Toronto is a modern, lively and cosmopolitan city – with the Entertainment District laying at the heart of the buzz. Located opposite Centre Island on the banks of Lake Ontario, this is the district where you’ll find the Toronto Film Festival, the CN Tower and streets lined with theatres. In order to experience the best of Toronto, you have to make sure the Entertainment District is on your itinerary. Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
What to Do
Toronto’s iconic CN Tower lies on the edge of the Entertainment District. There are a few options once you’re at the top – whether you’re a foodie, photographer, or adventurer. From the LookOut Level you’ll soak in incredible views of Toronto with floor-to-ceiling panoramic window walls and an all-new glass floor. There’s also the SkyPod further up, which includes an interactive exhibit.
If you’re peckish then head to 360 The Restaurant, which serves high-end cuisine 350 metres in the air on a revolving platform. Or if adventure is more your thing (and you have no fear of heights) – book yourself a place on the EdgeWalk, aka the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk. Something for the bucket list.
Film Reference Library
It’s probably no surprise that the Entertainment District is the premium destination for film lovers. The TIFF Bell Lightbox (the permanent home of the Toronto International Film Festival) showcases films all year round across 5 screens (and there’s a third-floor members-only area). But the sweet spot is the Film Reference Library on the third floor. Here you’ll find more than 2,000 scripts, 11,000 films, 19,000 books, 11,000 movie posters and special collections dedicated to Canadian auteurs.
Royal Alexandra Theatre
If you’re a theatre aficionado, then you need to visit the birthplace of Toronto’s theatre district. The Royal Alexandra Theatre was built in 1907 and is the oldest continuously operating theatre venue in North America. Since it opened, it has hosted 3,000 productions and watched the area around it become punctuated with other theatres following in its footsteps.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Welcome to Canada’s largest indoor aquarium. Here you’ll find 16,000 marine animals: including the world’s most extensive jellyfish exhibits, 65+-year-old giant lobsters, Southern Stingray and Bamboo Shark touch pools, and daily live dive shows.
Where to Eat
The entertainment district is home to a mouth-watering array of food, and there is no craving this district can’t satisfy. We wouldn’t even want to attempt to tell you where to eat because there are so many places, but here are a few eateries that are considered mainstays.
If you’re really into TV cook shows, you might recognise the name Susur Lee from Top Chef Masters and Chopped Canada. His Toronto based restaurant Luckee proves that he is talented and knowledgeable with Chinese cookery – especially dim sum.
El Caballito Tequila Y Tacos
If tacos and tequila is your idea of a fun evening, then head to this place. Tacos fillings on offer include beef brisket adobo and baja-style fish, as well as vegetarian options. Plus, margaritas can be measured by the glass or pitcher, either using the classic recipe or with an extra dash of flavour (chilli anyone?).
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Anyone who has already explored NYC’s vibrant foodie scene will be familiar with Momofuku’s delicious flavours. The Toronto branch opened in 2012 and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The menu is filled with creative twists on old-time Asian favourites – but the regulars will tell you to order ramen noodles and the pork belly buns.
Where to Drink
The energy in Toronto’s Entertainment District is always high, but the volume is turned up to full blast at night. No matter what kind of night-time scene is your favourite – from nightclubs, cocktail bars and music venues. Here are a few options.
Reel Sports Bar
Found beside Air Canada Centre, you’ll find multiple screens showing different sports at once – including the bathrooms so you don’t have to miss any minute of the game.
Ever wished you could play a game of ping pong while enjoying a cocktail? If you have, we’ve found the place for you. Tables book around $20 an hour and it is advisable to book early as many people take the game seriously. The menu boasts all the usual Canadian bar food, while drinks can be as fancy as champagne or as straight-forward as a punch bowl.
The Second City
If late night comedy is more your bag, then head The Second City. It’s been around for 50 years and was the launch pad for many successful Canadian comedies. We’re talking Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Michael Myers, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Martin Short and Dave Thomas. It mainly specialises in improv and sketch comedy theatre. Plus, there’s a bar.
Have you been to Toronto and visited the Entertainment District? What would you recommend?