Toronto. The Center of the Universe
And so the debate ensues. For intents and purposes, Toronto wins by default. Toronto became the 4th largest city in North America when Chicago conceded the title in 2013, and as a mega-metropolis continues to outpaces the national averages for population growth.
Having a place of prominence on the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto (formerly York) is aptly named in the Iroquois language as 'a place where trees stand in water.' Trees are still a dominating factor in the city's landscape.
Toronto holds another title on its expanding belt. Living within its walls, half the population is foreign-born, but unlike Miami, its ethnic split is diverse. Toronto isn't a melting pot of ethnicities; it's a bubbling cauldron.
Anyone planning to visit Canada, Toronto's Pearson International Airport, is your link to explore the Greater Toronto Area and experience this urban metropolis with its iconic skyline dominated by the spire that points to the heavens: The CN Tower. Completed in 1976, the tower holds many height records and is an unprecedented engineering feat. It championed the title of the tallest free-standing structure for 32 years, and when others surpassed it in height, they handed it the title of 'mother of the tallest free-standing building. The sweeping 360 views from its Edgewalk deck are simply spectacular. In 1995, The CN Tower was given distinguishing accolades when it became one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. Regardless of the numerous titles, a visit is always worth it.
To explore all the aspects of this vibrant city, book a hotel close to Yonge Street. Whether on foot or utilizing the bus, tram or subway trains of The TTC (Toronto Transit Corporation), there is literally something for everyone. In a city as eclectic as Toronto, it is impossible to narrow the endless options to a list of limiting top ten.
Start a walking tour at Yonge Street and Queens' Quay, dip your toes into Lake Ontario and head north and visit some, any, or all of the attractions along the way. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy, from wallflower to Hockey fanatic.
Yonge Street is a place where history happened. As you continue to walk north, you trespass on ground cleared by pioneer families who signed up for land grants but had to physically clear 33 feet of frontage of what is now Yonge Street. When you stand on Yonge Street, it's hard not to feel the tenacity it took to shape this 35-mile trek.
When you reach the Toronto Eaton Center, you won't be alone. Annually close to 50 million people visit this iconic mall, which sees more visitors than the Mall of America or even Central Park in New York. Visitors from south of the border will see familiar and prominent faces like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, among 250 shops catering to every perceivable need.
Just a short distance further is the Yonge- Dundas Square, a dedicated outdoor space for concerts, festivals, and a place to cool off near the dazzling water feature. Through this pedestrian scramble, roughly 100,000 amass daily and enjoy not only the water play but also an excellent opportunity for people watching.
For the wallflower in the family, visit Toronto's Reference Library, which also serves as an architectural landmark. While the humble brick facade exterior keeps the secret of the interior, its the interior that is an explosion of natural light, experienced from any vantage point on the curving atrium.
Theatre is another venue to explore while visiting Toronto, The Sony Theatre for Performing Arts and Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre are just two culture havens. The Elgin may appear demure on the outside, but don't be deceived. The interior is akin to stepping back into an era of sheer opulence. If it seems familiar, the theater is a location in the film, The Shape of Water.
By now, any Hockey enthusiast in the family will be eager to face the most extensive collection of hockey memorabilia, as housed in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here it is possible to catch one's reflection in the Stanley Cup and see life-sized models of the legends of the game. Who knows, in the off-season, those legends might just be leaning over the displays and having a look too.
From the wallflower to the comics fan, plan a stop at Silver Snail Comics. At this landmark, which has been appeasing the fantasy of Superhero fans for over 40 years, is the chance to purchase the latest comic, an action figure, T-shirts, and much more.
With your skates on, enjoy a cavalcade of lights at Nathan Philips Square and waltz on the ice with some of the 1.5 million annual visitors. Or spend a Happy New Year Celebration and enjoy a beautiful night view and spectacular fireworks display.
Along the way up Yonge Street, indulge in the world cuisine so well represented in this city. You'll be glad you did.
And finally, for those with a penchant for the macabre, try to discover the hidden cemetery of St. Michael's, the oldest Catholic cemetery first opened in 1855. While public access isn't easy, for those who appreciate history from a graveyard, search out the disguised entrance and pay respect to the 29,0000 souls buried in this secret location. Hint: It's near St Clair.
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