Neighbourhoods are what make cities—the offshoots of the downtown core where artist life breathes and independent restaurants and boutiques thrive. Neighbourhoods are where community is built and culture is created.
When visiting a new city, it’s easy to start googling “downtown hotels” or “downtown restaurants.” But your search results may leave you disappointed with generic skyscrapers, underground shopping malls and crowded tourist sights.
Despite these challenges, we’re here to help. Here at the the Gladstone Hotel, we’ve decided to consider ourselves downtown-ish. The hotel is situated between trendy West Queen West and authentic Parkdale, a quick 15 minutes from the downtown core. So while you won’t find many skyscrapers around here, there are still lots of fun and exciting ways to explore both downtown Toronto and it’s two favourite neighbourhoods from our hotel home base.
Here are our top five recommendations for travellers who want to have a uniquely downtown-ish experience:
1) Take a Bike Ride Along the Martin Goodman Trail Hugging the shore of Lake Ontario, this 56 kilometre long trail is mostly separated from traffic offering amazing views of the lake. It’s a great way to explore the city’s waterfront from east to west, and also an awesome option for a quick commute into downtown during the summer months. If you’re ready to get pedalling, ask us about our hotel bike rentals!
Photo by Waterfront Toronto
2) Bar-Hop Your Way Around Town
Toronto has food a drink for everyone; from elegant to easy-going and including cuisines from around the world. Picking a few exciting dining destinations is the perfect way to get to know the city and there are dozens of options along Queen Street Way as you make your way into downtown!
3) Toronto’s Streetcars: Commute Meets City Tour
The City of Toronto’s streetcar network is unique in North America, with a mix of vintage and modern trollies criss-crossing downtown while offering passengers views of the local streetscape and diverse neighbourhoods all along the way.
4) Art For All
Everyone’s got their own taste when it comes to art. Thankfully Toronto’s got a gallery for everyone, from the big halls of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario downtown, to the up-and-coming local work on the walls of Toronto’s West End. Staying at the Gladstone is definitely a good way to start exploring Toronto’s art world; the hotel hosts rotating exhibitions in three floors of gallery space!
Photos by Shane Fester
5) Shop Local for a Uniquely Toronto Experience
There are hundreds of unique stores in Toronto that you can check out for all your holiday shopping needs, and many of them have things you simply just won’t find anywhere else! For example ur neighbours at Made You Look Jewellery make unique pieces that they just don’t sell online. It’s all expertly crafted and truly one-of-a-kind. There are tonnes of other examples and stores to discover too! Of course if you really need to get to the mall for a new pair of headphones, it’s all just steps away as well.