Solo Trip to Toronto/Niagara Falls – Part 3

If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2 of my solo trip, check them out here to learn about my trip so far.

On day 3, I had purchased a tour to Niagara Falls through Kings Tours. They picked me up at my hotel and took me to the bus stop where we would meet everyone else from the tour. The drive to the falls was about 90 minutes, and we got to see great views of Lake Ontario and Canadian sites on the trip. I loved our tour guide, he was hilarious and it was great getting to know everyone on the tour. We all came from different countries and backgrounds – I spend most of the time chatting with a man from London, one from Poland, and one from Australia. Talking with these people about their countries and backgrounds and sharing my own experiences was one of the most enriching experiences of the whole trip.

Once we got to the falls, there was an option within the ticket to pay for a boat ride around the falls. I didn’t buy that part of the package, so I had 3 hours of free times. I originally thought that I was going to hit the Niagara Falls Casino and explore the town to pass the time, but I ended up being so enthralled by the falls that I just walked up and down taking them in the majority of the day. Again, we had an extremely cloudy day but the falls were absolutely unreal. I have never seen anything in my life that was so amazing – and this was where I got the inspiration for this blog. I definitely understand why this was one of the 7 Wonders of the World.

I popped into the gift shop for lunch and tried the Niagara Falls Lager, a light and refreshing lager. After that, I walked up and down the falls, in awe, until it was time to get back on the bus.

Once back on the bus, the driver took us to Niagara on the Lake, a quaint little town right on Lake Ontario. The group and I walked up and down the shops and down to the lake. There’s tons of small boutique shops, little cafes, and clothing stores. Then, we all went to the Eastdell Estates Winery for a complimentary wine tasting and a relaxing way to end the day. We tried a red and a white, along with two iced wines. The iced wines are super sweet wines which I didn’t care for me because I don’t love sweet wines, but it was definitely interesting to try and learn about how they are made. All the wines are sold in Canada and I was so bummed I couldn’t take home the white I tried, one of the driest most amazing whites I ever had, from Lakeview Cellars.

Then, we headed home. I wanted to go out that night so went to a few different bars in Queens West, but was pretty tired from the day so called it a night early. The next morning, on my last day, I went back to Tim Horton’s for breakfast,  packed my stuff and checked out of the hotel.

I had time to kill before my flight so walked down to Kensington Market, a trendy bohemian neighborhood with tons of grocers, vendors, and boutique shops. This is where I bought some souvenirs for myself and my family members.

On my way back, I walked into the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). If I had had more time, I definitely would have bought the ticket and walked around the gallery, but because I was short on time I just walked around the gift shop. It was a really cute store with all sorts of cool art and items made by local makers. Then, I headed over to Eaton Centre for my last stop before heading to the airport.

Right by Eaton Centre is Yonge-Dundas, a popular public square that hosts music, film and community events. When I walked by, they were having a poutine eating contest. Man, I love Canada. I stopped into Eaton Centre which was a local mall and I decided I wasn’t in the mood to shop – and, I definitely had zero room in my suitcase for anything else! The bartender from the first night had recommended 3 Brewers, a micro-brewery within a restaurant and with about a half hour left before I needed to go get my luggage, I went for one last IPA. With that final beer, it was time to go home.

I definitely recommend Toronto for anyone looking to go on a quick trip. I want to go back – ideally during baseball season to catch a Blue Jay’s Game to Roger’s Stadium, hit the hockey hall of fame, and check out some more local sights. Most of all – I recommend the hell out of solo travel. It was truly one of the best vacations I have ever been on and I became so comfortable with my own company.

Have you been Toronto? Is there anything else you would recommend? If you have any questions on solo travel, let me know in the comments below.


Solo Trip to Toronto: Part 2

If you haven’t read Part  1 of my solo trip check it out here to learn about my trip so far. Now we’re on Day 2 of my Canadian adventure, and up to this point, I was having an absolutely wonderful time walking around, taking in this beautiful new city, and meeting new people. I was a little tired the night before and threw my initial plans of hitting the hotel gym out the window, and started on my day.

I kicked things off with a stroll to Tim Horton’s because #Canada. My first experience at Tim Horton’s really just taught me that they won’t give you coffee black unless you ask for it. I got my iced coffee loaded with cream and sugar which in New York, I would have sent back in exchange for a black coffee, but I wanted to do things the Canada way. I got it with their breakfast sandwich biscuit which was delicious. Canada was surprisingly warm that day so I ventured on a long walk to the Royal Ontario Museum.

I definitely got lost a few times on this walk which ended up taking the 25 minute walk over an hour. I didn’t mind the detours at all because I saw so many beautiful parts of the city during this walk – leaving downtown and headed towards the cute neighborhood of Queen West I saw amazing architecture and stunning buildings like the Legislature Buildings, I saw the beautiful Queens Park and the University of Toronto. When I finally got inside the museum, I bought a general admission ticket (which was $20CA.)

As soon as I walked into the museum, I had to smile at the huge dinosaur sculpture you see right there – it’s just like the one at the American Museum of Natural History back in New York. This ROM is one of the largest museums in North America and has a huge range of nature and culture exhibits. I easily could have stayed all day, but I spend around 4 hours there. Highlights for me definitely included the room of minerals and rocks – I’m a sucker for minerals – I think they are just so fascinating! Another highlight for me definitely included the third floor which was full of decked out rooms from victorian eras – living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms all set in beautiful old fashioned decor.

After a break for lunch and a little decompression (and resting my feet after walking around for hours), I ventured to the CN tower, only about a 15 minute walk from the DoubleTree. Before I headed to the tower, I stopped by the Steam Whistle Brewery right by the tower. The outside decor of this was definitely a highlight – right by the train museum, there are train tracks and trains surrounded the area. I went into the Steam Whistle Brewery and they had a special that if you follow them on Instagram they would give you a free Pilsner.  I’m not a big fan of Pilsner’s (more of an IPA girl) but the beer was pretty good and the brewery had a really cool, rustic vibe.

Then, I went to the CN Tower and paid the $40 to go up to the top. I debated paying so much money for the experience and I am SO glad I did. It was a super cloudy and dim evening so I can only imagine how amazing the view would be if it was a clear night. I also didn’t stay for sunset, but would definitely recommend doing so. The views from the top are absolutely unreal – overlooking the entire city of Toronto at  553.3 meters high, you see the Toronto islands, all of the city and I of course enjoyed it with a glass of wine. They do have a restaurant up there which I have heard great things about.

I ended the night with dinner and a glass of wine at the hotel restaurant, and went to bed early with a face mask to get ready for the next day – I had to be up early for a trip to Niagara falls.

Stay tuned for the third – and final – post of my Toronto adventure!

Solo Trip to Toronto: Part 1

This is a long one, so grab a glass of  Pinot Grigio, a snack, and settle in.

I had toyed with the idea of a solo trip for a few years, but never had the balls to actually take the plunge and go. I have always enjoyed being by myself (I consider myself an extroverted introvert) but wondered how it would be to travel alone. I’ve always read and been inspired by solo bloggers liked Nomadic Matt and how enlightened they were after traveling alone.

During this phase of my life when I finally became so comfortable being alone (and have never been so single), had a little money in my pocket I knew now was the perfect time to take a solo trip. I wanted to go somewhere international, but wasn’t ready to go somewhere so far that I didn’t speak the language. In case I wasn’t comfortable being alone, I wanted to be able to be on the time zone as my friends and family, and be able to communicate. Canada seemed like the perfect middle ground, a place where I could go for just a few days,  but required my passport to get there.

I booked a trip from LGA to Toronto from a Wednesday to a Friday,  with my flight getting in around 11 am. I’m someone who likes to make plans in every aspect of my life – making a to do list every day, and travel is no different. Even if I don’t stick to the plan (which I usually don’t) I need to have it written. So that is what I did.

Day 1

I am super weird in the sense that I love airports. I love the idea of being in this hub when you’re able to soar thousands of feet in the air, around thousands of other people jet setting to different states and countries, and are gearing up to go somewhere different   – and the fact that airports are a totally no judgement zone.  I hopped on the plane and landed in the Toronto airport around 12 pm.

After getting through customs I planned to take a cab from the airport, but I kept seeing signs in the airport for the Up Express and decided to take the train to downtown, where I was staying. The train was super easy to take, and cost around $12.50 CA instead of the $70 or so a cab would have been. I took the train to the DoubleTree Downtown Toronto where I stayed and of course, was greeted with a warm cookie. I definitely recommend the Downtown Doubletree if you’re staying – it was a central hub for everything and there was so much in walking distance. And the hospitality of the staff and crew was welcoming and great.

I didn’t stay long before I was eager to hit the town and explore – and I was super hungry at this point. I took a long walk down to the St Lawrence Market, a really cool indoor marketplace famous to Toronto with over 100 vendors, everything from meat and cheese vendors, to live oyster shucking, to classic Italian vendors – and of course, tons of maple syrup. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by amazing aromas, but what caught my eye right away was a wine tasting (obv.) I chatted with the vendor as I tried a few different wines from the 13th Street Winery. I ultimately settled on a delicious Italian salad from. After walking around the market a little while I headed on my way.

Coming from New York City, I am used to walking, and especially when I’m traveling I love to walk everywhere I can – it’s such an amazing way to see a city and find hidden gems. On my walk, I took in the beautiful glass buildings and cool architecture.

I walked down to the Harbourfront, which took me around 30 minutes to get to. There, I saw where the Ferry takes you to Toronto Island – an item that was on my list but I didn’t get a chance to do. All the locals I talked to said it was a must-do, so I definitely recommend if you have the time! Here, I was able to sit by the water (the Harbourfront overlooks Lake Ontorio) reflect and relax. I felt so at peace in that moment – water views always gives me a sense of serenity and there was something about the calmness around me. I brought a book with me and headphones if I wanted to listen to a podcast, but I found myself restricting my time on both of those things.

Then, I walked another 15 minutes or so other to the Amsterdam Brewhouse, a large lakefront brewery, with dark wood everywhere and a fun atmosphere. I sat at the bar and tried their Space Invader IPA – a delicious and hoppy beer. I ubered back to my hotel to get ready for dinner. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, and I will admit that eating out so the one thing I had trouble adapting to. I walked around the town and stopped into a bar called Duke’s of Richmond. I didn’t end up eating at this bar, but chatting with some gentleman at the bar. Everyone at the bar seemed to be locals who knew each other and the bartender. It was so interesting chatting with a gentleman named George about his background. He was a bit older than me, maybe in his 60s, and we just had an interesting conversation about how he grew up in Prague, his past, and I was able to share about New York. In New York, I never would have just sat at a bar and had the pleasure of these conversations.

Then, I went to this little Italian wine and tapas bar for dinner. Had my go-to Pinot Grigio and some pasta at the bar. I was going to head to bed after this, but a little pub called the Village Idiot that I passed on the way caught my eye. I’m so glad I went – I had a blast, I chatted with the bartender who was this VERY attractive man from France – he had such an interesting background and story, and another man came and joined us. We all had so many interesting stories to share and had a blast. I got back to my hotel a little drunk, at 12:30 am.

Read part 2 for my adventure to Niagara Falls, the rest of my trip, and my travel tips and learnings from this trip.