The top 10 patios for people watching in Toronto
People watching in Toronto is one of my go-to activities -- and all the better when it's on a patio with a cold drink. Torontonians are utterly fascinating human beings. They have tacky floral pants, screaming toddlers, various bits of drama unfolding, and sometimes, cute dogs. Look at it this way: you could either people watch, or look at your phone. People are fresh and new, and sometimes hot. Your phone isn't going anywhere.
These are the best patios in Toronto for people watching.
The Rivoli is one of three prime Queen West patios for taking in the street scene, joining the Black Bull and the Horseshoe as perfect midday drinking perches. If forced to choose between the three, the Rivoli has the edge on account of its size (bigger that the 'Shoe) and street position (the Black Bull is technically a side patio, where the Rivoli is right on Queen).
Settle in to the lower patio or a railing spot on the upper level, order a cocktail, and spy on the many bags marching by that cost four times your monthly rent! La Société does classic Parisian bistro cuisine, offers hookah pipes on the lower level, and does some impressive cocktails. This is, by far, the number one people-watching zone on the so-called Mink Mile.
Cabana Pool Bar
Watch the muscle-tanked dudes saunter by and contemplate signing up for a little plastic surgery at Cabana Pool Bar. If you're lucky, you might even catch a mermaid model floating by in a small bubble! But seriously, you can get some solid (if expensive) cocktails here, and chill with friends in private, flowing white cabanas, poolside. And, really, there's people watching, and then there's people watching those clad in only a bathing suit. It's a different experience altogether.
This might be the best place in Toronto to spot a Bugatti or Ferrari in Toronto. Mark McEwan's tribute to the well-heeled has the type of patio just filled with people who have good skin, the type that only truly rich people have. Gaze out at all the action on Yorkville Avenue as the premium cars cruise by and everybody tries their best to look like their bank account boasts seven figures.
Wanna pine after hot men with beards? Here's your patio. Located on Ossington just south of Dundas, the picnic tables at Bellwoods have room to squeeze in all your nearest and dearest. The focus, obviously, is on the Bellwoods beers, but there is also a rotating variety of snacks on offer, from bread and cheese to corn and meaty treats.
King West is where the beautiful people are -- or at least that's a prevalent myth. Test it out by scoping out the street from the confines of Lee's patio, which offers front row seats to all the action near King and Portland. There's plenty of shade, the coleslaw is amazing, and the bartenders will keep your head warm and fuzzy if you so choose.
Despite its diminutive size, Embassy's patio might be one of the best in Kensington for taking in the vibrant street action. Score a seat here for Pedestrian Sundays, and you're set. Situated on Augusta Avenue, the neighbourhood's main drag, the north-facing patio provides a great angle from which to people-watch as you sip on a Blanche de Chambly.
The Rhino's patio might be the best people-watching spot in Parkdale. Wedged between the bar and the building to the west, it feels covered enough to be inmate, but its street-central position means you can gaze out at folks rushing to the LCBO, lining up for Grand Electric, or showing off their tightest jeans and plaid combinations. Bonus points for an absolutely huge beer selection.
Another shoutout to Yorkville is in order. Museum Tavern offers up the unique opportunity to spy not only on some of the city's most conventionally beautiful people, but cars, too! Maybe pick up a sugar daddy or two while you're at it? The trick is to sit near the outside of the elevated patio where you can see a parade of tourist going to the ROM or people out to shop it up with their platinum cards.
There are, alas, only 14 precious seats on Statler's patio, but there's no better perch from which to spy on all the action going on in the Village below. Those who get to watch Pride from here are lucky ducks, indeed. The beer list isn't anything to write home about, but with this prime viewing location, who cares?
The Annex is pure people watching gold. Watch mini-adult students say "like" a lot as they grow into their souls. Watch yoga moms haul their kids around on leashes. Watch cute old people milling about and having a nice day. Or fighting, either or. Enjoy these shenanigans over a piece of their famous cheesecake, a cheap brunch, or a pint.
Photo of the patio at the Rivoli
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