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Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

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Washington DC...
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Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

We arrive in toronto on the eve of my wife's birthday. I want her to have a fabulous day but so far we have no plans except dinner. We've never been to toronto but will be there for a week so no need to see all the main sights right away,though I'd like to get a sense of the city; rather I'd like cool and quirky.

We like nice food(veggie), nice cocktails, activities, views, talks, book events, unusual experiences, and while we are gay, and her birthday is 3rd July and thus the day of Toronto pride, we hate crowds so would be very happy to do cool gay things but not if swarming with partiers... So, any suggestions? Much appreciated!

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1. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Hi there, you may want to check out Kensington Market or Queen Street West. Kensington is a little more "bohemian" with eclectic shops, restaurants and interesting people milling about. Queen Street West is a little more "fashionable" but with an interesting mix of people. Both areas are great for people watching and away from the area that hosts gay pride, but you may find events in both areas. Have a great trip! Here's a link to Kensington Market:

http://www.kensington-market.ca

By the way, my partner and I just came back from London and had a fabulous time. We stayed in Camden and loved the market there!

Edited: 05 June 2011, 21:08
Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Yonge Street is the place to be. Lots of diverse restaurants and very gay friendly. It is the longest street in downtown Toronto. I was there last year and had a hard time deciding on where to eat because the restaurants were amazing! Its very lively at night too!

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

First, where are you staying? You might like some restaurants down on west Queen west. The Gladstone Hotel is definitely fun and quirky. Check out the listings in NOW magazine to get an idea of what you might want to do or eat: www.nowtoronto.com

Some fun, quirky places that come to mind are: Red Tea Box on queen west, Aunties and Uncles (for brunch) GUU Izakaya on Bloor for starters.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Thanks - really helpful. Staying at The Drake and dinner at The Woodlot

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5. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

As urbanfoodie and TypicalMe have noted, the stretch of Queen West between your hotel and Bathurst St (so, heading east on Queen West) is a great area for cool and quirky -- lots of interesting little shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. Ossington Ave, which intersects with Queen West at Trinity Bellwoods Park, might also be of interest; a recent article/slideshow here about the area:

torontolife.com/features/ossington-guide/…

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Hi,

You're staying in a great area! It's become sort of the alternative queer neighbourhood, so there may be a few things happening around there on the weekend you arrive.

Several of our favourite restaurants are around the corner from The Drake on Ossington Av: Delux, Paramour, & Pizza Libretto. Here's a post from our blog about Delux:

…blogspot.com/2011/02/delux-dinner.html

Another option for birthday Sunday would be to hop on a ferry & head to the Toronto Islands. It's a perfect get away just minutes from the center of the city. Great for strolling, napping on the grass, skyline views of downtown, and there's a funky little cottage community called Ward's Island at the east end.

While you're here you might also want to visit Leslieville, centered around Queen St. E & Leslie St. It's another little "gay village", but very mixed with young families, etc. Actually, all of Queen St. East between Broadview and The Beach neighbourhood (which starts east of Woodbine) is great these days.

Lastly, if you have the energy on the evening you arrive, you might want to head to the heart of gay Toronto, Church & Wellesley. We know you're averse to crowds, but Saturday is dyke day for Pride Weekend and there will be lots of ladies around enjoying the street party. It will be busy, yes, but not as insane as Sunday. Here's a post we did on the Friday evening of Pride weekend last year:

…blogspot.com/2010/07/friday-night-pride.html

Hope that helps!

Toronto, Ontario
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7. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

LOL, totally loving that Dudley's Hardware shot. Nicely done, B&J. I have a buddy who lives over a shop on Yonge street, his photos last year were just outrageous. Hope the weather holds for you all. Enjoy!

Washington DC...
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8. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Thanks so much. Are there any restaurants on Toronto Island? Or can you recommend somewhere cool for lunch?

And can you also recommend any cocktail bars near the Woodlot?

northern Ontario
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9. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

Hello ms_scotsgirl.

The Jazz Festival will just be finishing up on the third. If this is of interest to you ...here is a little information about it and there is a direct link to the festival website on that page as well.

…toronto.ca/festevents.nsf/…

As well as above mentioned suggestions by other posters there is the CN Tower,(the most popular tourist attraction with amazing views of the city) the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario that often have interesting things going on as well as their permanent collections.

And one spot I think you will really enjoy is the historic Distillery District.

http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/

A few other neat neighborhoods are the Danforth, Little Italy and I can't recall if anyone mentioned the St. Lawrence Market which is also worth going to for all kinds of local food.

Hope you have a great visit.

Edited: 25 June 2011, 22:18
Toronto, Canada
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10. Re: Help me with a birthday plan:first time in Toronto

on ward's island: the rectory cafe is a lovely hidden away spot to enjoy a tasty meal: http://therectorycafe.com/