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Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Events, Toronto Family Travel

Best Places in Toronto for New Years Eve

December 30, 2014

best places in toronto for new years eveSometimes, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to lounge at home — whether you’re in your temporary housing in Toronto or in a suite for an extended stay– or host friends for a house party. Other times, you may want to kick up your heels, dress up, and dance the night away. Here are our picks for the best places in Toronto for New Years Eve –whether you’re with friends or the family.

Gladstone Hotel’s Lower West Side event is an affordable ticket ($50 in advance) and is your chance to dress up to a theme. This year’s theme is the roaring twenties, so don your finest vest or sparkle and shine in sequins, gold, or silver to bring in 2015 in style.

Fun for the whole family and a quick walk away from our apartment and best places in toronto for new years evesuites, Nathan Phillips Square is the best free event happening in the metropolis on the last day of the year. The free event kicks off at 8pm with street performers. Bring your skates for a spin around the ice rink. Fuel up at the various food trucks on-site and continue the night with musical performances. At midnight, Toronto’s new mayor, John Tory will lead the countdown to 2015 before a magnificent fireworks display.

Another family-friendly New Year’s Eve event is at the Toronto Zoo. The celebratory activities begin from 5pm and end at 8pm. They include live music, a magic show, a special countdown, and of course, the chance to be see the animals!

best places in toronto for new years eveIf you wanted to get out of town for the New Year, ET Canada hosts their free concert event in Niagara Falls. Performers this year include Keith Urban, Nick Jonas, and Lights. Don’t miss the fireworks over the falls. This is a great excuse to stay in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region for a relaxing weekend getaway.

Wherever you may be for this year’s festivities, we wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

Downtown Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel

Top Shops in Toronto for Christmas Shopping

December 23, 2014

Top Shops in TorontoWhether you’re a corporate traveller or a local, finding that perfect present for your loved ones can be a challenge. You may want to find a unique shop that isn’t in the mall or an excuse to explore the different neighbourhoods to support local businesses. Here are our favourite top shops in Toronto customized for your Christmas or holiday shopping needs.

Drake General Store
As an outpost of the Drake Hotel, the Drake General Store set the trend for shops where you could find quirky treasures with a Canadinana twist and has since expanded to locations at the Hudson Bay Company across Ontario. (Also known as the ideal store for holiday shopping.) Vintage Canadian postcards and engraved key chains with popular song titles like “That’s the Way Love Goes” are perfect stocking stuffers; the Areaware Harry Allen piggybank is a design item worth the splurge; and Canadian brands –from Drake’s own signature cross items to Share and Aborist– factor heavily into the Drake’s eclectic and curated selection. These novelty goods are ideal for the playful, curious person in your life.

Kid Icarus top shops in Toronto
For the person who loves paper, Kid Icarus offers a selection of quirky handmade cards and paper products. Want to make your own? Screenprinting and linoleum carving workshops are available. This is a great option for someone who wants an experience. Shop and explore in two locations: Kensington Market and now, Parkdale.

Love the Design
Located in the tony Summerhill neighbourhood, no-one has a better selection of vintage decor finds that will add that extra flair to your home. That perfectly weathered cabinet, kooky light, or second-look accessory is all available in the equally gorgeous set-up of the store. Owner Christine Flynn also makes her own customized artwork and custom stationary, some with a Toronto twist (the linoleum streetcar piece comes to mind or list of Toronto street names and subway stops come to mind). A destination in itself.

Cambie Design
If you’re looking to add flair to your furnished suite or apartment rental or a piece that you can take home with you, Cambie’s home accessories are good options. Cambie is famous for their coloTop Shops in Torontourful, hand-spun alpaca wool and acrylic-made blankets sourced from Peru. Beyond the blankets, rugs, housewares, and vintage furniture are available for purchase. It is a great way to support local shops and local communities around the world.

Advice from a Caterpillar
Located in the tony Summerhill and Rosedale neighbourhood, this children’s store has everything your family needs. Designer clothes, decor, toys, nursery, travel, and lifestyle products for the parents are all available in this curated and sophisticated shop. Our picks include:Janod Story Box Farm, Hansa deer bambi and the Hoppop bato child plastic bath.

BYOB Cocktail Emporium
This cool and eclectic emporium to cocktail and bar resources is your one-stop shTop Shops in Torontoop for your home bar needs. Also ideal for a unique holiday gift, stock up on funky glassware, DIY beer and wine making kits, hard-to-find Japanese cocktail shakers, and much more. If you need to host a party in your furnished suite, this truly is one of the most niche shops in Toronto.

Though these are incredible stores for your holiday shopping needs, they are great stores to visit year-round. So if you are in Toronto for a short term stay, these are some of the most unique top shops in Toronto. It’s also a great way to explore the different areas of the city from Parkdale to Uptown.

Community Events, Etobicoke, Events, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Things to do in Etobicoke

November 28, 2014

Bordered by Lake Ontario to the South and Steeles Avenue to the north; Mississauga and the Pearson International Airport to the west and by the Humber River to the east, Etobicoke still remains a large and distinct part of Toronto, even though it has been part of the amalgamated metropolis since 1998. Two of our properties, the Nuvo and Parc Nuvo, are located right near the subway, GO stations, and highway. There are a multitude of things to do in Etobicoke and close to your furnished apartment.

Things to do in Etobicoke1. Ski and Snowboard at Centennial Park.
Formerly known for being one of the best hills to toboggan in the GTA, it was recently deemed too dangerous. However, take your skis and snowboard to the hill, get a day pass or lessons. You don’t have to leave the city to discover the hills.

2. Famous People Players Theatre
This is dinner and a show with a twist. Not only is the show done in black light with the colourful characters showcased against the darkness; the people behind the puppets at this non-profit are all developmentally challenged. The company is now in its 40th year of entertaining audiences and worth the trip.

3. Via Allegro. Things to do In Etobicoke
This Italian restaurant is known for one of the greatest wine cellars in the world (there are over 5,000 wines to choose from!). This is a great pick for a decadent night out or a special occasion.

4. Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail
The first of its kind in Toronto, this 250 metre ice skating trail is comprised of two figure eights or circles that wind through Colonel Samuel Smith Park (which is just as lovely in the summertime). Lace up at the Power House Recreation Centre, which historically provided heat to the local Lunatic Asylum where Humber College is now situated. The rink is open seven days a week, from 9am to 10pm. Please note that there are no skate rentals available.

Things to do in Etobicoke5. The Old Mill
The Old Mill is the historic inn that caters to all types of tastes and activities. Whether you’re looking to have their famous afternoon tea, relax with girlfriends for a spa weekend, listen to some jazz on a Friday night, or are having an event like a wedding (with spectacular photos) to match, the Old Mill is the ideal location for it all.

6. Ribfest!
This is one of Etobicoke’s most famous summer festivals. Sample over 16 different suppliers of ribs, bring out the kids for play, and listen to some music while you chow down at Centennial Park.

7. Etobicoke Olympium  Things to do in Etobicoke
This multi-purpose exercise centre is getting a lot of buzz with its $20 million renovation in advance of the 2015 Pan Am Games that will make this a world class facility once complete. It features competitive pools, diving boards, a 13,200 square foot double gymnasium, and exercise and training centre.

8. Sushi Kaji
Known as one of the best Japanese restaurants in Toronto, if not one of the best restaurants in the metropolis, do not be deceived by its location in a strip mall. All fish is imported from Tokyo Bay. Particular about its quality, Sushi Kaji only offers tasting menus and seats 30 for each service. It is best to make a reservation in advance.

9. Sherway Gardens.
This upscale shopping centre has over 200 stores including department stores, Holt Renfrew and The Bay.

Etobicoke has no shortage of fun activities. Check out 365 etobicoke for more fun things to do in Etobicoke.

Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Events, Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel

Toronto in Ten Photos

November 25, 2014

Capturing Toronto in ten photos is not an easy task because this city is so vast. There are a number of things to do and a number of icons that define the city. We have illustrated the city from a local viewpoint with a mix of those icons that make Toronto just what it is. Luckily, our landmarks are within walking distance of your furnished apartment in Toronto. Hopefully, this provides inspiration for you to photograph your Toronto.

Toronto in Ten Photos1. Evergreen Brickworks
The Brickworks, as it’s affectionately known, is an old brick factory which provided bricks for the construction of some iconic Toronto landmarks such as Massey Hall and Casa Loma. The Brickworks is now used as a cultural space and for events. Check out the kilns and the interesting graffiti on the walls; the farmer’s markets on the weekends; and Cafe Belong, for a leisurely brunch. Around the site, you can sit by the pond or hike behind the area over to Rosedale through Milkman’s Lane or north to St. Clair via Moore Park.

2. Toronto StreetcarsToronto in Ten Photos
These trolleys are a signature icon of Toronto. Concurrently, they’re offer one of the best ways to see our massive metropolis from east to west for $3. Just hop on the Queen Streetcar and it will take you all the way from Roncesvalles where King and Queen intersect, past through Parkdale, Queen West, Corktown, Leslieville, and to the Beach all the way to Neville Park. Make sure you check out the old streetcar yard at Queen and Greenwood, which will move to Leslie and Lakeshore. The streetcars have also gotten an upgrade and are currently of use along Spadina Avenue.

Toronto in Ten Photos3. Kensington Market
One of the most colourful, eclectic, and bohemian neighbourhoods in Toronto, Kensington Market is also designated a National Historic Site. Once populated by Jews and Italians who sold items and gifts. After the recession in the 80s, Latin American immigrants began to move in and this habitation is reflected in the many Latin American stalls and grocery stores in the market. Now you’ll find more modern cafes, restaurants and shops (from vintage to modern) in the neighbourhood. Don’t forget to check out Pedestrian Sundays, when the market closes its streets to pedestrian traffic and celebrates on the last Sunday of every month from May to October.

4. Queen Street WestToronto in Ten Photos
Queen Street West is considered one of the most exciting neighbourhoods in Toronto and was recently rated by Vogue as the second coolest neighbourhood in the world. This section of Queen, which expands past University to Lansdowne Avenues, is a hodge-podge of trendy boutiques, an eclectic mix of restaurants, vintage shops, bars, art galleries, Trinity Bellwoods Park, and two hotels (the Drake and the Gladstone). It is the perfect street for an afternoon stroll.

Toronto in Ten Photos5. Trinity Bellwoods Park
Aforementioned, Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the mainstays of the Queen Street West scene. Whether you’re biking, running, playing tennis or partaking in other activities at its adjacent community centre, this is one of the best people-watching spots in the city. Grab a blanket, some homemade food, or head over to one of the local cafes across the street for the ideal picnic spot.

6. Graffiti Alley
Toronto in Ten Photos Located just south of Queen Street West, this alley filled with local graffiti and artwork is not only an alternate route away from the people traffic, it’s an underrated destination in Toronto. Expanding from Spadina close to Bathurst, this alley is just a glimpse at the growing graffiti scene in Toronto, whose walls have now been marked by icons Banksy and Sheppard Fairey. Want to learn more or meet others while checking out great art? Check out the local tour by the Tour Guys.

Toronto in Ten Photos7. Great Food
Toronto’s food scene is eclectic, multicultural and always evolving. You can get great deals but you do need to know where to go. Some great areas to dine in the city are Queen Street, King Street, Ossington, Kensington Market, and Dundas West. The Junction, St. Clair West, and Leslieville are underrated for their dining scenes and you should explore and dine in these areas if you have the chance. One of my favourite spots is Fresh, the healthy food chain, which has a great lunch special of their soup, salad, and cornbread combo for $10!

8. CN Tower ViewsToronto in Ten Photos
It’s hard not to try to find the best spot of this view. From our 300 Front Street West furnished apartments in downtown Toronto, you’ll feel so close to the tower, you can almost touch it. Head over to Fort York or the BMO Exhibition field for that landscape view. Downtown, you’ll get a good glimpse from OCAD (and some great architecture to photograph as well right near the AGO). Further east, Polson Pier and Ashbridge’s Bay are your best bets to get that skyline shot.

Toronto in Ten Photos9. Toronto’s East End and the Best Skyline View
If you have a chance to head east, Riverdale Park East is your best bet for stunning skyline views. A few blocks south of the Danforth on Broadview, it’s a quick streetcar ride or 15 minute walk down to the park. Make sure to go to the best coffeeshop in town, Rooster Coffeehouse to help take in the view. Across the park, head to Riverdale Park West and up the stairs, you’ll find the free Riverdale Farm, Toronto Necropolis, and the historic Cabbagetown district.

10. The St. Lawrence MarketToronto in Ten Photos
Ranked as the world’s best market by National Geographic, the St. Lawrence Market definitely lives up to its reputation. Whether you’re looking for meat, fish, cheese, bread, or produce, it’s all here. Specialty items like mushroom truffle dip, oils, or gorgeous bouquets are all here too. You won’t be starved for lunch. Check out the famous Carousel Bakery for its peameal bacon sandwiches, St. Viateur for those famous Montreal bagels, or Buster’s Seacove to satisfy that fish craving (lobster, halibut, shrimp, and much more!). There’s nothing like it on a Saturday morning.

Hope you enjoyed our photos! If you could choose ten photos to describe Toronto what would they be?

Photos: Complimentary of Natalie Taylor

Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

The Great Canadian Road Trip Playlist

November 19, 2014

Canadian Road TripCanada is the ideal country for a road trip. Connected by the Trans-Canada highway, between British Columbia and Newfoundland, there is no greater expanse of road or great musicians to listen to along the way. From classic Canadian folk to more modern pop-rock and electronic-infused songs, Canadian musicians are just as diverse as each province. Below is our eclectic songlist inspiration whether you’re driving to another province or cruising across to a few provinces. If you’re in Ontario, don’t forget we offer the comfort of home away from home in our furnished apartments across the Greater Toronto Area.

Our Canadian road trip playlist is an assortment of some popular bands and indie bands and artists. We didn’t list popular artists like Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, Anne Murray, and Justin Bieber as their music is already well known. This songlist is in no particular order. You can also find the playlist on Grooveshark to add to your own collection.

1. Bobcaygeon by the Tragically Hip
2. The Old Apartment by the Barenaked Ladies
3. Comin’ Home by City and Colour and their cover of Kimbra’s Settle Down
4. Soft Offering by Hey Rosetta! (The video was produced on the stunning Fogo Island in Newfoundland and Labrador.)
5. I Feel It All by Feist
6. Closer and Body Work by Tegan and Sara
7. Red Barchetta and YYZ (for the drive from Toronto to Winnipeg) by Rush
8. Sunday Morning and Superstarr, Pt. Zero by K-os
9. Comme Des Enfants by Coeur De Pirate
10. Rebellion (Lies) by Arcade Fire
11. If it Feels Good Do It by Sloan
12. My Friend by Paper Lions
13. Good Mother by Jann Arden
14. Try by Blue Rodeo
15. Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot

Canadian Road TripTell us: what are your essential songs by Canadian artists for a Great Canadian road trip? What did we miss?! Do you have a favourite song on this list?