After facing some of the most stringent pandemic restrictions in the world, Canada’s biggest city is bouncing back to life, and Torontonians are here for it. What was once a humble trading post under British colonial rule is now the country’s cultural, financial and entertainment capital. Summer is the best time to visit for outdoor activities like kayaking along the Harbourfront and roller blading through High Park. Whether it’s hanging out in the hip yet historic Distillery District, enjoying summer festivals at Kensington Market, or exploring the museums, restaurants and boutiques in Yorkville, every neighborhood has a distinct appeal.
This tony Yorkville hotel recently underwent a complete renovation, with all 219 rooms and suites redesigned by Toronto’s own Studio Munge for a warm residential feel. A starry night illuminates the porte-cochère, and the lobby feels like an art gallery, with floors lined with locally quarried limestone. Guest rooms boast sexy oversize glass showers, while suites have deep soaking tubs. The hotel’s contemporary art collection features exclusively Canadian creatives, and new lobby level restaurant Joni has ceramic installations presented in partnership with the Gardiner Museum.
Weekend afternoon tea at Joni is an absolute delight. Sit beside the fireplace and taste an exquisite array of savory and sweet bites, from black truffle Brie gougères and maple candied trout to trompe l’oeil Black Forest cake and avocado coffee tarts, all paired with Sloane tea and glasses of Dom Pérignon. For a nightcap, rooftop bar Writers Room offers skyline views.
For an interactive date, book a custom candle-making experience at this elegant Yorkville boutique and cafe. There are plenty of candles from Nest, Byredo, Lalique and Jonathan Adler lining the walls for inspiration, but you can make something entirely your own in just 90 minutes. Slip on an apron and let your nose guide you through 15 different scents, from floral and herbaceous to sweet and fruity to blends reminiscent of an ocean breeze or the forest floor.
Finding your favorite combination of top, middle and base notes to create your personal scent is a fragrant science experiment. Once you’ve settled on a formula and selected a color for your glass jar, it’s time to stir the essential oils into hot wax, pour your candle and set your wick. Whether a gift or a souvenir, it’s sure to evoke memories of your time in Toronto.
Behind an understated brick façade in the heart of downtown, Byblos is a lively two-story eatery inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean seaboard and helmed by Executive Chef Stuart Cameron. Cozy leather booths and upbeat music create a convivial atmosphere, like you’re in Toronto’s living room. Colleagues, families and friends come here to discuss business, celebrate milestones and bond over consistently excellent food, cocktails and wines from Greece, Israel and Lebanon.
Everything on the menu is meant to be shared family-style. Turkish manti dumplings and pillowy hummus piled high with ground beef and pine nuts are popular starters. The panoply of vegetarian options ranges from pide bread stuffed with cheesy black truffle or lentils, sumac and pickled peppers to cauliflower roasted with tahini and hazelnut dukka to sweet jeweled rice studded with almonds, barberries and saffron. This is bold, flavorful food that won’t weigh you down.
This luxurious three-story Yorkville boutique has been styling Toronto’s best dressed for more than 15 years, with an emphasis on craftsmanship, exclusivity and discretion. With fashion expertise dating back decades, husband-and-wife duo George and Lisa Corbo created this sartorial playground situated within an unassuming historic brownstone.
The Corbos focus on style rather than trends, with an exclusive collection you can’t find anywhere else in town. Women’s fashion ranges from sultry looks by LaQuan Smith to polished pieces by Altuzarra and Jonathan Simkhai to lace handbags by Ermanno Scervino and lustrous leather boots by Officine Creative. A smaller menswear collection downstairs offers contemporary daywear. Book a styling appointment with Lisa and she’ll help you define your personal style with unusual but wearable pieces. She even designs her own silver- and gold-plated jewelry.
Stepping into Casa Loma, the city’s famous Gothic Revival–style castle, for dinner feels like arriving at a royal banquet. And the feast at Don Alfonso 1890 is certainly fit for a king. Father/son duo Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino developed the menu, transporting their Michelin two-starred eatery from the Amalfi Coast to a verdant conservatory in Canada. Signature dishes like mackerel with vermicelli noodles, caramelized onions and Sicilian pine nuts showcase a modern Mediterranean flair.
While the eight-course tasting menu is based entirely on recipes from the original restaurant in Italy, other offerings have been reimagined with local and regional ingredients. For example, Manitoba bison replaces beef fillet wrapped in Swiss chard and mozzarella with tomato chili reduction. Plus this intimate 60-seat spot was recently recognized by 50 Top Italy as the best Italian restaurant outside the country by a voting panel of 300+ industry insiders.
After a multi-year revitalization, Union Station is as grand and busy as ever, with new public art installations for ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art. Don’t miss the I am land that speaks West Wing exhibit curated by Maya Wilson-Sanchez, the third chapter of a mixed-media series exploring embodied connections to land through paintings, photographs and sculptures by emerging artists.
Each summer, this landmark transportation hub bustles with commuters and tourists, coming to life as a cultural and entertainment destination with markets, pop-up activations, live music and dance performances. The original 1920s storefronts have been preserved along the Front Street Promenade, and glass moat covers add a sleek modern touch while honoring the building’s heritage. Plus the new Foodie Aisle features grab-and-go fare like burgers, tacos, roti and dim sum prepared by top area chefs.