Taking over Toronto with teens

Although seating was assigned, it didn’t stop thousands of teenagers and their parents from queuing three hours in advance to see YouTube superstars Dan and Phil. The line wrapped three times around Toronto’s Sony Centre for Performance Arts for one of only two Canadian stops on their world tour. Passersby stopped to look in amazement.

A big concert is more than enough reason to inspire tourists to head to Toronto and explore the walkable atmosphere of its downtown. For my girls, ages 15 and 12, the Dan and Phil show gave us an excuse to head from Calgary to the Big Smoke for their first visit to Canada’s largest city.

Straight off the hop, while Dan and Phil are entertaining my girls, I take the opportunity to have my only solo time and walk a few blocks to Toronto’s Distillery District to visit one of their craft beer pubs.

Toronto’s Distillery District is full of craft brewers and a great place to while away a few hours.

We return to the Distillery District the next night to eat at the trendy, surprisingly kid-friendly El Catrin restaurant. My kids soaked up the hip atmosphere and devoured the fish tacos and even at an early hour on a Wednesday there was a lineup to get a table, which tells tourists it’s good.

The Distillery District is home to many cool browsing shops, allowing for pleasant before and after dinner strolling.

Of course a major attraction in T.O. is the CN Tower, which now has an added bonus that will surely interest your teen. The Edge Walk is the world’s highest, full circle, hands-free walk on a 1.5-metre-wide ledge encircling the top of the tower’s main pod, 116 storeys above the ground. You have to be 13 to give it a try and not opposed to having your heart occupy a spot in your throat for a brief spell. It’s wise to reserve your visit (www.edgewalkcntower.ca).

To avoid long lines at the CN Tower, reserve lunch or dinner at the classy 360 Restaurant, which gives you access to a private elevator that takes you right to the restaurant. As it rotates, it offers incredible views of the cityscape and Toronto Harbour. After lunch, take the private stairs to the main observation viewpoints, which features an all-new glass floor — a posted sign says it can hold the weight of three orca whales.

The Blue Jays are always a great draw when they’re in town at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

If sports is on your itinerary, visiting the CN Tower puts you in the vicinity of Rogers Centre, home to Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays, and also Scotiabank Centre, home of the NHL’s Maple Leafs. You can easily get Blue Jays tickets on game day because it’s a big stadium, but the Leafs are expected to be a very good team this winter (so tickets are going to be even harder to get and more expensive than they’ve historically been).

North York’s Black Creek Pioneer Village — not far from Canada’s Wonderland — has some new attractions that will appeal to older kids and teens. While you head off to a beer tasting at Black Creek’s own brewery, your family can try goat yoga or, if they enjoy being freaked out, sign up to be part of a Victorian-style seance inside one of the oldest and most haunted buildings in the city (https://hauntedwalk.com/the-seance/). They can also join a haunted walk.

Three museums may be of interest to your travelling party. If you’re with a hockey fan, the Hockey Hall of Fame in the heart of the action on Front Street is extremely interactive and well worth the stop.

The Royal Ontario Museum has evolving exhibitions sure to entertain teens and their parents.

The Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor West is home to Spiders: Fear & Fascination until Jan. 6, 2019. Experience hands-on exhibits, explore a recreated spider cave and watch staff demonstrate how to extract venom.

Just down the street from ROM is the very entertaining Bata Shoe Museum, home to more 13,000 artifacts spanning 4,500 years of history. Until Jan. 9, 2019, it is hosting Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, a colourful retrospective by one of the world’s most influential fashion figures. A lot of his designs look awfully uncomfortable and made this dad grateful he was wearing his Adidas Gazelles.

Because Toronto boasts such a fantastic subway system it’s not a problem to stay away from the madness of Front Street and still be 15 minutes away from Union Station. We did not regret booking a room at Intercontinental Yorkville at 200 Bloor West. The stylish boutique hotel is directly across the street from ROM and the University of Toronto campus — if you are starting to consider post-secondary options.

Toronto’s Yorkville is home to many boutique restaurants and high-end fashion shops.

This hotel is right in the heart of high-end shopping in Yorkville, perfect for the fashion-conscious traveller. Intercontinental Yorkville (www.toronto.intercontinental.com) is literally around the corner from the St. George subway stop, which gives you an easy hop-on point for both No. 1 and 2 TTC lines. This great location made it easy for us to return to our hotel each afternoon for a visit to the pool before heading out again into the 26C evening.

A dinner option in Yorkville is the Cibo Wine Bar at 133 Yorkville Ave, which offers rustic Italian (my 15 year old devoured a margherita pizza). Walk off your meal with a stroll and more shopping.

For more information what to see and do in Toronto, visit https://www.seetorontonow.com.

 

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