Taking in the Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario
Locals are thrilled with local boy Frank Gehry's renovation of the AGO. His design has brilliantly revised (and expanded) the space, but the very best thing about the newly reopened AGO is the 2,000 works of art (great paintings, miniature sculptures, model ships) donated by local media magnate Ken Thomson.
Checking Out Local Theater and Music
Sure, Toronto mounts its fair share of blockbusters. But the fine, and often more rewarding, offerings from Soulpepper, Opera Atelier, the Canadian Stage Company, Tafelmusik, and the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People are innovative and generally excellent. And seeing the Canadian Opera Company onstage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is breathtaking.
Exploring the Distillery District
Not only is this carefully restored area a remarkably intact example of 19th-century industrial architecture, largely thanks to its recent past as a stage set for movies and other productions, it's also a hive of activity. In addition to art galleries, shops, restaurants, and the city's finest chocolate emporium, SOMA, you can hear live music or visit the farmers' market.
Visiting the Toronto Islands
Toronto is blessed with a chain of leafy islands just a brief ferry ride away that are mostly residential and offer a pretty, quiet, car-free spot for a stroll or a bike ride. The main attraction, Centre Island, is wide open parkland with an old-fashioned theme park, complete with pony rides and cotton candy (needless to say, it's great for kids). From the islands, you'll have a perfect view of Toronto's ever-evolving skyline. Pack a picnic, paddle a canoe, go bare if you dare at the sandy nudist beach, or take in the amusement park for a vacation within your vacation.
Skydiving at the CN Tower
Okay, it's not really skydiving . . . but it's close. From the ground, it looks simply mad, but the EdgeWalk, which opened in summer 2011, is a thrill-seekers' dream. You're locked into a harness that is attached to a pulley system and then circumnavigate the elevated, narrow (1.5m/5-ft.) ledge that circles the perimeter of the tower's main pod. Not for vertigo sufferers!
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