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Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Alternative Travel Destinations in Canada

April 24, 2015

CanadaMention the words Canada and travel and immediately, and a few cities and images come to mind: Toronto; Montreal; Quebec City; Vancouver; the great outdoors. Indeed, these places are integral places on the Canada tour but if you’re looking to get off the beaten path, here are some new travel destinations in Canada, whether you are here for a short or long-term stay.

1. Manitoba
Ontario’s next door neighbour is starting to get the attention it deserves. In addition to being one of the best places in Canada to get up front and close with wildlife like polar bears, beluga whales, caribou, and grey owls, you can also have a more urban experience in the evolved Winnipeg. The city is home to Canada’s first Museum for Human Rights; the Assiniboine Park Zoo; and a thriving dining scene thanks to events like the Raw & Almond pop-up dinners on the Assiniboine River every January. For those who love culture, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and if you need to relax, try the new Thermea by Nordik-Spa nature experience.

2. The Eastern Townships
A quick two hour drive from Montreal, the Eastern Townships is one of Canada’s lesser-known weekend getaways and one of its best. Book a night or two at theTravel Destinations in Canada quaint yet sophisticated Relais et Chateaux property, Manoir Hovey, and don’t miss their delectable cheese cart as part of their dining experience, which is just as popular as their lakeside view. For an idyllic experience, visit the Bleu Lavande lavender fields which are in season in July and August. The Eastern Townships is a nice complement to your time spent in Quebec City or Montreal.

3. Alberta
Not many think of the Prairies as a vacation destination beyond the Calgary Stampede in July; or Jasper or Banff for skiing in the winter or lakeside in the summer (make sure not to miss the stunning glacial lakes of Lake Moraine). Beyond the ski hills of Jasper, you can now visit the Glacier Skywalk, which hovers above the Sunwapta Valley along Alberta’s Icefield Parkway. There is also so much more for those who want an outdoor adventure in the province. For the family, follow the dinosaur trail in the Badlands, with a visit to the UNESCO world heritage site, Dinosaur Provincial Park, 200 km west of Calgary. And on the archeological theme, check out the Indiana Jones exhibition at the TELUS World of Science centre in Edmonton. Edmonton has become a cultural hub in Alberta and is an alternative to Calgary as an urban travel destination.

Travel Destinations in Canada 4. St. Pierre et Miquelon, Newfoundland
Newfoundland is quickly becoming one of the world’s best travel experiences thanks to Gros Morne as the default hiking destination, and a lot of press attention to Fogo Island for its stunnering scenery and luxury hotel, the Fogo Island Inn. However, not many know about the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, North America’s last piece of French territory. Actually a part of France, the islands have its own airport, use euros and is your chance to go to Paris without crossing the Atlantic!

5. The North West Territories
Yellowknife is one of the most remote destinations for some of the most idyllic Canadian adventures you can have like dog sledding; catching a glimpse of the Aurora lights; ice fishing, and hunting. Consider the Northwest Territories if you want an off-the-beaten path adventure in Canada beyond British Columbia.

We hope this post has provided you with some inspiration to get into the lesser known parts of Canada.

What are your favourite travel destinations in Canada?

Community Events, Downtown Toronto, Downtown Toronto Condos

Events in Downtown Toronto for April and May

April 22, 2015

Spring is finally upon us in Toronto as the weather has warmed up after a long winter. Here are our favourite events in Downtown Toronto for April and May that may be close to your furnished apartment, whether you are in the city for a short-term or long-term stay.

Events in Downtown Toronto1. Hot Docs (April 23- May 3)
Located across the city, Hot Docs is the Canadian International Documentary festival and North America’s larger documentary film festival. Films in over 25 topics are guaranteed to spark discussion and best of all, many of the theatres are in short walking distance to our downtown Toronto properties such as the Icon, the Element, and 300 Front Street.

2. CONTACT Photography Festival (May)
The world’s largest photography festival continues to excite and engage every May for the entire month. Pick your favourite exhibits and spend an afternoon with a friend, whether the photography is at a cafeEvents in Downtown Toronto or an art gallery. The May 1 Festival launch party at MOCCA is one of the highlights. The best part? It’s free and a great way to explore the city, even if in walking distance to your short-term or long-term furnished suite.

3. Canadian Music Week (CMW) (May 1 -10)
The highlight of CMW is the music festival which showcases some of Canada’s top talents in the music industry. Catch a show at one of the many venues across the city, a short stumble away from our downtown suites (conveniently located).

Events in Downtown Toronto4. Doors Open (May 23 and 24)
This is your chance to see Toronto’s historical buildings, many of which are normally closed to the public. Bring your camera to capture some fantastic architecture the city has to offer. Many museums and buildings are close to all of our furnished apartments and suites across the city, including our Midtown Toronto and Etobicoke locations.

What events in downtown Toronto are you most looking forward to this spring?

Downtown Toronto, Entertainment, Food & Recipes

Top 5 Favourite Bars for Craft Beer in Toronto

April 7, 2015

Craft Beer in TorontoCraft beer is big business in Toronto. According to the Ontario Craft Brewers Association, “there are currently over 100 craft breweries in Ontario employing over 1,000 people in direct brewery jobs across the province. This represents over 30 per cent of the direct brewery jobs in Ontario.” Now that grocery stores will now have the opportunity to sell beer and wine, this will not replace your visit to your local bar to taste test brews. If you don’t want to stay in your furnished suite or apartment to drink, here are our favourite places in Toronto for this niche experience.

1. Bellwoods Brewery. The popular indie brewery on Ossington Ave–with its white picket fence and prime people-watching patio– is listed as one of the 100 best breweries in the world by Rate Beer. Sip and savour on IPAs, stouts, single hop series, Belgian saisons, and a variety of ales. There’s a good selection of charcuterie to nibble alongside your pints. The brewery is dealing with its line-ups with a next door bottle shop (you’ll also want to save those beautiful labels for your home collection) and are opening a new location at Dupont and Dovercourt. Currently, you can quench your thirst by participating in a spring guided tasting.

2. Bar Volo. Bar Volo is the craft beer bar that was ahead of the trend and now 25 years old. It’s a great centralCraft Beer in Toronto location if you are living in our furnished suites downtown or North Toronto. The dim-lit, intimate, wooden space gets crowded early. It’s a casual process: look at the list on the walls for over 30 rotating regional beers on tap, casks, more than 75 international types of bottles, and a hectolitre nano brewery. You then find your own table, and order/pay at the bar. Though known for beer, there are two VQA wines served on tap, and over 60 bottles of bourbon and rye for non-hopheads. In the summer, there are DJ nights and during those times, cans of Howe Sound Lager is available for $5 (as previously stated on their site, last year).

3. Bar Hop. Located a short walk away from our 300 Front, Icon, and Element locations, Bar Hop is the ideal unpretentious after-work spot on King West. The bar has over 36 rotating taps plus tap takeovers, gluten-free beers and ciders, aCraft Beer in Torontond two casks. Special deals like Sunday Sessions ($5 for select craft beers); Mussel Mondays (2 pounds of mussels and fries for $9.95); and Buck-a-Shuck Tuesdays ($1 Oysters) make this a bustling place. Fret-not, a second location is in the works around Richmond and Peter.

4. Indie Ale House. If there is one reason to head over to the Junction, it’s for its noteworthy brewery. There’s a variety of beers here, including their speciality of bold ales. Peruse their menu for collaborations and their original brews with fun flavours and names like the Broken Hipster, Zombie Apocalypse, and the Breakfast Porter. Add a flavourful, varied menu of healthy options and bar staples with a twist; tours, and tastings, and you’ll never want to leave (unless you go here first and then dance the night away at 3030 down the street).

5. Amsterdam Brewery. Though it now feels like a tourist attraction due to its Harbourfront location, Amsterdam Brewery has bCraft Beer in Torontoeen in Toronto since 1986 and come a long way from its first location on John St. Now the brewery is a short walk away from our temporary housing Toronto. Amsterdam Brewery is known for its Boneshaker unfiltered IPA and has other original brews like the Sweetwater Squeeze Radler, the 416, and the all natural Blonde. Sip lakeside on a muskoka chair with an unparalleled view of Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands. A bonus if you can’t grab a seat on the patio is that you can grab your favourite beer from their bottle shop, which is open 7 days a week until 11pm.

Honorable mentions go to some of Toronto’s newer breweries like the soon-to-open Left Field Brewery (which is hosting tastings and pop-ups to buy select bottles from time to time); East York’s new Muddy York brewery; and the established Granite Brewery at Eglinton and Mount Pleasant.

What is your favourite bar for craft beer in Toronto?

Downtown Toronto, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk, North York

Top 10 Restaurants in Toronto, 2015

March 6, 2015

Top 10 Restaurants in TorontoWith Spring just around the corner, getting out on the town made us think of our favourite restaurants in Toronto. It’s a mix of those classics you might find on a list like Winterlicious mixed with newer restaurants and cafes. If you’re looking to get out of your furnished apartment in Toronto or try something new at one of Toronto’s many diverse and delicious restaurants, look no further to our comprehensive top 10 restaurants in Toronto. Our list is in no particular order.

1. Bar Isabel. It’s no surprise that this Spanish-inspired restaurant with a Black Hoof twist (owner Grant Van Gameren used to co-own the Black Hoof) is on many top ten lists. We love the chorizo, grilled octopus, and basque cake with sherry cream. Be on the lookout for Van Gameren’s anticipated opening, Bar Raval, this year. Reservations are recommended.

2. Canoe. Canoe remains one of the best restaurants in Canada and a homage to haute Canadian cuisine. It is the perennial place for a special occasion with views of the Toronto Islands and CN Tower to match from the 54th floor of the TD Tower. You’ll be lucky to sit at the chef’s table and interact with Chef John Horne. It is a treat! It is also one of our picks to drink with your fellow corporate executives.

3. Big Crow. Big Crow is the city’s answer to a backyard BBQ, complete with an Algonquin and Canadiana theme year-round (in winter they bring out the blankets and heaters). Chow down with your friends over ribs smothered in pesto sauce, steel-trout poke nachos, and s’more ice cream sandwiches in the summer.

4. Fat Pasha. Another extension of Anthony Rose’s empire (including Big Crow, above), Fat Pasha is your excuse to eat through the MiddleTop 10 Restaurants in Toronto Eastern trend. We love the dips (especially labneh and hummus) and the nutella babka cake. A must if you’re looking to venture out of your usual tastes.

5. The Black Hoof. Since 2008, The Black Hoof has set Toronto on the charcuterie trend and remains the best place for the boards. It has since expanded its menu so you can more adventurous parts of an animal (whether it’s offal or horse) and never fails to impress the tastebuds. We love the staples of charcuterie, bone marrow, and cheese but give the horse tartare a try. Try its intimate cocktail bar across the street, aptly named Cocktail Bar, pre or post meal.

6. Electric Mud BBQ. Owned by Black Hoof alum, Colin Tooke and Ian McGrenaghan, Electric Mud BBQ is their second outpost of the Electric empire (Grand Electric around the corner on Queen West slinging out tacos). Chow down on good ol’ BBQ, bourbon alongside a great soundtrack at picnic tables with your friends. The ribs are classic but we return for the chicken, crack rolls, and $2.50 pints of Great Lakes Beer on Monday nights. They also now deliver. We love a good deal!

7. Origin. Tapas has become one of Toronto’s biggest culinary trends and Origin executes it in an original fashion. The restaurant is so popular it has expanded from its original location at King and Church to Origin North at Bayview and Sheppard (a sophisticated option near our furnished apartments in North York). We love the deviled eggs, tostones and guacamole, hand rolls, miso glazed cod, and dulce de leche. Look for chef Claudio Aprile to expand his repertoire of fresh, global dishes to the Toronto PeTop 10 Restaurants in Torontoarson Airport soon.

8. Eastside Social. One of Leslieville’s newest additions to the neighbourhood, Eastside Social is casual enough to sit and chat with someone at the bar over a dark n stormy yet sophisticated enough for a date. Share their inventive fish charcuterie platter. Their oyster special is every Tuesday and Wednesday.

9. Campagnolo. Our pick for Italian cuisine, chef Craig Harding, continues to deliver the classics that make us feel like it’s okay we can’t hop on a plane at a moment’s notice to Italy. You’ll salivate over his burrata with roasted grapes, spaghetti all’matricana, rabbit saltimbocca, and his famous budino.

10. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. For the brunch lovers, Mildred’s Temple is large enough to accommodate your group but popular enough for you to be waiting in line even 15 minutes after opening. It’s worth the trek to Liberty Village. If it’s one thing to order it’s those fluffy, blueberry pancakes.

It’s difficult to add our all of our top 10 Restaurants in Toronto (honorary mentions go to Lady Marmalade for brunch, Porchetta & Co. for lunch, and Chantecler for dinner).

What are your favourite restaurants in Toronto? What are the restaurant openings in Toronto you’re looking forward to?

Community Events, Entertainment, Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, North York, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

Top 5 Things to do on Family Day

February 12, 2015

Family DayAs one of Ontario’s statutory holidays, Family Day is a time to connect with the ones you love. This year Family Day falls on the Monday after Valentines Day on February 16. Whether you’re hanging out in your furnished suite in Etobicoke or want to go somewhere nearby, here are our ideas on some things to do on Family Day.

1. DJ Skate Night. Harbourfront’s Natrel Rink is just steps from our 300 Front Street property and a great activity to spend with the whole family. On Valentines Day they are hosting the last of their weekend DJ SkaThings to do on Family Dayte nights and this event is a queer-friendly theme.

2. Get Away for the Weekend. There are tons of choices for great weekend getaways near Toronto in the winter (we wrote about that here!). If you want a soak not too far from Toronto, try the Nordik Spa at Gatineau Park, 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa. It is the largest spa in North America and features baths (hot, cold and temperate), 8 unique saunas, infinity pool, outdoor and indoor relaxation areas as well as a restaurant & lounge with terrace.

3. Play ToThings to do on Family Dayurist. Visit an iconic Toronto tourist attraction for the first time that you haven’t been to or look at it from different eyes the second or third time around. Check out our top ten things to do in Toronto. Toronto in Ten Photos for exploration inspiration is here.  Or you may want to check out our ten fun family activities in Toronto. Another option is to check out some of the incredible exhibitions at one of our many art galleries downtown and in North York.

4. An in-night. Sometimes, staying in and relaxing can be one of the most enjoyable weekends. Get a board game, order-in, have a movie or TV marathon, plan your next vacation, or oThings to do on Family Dayrder your groceries from Grocery Gateway to cook dinner for your loved ones. (It is one of the many services we offer.)

5. Specific Family Day Events. Toronto Tourism has a great round-up of events from iconic attractions and landmarks in the city. There are also a lot of things to do on Family Day in Etobicoke, Mississauga, Brampton, and Markham.

There are plenty of things to do on Family Day. Enjoy your Monday off with the people you love.