Toronto, ON is like NYC only better

I’ve been to most of the big cities in the United States and a few outside. Of all the big cities I’ve been to so far, Toronto is my favorite. Were it not for the climate, I would seriously consider living there.

I read once that Toronto is what New York City would be if it were being run by the Swiss. I can think of no better way to put it.

Toronto is clean, peaceful, cosmopolitan, interesting, vibrant and efficiently run.

I’ve been there several times — alone, with family and with friends. Each time it’s been fun and memorable. Picking a favorite place or memory of Toronto would be difficult. Not because every single part of the city is awesome; it’s a large city like any other so it’s bound to have its less appealing sections.

CN Tower and the aquarium are nice but frankly quite touristy. I’m not into sports so the baseball stadium and hockey arena hold no special appeal.

Antique fire truck in Toronto, ON, Canada

Antique fire truck in Toronto, ON, Canada

The lakefront was really neat when I went with friends. Several large sailing ships were docked, the fire station was holding an open house and had its antique engine on display, the small amusement park was in full swing and filled with kids having a great time.

Kids riding a small train at an amusement park in Toronto, ON, Canada

Kids riding a small train at an amusement park in Toronto, ON, Canada

When I visited with a friend who is an absolute train fanatic, I gained a special appreciation for the old railroad wheelhouse across from the Blue Jays baseball stadium. Parts of it have now been converted to retail space and a tasting room for the Steam Whistle Brewery while part remains as a railroad museum.

Train on display at the Toronto Railroad Museum

Train on display at the Toronto Railroad Museum

The building itself is laid out in the shape of a giant circle and each segment once garaged a locomotive or other railroad car(s). At the center of the circle is a rotating “bridge” just large enough for a single train car. This bridge could be rotated with a train car on it so that the car could be turned in any direction for storage or to link up with other cars and pull them out of storage.

Queen Street is amazing. Perhaps the most fun, funky part of the city. The 20 blocks or so I walked down are filled with the most eclectic mix of shops. Record shops, sex toy shops, clothing boutiques, organic food eateries, art galleries….

From the profane to the mundane and the insane to the plain, if it’s cool it can be found on Queen Street.

Adding to the hip vibe, down the center of Queen Street run tracks with awesome vintage streetcars from the 1940s. These are no museum pieces, they are basic transportation packed with Canadians going about their daily business.

Fancy "Secret Toronto" mural

Fancy “Secret Toronto” mural

While walking down Queen Street I crossed a nondescript alley with a small sign that unremarkably just read “Secret Toronto”. A stroll just one block in revealed an amazing alleyway running parallel to Queen that was covered in some of the most artistic graffiti I’d ever seen. It ran at least four or five blocks.

One of the murals in the "Secret Toronto" alleyway

One of the murals in the “Secret Toronto” alleyway

My family and I spent over an hour in this alley, admiring and photographing the graffiti. We found it every bit as fascinating as bustling, artistic energy that was flowing just one block over. Yet in that entire hour, We crossed paths with only a tiny handful of other people in this wonderful secret world we had discovered.

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