Our first morning in Toronto we slept in a bit, since we didn’t have to drive anywhere. We hit the Starbucks on the corner before setting out for our walking tour of the city.
Our first stop was historic Kensington Market, about a mile from our hotel. We wandered through the old streets, well before any of the shops had opened, and enjoyed checking out the old buildings and architecture.
From there, we headed back to the city center to the CN tower, and arrived just as it was opening. Since we planned to visit several of the major Toronto tourist attractions, we ended up buying Toronto City Passes, which saved us a good bit of money.
We rode the glass elevator to the top of the tower, and enjoyed the incredible views from the main observation deck.
After checking out the tower, we headed next door to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada.
This was one of the nicest aquariums we have ever visited. The aquarium was large and had gorgeous exhibits, and lots of high quality interactive material for kids and adults.
The jellyfish wall was one of the most incredible things to see.
We then headed through “Danger Cove” which was a super long, moving walkway through an amazing tank full of sharks, saw-toothed fish, and rays.
We spent about 2 hours at the aquarium, and then headed out for the 2 mile walk to the Toronto Distillery District.
Old 19th century distillery buildings that once housed a large whiskey distillery now house lots of little shops and restaurants.
We had lunch at El Catrin, one of the few decent Mexican restaurants we have found outside of Texas. We started with the reposado margarita and the Pepino Diablo.
For lunch we had the tableside guacamole, the chilaquiles, and the shrimp tacos, and Parker got a cheese quesadilla, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
After lunch we wandered around the district, and stopped at the pastry counter in Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie for some macarons.
We wandered around and admired the rest of the district, and started to walk off our lunch.
Then we headed back north for a 3-mile walk to the Royal Ontario Museum. We did a TON of walking this day!
The museum admission was also included in our Toronto City Passes. This museum is huge, with four floors of material to comb through. Our favorite exhibits included the dinosaur/paleontology exhibit, the Chinese exhibit, and the Inuit/Native American/Canada exhibits.
We finished up at the museum as they were closing at 5:30, and headed back to the hotel. Our poor feet were so tired we needed a nice break to sit in our room after our day of walking. I think we estimated that we walked about 12 miles total. We didn’t really have enough energy to go out for dinner, and it was well past Parker’s bedtime, so we headed down to the Omni’s restaurant bar, the Consort Bar. I started dinner with a lovely glass of Sangiovese, and Jordan had a blackberry whiskey sour. For dinner we split a Caesar salad, I had the margherita flatbread and he had the fish and chips. Parker passed out in my lap before dinner arrived and slept like an angel during our meal.
On our second and last day in Toronto, we checked out of the hotel early and headed out to the Toronto Zoo. The weather was drizzly and overcast, which wound up being perfect other than getting a little damp, because there were no crowds at the zoo at all. Parker enjoyed seeing the animals and we had a good time exploring the zoo.
We especially enjoyed playing with the otter.
They had a good assortment of species, and we walked through their animal health center which had a gorgeous setup for surgery and diagnostics. Jordan said it was much nicer than the arrangement at the Bronx Zoo in New York where he did his externship.
The zoo also currently has an exhibit on the amount of plastic pollution in our oceans. They have created gorgeous works of art from the plastic that has been recovered.
It really is a sobering display of how much we are polluting our planet.
The zoo took a lot longer than expected, so due to that and the weather we headed out of Toronto without visiting the botanical gardens.
Our second stop of the day was just on the west side of Toronto, at the Terre Bleu Lavender farm. This was one of my bucket list items that I was really excited about.
We got to the farm in time for the last tour of the day, and then wandered through the forest and lavender fields of the farm. The English lavender had already been harvested for the season, but some of the French lavender was still blooming.
Our first stop was the distillery, where the guide showed us how they distill lavender essential oils from the dried lavender bunches. 1 liter of lavender essential oil goes for 3 to 4 thousand dollars!
Then we headed over to the apiary, where we learned how they collect lavender honey from their bees.
From there we were on our own to wander the farm, and we headed through their forest trail to see their back fields.
We made it to their back field with the “infamous” yellow door.
Jordan took a lot of nice photos of us out in the fields.
We walked through their farm store just before they closed and checked out all of the interesting products they are creating from their lavender. We bought a bottle of their strawberry lavender sparkling water and some lavender shortbread cookies for the drive to Niagara Falls that evening.
The drive from Terre Bleu to Niagara Falls only took about an hour. We checked into our hotel and then walked next door to a local Italian restaurant and pizza place for dinner. We headed back in for an early night before checking out the falls in the morning.
I’ll be back with our Niagara update soon!