How We Enjoyed our Taste of Toronto

Back in May, I attended a blogger event and won a “Taste of Toronto” vacation courtesy of Porter Airlines and the Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre. This past Columbus Day Weekend (also Canadian Thanksgiving) the family headed off to Newark for our Porter experience, and a long weekend in Toronto.
The Newark-based crew was very nice – we arrived early enough that we were able to take an earlier flight!

Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-1.jpgHere we are in our  leather seats on the plane. Porter flies into Toronto City Airport, which is a small island in Lake Ontario right in downtown Toronto. It looks like this (when viewed from the CN Tower). Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-3.jpgWe got into a shuttle bus and were delivered to a hotel just a 2 block walk from the Intercontinental. We dropped our bags and grabbed some lunch. Then it was off to visit the CN Tower, right behind our hotel.

Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-2.jpgThis Toronto landmark is easy to see from anywhere in the city. The kids loved looking down from the glass platform. We also went to the very top to the observation area, where we were 143 stories above the city. On a clear day, you can see Niagara Falls. We couldn’t see the falls…yet.

That night we ate in an Italian place on King Street, a few blocks from the hotel. This restaurant row had lots of different choices, but we had very tired kids.

We all went back to rest, which was good, because we were up bright and early (for us) on Saturday morning to attack the day. We bought a transit pass that was a very good deal – all subway and streetcar/bus transfers for the entire weekend for four of us for 10CAD. Well worth it.

We took off to see Casa Loma, a very special castle built by Sir Henry Pelllatt, a man famous for his work in electrifying Toronto using water power from Niagara Falls.Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-6.jpg

There were amazing stained glass works, beautiful gardens, and a great audio tour in a cell-phone-sized package that each person was able to carry around with them – included in the price of admission. The kids loved learning about the history of the castle.

We stayed for a while, then took a walk down to the closest subway station to trek back across the city to enjoy some of Canada’s national sport – Hockey.

Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-7.jpgThe “Marlies” are the local minor league team, and the tickets were much more available and more affordable than trying to get into the Maple Leafs game. The Rochester Americans won the game 4 to 2, to the disappointment of the local fans.

After a dinner of some Indian food we hit the pool in the hotel – the kids loved it.

Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-10.jpg The next morning, Sunday, Canadian Thanksgiving, we rented a car and headed out of town to Niagara Falls. Yes, the town is tourist-y and cheesy and expensive. But this is one of the natural wonders of the world and we all loved seeing it. We did the obligatory Maid of the Mist boat ride, which, despite the ponchos, left us soaking wet. Thankfully, the day was sunny and unseasonably warm, and we quickly dried off and walked around. Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-9.jpg We took a ride on a Ferris Wheel that allowed us to see both the Canadian and American falls, and was a huge hit with everyone. Back in the car, we drove to Toronto’s China Town area, where we walked around and sampled some Chinese “buns” from a bakery. We returned the car and called it a day.

For our last day, we again took advantage of public transportation and went to the Ontario Science Center. (But not before an excellent breakfast at Tim Horton’s.)  At the museum, Harris couldn’t stop playing with the electronic circuit display, which lead to an excellent Hanukkah gift idea. Toronto Columbus Day Weekend 2010-11.jpg

After enjoying many of the exhibits, we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags and head to the airport. Unfortunately, mother nature had a fireworks display going on near Newark, and our flight was delayed a few hours. On the plus side, Porter’s terminal in Toronto is like a business lounge, with free wifi, coffee, snacks and 20 or more iMacs for public use. The kids were full and happy (and so were mom and dad.)

All in all, a fantastic trip to Toronto, made even better because part of it was paid for already. We had a great Porter experience, and the Intercontinental is highly recommended. Hope you enjoyed this little trip report.

(Blogger disclosure – as noted in the previous post – I won two tickets and two nights were awarded by the hotel. However, no one said I had to make a blog post, made the award contingent on anything or asked us to do anything in return. I’m just sharing the experience since we enjoyed it so much.)