Head downtown for big-city sports, concerts, arts and experiences you can find only in Toronto.
With its immediate proximity to the Waterfront, Financial District, Entertainment District and Old Town, South Core is the perfect home base for further exploring, but there’s soooooo much going on here, too. Try these eight quintessentially Toronto adventures this winter.
Catch a big-ticket concert
Many of us leaned on music to get through some of the tougher moments of the pandemic, so it’s with a big sigh of relief and a bigger jump for joy that LIVE MUSIC IS BACK!
Nothing can compare to belting out the lyrics to your favourite song from your favourite artist surrounded by like-minded fans. Scotiabank Arena has a big-ticket lineup of winter concerts including Marc Anthony (December 4, 2021), Elton John (February 14-15, 2022), Billie Eilish (February 16, 2022), and closing out the season, Tyler the Creator (March 11, 2022).
And since laughter is said to be the best medicine, don’t miss stand-up from Ricky Gervais (December 17, 2021) and Sebastian Maniscalco (March 19, 2022).
Cheer for the home teams
One of the last joy-filled collective memories Torontonians shared was the night the Raptors won the 2019 NBA championship. That pride carried through 2020 right into the 2021 season. If you’re in town this winter, don’t miss the crowd energy during a Raptors (or Leafs!) game at Scotiabank Arena, now that sports fans are back in the stands.
After all, there’s nothing quite like replacing your winter gloves with a foam finger and a puffy jacket with a team jersey, to forget the chill for a few hours.
Catch a ferry to the Toronto Islands
Although the Toronto Islands are best known for their summer beaches, there is something truly adventurous about catching the Toronto Island ferry — maybe with cross-country skis, snow shoes or skates in hand — to explore all the island has to offer during the colder months. You may even find yourself working up a sweat as you travel the kilometres of snowy, wide-open, flat terrain. Not one for strenuous activities? Take a snowy photo safari instead. The islands are rife with photo ops, especially of icy Lake Ontario and Toronto’s iconic skyline.
Tip: Keep in mind that only the Ward’s Island ferry operates during the winter season. Using that as your base, you’ll still be able to reach Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. (Don’t forget to pack refreshments, as island cafes and eateries are closed in winter.)
Explore the frosty icing sugar views at Sugar Beach
Sugar Beach is a summer Mecca for sun worshippers seeking vacation vibes. An underappreciated winter attraction, it’s worth a visit any time of year for its lakeside views.
Imagine its pink sculptural umbrellas dusted in shimmering snow, with a view of the Toronto Islands in the background. This photo-worthy spot is a breath of cool air, which will still smell sweet, thanks to the nearby Redpath Sugar factory which it was named after!
Head to Harbourfront Centre and Power Plant for culture and fun
From outdoor skating and hot chocolate to indoor art exhibits and workshops, there’s always something for everyone at Harbourfront Centre. This cultural hub found at the west end of the South Core is especially perfect for family outings. The activities and shows are often local, not to mention seasonal, bringing together fun and education in equal measures.
You could spend a few hours here without even realizing it since there are distractions to be found around every corner. Try dropping into Boxcar Social for a third wave coffee or a sweet treat to keep up your energy. And don’t miss a visit to the The Power Plant, Canada’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary visual art.
Nosh on a Canuck classic: BeaverTails!
BeaverTails are an iconic Canadian treat. This flat, paddle-like pastry is shaped like a — you guessed it! — busy beaver’s tail. Deep-fried and covered in decadent toppings, it’s a winter staple. With a standalone vendor located right at Toronto’s Waterfront, BeaverTails are the perfect snack after skating or strolling and sightseeing.
While the BeaverTails menu offers a range of OTT toppings, if this is your first time trying them... consider the classic version, with just a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Served piping-hot, you won’t be disappointed with the simplicity of this hand-stretched whole-wheat pastry. In fact, you’ll delight in how it’s crispy and chewy at the same time.
Escape into the light and colour of Immersive Klimt
There’s something very romantic about the winter season. Think cozy fireplaces, cozier cuddles and endless amounts of intimate activities. So, a trip to Immersive Klimt, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Immersive Van Gogh, is in keeping with the theme of winter romance.
After all, one of the artist’s most celebrated works is “The Kiss.” You’ll see this work, and so much more, projected cinematically against soaring walls. Lose yourself in this immersive experience, set against colourfully vivid projections that include the streets of Imperial Vienna, water lilies, vibrant blooms and mermaids.
With its rich spice and gold palette, Immersive Klimt is a romantic way to trade winter grey for a world of moving music and swirling colours.
Indulge in a kaiseki sushi menu
Sushi is practically its own food group in Toronto. Treat yourself to a multi-course kaiseki dinner at aburi pioneers, Miku. The kaiseki dinner will allow you to sample chef’s specials including a selection of their signature aburi sushi, which is flame-seared and pressed into rectangular form.
Seasonal morsels may include aburi sashimi, roasted Kyoto Saikyo miso sablefish, akamiso cured duck — or a caramel apple dessert topped with house-made sake-kasu ice cream. Combining traditional Japanese flavours and techniques with Canadian elements is a unique dining experience you just won’t find at all-you-can-eat sushi places (though those are fun too!).
Getting to South Core:
Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Union station.