My velvet escape travel tip: Toronto

I’m very excited to launch the first post (of hopefully many!) of the brand new series: “My velvet escape travel tip“. This series is about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. I’ve invited several blogger friends to kick-start this series. With this series, I hope to uncover spots or activities around the world for visitors to explore and get to know for a truly local experience.

Escape travel. It’s one of life’s necessities.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Art Gallery of Ontario

While I typically travel to discover rather than escape – I travel to, not away from things – there are times when an escape is essential. Whether I’m at home in Toronto or traveling, I sometimes need to find a place away from noise to quiet my mind, reflect and recharge. For me, an escape is a peaceful place. There may or may not be people around. That doesn’t really matter. What is important is that it affords me a bit of tranquility. These are my ‘velvet‘ escapes.

My task here is to reveal my favourite escapes near home. It is my hope that, when you visit Toronto, you too can enjoy some quiet time along with the sites, theatre, music, festivals… that this fabulous city has to offer.

Escape Tips for Toronto

Central – Toronto Islands during the week. If it’s quiet you’re looking for, don’t go to the islands on the weekend, but during the week it a wonderful escape. A short ferry ride from the foot of Yonge St.,(downtown) you can enjoy the islands’ parkland on foot or by bike. On the south side are rugged beaches that completely ignore the city. On north side are cityscape views.

East – The Waterworks.

The Waterworks

The Waterworks

If you’ve read Michael Ondaatje’s “In the Skin of a Lion” you will be familiar with the Waterworks in Toronto –known properly as the R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant. Take the Queen Streetcar east to The Beach. Get off anywhere from Woodbine Ave. on and go south to the lake. Follow the boardwalk east along the lake to its end and keep going. Walk along the sand, again, to the end. Now go up and around onto the Waterworks property. Enjoy the building itself, the lake from the top of the hill or go through the gate at the water to a very small beach which rarely has a visitor.

West – Humber River Bike Path.

Humber River

Humber River

Riding is always an escape for me. There are bike paths and bike lanes throughout Toronto but I really like the Humber River path. It starts at the lake and goes north about 30k. There are a few occasions when the trail breaks but the vast majority is along park land and on occasion it’s easy to pretend that you are completely out of the city in a national park.

Art Gallery of Toronto

Art Gallery of Toronto

In bad weather – The Art Gallery of Ontario. The newly renovated AGO was designed by Toronto born architect Frank Gehry. Like all Gehry buildings, this one is nothing short of stunning. You don’t have to like art to escape to the AGO. Wander and enjoy Gehry’s imaginative style or sit quietly and rest your eyes on the exhibits, the city views, or the interior design. Feel contented in a space that allows you to breathe.

Escapes by season

Lake Ontario during the winter is dramatic. I love it. So I recommend both the Toronto Islands and the Waterworks as year round escapes. The Humber River Bike path is a three season escape. It’s especially beautiful in the fall with the leaves changing colour. And, of course, the Art Gallery of Ontario is great year round.

Enjoy!

About this week’s guest writer
janice_waughJanice Waugh is a contributor, editor and publisher of Solo Traveler, a blog offering solo travel tips, stories, destinations and insights. She recently published a FREE eBook: GLAD YOU’RE NOT HERE: a solo traveler’s manifesto.

Follow Janice on Twitter.

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17 Responses to “My velvet escape travel tip: Toronto”

  1. Lori @ Torontonicity 06/03/2013 9:38 pm
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    High Park in Toronto is one of my ‘velvet escapes.’ I try and go there during the week since the park can get busy during weekends. High Park is massive (400 acres) and you can enjoy walking through the gardens or hiking/biking up and down some fairly hilly terrain. There’s a zoo that’s worth visiting, a public swimming pool open in the summer and an amazing Shakespeare theatre production called “Dream in High Park,” which is performed in the amphitheatre from late June to the first weekend in September. I highly recommend it!

  2. velvet 31/08/2009 6:01 pm
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    Thanks Rebecca for your comment. Glad you liked the post. I can certainly recommend Toronto. To be honest, I didn’t quite like it first time I was there but have grown quite fond of it since. :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  3. Travel-Writers-Exchange.com 31/08/2009 5:36 pm
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    The Humber River Bike Path looks very inviting! The architecture of the AGO looks absolutely brilliant — love the spiral staircase. Toronto is a very vibrant city, one that many people flock to each year. The city has theater, nightlife, shopping, and fantastic scenery. Thanks for this wonderful review of Toronto. It makes me want to book a Toronto vacation today.

  4. syria 17/08/2009 8:18 pm
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    Its a good travelogue. You are really good at writing such articles. Great one.

  5. velvet 17/08/2009 7:52 pm
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    Thank you Amy & Dian for your comments!

    Dian, cobblestone streets and chocolate certainly sound like a ‘velvet’ escape! :-)

    Cheers,
    Keith

  6. Dian 17/08/2009 7:30 pm
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    Another place I love in Toronto is the Distillery District with its cobblestone laneways, art galleries and wonderful displays of local handmade crafts.

    The Distillery District is an old brewery that has recently been renovated and opened to the public. With it’s many outdoor patios, it’s a lovely spot to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto.

    Be sure to visit what my daughter (a chocolate addict) considers best chocolate shop in the city, Soma Chocolateers. The tiny (but charming) café has a large glass wall that allows customers to watch as professional chocolateers make their chocolate right from the bean.

  7. Amy @ The Q Family 17/08/2009 7:26 pm
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    What a great post to kick start another great series! I’m looking forward to reading more escape from your blogger friends. :)

  8. velvet 17/08/2009 6:59 pm
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    Thanks so much Janice for these wonderful tips. I didn’t know Frank Gehry was born in Toronto. I’m a big fan of his work – who doesn’t love the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao?! WOW!

    Cheers,
    Keith

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