Wondering what to do on your first day at Les Amis?
You'll take in a lot of what Toronto
is all about with this tip and you'll have a lot of fun along the way.
The 501 Queen Streetcar affectionately known to Torontonians as "the
Rocket" takes you from one end of Queen (Neville Park in the east) all
the way out to the end of Queen ( Roncesvales
in the west). And, if you catch the right car you can continue on to Long Branch once a
village, the last of the Lakeshore municipalities.
Start by picking up a day pass at the subway which is less than a 2 minute
walk from Les Amis. Take the eastbound subway
train to Main Street
and the Main Street
bus across to Queen. That is your first "hop off" point..
Before you hop on the rocket, take a walk south on any of the many streets
that run off Queen and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee or tea while you
stroll along the boardwalk.
The beach is lovely and the lake
affords a calm start to the busy day ahead. If you can tear yourself
away from the tranquility of the lake, head back to Queen Street and take a look at the
myriad of shops enticing you to come in and take a look. You'll find
everything from trendy home décor shops to kids shops to chic little clothing
boutiques to a doggie bakery and even a doggie funeral home. Café's and
restaurants abound and you'll find no shortage of places to sit down and take
it all in. Walking west on the south side of Queen you'll discover Kew Gardens
named after London's famous Kew Gardens,
home to the Beaches Jazz Festival (every year in mid July) and to the
historic Joseph Williams Cottage, built for the Williams family in 1850 and
now the caretaker's home.
Seen enough hop on the Queen car and hop off at Kingston Road. This is the site
of the old Greenwood Race Track where, for years, horse race fans jammed the
wickets daily throughout the season. Now, it's
home to off-track wagering and while the charm is gone, it's still very
popular. Just a little east of the track, off Queen is Northern Dancer
Blvd. worth a stroll to see all the
beautifully detailed townhomes, replicas of the
real beach houses of days gone by.
Hop back on the westbound rocket and on your right you'll see the historic Ashbridges home a stunning piece of property framed by a
white picket fence. Built in 1854 it was owned by the same family until
1997. The original family were United Empire
Loyalists who came to Toronto from Philadelphia in
1854. Across the way to your left is Ashbridges Park where, if you care to hop off
again, you will discover expansive beaches and an inviting boardwalk.
Hop back on and your heading to Leslieville, one of
the "hot spots" for Toronto
homebuyers looking for something in a 'trendy up and coming area but still
affordable. Keep an eye out for the quirky little laneways you'll see all
along Queen and there's Strange
Street on your right. On your left at 1095 Queen you will pass Kristapsons
the best place in town to get seafood, especially smoked salmon.
As you continue you'll
spot many interesting little shops and cafes but a favourite
by far is "Bonjour Brioche" authentically French with incredibly
delicious French tartes, mouth watering croissant,
quiche salads and more it's no wonder it's hard to get a seat … but if you
can afford the wait, it is a definite "hop off" point at Boulton, walk east one block to De Grassi
Hopping back on the westbound rocket your headed for
Corktown on your left you'll spot the two most
interesting, twisty little streets "Bright Street" and "St. Paul Street"
lined with houses from another era.
You are now approaching the "Riverside District of Queen and
Broadview" where on the left you'll pass the "Opera House" one
most historic music venues, it opened in 1909 as a Vaudeville stage.
As you cross the Don River the landscape
changes and you witness on both side of Queen the great condo takeover,
conversions of what once were industrial buildings along the river.
You're now about to enter the part of Toronto that is filled with social
housing … Regent Park a huge subsidized housing development that is currently
being upgraded and re-built, Moss Park Apartments and as you approach Sherbourne, you see the down and out as they
line up for meals at
shelters or If you feel like taking a break, you might want to hop-off here
at Church Street
and sit on one of the benches outside the church for panhandle along the
You are now entering historic Queen
Street East. Queen and Church is the
centre for Pawnbrokers in the city. Travelling
west, you'll spot the expansive grounds of Metropolitan
United Church, this
neo-gothic church was built in 1872 and is the largest United
Church in Canada. some
fresh air, check the church tour times posted near the door.
Walking west on Queen you pass St. Michael's Hospital and then you're smack
in the middle of all the high rise office buildings, you needn't ask, you
know you are downtown.
You might want to keep walking a while as you will soon be at The Eaton Centre, it is the largest shopping mall in Eastern Canada and hosts around 1 million visitors each
week. Tempted …. go on in, but be prepared to
shop for hours.
Hop back on the rocket westbound and look to your right where you will see a
grand old building of rugged brownstone, it is our Old City
that's open all winter long. Hop back on the rocket
going west and on your left
you will see the jewel of Toronto's
Hall, this historic Romanesque Revival structure was opened in 1889.
Across the street on Queen, as you head west, is new city hall. In summer the massive
front grounds are home to art shows and many family events, in winter, it's
goes skating, on a huge rink cultural centres,
The Four Season's Centre for the Performing Arts, home to the Canadian Opera
Company and The National Ballet. On the right side is Osgoode
Hall, completed in 1832, this impressive building is home to The Court of
Appeal, The Superior Court of Justice and the Law Society of Upper
Canada. The benches on the grassy land beyond the
stately iron fencing is totally usable, just walk in and take a rest.
Once you've crossed University, have a look on your right at the Historic
Campbell House. Built in 1822 by Judge William Campbell it was moved in
1972 from it's original location on Adelaide street
to this site where it became a museum as well as a venue for social
Just one block west and
you are in the heart of one of Toronto Trend-setters favourite
shopping places "Queen Street West" shops and cafes abound and on
the right is City Tv where there's always something
going on to attract crowds from rock groups to celebs
to the "speakers corner".
You may just want to make another "hop off" right here and wander
on up to Spadina savouring
all the colour and people watch as you go. Feeling
a little hungry? The Queen Mother Café has had one of the longest runs on the
strip and is always a popular choice especially for brunch.
While Queen West is slightly upmarket, the next few
blocks between Spadina and Dufferin
are funky, artsy and fun. This is known as "The Art and Fashion
District". If you like to sew, this is your idea of heaven, the
fabric stores are superb, if you can't find it here, you
can't find it anywhere.
's a farmers' market every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm.
And, along the way you'll find a quirky mix of small galleries, interesting
shops, cafes juxtaposed used appliance stores. wear,
but still worth a look. On your right you'll spot Trinity Bellwoods Park, a real hub for the surrounding community,
in summer be sure to have a peek down the side streets as you move along,
they are lined with
beautiful old Toronto
homes, a little worse for there's a farmers' market every Tuesday from 3pm to
As you pass by the old, the new, the rundown, have a look on your right at
the Drake Hotel. Once a dive, it is now one of Toronto's
two "Art Hotels" a popular venue for
cultural events and entertainment. As you move along you'll spot
the other "art hotel" The Gladstone, it too was once a real dive
but has been restore to it's original grand state
and hosts many art events and live music at the Melody
Bar. It's worth going in just for the elevator ride!
After the railway bridge, have a look on your right at Toronto's top fabric
store "Brock Designer Fabrics" as you can see, it is huge and word
has it the costume designers for live theatre pick up their treasures here.
The next few blocks are a combination of up and coming neighbourhoods
and seedy rundown apartments, stores and cafes. This is The Village of Parkdale, you'll spot two interesting Tibetan
restaurants, and some other
places worth a second look as well. . As we move on toward our terminal
point you'll spot many antique stores, this is where you'll find good value,
if you're in the market, hop off and have a look.
At Roncesvales, you'll hop off and you have a
choice of things to do. Take advantage of the moment and walk along the
Polish part of town filled with tantalizing delis, bakeries
, coffee houses and boutiques, just walk along Roncesvales
to your right. Or, you can go to the left, cross the bridge and you're
back on the waterfront for a cool break.
How to get back to Les Amis ….
Take the Queen car back to Yonge and transfer to
the northbound subway, get off at College if you're staying at Les Amis on Granby, if you're at Les Amis
on Selby, stay on until Bloor, take the Bloor train east one stop walk south one block to Selby
and you're back home.