How to Spend a Great Day in Toronto

Toronto's spectacular skyline seen from the deck of the Oriole.

Toronto’s spectacular skyline seen from the deck of the Oriole.

Ask most locals how to spend a great day in Toronto and you’d probably be directed to the Royal Ontario Museum, or the Ontario Science Centre, or the Art Gallery of Ontario, or the CN Tower – all great options.. But I spent a day almost entirely outdoors doing some really cool things, all in the GTA.

Zip Lining

Brampton’s Treetop Trekking by Arbraska offers both zip lines and aerial challenge courses.

me trekking s

The Blue Heron Course offers an adrenalin-rushing 1,000 foot line across Heart Lake, but to get there, you have to traverse a long (seemingly endless!) rope bridge. It’s worth the trek. What a rush zipping at 40 kph high above the water!

gret blue heron line

Of course, there are two more rope bridges to climb before you can zip back across!

Horse Racing

We start with a sumptuous buffet lunch in the elegant grandstands at Woodbine Racetrack, then head down to inspect the horses. Watching the horses being prepared for the race with the owner’s colours and in some cases, blinkers, it’s hard not to be impressed by these magnificent animals. It astounds me that their huge bodies can be supported supported by such a slender pastern.

Emma-Jayne Wilson being led to the start line.

Emma-Jayne Wilson being led to the start line.

I put $5 on a jockey – Emma Jayne Wilson, one of the few women in the field and one who is challenging its male dominance. Sadly, her horse isn’t up to it. But for a brief time I am completely caught up in the excitement that is thoroughbred racing – shouting encouragement along with hundreds of other spectators.

Toronto Woodbine Racetrack the race s

I could get hooked on this sport!

Harbour Cruising

We set off aboard the Oriole for a cruise of Toronto Harbour and the Islands. Mariposa Cruises provides a commentary as we sail along. It’s a whole different perspective looking at the city from the water. The Toronto Islands are surprising. It’s hard to believe this small wilderness is just across the water from Canada’s largest city. Did you know that Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run at Hanlan’s Point Park here? And as we pass the lighthouse, we hear about the resident ghost. Well, perhaps it was my imagination!

Toronto Islands lighthouse iland s

Outdoor Dining

As soon as the weather warms up, Torontonians (in fact most Canadians) head for outdoor patios, shaking off the winter doldrums. A drink and a bite to eat at Oasis, the pop-up rooftop bar at Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant, is appropriate. Chef Andres Marquez, a Mexican transplant temporarily in Canada, has created the menu for this summer venue.

Surprising Toronto Andres Marquez - Oasis s


From the nachos with a yummy guacamole mousse topped with salsa; to assemble-your-own soft tacos with pork and grilled pineapple; the food is deliciously innovative. Check out dessert: churros with dolce de leche dipping sauce – doubly decadent.

Churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce

Churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce

Second City Theatre-going

We finally moved indoors to see Second City‘s new show currently in production, The Hotline Always Blings Twice! It’s funny and completely irreverent. Whatever the current show, you can count on Second City to do it well. Did you know that some of the hottest movie stars are Second City alumni? Check out this list of glitterati: Bill Murray, Alan ArkinDan AykroydJames BelushiJohn Belushi,John Candy, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, and many more. The end of a perfect, somewhat quirky day.


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