This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
The sleek and modern city of Toronto came up on our radar when we decided to explore closer to home. It’s the largest city in Canada, and a flight from southern California to Toronto is less than five hours. Bonuses? You bet! No transatlantic flights, cheaper fares, more time for exploring, and a favorable currency exchange rate.
Our two-day Toronto visit was part of a more extensive road trip that included Quebec City, Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa, and Toronto. Our focus? Trying new things and enjoying time together as a couple. I’ll cover the details of the road trip in another post, but you just want to know what makes the perfect getaway in Toronto, right?
(I have exciting news! GPSmyCity has converted this article to a GPS-embedded walking route you can use without data or internet to guide you through Toronto. If you make a purchase, I will receive a small commission — thank you!)
Orient Yourself to Toronto First
Since our time was limited, my husband and I wanted an expert to show us around, and we found the perfect walking tour for us. We heard about Urban Expeditions from Visit Toronto, and we booked a City/Greens tour. Our guide, Peter Odle, lives and works in Toronto, and is very passionate about helping people learn to be a local as quickly as possible. He was great about taking us to hidden gems, finding photo ops for us, and teaching us about the history and politics of Toronto.
Our tour group was small so it was easy to ask questions and stay together. It was also simple to hop on and off of buses and trolleys or in and out of taxis as Peter seamlessly led us from one neighborhood to another. We loved actively learning about Toronto in this way, and by the time our tour was over, we had a great feel for where everything was (Remember, the CN Tower is always south!). For more details about our tour, click here.
City walking tour: about $80 CAD per person
Choose a Nice Hotel in a Great Location
This is a getaway, right? When you want to make the best of your time, staying in a hotel that is central is key. And you want it to be a little more special, because a couple’s getaway is all about “you” time. We chose the Delta Toronto by Marriott on Lower Simcoe — almost directly across from the CN Tower and only blocks from the waterfront. Our corner room on the 34th floor had incredible views of Toronto, especially at night when the city was lit up. The soaker tub was pure luxury, and a late-night dip in the pool also afforded incredible views of the city. I felt pampered at every step, including at the breakfast buffet — what a sumptuous assortment of food! As a couple, we don’t get to experience luxury often. This was a real treat for us, but it was a splurge that was well worth it. Delta Toronto is a full-service hotel, catering to business travelers, couples, and families. Amenities include Wi-Fi, concierge, 24-hr fitness room, heated pool and jacuzzi, and on-site dining.
Delta Toronto rooms are $300 – $650 per night, depending on dates, size, and location of room; if you are a Marriott Rewards member, one night is 25,000-30,000 points.
Another surprise at our hotel? This beautiful Toronto truffle delivered to our room as a treat from Tasty Tours, who created it to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. It was an incredible blend of chocolate ganache, with a maple butter tart filling, and a buttery crust. Yummmm! Tasty Tours also has a chocolate tour I would have loved to indulge in, but alas, none were available while we were there.
Explore the Islands
After we oriented ourselves to the city with a walking tour and checked into our hotel, we were ready to explore the beautiful Toronto Islands. Since the Islands are the largest non-car community in North America, the perfect way to get around is on a bicycle! We met up with TorBikeTours on Dundas Street and then cycled through the city to the ferry dock for a 13-minute ride to the Islands. Our three and a half-hour tour took us to many sites, including the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, beaches, the Centre Island Pier, Algonquin Island (where all the resident cottages are), and the Regatta Course and stadium. We nearly had the pathways to ourselves, and the cycling was easy. My husband and I found this time to be both relaxing and educational, as we learned so much about the Islands and their relationship with the city. It was also very beautiful — stunning views of the lake and the city skyline at sunset — very romantic! See my post about our bike tour for gorgeous photos and tips.
Bicycle tour cost: $80 CAD each plus tax; includes bike, helmet, snacks, water, and ferry fare
We completed our first day in Toronto with the bike tour, a late dinner, and a refreshing dip in the pool and soak in the jacuzzi at our hotel. Now, for our second day…
Taste Toronto’s Unique Foods
I’m beginning to think the best way to learn about a city is on a culinary tour. It certainly ended up being a wonderful idea for my husband and I. How can you go wrong when you combine great food, a fun-loving group of like-minded people, and a knowledgeable guide? We specifically chose Culinary Adventure Co‘s ‘Made in Canada’ tour for an introduction to Canadian specialties. It’s the perfect way to learn about an area’s history and culture while you enjoy amazing cuisine.
Most of our three-hour tour was centered around Kensington Market — an eclectic and colorful community that focuses on organic growers, small store owners, and unique foods and experiences. No wonder it was so easy to experience Jewish smoked meats, a vegeterian bakery, traditional wood-fired bagels, classic poutine, locally produced cheeses, and even gourmet popcorn with maple flavoring! Be sure to read my humorous post about having a “good food day” in Toronto.
‘Made in Canada’ tour: $79 CAD per person, includes guide and all food/gratuities
Visit a Museum
We really love art, so the Art Gallery of Ontario was our museum of choice. I did a double-take when I saw the beautifully curvy staircase, and several paintings also turned my head. One unique exhibit we viewed at the AGO was an entire room filled with ship models. The details on something so small (compared to life-sife) was amazing! You could spend an entire day here perusing the exhibits and relaxing in the cafe or bistro, or you can shop in the museum store.
Museum admissions vary from free to about $20 CAD
Explore Downtown Toronto
This might include using the subway or Toronto’s sleek electric trolleys, strolling through the financial district with all of its sleek skyscrapers or taking a selfie next to the iconic ‘TORONTO’ sign in Nathan Phillips Square. Or maybe you’d enjoy exploring the St. Lawrence Market touted by National Geographic to be the world’s best food market. There are many historic landmarks like the Flatiron Building, churches, sculptures, and several parks, too.
Take in the Waterfront
For the close of our second day in Toronto, we decided we just had to see more of the waterfront. We’d explored by foot, taxi, subway, trolley, ferry, and bicycle. Was it not fitting to end our getaway with a relaxing harbor cruise? We saw the ship with the majestic tall masts and sails docked at Queens Quay. The Tall Ship Kajama has multiple sailings each day but I wanted to watch the sun set from the water, so we chose the 6:00 pm departure. It was very convenient to learn we could purchase a light dinner onboard, so we didn’t have to fit in a meal before sailing. Our two-hour cruise even included a firing of the ship’s cannon and an invitation to help raise the sails! I was awed by the views and the sensation of moving across the water under the force of the wind. Oh, how I love to sail!
Adult admission: $27 CAD, onboard purchases of drinks or food are additional
Our Toronto Getaway
Looking back, I can’t believe we fit in all these activities! We had a wonderful visit and fell in love with Toronto. I do hope we’ll be able to return someday, because there is so much we didn’t get to do, and we have such fond memories. We met some of the most friendly people, and were treated so well. It was difficult to leave! I do hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a getaway in Toronto — and that you’ll be able to recreate some of our experiences. Tell me in the comments below…what most appeals to you?
Note: I’d like to thank ‘SeeTorontoNow’ for assisting my husband and I with my ‘Perfect Couple’s Getaway’ research in Toronto. I received complimentary admission to the AGO, the Tall Ship Kajama cruise, and our Urban Expeditions and Toronto Bicycle tours. Delta Toronto and Culinary Adventures Co offered us media discounts. My Toffle from Tasty Tours was also complimentary. I have reflected my honest opinion about the activities we participated in, and I am so grateful for our wonderful Toronto getaway!
Be sure to use the See Toronto Now website when planning your Toronto visit; it is a great resource!
Re-pin so you’ll have our itinerary when you need it: