We know that some of you coming to Toronto for TOCC may be new to the city so we wanted to give you some hot tips for what to expect while visiting Canada’s largest (and North America’s 4th largest) city! Toronto is a remarkably safe North American city. With a population of about 6 million, 2 million of those downtown, it still feels spacious. All TOCC events will be taking place at The Drake Hotel which is located in the West Queen West neighbourhood.
We use Canadian dollars which means all of you American friends automatically get a 25% discount on everything, thanks to our weak dollar! Most places accept (Canadian) cash, Interac debit and credit cards. Many establishments do not accept American Express (someone talk to them about their high fees!).
TOCC is happening in August, easily the hottest and most humid month in the city. It gets pretty oppressive at times with highs around 30C (about 85F for our American friends). The heat usually sticks around into the night as well. You might need a hoodie or sweater, but likely not.
Getting around Toronto is easy as our streets are mostly a perfect grid. If you find yourself disoriented just know that Lake Ontario and the CN Tower are located to the South. Toronto has Uber, Lyft, Taxis and a huge and comparatively well-maintained and consistent mass transit system called the TTC. It cost $3.25 CAD per ride but if you think you will be taking it often, it may be worth getting a day pass. The Queen Streetcar has a stop right in front of the Drake Hotel whether you are coming from the East or West. We also have a bike rental program, but unless you are already comfortable riding bikes in major cities, walking and busses may be the safer bet.
A lot of the city is walkable as we are in a pretty flat part of the country, so you will want to have sneakers on hand. We recommend against open toed shoes, because we are a city and wearing open toed shoes in cities is gross (this is one hundred percent Josh’s opinion, take it as you will).
Airbnb is available in Toronto and might keep you closer to neighbourhoods you want to hang out in. Hotels are plentiful and range in price from $120 a night to, well as high as you want to go. Most hotels are located closer to the downtown core and are a $20 taxi to The Drake Hotel.
Parkdale is the up-and-coming neighbourhood in Toronto and is the closest to The Drake Hotel, making for easy and safe walks to and from the Drake for all TOCC events. For the ease of it: Parkdale runs from Dufferin Street to Roncesvalles Avenue along (just North of) Queen Street East and (just South of) King Street West. Late night getting home, you may want to have a travel buddy. This also applies to West Queen West.
Staying in the Dundas West neighbourhood will have you close to many bars and restaurants and also very close to The Drake Hotel for more easy walks to and from TOCC events. We highly recommend using google maps to estimate distances around the city.
While the west end of Toronto is almost comically crowded with bars and restaurants we want you to do some exploring while you are here.
The Junction is a cute neighbourhood a little further west than Parkdale where you will find breweries, vintage shops, restaurants, art galleries and cocktail bars.
Leslieville, located in Toronto’s East, is a serious cab ride from Parkdale, but features cool boutique hotels, oyster houses, cocktail bars, snack bars, upscale restaurants and real taste of old Toronto.
Little Italy which is located on College Street between Ossington Avenue and Bathurst Street, is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Many of the best bars and restaurants in Toronto are located along College Street between Bathurst and Dovercourt streets. Along with those bars and restaurants you will find cafes, clothing shops and anything else you might need while attending TOCC.
Bloordale, located around Bloor Street West and Lansdowne Avenue, is also experiencing a rejuvenation. While you can still get some of the best cheap eats in Toronto along this stretch of Bloor Street as the sun sets there are dozens of new spots opening up offering more modern fare and some craft beers and cocktails.
And finally, there is Liberty Village! If you are looking at Airbnbs, you will likely see a lot of condo available to rent here. While Liberty Village is relatively close to the Drake on a map, just know that it’s not directly accessible thanks to train tracks dividing Liberty Village from many other places! Liberty Village has some great bars and restaurants and is close to BMO field where our MLS team plays.
EATING & DRINKING
Great meals in this city will run you about $100-$150CAD, if you want to ball out. That said it is easy to eat good meals on $30 a day, depending on how selective you are. Toronto thrives on being a multicultural city and a great way to experience that is through our cuisine. Poutine, Dumplings, Tacos, Steak, whatever you want, you can find it in Toronto and usually until midnight.
Beers are about $7 each. Wine can range from 8-18 dollars a glass and cocktails range from $12-$15 dollars (there will be some specials and promotions throughout TOCC so don’t panic). If you want to stock your hotel room, you will need to visit one of our state owned Beer Store (creative name!) or LCBO (for all spirits and wine). No beer at corner stores here, downer right? Keep in mind that many of these stores close before 10pm.
Last call at all bars in Toronto is at 2am and you the legal drinking age in the Province of Ontario is 19.