First of all, just to get the dry stuff out of the way: Festival Box Office Hours
SHERATON CENTRE TORONTO HOTEL located at 123 Queen Street.
Tuesday April 18: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Wednesday April 19: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Thursday April 20: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday April 21: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Saturday April 22: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Please note: Passes must be picked up on-site during box office hours. Passes that are not picked up by 4:00 pm DAY OF SHOW, will be available at the venue when doors open.
HOW EXCITING, you made it (or have made plans to make it) to Toronto… and you have no idea where to go or what to do. Worry not! Here are some tips and tricks to the city.
WHERE DO I STAY?
With AirBnb, you can find a cozy place to stay within a wide price range, anywhere in the city. Whether you’re looking for an entire pad to call your own, or to share a bunk bed with other travellers, AirBnb has you covered. This is also your best chance to stay with local folks who know the city inside out.
If you’re a bit hesitant about staying at a strangers place, check out this post on BlogTO for a list of ‘The Best Cheap Hotels in Toronto’.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, just play a show and ask the audience if anyone can offer up a couch. I’ve seen that work once.
HOW DO I GET AROUND?
You’ll have to try to make the TTC your best friend, because that’s transit system of the city. With subways, busses and streetcars to connect you, it’s easy to get around downtown. For $3.25 you can get just about anywhere. Ask the driver for a transfer to connect to another route within two hours.
If you find that the delays are too much to handle (which you might), Bike Share Toronto is a scenic way to get around when the weather is nice. A day pass is only $7, and with 200 stations around the city, you’re guaranteed to get where you need to. You don’t even need to worry about the big city traffic with the growing number of bicycle lanes, shared roadway routes and multi-use pathways.
It’s past last call, the subway is closed (1:30 am) and you’re a little too tipsy to ride a bike after checking out a wicked CMW show? UBER’s got your back! All you have to do is download the app, input some info, select your destination and request a ride. With hundreds of drivers around the city, you’ll be picked up within minutes. Don’t have any cash? No need to worry, because unlike a taxi, it’s all through the app!
Speaking of taxi’s, here are a few numbers to jot down:
City Taxi 416-740-2222
Co-op Cabs 416-240-0000
And I’ll just leave this here: FREE PARKING
WHERE ARE ALL THE COOL NEIGHBOURHOODS?
Queen West: Pretty much the home of all things cool. You’ll find tons of art galleries, quirky boutiques like Black Market Clothing, hip restaurants like Parts & Labour and Queen Street Warehouse, live music venues like The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, The Cameron House and many more (you may be familiar with them by now) are all located amongst the beautiful historic buildings. Walking through the streets, you’ll discover hidden street art and some green space that’ll spice up any Instagram post!
Kensington Market: Undeniably Toronto’s most unique neighbourhood, the markets that line the streets really reflect the diversity of the city. The unreal mixture of restaurants, cafes and vintage clothing shops are always filled with vibrant locals and explorers. For a $5 lunch special try Rasta Pasta, because just the name should intrigue you enough!
The Gay Village: Toronto is home to Canada’s largest gay community and welcomes visitors from all walks of life. The Village is packed with cafes, restaurants, gay-oriented shops and a plenty of hot bars and nightspots.
Distillery Historic District: Don’t be fooled, this old neighbourhood is full of life! The district is a pedestrian-only village with heritage buildings filled with unique restaurants, fashion boutiques, art galleries and performance venues. The Victorian-era buildings are sure to drop your jaw! And for all the foodies out there, St. Lawrence Market is just a few steps away!
The Annex: Bordering the University of Toronto campus, this neighbourhood houses rows of coffee shops, theatres, bookstores, galleries, restaurants and bars that are crawling with youngsters. If you’re looking for the most popular hangout with 6 British-style pubs inside 3 connected Victorian mansions, you’ll definitely want to check out Madison Avenue Pub, aka The Maddy.
Yorkville: Once upon a time the hippie neighbourhood of Toronto, Yorkville is now just hip. Also known as the fashion district, Bloor Street is lined with designer boutiques that are most definitely out of our (my) price points, but cool to walk amongst nonetheless. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs carrying piles and piles of Chanel bags to the Hazelton Hotel!
For a complete list of neat neighbourhoods, check this out on BlogTO.
WHERE ARE THE CHEAP EATS?
Java House on Queen Street offers the ultimate mish-mash of entrees like pad thai, shanghai noodles, omelettes, pierogies, all-day breakfast and more. Not a single meal will cost you more than $10, and the same can be said for most of the drinks. Oh, and ALL DAY BREAKFAST.
The Dime, Queen Street Warehouse and El Furniture Warehouse are part of a trendy Whistler based chain, and are the purveyor of cheap eats! Every item on the menu is just $4.95 and the portions are quite generous. Don’t let the lineups scare you away, these joints are a must try.
The Green Room is located on an alley tucked under Bloor Street, on the right side of Brunswick St. Similar to the Java House, every meal is below $10, the drinks are super cheap and the atmosphere is perfect for lounging after an epic set!
And obviously so many more!
WHERE ARE THE CHEAP DRINKS?
Other than Java House and The Green Room, there are plenty of options!
The Lab’s schedule is as follows: Friday it’s Jameson whiskey shots or mixed drinks for $3, followed by Absolut shots and mixed drinks on Saturday, and $3 draught on Sunday.
The Dog’s Bollocks on Queen St. offers $3 domestic bottles all week long!
Tortilla Flats on Queen St. has 3oz cocktails for $9 and $3 tequila shots ALWAYS.
Eat My Martini is the $5 paradise for Martini lovers!
And again, obviously, so many more!
WHERE DO I BUY THIS ALLEGED “LEGAL WEED”?
Initially I would have suggested the notorious Cannabis Culture, but unfortunately The City wasn’t too impressed with their massive success. There are still plenty of dispensaries to chose from, the process is just a few minutes lengthier. Basically, most Toronto dispensaries offer what they refer to as a ‘compassion period’. This is what’ll enable you to buy weed for the week without a prescription. All you have to do is show your ID, fill out a piece of paper and then proceed to pick from the unimaginable variety of weed and weed related goodies. The employees are usually very knowledgeable, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Weedmaps is your new Google maps if you’re looking for the nearest or best locations.
WHERE DO I HUNT FOR RECORDS?
Sonic Boom is your destination for everything music. The rows-upon-rows of new and used vinyl offers every music genre imaginable, though with particular emphasis on rock and indie. It has a little bit of everything, including CD’s and DVD’s, audio accessories and turntables, books, bags, merch and accessories.
Rotate This is one of Toronto’s most revered record shops. They devote much of their attention to new albums and they have an impressive selection of hip hop, electronic, jazz, and punk. Their idea is to bring as much music in as possible without focusing too heavily on rarities.
Kops Records is a must reach destination. With stacks upon stacks of old and very rare vinyl, you can find anything and everything from original Beatles records to recordings of speeches from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
WHERE DO I TRADE MY GUITAR?
You may be thinking that this post is derailing pretty quickly at this point. Why would I trade my guitar? Fair enough, you can trade whatever you want! Bunz Trading Zones are iconic places to trade your things for new treasures. Anything from a keychain to a 19 piece drum kit, you can upload some info and a picture on the app or on one of the many Facebook groups (depending on the category) and name your trade! The only rule is that there’s no $$$ involved in the trades.
P.S. you can offer cases of beer and some TTC tokens for just about anything.
P.P.S. As you may or may not have noticed, BlogTO has loads of recommendations, news, events and posts about everything Toronto. Check it out if you’re craving more guidance.
Now, without spoiling too much of the discovery process, I’ll stop and let you figure out the rest! There are so many cool places to see and things to do, that unfortunately for you a week won’t be enough. But hopefully this read helped you make your trip to Toronto a memorable one!