Monday, June 6, 2011

marvelous things' travel/shopping guide for a day in toronto

Over the past odd year that I have been reading Maritime Shopaholic, I have learned that Canada’s East Coast (Saint John in particular) is not just a series of historical coastal towns – they’re up-and-coming fashion hubs! Whether you’re reading about the ample-stocked Je Suis Prest Boutique or collaborations between Saint John’s best-dressed personnel, Chelsea is always (fashionably) providing the lowdown on the latest and greatest happenings in Canada’s oldest city! This time, however, the focus of this post will not be on the Atlantic-bordering provinces. Instead, we’ll move the spotlight onto a more central area of the True North, one that I like to call home: Toronto, Ontario.

From a fashionista’s perspective, Toronto has a lot to offer – whether it be luxe designer labels, hole-in-the-wall vintage gems, chic restaurants, or a Cosmopolitan in the lobby bar of a four star hotel. Of course, everyone has a different approach to traveling. Whether you’re a local or an aspiring visitor, I’m here to give you the lowdown on some of my favourite areas of the city – whether they’re tourist staples or hidden treasures. Without further adieu, here is how I would spend an ideal day in Toronto:

Wake-up call! Head down to King St. West and take the 504 streetcar to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (85 Hanna Avenue) for poached eggs and butter croissants or blueberry buttermilk pancakes (my fave!). The ultra-trendy eatery, named after Mildred Pierce, has been a brunch favourite for Toronto locals for a few years now. While taking in the sleek, minimalistic decor, ask for an Americano or a tea from the menu’s great selection. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with the Green Kombucha Lime tea!

Head up to the west end of Queen Street West for shopping and strolling. If you feel like relaxing, take a walk through Trinity Bellwoods Park. Trust me, the pedestrians are trés fashionable. To satisfy your literary cravings, pop into Type Books (883 Queen Street West) for internationally-distributed magazines, rare novels, and pretty stationary. Totter further west to Jonathan+Olivia (49 Ossington Ave) for some trendy albeit very luxe designer pieces. Think youthful lines such as Rag & Bone, Pamela Love, T by Alexander Wang, and Etoile by Isabel Marant mixed with cult favourites such as Opening Ceremony and Acne Jeans. Are these brands not exactly suited towards your budget? Check out the 900-square foot TOPSHOP mini-boutique in the back of the store! There are also a handful of AMAZING vintage and re-sale stores in this area. In the store adjacent to Jonathan+Olivia, I scored a pair of never worn Marc Jacobs jeans for 30 dollars!

Take the streetcar (or walk!) eastbound towards Queen Street West and University Avenue for lunch at the Queen Mother Café (208 Queen Street West)! The kitschy Brit decor certainly does not match the absolutely superb, moderately priced menu! If you’re hungry, try the Pad Thai – it’s some of the best in the city! The burgers are also divine.

It’s time to embrace your inner art critic! This is where the guide turns into a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure game: you can either stay true to your label-loving roots and head to the Bata Shoe Museum (327 Bloor Street West) or stick to the standard art museum and head to The Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West). To get to either museum, cross the street and head downstairs into the Osgoode Subway Station. To get to the Bata Shoe Museum, take the subway to St. George Station. To get to the AGO, walk from University Avenue to Dundas Street West (about five to six minutes).

If you are still in the mood to shop, take the subway to Bloor Station (or walk if you went to the Bata Museum) to Bloor Street West for the chicest boutiques in the country! Walk through the flagship Holt Renfrew boutique for every designer piece you can imagine (and stop in the Holt’s Cafe for a drink!). You can also enjoy high-street favourites such as the international chains Zara, Sephora, and H&M, as well as Canadian favourites Club Monaco and Aritzia. For some depression-inducing window shopping, stop into Hermes, Chanel, Prada, or Louis Vuitton. Head into Yorkville for a handful of small boutiques as well as the kitschy Anthropologie.

You deserve a break! Take a nap or chillax in your hotel room for a little bit. Once you’re satisfied, get all gussied up (perhaps with some new purchases!) for a night on the town!

Take a cab or the subway (or walk, depending on where your hotel is!) to Ultra Supper Club (314 Queen Street West) for dinner, drinks, and dancing. The chic and opulent decor will be the perfect place to show off some of the new additions to your wardrobe or a staple from your closet back home! It’s also a frequent hangout for visiting celebrities (Paris Hilton was here!)

There you have it! Whether you’ll take this guide to heart next time you make a trip down to Canada’s version of the Big Apple or merely just enjoyed reading about my personal stomping grounds, I hope that I’ve introduced you to some new and unique places in the city! I’d like to thank Chelsea for offering me the opportunity to write a guest post on her blog! I hope that our favourite Maritime Shopaholic’s big day is filled with numerous happy memories that will last a lifetime!

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