Toronto Special: 5 New Tourist Stops for the Local

I’m currently on my first ‘vacation’ back home to Canada.  It’s been 10 weeks since we moved to Philly, and it seemed like it time to come back to my homeland.   I needed to reconnect with my family, reenergize with friends I’ve known for years, and to just be in a community that I know.   As I cruise down the Gardiner Express, I take photos of the CN Tower like it’s my first time.  I feel at home, but like a visitor.  Excited, but nervous.  Things are different, but the same.  I decide I’m going to play tourist, and seek out 5 things-to-do that are a little out of the ordinary.  Things I’ve never done, and likely things you’ve never heard of.  Even after living in Toronto for almost 9 years, there’s so much MORE to explore!

1) The Gardiner Museum: Directly across the very famous Royal Ontario Museum, this museum is primarily focused on ceramics and pottery from the last few centuries.  An hour is enough time to mindfully check out the plates and sculptures, in a non-overwhelming way.   It’s worth it even to check out the beautiful space!  Funny enough: their Special Exhibit was on loan from the U Penn Museum in Philly!  Small world eh?

2) Redefine Fit: Pole Dancing Studio: 2 things unexpected: a) We had a super fun time, and b) it’s a TOUGH workout.  I thought I was pretty fit, but the arm and core strength needed to do the moves correctly is impressive.   This is a great experience where all fitness levels can participate equally.  You can push yourself as much as you’d like, and the instructors are super professional and supportive.  It was great breaking down the assumed barriers of being a male at a class like this (and really, don’t we all want more pole dancers?!), and thinking that pole dancing is only for stripping.  Let go of all assumptions.  That being said, I can see a potential future for myself if this Green Card thing doesn’t pan out…

3) Canadian Stage Theatre: I love that Toronto is a world class theatre city.   However, we often think of Mirvish because those shows are typically the closest to Broadway.   CanStage is an amazing company that puts on shows that I wouldn’t necessarily seek out, but every time I go, I’m so glad I did!  We always leave with so much to talk about.  I caught Chimerica (fast moving wild show about the Chinese massage, and politics), and  Das Ding/The Thing (creative, thought provoking show about cotton.  Trust me: go see it).  I’m catching Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom before I leave.  Affordable tickets, incredible shows!    And it’s Canadian eh?

4) Float Toronto: Laying down in a tub full of salt water in total darkness may sound terrifying to some, but it’s a whole new world of meditation if you let it.  Sensory deprivation is slowly becoming more main stream, which has lead to the introduction of spa like experiences like this.   I’ve now been 3 times, and each experience was very very different.  Find out what happens when you’re in an environment where you lose your sight, and your body is weightless.   When I let go of my control, that’s when I really start to float.  I especially recommend a few sessions of floating for those who are really wound up, or who might be a little hesitant to try.

5) Burger Priest: Okay, so I’m late to this quickly growing sermon, but I went, and I now believe!  Homemade burgers between buns that are buttered and fried like grilled cheese? Amen!  Not a place to go for salads: they have burgers, and fries.  But quality burgers and fries.!   This place is a conscious decision to have an sort of unhealthy yet very yummy meal.  I think Sweet Jesus would be the most suitable and appropriate dessert to follow up with.

What are your favourite Toronto hot spots that aren’t so main stream?  Any places that you’ve heard about that you can’t wait to check out?  Philly or Toronto: who wore it better?


Song of the Day: Vacation (from the hit movie From Justin to Kelly)

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