Next up in our Re-Imagine: Event Destinations series is Toronto, Canada, also known as “The 6ix”.
In our Re-Imagine Series we share insider travel guides featuring destinations to consider for your next major event or incentive (read our Miami travel guide in this post). Our next stop in the series will take you north to the Canadian city of Toronto. In this Toronto travel guide you’ll discover experiences ranging from exploring the Niagara region to uncovering Toronto’s culture in vibrant galleries and museums.
Your travel guide to Canada's Downtown
For those expecting throngs of moose and an abundance of plaid, sorry, this provincial capital city is as metropolitan as it gets. Some might call it a miniature version of New York City (read our NYC travel guide), but we just call it Toronto. Coined by singer/songwriter Drake, “The 6ix” refers to the local 416 area code (it’s also fitting as the city used to be divided into six different boroughs). This city of neighborhoods is big – the fourth largest city in North America. It’s also clean, shiny, incredibly global, and (true to Canadian form) extremely friendly. Since the 1970s, it’s seen explosive growth; today we’re sharing our Toronto travel guide to showcase the city as a prime destination for meetings, conventions and plenty of leisure on the side.
Best time to go
Late April – May: 54°F - 76°F (12.2°C - 24.4°C)
September – October: 73°F - 59°F (22.7°C - 15°C)
How to Toronto
Consider the city of Toronto “Canada’s downtown.” An urban agglomeration on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, this destination is one of the most global and multicultural cities on the planet.
With a population of 2.7 million, it’s estimated over half of Toronto’s residents were born outside of Canada. Toronto, as a result, is home to at least 200 ethnic groups that speak upwards of 180 different languages and dialects. The city’s sound infrastructure, cleanliness, safety, favorable exchange rate, and VAT rebate are also key considerations for group travelers. Whether coming for business, leisure, or a little bit of both, Toronto can accommodate any variety of travel budgets, styles and objectives.
Where to stay: Toronto Hotels
Fairmont Royal York
The Royal York has been home to royalty, dignitaries and celebrities for years. Located in the downtown core, the luxury Fairmont Royal York is iconic in the city, dating back to 1853. It’s minutes from Toronto’s biggest events and attractions.
- Sleeping Rooms: 1,343
- Chain Affiliation: AccorHotels
- Star Rating: AAA, 4-Diamond
ARTISTIC & INNOVATIVE
Affectionately dubbed “SoHo Met,” the property is indulgent with luxury and conveniences. With its inspired culinary creations, advanced in-room technologies and innovative business services, this is the place to feel pampered. You’ll also discover a limitless range of sophisticated pleasures (like heated bathroom floors and impeccable room service).
- Sleeping Rooms: 89
- Chain Affiliation: Independent/Other
- Star Rating: AAA, 4-Diamond
Things to do in Toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario
The AGO is among the most distinguished art museums in the world. Designed by world renowned, Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry, the Art Gallery of Ontario is Gehry’s first building in Canada and marks his initial connection between art and architecture. Groups will find it a stunning event space with panoramic views of the city and state-of-the-art technology. Full gallery rentals, private tours and arts-based team building can accompany any corporate event, celebration or meeting.
The Distillery Historic District
Home to theaters, galleries, and artists, The Distillery District is alive with culture. The site was once a famous whiskey and spirit distillery and is now a beautifully-preserved collection of Victorian Industrial architecture. Restored buildings have been converted into shops, restaurants, art galleries, and theaters. Ideal for tourists, it’s a pedestrian-only zone with brick-paved lanes (perfect for a dine-around program with added tour/activity options).
Journey beneath the city to a web of sprawling tunnels, and you’ve found The PATH – Toronto’s connection to anything and everything. This 19-mile pedestrian walkway holds the Guinness Book World Record for the longest underground shopping complex in the world. The PATH does not follow the above-ground grid; it zigs and zags and cuts under landmarks to connect hotels, department stores and office buildings throughout the downtown area. It is an adventure in itself (and a warm, dry way to wander the city on a cold or rainy day).
Groups can curate an “Amazing Race” through the tunnels, stopping for macarons at Nedége or a custom coffee at Sam Jones Coffee Bar. Gain underground access to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Ripley’s Aquarium or the CN Tower. Grab a gourmet lunch and a glass of champagne at the Saks Food Hall, then (if the weather suits) head out into the sunshine for a picnic…the PATH is a unique way to explore the city any time of year.
A City of Neighborhoods
In 1998, six different boroughs in and around Toronto became one city. Officially there are 140 recognized neighborhoods within Toronto’s boundaries. Among them you’ll find a collection of areas each with their own style and scene – Yorkville, The Annex, Chinatown, Corktown, AGO District, Church & Wellesley, and Queen West to name a few – each leaving it’s own stamp on the city.
From hidden galleries to drum circles and designer fashion, choose your ‘hood and just dive in. To be sure, this accounts for an incredibly rich gastronomy scene everywhere you go. For some of the best flavors from around the world, try Alo (contemporary French tasting atop a Victorian heritage building), Chiado (elegant Portuguese), Pukka (refined Indian) and Canoe Restaurant (breathtaking views and a celebration of tastes from across Canada).
What to Pack:
- Your passport if you wish to cross to the American side
- A fully charged camera
- Comfortable, slip-resistant footwear
- Snacks (save your appetite for Niagara-on-the-Lake)
- A poncho and waterproof bag
Meet our Toronto Expert
Cate Banfield, VP Event Solutions Design & Strategy
Cate's Toronto Travel Tips:
What's something travelers might find surprising about Toronto?
It's not freezing here! Toronto is actually a warmer, more temperate climate than most people think. No, we don’t wear winter coats all year long and sleep in fur beds! It is glorious in the summer with sunny days and winters are cold but the snow is beautiful and the season is festive. Patios and beaches in the summer and skiing and winter festivals in the winter-perfect.
What's something visitors shouldn't leave without doing?
Visiting Toronto island! A total hidden jewel yet right in front of your eyes. With pedestrian traffic only, you can spend a day wandering the island and never get lost. Quaint villages dot the island which is a short 10 min ferry across from the city’s center harbor. When you step onto the island, things slow down, wide open spaces and beaches to relax, picnic, play and stay. Concerts in the park, water activities, playgrounds, amusement parks for kids - even one of the beaches is for nudists should you dare!
What’s your go-to Tim Horton’s order?
A “Double Double”: Double milk/double sugar…fan fav across Canada.
Toronto has so many festivals. Which is your favorite?
Taste of the Danforth. The GTA lays claim to more than 200,000 residents of Greek ancestry, the third largest Hellenic community outside of Greece. At the Festival, visitors have the opportunity to experience being ‘Greek for the Day’, but the Festival is much more than the celebration of the Danforth's Greek heritage and amazing food - it is also a celebration of Canada’s multiculturalism.
What's something visitors shouldn't forget to pack when visiting Toronto?
- An empty stomach! We have amazing diversity, incredible cuisine all tucked into vibrant communities within the city – there is always an opportunity in Toronto to dine with new friendly people eh?
- Doesn’t hurt to pack a lot of smiles, pleases’ and thank yous… Canadians are VERY polite :)
Download our full Re-Imagine Toronto Series
If you enjoyed reading our Toronto Travel Guide, be sure to check out more incentive trip destinations in our 'Re-Imagine: Event Destinations' series!