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Toronto: it's not as bad as you think



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For music, there's so much going on any given weekend that you literally have to choose between big acts, but for small venues and live music there are a few dozen stages on Queen Street West, College Street West, King Street West that host music four or five nights a week. I went to the Horseshoe Tavern to see a band one night, then the Tragically Hip came on to practice their new album. Only in T.O.

I'm serious when I say that Toronto really is a great place to party with lots of great pubs, clubs and bars for every specific taste.

And the restaurants are unbelievable. I love eating out in multicultural Toronto, with every type of food you could possibly want at all hours of the day. And it's relatively cheap - I bought Thai food for five, with drinks and dessert, for under $100.

For me, a night out in Toronto would usually start with a drink somewhere, then dinner somewhere else, progressing on to a pool hall or rooftop patio (depending on the season) for a little while longer while deciding what you want to do with the rest of your night. I'm not into dancing so much, but usually there's a pretty good live band you can get into by paying $10 at the door. If it's a big night you go to an after-hours club, and there are lots of those. If not, you go and eat somewhere - Greek, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and all of it open late, late, late. I'd recommend visiting a Fran's, friend to all insomniacs and people who will soon be battling hangovers, or Mars if you're uptown or Sneaky D's if you're in the west end.

For daytime entertainment there's a lot to do. The Toronto Zoo is recognized as one of the five best zoos in the world, so big it would be a challenge for anyone to see it all in a day - my daughter could have spent two hours at the penguin exhibit alone. Canada's Wonderland is Canada's biggest and best amusement park with the biggest roller coasters and attractions in the country - including The Behemoth, currently the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada until 2012 when The Leviathan is opened on the other side of the park. There's the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is in an incredible building and takes several hours to properly enjoy. There's Ontario Place. There's the CNE (similar to the PNE but probably three times larger). There's the Ontario Science Centre. There's Toronto Island with its incredible south-facing beaches (including Toronto's answer to Wreck Beach), kids'-sized amusement park and biking. There's the Toronto Harbourfront area with the CN Tower, Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome), entertainment district, Roundhouse, Queen's Quay. There's the white sand Toronto Beaches on Queen Street West and Lake Ontario, which you can actually swim in these days (as long as it's not right after a big rain storm - and there are a lot of those, usually with some incredible lightning).