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In September I visited Toronto, Canada for the very first time. I didn’t know what to expect before I landed there, but as it turns out, the city is much more exciting than I could’ve imagined. There were three highlights during my short weekend in Toronto that stood out: the nightlife, the food, and the Queen Street West neighborhood.
Toronto is one of Canada’s most happening cities for gay nightlife. I didn’t realize it until I saw it for myself, but Toronto is VERY gay. The streets of Church and Wellesly are the main LGBT hotspots—the “gayborhood.” I visited one of the popular martini bars (and clubs) on Church Street late on a Friday night. It was jam-packed full of sexy Canadians (are there any other kind?) and even when the music stopped at last call, it took a while for everyone to scatter. But on a cool September evening (morning?), most people were just milling about on the streets. Church Street seems to attract every type of fetish bar imaginable in addition to your regular, run-of-the-mill gay clubs. My night, as usual, ended at a cheap pizzeria with some guy writing down the phone number for an after hours drink service.
The city serves up more than just gay nightlife, though. Trendy cocktail bars and posh nightclubs are scattered across the city. My Saturday night in Toronto included the semi-exclusive Black Hoof oyster & cocktail bar, a sort-of tapas bar serving pub food all night called 416 Snack Bar, and a hidden speakeasy near Chinatown.
Queen Street West is undoubtedly one of the most hip and trendy areas in Toronto. It’s a rather long street which is home to many art galleries, cafes, bakeries and restaurants. The street ends at Ossington Street which is equally trendy, but features less frilly cupcake shops. There’s also the Trinity Bellwoods Park which is a popular spot for summertime festivals and get-togethers. Keeping with the area’s traditionally bohemian atmosphere, Toronto’s Graffiti Alley (just off QSW) is the city’s only public space where graffiti is legal.
Toronto is as much a nightlife destination as it is a foodie heaven. With gourmet chefs and local hotspots, the culinary scene in Toronto is always growing. I visited the locally owned Cheesewerks—a restaurant focusing solely on one item: grilled cheese. Each sandwich could also be created as a mac & cheese dish, or you can order other cheese-related foods—all made from 100% Canadian products!
Being a rather trendy city, Toronto is also home to many of the popular food trends today—everything from cupcakes & macarons to food trucks. For a cupcake, try the red velvet one at Dlish Cupcakes—it’s a popular one among locals. For more ethnic cuisines, try one of the city’s three Chinatowns. Or, head for Kensington market where you can get everything from grilled cheese to churros.
Any weekend in Toronto is bound to be exciting. Check seetorontonow.com for current LGBT travel listings or other things happening in Toronto. For more of my personal travel tips, check out my Hipster Guide to Toronto.