Alternative Highlights from Toronto

It’s officially Canada Day here in the UK and they’re celebrating a happy 150 years! To celebrate, here are my Toronto favourites from my siblings’ holiday to the friendliest country on Earth earlier this year. 

EAT & DRINK

The Lockhart

Even if you aren’t a big fan of Harry Potter, you’ll love the Lockhart just for the wicked theme. Choose from a selection of Potions & Elixirs listed on the extensive menu and watch the bartender mix it right in front of you! It’s a fairly small place with exposed brick walls and neon lighting so be prepared to get cosy with your neighbours and make sure you arrive a little early to snag a table if you want to drink through the night especially on a Friday evening.

Potions & Elixirs wall at the Lockhart in Toronto

Potions & Elixirs wall at the Lockhart

If you’re in a group, or an alcoholic (like me and the sister) then there’s also a selection of sharing cocktails (probably meant for 4 but in our case, divided nicely in half). Think wild colours from Blue Curacao and garnishes like fire, toasted marshmallows and popcorn to add that little extra excitement to your life.

There’s also a brunch menu which I’ll be hitting up the next time I find myself conveniently in Canada.

Stats
Address 1479 Dundas Street WestToronto, ON, Canada
Hours 1030 – 1430 for brunch

1700 – 1230 (0200 on Fridays and Saturdays!)

Pricing Single cocktails around 10 – 12 CAD

Sharing cocktails 32 CAD

Time Spent 1 Hour – the whole damn night!
Links http://www.thelockhart.ca/

Bang Bang Ice Cream

I’m a big foodie but I generally try to avoid the same place twice when I’m abroad to try and make sure I sample a bit of everything the country has to offer but Bang Bang Ice Cream is something else. Not only did I go back more than once, dragging both siblings with me each time but we also spent 10 – 20 minutes queueing each time for the pleasure.

I don’t know how to describe it, but the ice cream is out of this world. The parlour opens till late every day (usually 9 – 10 PM) and is well worth the wait – find a selection of unique flavours and a choice between a cup, a choux bun, a cookie ice cream sandwich or a bubble waffle to hold your choices.

A selection from Bang Bang Ice Cream

A selection from Bang Bang Ice Cream

Thank goodness I had both my brother and sister with me so that we were able to sample 6 flavours between us each time – if you’re not big on massively sweet then Matcha + Genmaicha and London Fog (earl grey Tea) flavours are fantastic options otherwise ToTARO, Soybean & Walnut and Soursop were firm favourites in this Asian household. The flavours are helpfully displayed on the shelves living the back wall – visible through the window from the street, which is just as well so you can deliberate while you queue.

Wall of flavours at Bang Bang Ice Cream

The helpful wall of flavours while you queue

Stats
Address 93a Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z4, Canada
Hours Closed Mondays

1300 – 2300 on Fridays

1300 – 2200 on all other days

Pricing  Varies, but less than 10 CAD for up to 2 ice cream flavours in your serving choice!
Time Spent You’ll need to queue 15 – 30 minutes but it’s worth it once you get to the counter! Beware though – there can be a 45 minute wait if you’re set on the bubble waffle cone.
Links http://www.bangbangicecream.com/

 Sky Yard

If you want to check out the nightlife, head out to the Sky Yard located on the roof of the Drake Hotel. There was a fee to get in but 10 CAD is pretty reasonable if you’re going to chill out for the whole night, and we did turn up pretty late. There’s a full menu you can line your stomach as well as party.

It features a partially covered patio space and on warm summer nights, the highlight is obviously the night sky right above your heads! We found drinks are delicious if a little on the pricey side but we all loved the laid back and friendly vibe! Although trendy, we spotted people dressed to the nines down to those who were just in nice jeans. P.S. There’s a satellite bar outside so no need to crowd around the central one to get watered.

Stats
Address The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1J3, Canada
Hours 1700 – 0200 Monday to Sunday
Pricing Cocktails around 15 CAD
Time Spent Whole night 🙂
Links http://www.thedrakehotel.ca/dining/venues/sky-yard/

SEE & DO

Graffiti Alley

King Street and Queen Street are the cool places to hang out, at least according to my one Canadian colleague, and if you’re spending time in the area anyway, make sure to take a small detour down to see Graffiti Alley. It’s a small street that runs south of Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street with every visible square inch covered by street art.

Enjoying Graffiti Alley with Superpeach

Enjoying Graffiti Alley with Superpeach

Outlet Shopping

This is a bit of a cheat since it’s actually outside of Toronto but we discovered it’s actually pretty cheap to hire car and from there it’s a super easy 2 hour to Niagara Falls which happens to be winery and outlet mall heaven. We ended up taking a couple of pit stops to spend some $$$ before even setting foot near the falls so if you want to go shopping, save it for here.

We ended up in a place called Outlet Collection but there are actually a number of malls in the area including Fashion Outlets Niagara and Canada One. Make sure you check out the store directories to give you a better idea of where you want to hit up.

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