Toronto and Back

This is day 2 of my Quarantine Chronicles Series. To read yesterday’s travel guide of the Pacific Northwest, click here.

Back in 2018 this group of friends traveled to Maine. We liked it so much, we decided to go for a sequel. Toronto was the selected destination, but we made a few stops on the way up and back.

Niagara Falls

The first stop was Niagara Falls. We spent the day soaking up the spray from the falls and roaming the town.

We stopped at the imax theater for some history and folklore of the falls as compiled in the 1980’s (it was a rather outdated movie). That said, my favorite part was discovering that they had real actors tied to ropes and swimming at the top of the falls in the retelling of a story from the 50’s. That was one dedicated actor!!

From there we headed to the Niagara Falls History Museum. We were very amused by the dress up costume options, but the rest of the museum was pretty average I would say. If you are looking for dinner along the way, I’d recommend Potato Jackets for heaping servings of Halal food or poutine.

Toronto

We started our time in Toronto with a walking tour, to orient us to the city. My favorite thing I learned is that there is a piece of legislation in place in Toronto that gives incentives for businesses to build around history rather than starting over. This leads to amusingly mismatched architecture that I really enjoyed!

We also stepped briefly into the PATH. The PATH is an underground city that connects most of Toronto’s downtown. It’s full of foods spots and shops and anything business people may need during their lunch break. As a city dweller, the concept enamored me.

We stopped at Toronto City Hall for a free public bathroom and pictures with it’s infamous sign.

From there we roamed a few miles, through graffiti alley and chinatown for lunch.

The next day we made good use of our Toronto City pass and hit Casa Loma. It reminded me a lot of the Pittock Mansion I mentioned yesterday in Portland, but was much bigger and had a much deeper history. Also, it had towers to climb with sweeping views of the city. That said, it did have the same shower jets in the bathroom.

We wrapped up the day at Bluffer’s Park beach and dinner at the Victorian Monkey, an eclectic gastro-pub with excellent burgers. Would recommend!

The Victorian Monkey had a monkey, much to our delight.

For the icing on top of our day, we whipped through the CN Tower on our way back to the airbnb. Standing among the world’s highest observation decks, it definitely was a favorite for views.

For our final day in Toronto we again used our Toronto Pass, this time for the Ontario Science Center and the Ripley’s Aquarium. Both a very family friendly and fun activities if you are looking for something to do in doors.

We divided our indoor time with a trip to Toronto Islands, for a round of Frisbee golf and views of the city at dusk. The taxi ride to and from was definitely my highlight.

Buffalo

We broke up our drive home with a stop over in Buffalo, NY on the way back. Buffalo was once a major city, linking rail systems with the Erie Canal. It’s also the home of General Mills but we unfortunately missed out on the wafting smell of Cheerios that I was anticipating.

We started our day with a tour, this time of the Buffalo River, which wound between grain silos and included the history of Buffalo’s glory days. Very interesting!

From there we got lunch at I don’t remember where and headed to Rust Belt Books, a charming used bookstore with a residing cat. We got lost in there for awhile. Books make great souvenirs.

We ended this day with Shakespeare in the Park, which is literally a Shakespeare play by local performers on a public park stage. We caught, Loves Labours Lost, which was a comedy. We STILL laugh at some of the lines from that show!

Our final day of the trip was a slow start with breakfast at Undergrounds Coffee House and donuts to go from Paula’s Donuts, two wins in my book.

What I loved about this trip:

  1. I love cities, so a trip almost entirely about cities was a win for me. Toronto is casually considered the clean version of NYC and is often used as a filming location of NYC based movies. Something about that made it especially lovable for me.
  2. Toronto is a VERY diverse city. Since diversity makes me happy, I liked that.
  3. We took it slow(er) and got to enjoy more. Often I end up traveling long stretches and at least one day in the middle of the trip is wasted driving. With only 7 hours round trip, we got to spend more time doing things and less time entertaining ourselves. I hope I’ve learned a lesson there.
  4. As always, the people make the trip. This trip was no exception. I have especially hilarious memories from this trip that will hopefully hold me over until the world reopens and travel is possible again.

Join me tomorrow for an update on what I did this summer.