gardens that boasts 3 floors, stables, and one spooky basement, is one of Toronto's most popular museums and landmarks. Originally constructed as a residence for a wealthy financier from 1911 to 1914, today it sits on a hill overlooking Toronto's city scape at 460ft above sea level.
Casa Loma's architectural character is as unique as the city of Toronto itself — nothing is the same. The grounds (that includes a fountain overlooking the popular CN Tower) has placed Casa Loma on the shortlist as one of the most sought-after backdrops for wedding ceremonies, movies and TV filming.
Be sure to explore the 5 acres of gardens that surround the property, and take advantage of a photo op with the view at the highest point of the castle.
Tip: wear comfortable shoes for this tour as visitors will climb stairs, including a short but very narrow winding staircase at the top.
Where to Eat
What many visitors may not realise about Toronto, is that it's a city fit for the toughest of foodies. The seafood’s fresh, the poutine’s always piled high with cheese curds and gravy, and the pierogies are always piping hot and smothered with enough cheese and meats to make a grown man cry.
We were lucky enough to sample some of the Queen City's most popular and decadent dishes and desserts — just don't read this on an empty stomach!
Expanding on their west coast roots, Miku Toronto is the East Coast sister of the original Aburi Restaurant in Vancouver. It’s led by Chef de Cuisine, Michael Acero, and Head sushi chef, Kazuki Uchigoshi.
It features an impressive raw bar, sushi bar, and an extensive selection of entree's, sake, and spirits. Miku creates a unique and sophisticated dining experience for Torontonians and tourists alike.
What sets Miku apart from other restaurants of its kind, is the Aburi sushi (meaning ‘flame-seared’), which gives each individual piece a savoury and earthy flavour.
Infusing traditional Japanese ingredients with those found locally in Toronto, Miku consistently practices its motto of Ningenmi, meaning ‘finding joy in one's life by bringing joy to others.’ In serving the freshest and highest quality seafood from Ocean Made, Miku finds their happiness in serving up some of Toronto's most innovative and colourful eats to visitors from far and wide.
We tried the Coal Harbor Platter, that features fresh oysters, oyster shooters, mussels, scallop crudo and ceviche. On top of this, there’s kaisen poke, the premium Aburi Sushi (12 pieces), spiced grilled scallops and prawns. For dessert, we had the Miku Zen: an array of bite-sized desserts such as green tea genoise, dark chocolate ganache, and matcha ice cream.
Eva’s Original Chimney's
Have you ever looked at a dessert and immediately found yourself at a loss for words? We get it, as that was our exact reaction the first time we laid eyes on the glory known as Eva's Original Chimney cones.
Before we divulge into what exactly these decadent treats consist of and how they’re made, we want to tell you how Eva's came into existence.
Born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, Eva moved to Canada with her husband and two kids during the revolution. As she dreamt of days past, she often recalled memories of eating Chimney cones — or Kürtöskalács as they’re known in Hungary — with her children and grandchildren.
Years later, with an imbedded desire to explore the world, Eva's grandson, Justin, and his wife Kristin sold all their belongings as newlyweds to travel the world for a year.
During their last stop in Budapest, they revelled at the thought of Eva's stories as they strolled the streets and took in the tastes and smells of the open gas rotisserie grills in which the chimneys were baked. Hence, Eva's was born.
Hand rolled everyday using only the freshest premium ingredients, Chimney Cones and Cakes feature a unique and satisfying crunch on the outside and a delicious, light and fluffy dough on the inside.
Patrons have the option of lining the inside of their cones with fillings such as berry compote, Nutella, lemon curd, and peanut butter, and can choose from toppings such as brownie bites, fresh fruit, cheesecake, and whipped cream. Did we mention they’re also filled with real soft serve ice cream (there's also a vegan option), and rolled in cinnamon sugar?
These delightfully sinful treats can be found around Toronto at multiple locations. These include Eva's flagship store at 454 Bloor Street West, as well as their food truck and city pop-ups locations in the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario.
All photos courtesy of East Coast Contessas.