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Canada’s Summer of Sport city guides: Toronto.

The exceptional experiences in Ontario’s massive multicultural metropolis conclude our special city series.

11 March 2015
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Suggested tweet: Multi-faceted multicultural Toronto concludes our series of city guides for Canada’s Summer of Sport http://ow.ly/Dxorw #explorecanada

It’s a banner year for sport in Canada. Toronto is the host with the mostest for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, while FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 action kicks off at six cities across the country.

Although that’s the cream of the crop, there’s plenty of other sporting endeavour to enjoy during the summer, including Rogers Cup tennis, F1 Grand Prix racing, RBC Canadian Open golf, Major League Baseball, Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer.

To help travellers make the most of Canada’s Summer of Sport, our series of short and occasionally cheeky city guides for the seven host destinations of the World Cup and Pan Am and Parapan Am Games sets the stage.

Up now: Toronto,ON

Age: 181 years

Appearance: The iconic CN Tower ascends 553 m (1,814 ft) from the shoreline of vast Lake Ontario, punctuating an energetic metropolis that boasts the second-most skyscrapers of any city on Earth. Yet, thanks to a collection of diverse and approachable neighbourhoods, massive Toronto remains as friendly as a smile.

Toronto in five words: Hockey, epicentre, multicultural, towering, proud

Is it easy to get around? The Toronto Transit Commission cleverly carves up the concrete jungle with ample buses, subways and ubiquitous streetcars. On sunny days, areas such as Cabbagetown, Kensington and the Distillery District are best explored via Bike Share Toronto.

What’s the city’s hidden gem? Little Portugal is rich with old-world traditions—arts, foods and festivals—plus, for World Cup fans, residents who adore futebol.

Where can you catch the sporting action live? The Pan Am & Parapan Am Games will see more than 7,000 athletes compete at 30 venues throughout the region. Start at the Cirque du Soleil-themed opening ceremony in Rogers Centre, and follow the action from there. (Rogers Centre is also home to Blue Jays baseball and Argonauts football.) In addition, the women of this year’s Rogers Cup will smash aces at York University’s Rexall Centre, RBC Canadian Open tees off at Glen Abbey Golf Club and Toronto FC play MLS matches at BMO Stadium.

Are there fun bars and pubs to watch the games from, too? Real Sports Bar & Grill is a preferred hangout for Blue Jays fans. Choose between a sedate dining room, lively 37-TV pub or sunny rooftop patio at Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto. The Loose Moose has Hogtown’s largest selection of draught beer as well as all-sports big screens and tasty grub. During the World Cup, Greektown will be alive with “Opa!”

Enough about sport—where are the hot spots to eat and drink in the city? Bon vivants socialize over shared platters in the multimedia-inspired dining hall at The Carbon Bar. Thoroughbred Food & Drink impresses with eclectic fare made with contemporary Canadian ingredients. Richmond Station Restaurant pleases with oysters, local meats and a rotating chalkboard menu of the day’s best dishes. The cuisine at People’s Eatery reflects its neighbourhood’s past with Jewish snack plates, and its present via Cantonese small bites—two tastes of Toronto’s renowned multiculturalism.

Some visitors like to shop ‘til they drop—where should they go? A shopaholic’s must-do is Toronto Eaton Centre, with 230 shops in a handy central location. If size matters, try Square One Shopping Centre, in Mississauga—360 stores and 15,000-sq-m of floor space make it Ontario’s largest mall. Downtown, hop from the antiques historic King West Village to the haute couture of Queen West to the funky boutiques of the Distillery District.

What’s the nightlife like? The liveliest in the country! Northwood is a trendy locale known for classic cocktails and Canadian rye. Gaslight tempts with tasty small bites (try the perogies) and specializes in top-shelf tequila and whisky as well as craft beer. Stay late at Ace Nightclub—a hangout for TO’s young and chic. For a different take, have a laugh at Second City Toronto, proving ground for comic A-listers such as Mike Myers and Martin Short. Or just stroll along Yonge Street and see where the evening takes you.

Life isn’t just fun and games—where can visitors feed their minds? First, learn the local lingo: the Art Gallery of Ontario is called the “A-G-O” and the Royal Ontario Museum is dubbed the “Rom.” Discover the former’s international collections and rotating exhibitions (like the early 20th-century modernism of SHIFT) as well as the latter’s six-million-item inventory that ranges from dinosaurs to Chinese architecture. Afterward, hot-foot it to the BATA Shoe Museum for 4,500 years of footwear history, then check out the events of 401 Richmond, a local artists’ hub featuring gallery shows, live performances and hands-on workshops.

One of Canada’s attractions is its amazing nature—what are some nearby outdoor delights? Rouge Park has over 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of perfectly preserved eastern deciduous forest only 50 km (30 mi) from downtown Toronto. Canoe in pristine marshland, hike through forest and camp out beneath a blanket of stars—this remarkable green space will soon be Canada’s first National Urban Park.

Make local friends in Toronto: Whether it’s Toronno, Trono or Toranna—you’ll fit right in once you realize there’s only one “T” in in Toronto.

Make local foes in Toronto: The Toronto Maple Leafs is the greatest hockey team of all time—any contrary information should be kept to oneself.

Looking for more visual inspiration from Toronto and Ontario? Browse our Brand Canada Library for thousands of images and videos from all over Canada.

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