Whether it's winter or summer, Canada's largest city is a hotspot for shoppers and foodies, with an array of places to savor international cuisine and exercise the plastic.
I just got back from a week-long visit to Toronto, and explored these sites for shopping and dining:
• Eaton Centre: Toronto's most famous urban shopping mall, the Eaton Centre, sits right right in the heart of the city, with mid- to upscale retailers that range from Sears (don't laugh; they've got a big souvenir department) to Canadian clothier Roots. A must-see for gourmands is Urban Eatery, Eaton Centre's upscale food court that opened in 2011. This facility puts most food courts to shame -- it has an international array of food purveyors (and prices higher than the average food court). They even use real silverware and plates here. I especially liked the Thai food at Thai Express, and there is an Indian place that's good too.
• Queen Street West: Shoppers looking for something a bit edgier should head to this street, which combines mid-price international brands with interesting Canadian designers and goods. Art galleries are another draw here.
• Kensington Market: Similar to Queen Street West, the neighborhood called Kensington Market was my personal favourite. It's packed with Bohemian flavor and cool little local designer shops, especially along Augusta Avenue. My partner Angel bought a T-shirt at a fun place called Play Dead, which features death-oriented artwork. Small restaurants serving international cuisine dot the neighborhood; we had a good Hungarian-Thai combo lunch at Hungary Thai, perhaps the only restaurant on the planet that combines these two cuisines.
• Yorkville: This upscale neighborhood offers stylish shopping options (and is conveniently close to the Royal Ontario Museum, the largest natural history museum in Canada). You might duck into MoRoCo Chocolat for a sweet treat, then head to The Roof Lounge at the Park Hyatt Toronto, where celebrities sometimes imbibe (although I didn't see anyone famous as I wandered about).
Shopping Tip: If you're really driven by the deals, schedule a visit during Boxing Week, the post-Christmas period when stores go crazy with discount-seeking shoppers.
Attention Foodies: If you like Asian food, you'll be in heaven in Toronto, whether you're at a food court or the finest establishment. I kept asking around for the best, truly Canadian dining experience, and the most common recommendation was poutine, which is French fries covered with gravy and curd cheese bits, and perhaps something extra like duck.