Travel Tips from Women 50+ About Toronto, Canada

by | Apr 29, 2024

A woman exploring the Distillery District in Toronto
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Last updated on April 30th, 2024

Featured image: Explore unique parts of the city like the Distillery District and more with these Toronto travel tips | Photo by Destination Toronto

Travel tips you won’t find anywhere else!

By JourneyWoman staff

When we asked our readers for advice about travel to Toronto, we heard back both from women living in the city as well as those who have visited for business or pleasure. Each and every submission had something interesting to offer — tips on favorite restaurants, bed and breakfast accommodation, tiny shops, secret discoveries and fun things to do. Some of hotel and restaurant recommendations are from our archives, so please check recent reviews.

Do you have any Toronto travel tips to share? Share it here and we’ll add it to this article! 

Toronto travel tips from women

Toronto is one of my favorite multicultural cities. You can take a “trip around the world” by visiting Greek Town on the Danforth, Little India on East Gerrard, Little Korea on Bloor West, Chinatown (one of the largest in Canada) on Spadina Avenue, Little Italy on College West and Little Portugal on Dundas West.  — Gloria, Waterloo, Canada


I’d like to suggest a lovely little hide-away spot in Toronto — the only museum in Canada exclusively devoted to the collection, exhibition, and documentation of textiles from around the world. The Textile Museum of Canada, one of the city’s lesser-known museums offers a unique cultural experience that most female travelers are sure to enjoy. Visitors will find a blend of interesting hands-on exhibits along with gorgeous, innovative wall hangings. The museum (with tiny jewel of a gift shop) is hidden downtown near the Greyhound bus station and is well worth a jaunt “off the beaten track.” — Stephanie, Ottawa, Canada

The Distillery Historic District is a wonderful spot during the warm weather — outdoor cafes, trendy restaurants, art galleries, concerts, markets and more. Many budding artists have their studios here and you can pop in, watch them creating, discuss their work and perhaps purchase something to take back home with you. Check it out! —  Maureen, Sarnia, Canada

One of the best things about Toronto is the collection and special exhibits on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario (the eighth-largest art museum in North America). I always look forward to the cafe’s restaurant which is strategically situated beside the wonderful gift shop. (you must travel through the shop to get to the cafe); the menu selection is limited but the chef is gifted. Their hot pastry meals and pastry desserts are so very good which makes the whole trip to the Gallery complete: art, shopping and dining under one roof. —  Margaret, Hamilton, Canada

I’d like to tell other JourneyWomen about the Bata Shoe Museum housing over 10,000 shoes. This beautifully designed, five-storey structure by Raymond Moriyama (in the shape of a shoebox) is home to Sonya Bata’s shoe collection as well as a display of primitive footwear, stars’ shoes and more. Artifacts on exhibit range from Chinese bound footshoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut crushing clogs and Elton John’s platforms. The Museum shows off the style and function of footwear in four impressive galleries. Over 4,500 years of history and a collection of 20th-century celebrity shoes are reflected in the permanent exhibition, “All About Shoes”. Located at St. George and Bloor (327 Bloor St. West) very close to the St. George subway station. —  Jan, Lecanto, Florida, USA

Find even more things to do in Toronto here!

Carolyn outside the Bata Shoe Museum with Evelyn's boots

Evelyn Hannon’s iconic red boots are in the Bata Museum Collection. Read more here. / Photo credit Carolyn Ray

Unique experiences in Toronto

Fifties-style ‘progress’ cost Toronto many fine old buildings. But some survived – and they’re worth a visit. My favourite is the stately St. Anne’s Church on Gladstone Avenue (Dundas and Dufferin). Murals on its soaring Byzantine dome, painted by members of the Group of Seven, are endangered by a leaking roof and a depleted building fund. Hurry – its days may be numbered. Another great ceiling atop a superbly proportioned space is the great hall at Union Station. Slip through the underground passage to admire the Royal York Hotel’s magnificent lobby. Now head eastward to aptly named Church Street where St. Michael’s, St. James and Metropolitan United bespeak this city’s Victorian wealth. And finally, walk north toward Gerrard and Sherbourne to the exotic tropical greenery, (mixed with lovely seasonal flowers), of Allen Gardens greenhouses. That’s my Toronto! — Isobel, Toronto, Canada

I recommend visiting the McMichael Gallery at 10365 Islington Ave just north of Toronto in the Village of Kleinburg. You can drive there or get there on the city buses (but that takes a while). This is an art gallery unlike most you have been in — a rural-style building in a 100-acre park showcasing the largest collection of the Group of Seven painters of Canada. This unique group of artists set a definitive painting style for many in Canada and this collection is displayed against the natural complement of rural Ontario. McMichael is well worth a day of gazing and then walking outside. Each season offers a new perspective. — Maureen, Sarnia, Canada

In April, the cherry blossoms attract thousands of people to High Park, located on the west side of the city. There is no car traffic allowed in High Park so it’s best to take the subway and walk the short distance to the park entrance. The trees are just a few minutes inside. — Carolyn, Toronto, Canada

Cherry blossoms in High Park, Toronto, Canada

The cherry blossoms in High Park attract thousands each year. / Photo by Destination Toronto & Alex Nirta

I want to shout the praises of the Famous People Players Dinner Theatre. This group mounts unique, visually fantastic “black light” shows. Famous People Players is renowned not just for the quality of its shows, but also for bringing out the creative potential in performers with developmental disabilities. The price of the show includes a four-course dinner and intriguing backstage tour all hosted by the company’s performers. Fantastic!  — Jan, Lecanto, Florida, USA

I’ve lived in Toronto all my life except for the past eight years when I moved to the UK. Reading your latest newsletter and planning to visit Toronto I started reminiscing about the city. What I miss the very most is Lake Ontario and the community on Wards Island. On hot humid summer days or evenings, I would take the ferry over to Wards and just walk the neighbourhood looking at the gardens and feeling the organic energy. This is such a lovely spot — a village tucked away with the skyline of Toronto in full view. Another excellent ferry stop is Hanlon’s Point (for a more country feel). Or just stay on the ferry back to Toronto and feel the breeze and watch the skyline. For info about the island and how to get there visit this website.  — Andrea, Coventry, Britain

Have a couple of hours to spare (from Wed. to Saturday)? Interested in meeting up with other visitors to Toronto? You can join the St. Lawrence Market’s Food and History Walking Tours. This includes food sampling in the Market, a visit to the Market Gallery, and uncovering some of the historic lore of Old Town Toronto. Not interested in a tour? Then just pop into the market and browse — maybe even pick up lunch or dinner goodies. Saturday is a great time to mingle with Torontonians doing their weekly food shopping. Read more here. — Adele, Toronto, Canada

Where to eat in Toronto

My all-time favourite is a Thai restaurant that is a Toronto institution with the university crowd and alumni. It’s called Salad King and it’s located one block north of the Eaton Centre (Yonge and Dundas) on Elm Street off of Yonge Street. The food is tasty and inexpensive and served at communal, brushed-metal tables. If you’re looking for a quieter setting just go upstairs to Linda’s — same food in a more upscale setting. Salad King serves the best Phad Thai I have ever tasted in my travels. —  Shirley, Toronto, Canada

Try Yummy Dumplings on Huron Street. Close to the Art Gallery AGO. Looks for the Chinese Gates and the tea shop on the corner. The tea drinks are good there too.  — Nancy M.

Combine some history and a delicious lunch by dining at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Dining Room at Osgoode Hall Court House, the home of the Ontario Court of Appeal. Despite the name, it’s open to the public, located in the downtown core, situated in a beautiful old room with stained glass, wood floors and chandeliers, and one of the best lunch deals in town. Before you eat, take the time to stroll around the grounds, tour the inside of the courthouse, and stick your head into the Great Hall Library. Once that’s done, you simply nip across the way to the Dining Hall where you can rub shoulders with gowned barristers and judges while feasting on gourmet food at prices that can only be described as a steal. —  Dale, London, Ontario, Canada

Check out The Carrot Common, a circle of shops, cafes and yoga studios on The Danforth in Toronto’s Greektown. Carrot Common features a large health food store, The Big Carrot, which carries only GE-Free foods and features a deli, cosmetic section a holistic dispensary and a juice bar. Beside The Big Carrot is The Yoga Sanctuary, a serene studio offering a variety of classes. Run by sisters Cynthia and Kimberley, the Yoga Sanctuary features two studios, one indoors and one on the rooftop terrace. The area also features clothing and crystal shops, a variety of cafes, an herbalist, a shiatsu school with discounted treatments by students, counselling services, a Bikram yoga studio, Scaravelli yoga studio and Grassroots, a store full of things to make your life environmentally friendly. All this and more is steps from the Chester subway station on the Bloor line. Take the TTC, (the Toronto Transit Commission) known as the subway, for a real Toronto experience. Enjoy! — Kathryn, Ontario, Canada

Try to time a visit to Toronto around their “Summerlicious” (July 5-21, 2024) or “Winterlicious” programs. This is a gourmet’s delight — a time when you can have a great three course meal at any number of fine upscale restaurants around town for a very reasonable price. All of the restaurants and the special menu they offer are listed. You can get lunch for $10 or $20 and dinner for $20 or $30 and it’s fabulous. Happy eating everybody! — Sonia, Toronto, Canad Editor’s note: Sign up for City of Toronto emails to find out what’s new here.

I’d like to share one of my favourite haunts with women visiting Toronto. This is a little gem serving Italian specialties. It’s called Bar Mercurio and is located at 270 Bloor Street West right across from the Bata Shoe Museum. It’s very loud and bustling for breakfast and lunch and then for dinner, it changes completely into a quiet upscale restaurant. Delicious food and fun! In fact, I’d suggest reservations at dinner. Open every day except Sunday. Tel: 416.960.3877. —  Nina, Toronto, Canada

Enjoy breakfast lunch or dinner at The Rectory Cafe on Wards Island. Open Wednesday to Sunday: 11AM to 5PM. Located a five-minute walk from the Ward’s Island Ferry. Reservations are recommended. More here. — Catherine, Toronto, Canada

Where to stay

Carol Davies has a wonderful Bed and Breakfast in the Annex Area on Madison Avenue (Annex House) where you receive all the comforts of home in a huge and wonderful old house in a safe neighborhood. The Madison Pub just down the street invites students and neighbors alike to enjoy the draught and comfort food in warm and cozy surroundings. Address: 147 Madison Ave. Tel: 416. 920.3922. — Gloria, Waterloo, Canada

I have to say the Madison Manor Boutique Hotel (really bed & breakfast) is my favourite place to stay when I’m in Toronto. Located in the Annex area, close to the University of Toronto campus, it’s close to everything I need (five minutes from a major subway station) and is a great place to relax. I felt so very much at home and truly enjoyed the historic charm that the hotel had to offer. Address: 20 Madison, tel: 1.877.561.7048 (toll-free).— Lyndsay, Calgary, Canada.
Editor’s note: This B&B is not very far from Bar Mercurio (see tip above).

I can only say good things about staying at Massey College on the University of Toronto campus. It’s normally a dorm for handpicked graduate students, but they accept guests during the summer. They have single and double rooms, simply furnished but comfortable, and cafeteria-style breakfast is included. It’s quiet, inexpensive (50-80$CAN), centrally located, and it feels more like a home than an hotel (don’t be surprised if permanent residents sit down with you at breakfast). Perks include a common room with at least half-a-dozen daily newspapers and a beautiful park in the quad.  — Catherine, Montreal, Canada

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For some fun in Toronto

Want a little bit of fantasy escape during your visit to Toronto? Need a special outfit for a special event while visiting? Stop by Malabar Costumes, 14 McCaul Street, phone 416-598-2581. Malabar has been in business for 60 years and makes many of the costumes for Toronto’s theatre and opera productions. They have over 20,000 costumes in stock and available for rental (or sale) –choose from any historic era and/or any well-known character. Try on costumes and imagine yourself as a medieval or Renaissance princess, Victorian lady, 1900s Gibson Girl, 20s flapper, Marilyn Monroe or Queen Amidala from Star Wars. Malabar also sells theatrical makeup, wigs, and accessories such as elf ears and angel wings. Their service is great! When I rented a medieval costume that was a size too large, they completely repinned the hooks to give it a better fit. Great fun! —  Diane, California, USA

When it comes to caring for your hands, I nominate Tracy Sheridan of Yorkville’s Lid Salon for ‘Best Manicure in Town” award. Not only is Tracy great at what she does but she’s lovely to chat with as well. I guess I’m not the only one who feels this way — I see Tracy’s name popping up in local style and beauty magazines all over the place. Tracy’s contact info: Tel: (416) 967-3311. Address: 106 Yorkville Avenue. — Evelyn, Toronto, Canada

I recommend The Elmwood Spa. I always thought it was only for the rich and famous until I was given a gift certificate. I honestly waited months until I got up the nerve and finally made an appointment. What a great gift it turned out to be! I was made to feel welcome immediately and given all the information I’d need so at no time did I feel uncomfortable. As a much larger woman I was nervous to see everyone walking about in the Spa’s bathrobes but surprisingly it fit. Since then I have made many trips back and in fact am going with some girlfriends tomorrow for a group pedicure. Address: 18 Elm Street Tel: 416. 977.6751. —  Debbie, Toronto, Canada

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As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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