13 staycation ideas for Toronto this winter

With the Canadian dollar tanking, it may not be wise to venture far from Toronto this winter. And, why would you want to leave? Toronto cracked the top 10 in the New York Times' "52 Places to go in 2016" list, so instead of shelling out the big bucks to travel, stay home and explore more of what makes this city awesome.

Here's a round-up of staycation ideas for Toronto this winter.


Cross the lake to stay at a Toronto Island B&B
While only a quick ferry ride away, the Toronto Islands feel far away from the city thanks to their natural charm. Venture across Lake Ontario and book a night (or two) at one of the local Bed and Breakfasts, many of which are quaint little cottages.

Stay in someone else's home
Check yourself into one of Toronto's drool-worthy Airbnb properties, like a cozy cottage in Kensington Market or a three-storey loft in Little Italy. If you put your own pad up for a night, you might even be able to pay for your entire staycation; it's truly a win-win situation.

Splurge on a room at a boutique hotel
Forgo the massive chains in favour of a more intimate boutique hotel. For art and design lovers there's The Gladstone and foodies should consider The Templar, if only to dine at Parcae. There's also The Drake, of course, as well as the Ivy at Verity near the downtown core.

bar begonia


Wine and dine like you're in Paris
Anthony Rose modeled Bar Begonia, his fifth Dupont Street restaurant, off a Parisian bistro. With dim lighting and French-style cuisine, you'll feel like you've been whisked out of Toronto to somewhere decidedly more European.

Escape to the tropics in a tiki room
Parkdale's Shameful Tiki Room aims to bring an "authentic" Tiki experience to Toronto, complete with rum-filled cocktails, Polynesian-inspired fare and kitschy pufferfish lamps. Escape from the cold and head to the tropics, if only for a few hours.

Eat and drink like a Spaniard
Pretend you're in Barcelona and grab tapas and a glass of cava as you stand around at Bar Raval, this tiny yet beautifully designed bar. If you can snag a space, you can even take advantage of Bar Raval's winterized patio.

Dine on sushi like you're in Tokyo
Take off your shoes and dangle your feet over a bed of river rocks at Shoushin, which serves up Tokyo-style sushi. There are omakase set menus at three price points, which feature market fresh fish and other high-quality ingredients such as wagyu beef and caviar.

toronto art galleries dupont street


Do a gallery crawl
Check out our local art scene and choose one part of the city to explore. A number of contemporary galleries recently moved to Dupont Street, so spend a day wandering through the various installations and exhibitions. Or, head to a major institution, like the ROM, which you might usually skip.

Head out on a winter hike
Take an urban hike through the Don Valley and kick off your journey at the Ever Green Brickworks. It hosts a winter village all season long, complete with a public skating rink and a weekly farmer's market.

Go to the theatre
You can certainly shell out hundreds of dollars to see a splashy Mirvish musical, but luckily, Toronto is blessed with a thriving theatre scene filled with high-quality shows that won't break your budget. See what's playing at the Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Murraille, Soulpepper, Coal Mine Theatre or Tarragon, for instance.

Root for the home team
Tickets to sporting events in Toronto are generally quite expensive, but you can generally find cheap nosebleeds for Raptors games on sites such as StubHub. If that doesn't work out, considering a Marlies game. Or, head to the most Canadian of museums: the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Catch a documentary
The Hot Docs festival - north America's largest documentary film festival - happens but once a year. However, the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema has a full roster of non-fiction programming for whenever you happen to stop by. Best of all, you can walk around the Annex, and Honest Ed's, before or after your movie.

Visit a local brewery
Instead of just sipping on pints of your favourite local brews at the bar, head directly to the source. You can buy bottles at the new Blood Brother's Brewing, grab a live show and a meal at the hybrid space Burdock or drink and talk Blue Jays at Left Field.

What would you do on a Toronto staycation? Let us know in the comments.

Top photo by Sam Javanrouh in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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