Toronto’s international film festival, held every September, drew half a million attendees last year. Dozens of movies have been shot here. But the cinema isn’t the only reason to visit “Hollywood North” this fall. Modern buildings by architects Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind stand out against the city’s Victorian brick architecture. Boutiques crowd Kensington Market and King and Queen streets. And you can play outside: September temperatures average 70 degrees, and parks make up 18 percent of city land.
The Thompson Hotel
The Thompson Toronto’s rooftop lounge and pool both offer a broad view of the skyline and Lake Ontario. The lobby welcomes with modern furnishings. The Counter, a 24-hour diner, serves poutine, the Canadian greasy-spoon favorite made of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
This three-legged dining chair designed in 1958 by Stefan Siwinski Designs and Korina Designs is one of 950 items in the collection of the Design Exchange. This innovative museum devoted to Canadian industrial ingenuity is housed in the old Toronto stock exchange.
Art Gallery of Ontario
Frank Gehry was born in Toronto, but his dramatic 2008 renovation and expansion of this Beaux-Arts museum was his first Canadian commission. He first discovered art on childhood visits to its vast collection, which spans the world. Now the museum features a restaurant, Frank, in his honor.
In the Junction, an emerging design neighborhood, Russet & Empire specializes in cheeky riffs on old-school Canadian icons. Porcelain cups from Toronto designer Rob Southcott (shown) stack to form a totem pole, while National Design Collective produces laser-cut coasters of Toronto’s street plan. You’ll also find nostalgic gear from Red Canoe, including bags featuring the retro logo of the Canadian Broadcasting Company.
At Bar Chef, owner Frankie Solarik’s mad-scientist bartenders wear porkpie hats that recall a classic speakeasy. But they mix modern potions. They inject their martinis with green olive–flavored foam and serve punch bowls such as the Jimmy Cliff, which combines thyme-infused rum, lime, vanilla syrup, and ginger beer.
>> Next: The AFAR Guide to Toronto