During summer, Torontonians will beat the heat by escaping the city and heading north to cottage country hot spots like Lake Muskoka. However, if you’re like me and you’ve already spent your cottage budget on daily purchases of lattes and avocado toasts, a summer staycation may be in order. Here are some great suggestions to get you started!
East Point Park
Situated alongside Lake Ontario, East Point Park is truly one of Toronto’s best hidden gems. With a massive 55 hectares of woodlands, bluffs, wide-open meadows and beaches to explore, you will be in awe of the natural landscape around you. Once you reach the top of the bluffs, breathtaking views await, so don’t forget your camera! From there, slowly make your way down to the beach where you can stop for a well-deserved picnic and a refreshing dip in the blue waters of Lake Ontario. If you feel adventurous, you can continue your hike on the paved Waterfront Trail all the way to Port Union. This is an easy trail, great for biking and rollerblading with many benches along the way to sit down in the shade and admire the scenic views.
What is the ultimate summer destination in the city? A proper patio, of course! The kind where you can sit, relax, and people-watch. Located in the heart of Kensington Market, Toronto’s most eclectic and vibrant neighbourhood, you will find Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, which offers some of the best desserts in the city, period. Although famous for their selection of freshly baked pies, including their celebrated sour cherry pie, you can definitely order more than just dessert! With a wide variety of freshly made vegetarian meals, soups and salads, you’ll be sure to find a delicious dish that will not break the bank! The interior is very much aligned with the artistic vibe of Kensington market; it’s colourful and cozy but if weather permits be sure to sit on the patio to soak up those summer rays while enjoying your slice of pie heaven.
In Toronto there is no shortage of theaters and live music venues, but my favourite is Koerner Hall. Attached to the Royal Conservatory, Koerner Hall is a superb concert hall with its elegant architecture and breathtaking acoustics designed to create an intimate atmosphere. Throughout the year, you can see Canadian and international artists performing at an extraordinary venue for a reasonable price. Recently, I was lucky enough to see the Grande Dame of Cuba herself, Omara Portundo. She performed with the incredibly talented pianist Roberto Fonseca as part of the 2019 Toronto Jazz Festival. What a treat! With over 100 performances announced in the 2019-2020 season, there’s bound to be a show for everyone!
For a real dinner treat, or whenever I’m celebrating an important milestone, I look no further than Mistura, an upscale yet unpretentious Italian restaurant, owned and operated by the Paolini family for more than 20 years. Located in Yorkville, Mistura combines authentic Italian Old World cuisine with contemporary flair. Every dish is more delicious than the next, but my favorite is their crispy artichoke hearts with the saffron aioli as an antipasti combined with Nonna Guiliana’s Lasagna as an entree. Oh, and their desserts are to die for; take my advice and try their hazelnut semifreddo, it is simply heaven! With its elegantly designed interiors, impeccable service and exquisite dishes, you will be absolutely delighted by your dining experience.
Alicia Lauriault is a Business Counsellor with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. In the last three years she has assisted more than 6000 members with their unique business enquiries pertaining to compliance with employment standards, occupational health and safety, WSIB, Human Rights, CRA as well as complicated red tape situations that small businesses face. She has done several public speaking engagement on topics related to managing employees and is passionate about creating content and resources for business owners to help them succeed.