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 and  enjoy!

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 of Toronto's 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 street. 

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 where Toronto 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 functions.   

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 7pm.

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.