Happy Travel Tuesday! This week, I will be sharing with you the highlights of my most recent trip to Toronto, Canada. Canada has been on my travel bucket list for the past few years, and Toronto did not disappoint! I can’t wait to go back to Canada and explore more of this beautiful country.
My boyfriend Andres (@aces_journals) and I rented a car and made the 10-hour trip up to Toronto from Washington, D.C., stopping along the way to see Niagara Falls. Coming from someone who has traveled solo most of the time, I loved having someone to talk and laugh with during the car ride, and the drive was surprisingly easy. The time spent travelling together is what I cherish the most from this trip, and I can’t wait to see where our next adventures take us.
What to Know Before Driving to Toronto, Canada
- You absolutely must have your passport. While it just feels like you’re driving through the U.S., you are going to another country and you must treat it as such. Answer the border patrol guards politely and truthfully, and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
- Check the border wait times before you cross into Canada. We downloaded the app CBP Border Wait Times, which gave us real time waiting for the 3 bridge crossing options. While Rainbow Bridge had a 20 minute wait time, Peace Bridge wait time was less than 5 minutes, so we changed the GPS to cross there instead. You’ll save yourself time and stress.
- Know the Canadian dollar conversion rate. It is currently $1 CAN= $0.75 USD, so we just deducted 25% from prices there. And while many places do take US dollar bills, they convert with a fee, so to save money I would use a credit card or take out Canadian cash.
- We rented our car through Enterprise, which didn’t have any restrictions on taking the car into Canada. Be sure to check the terms and conditions before renting a car to take into another country.
Where to Stay
I blindly booked our Airbnb just outside of Toronto because I didn’t know the different areas of the city. All I looked for was to be close to public transportation so we could get downtown. Looking back, I definitely wish I had done better research after we found ourselves staying in not the safest area of the city. So take my experience as a lesson to truly do your research before you book somewhere.
Where and What to Eat
- Rol San Restaurant: In the heart of Chinatown, this was the first place Andres and I ate when we arrived. We were so hungry we could hardly wait for the dim sum to cool down before we devoured it, but it was worth the burnt tongues. If you love dim sum, I would add this place to your list!
- Poutine: A Canadian specialty, it is french fries drizzled with gravy and cheese curds, and it is every bit as delicious as it sounds. Three days into our trip and realizing we hadn’t tried it yet, I dragged Andres (bless his heart) through downtown Toronto on the hunt for poutine before settling for a sports bar after getting lost (a common theme of our trip). However, eating at a chain restaurant proved to me that poutine is good no matter where you go in Toronto.
- Brunch at The Ace: Their breakfast food is truly what dreams are made of. The tiny restaurant is packed every hour of the day, and Andres and I snagged a spot at their old-school bar because the wait time for a table was well over an hour. Whatever you get here, it will be good!
- Oysters at the St. Lawrence Market: Andres and I had the best oysters of our lives here. St. Lawrence Market is a public marketplace that features local restaurants, stores, and everything in between. We randomly went up to a seafood vendor and selected a couple oysters to taste, then proceeded to spend the remainder of our cash on as many as we could afford.
Where to Visit in Toronto
- Niagara Falls: Not technically in Toronto, but absolutely worth the stop! The falls left me in awe, and were truly spectacular. I would recommend seeing the falls from the Canada side to get the full visual, and if you go on a gloomy day or weekday the number of tourists will be cut in half.
- Distillery District: We loved this area so much we went two days in a row. An old distillery turned into a pedestrian-only area with shops, restaurants, and bars, it is the best place to spend a sunny day in the city. We had martinis and cosmopolitans at the Spirit of York, added our lock to the Love Locks, and window shopped.
- Casa Loma: A literal castle in the middle of Toronto, it is a great place to visit for any history buffs. Andres and I spent a couple hours exploring the dozens of rooms, listening to the history and going through the secret tunnels that were used during World War II.
Eco-Tips for Toronto
- Fun fact: 79% of Canada’s electricity comes from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources
- Rent a fuel efficient car
- Take public transportation when you can
- Eat and drink local
- Travel with your eco-essentials (straw, utensils, water bottle, shampoo bars, etc)