A Weekend In Toronto
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A Weekend In Toronto

Toronto is coming off another record-breaking year for tourism and visitor spending is up 52% over the past five years, according to their latest tourism report, with several new attractions.

Toronto Zoo's new Terra Lumina night walk experience will use luminous story-telling to encourage guests to improve their relationship with nature. Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop historical hit musical Hamilton makes its Canadian premiere in February and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child arrives later in the year. Plus, Little Canada, a miniatures display of five Canadian cities, will open in Dundas East. If the weather in winter is a little frightful at least the favorite hotels rates plus great exchange rate against the U.S. dollar are delightful.

If you're flying from Boston, Chicago, New York or Washington, D.C. consider choosing Porter Airlines over whichever legacy carrier you're normally loyal to. The regional airline will save you a couple hours on the ground by flying into Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport rather than Toronto Pearson International Airport.

STAY

A verdant garden setting and Lake Ontario views give Hotel X Toronto a modern urban resort vibe. The 30-story hotel has its own art gallery, screening room, cinema and heated indoor/outdoor 28th floor pool. As the only hotel on historic Exhibition Place grounds, the Library Hotel Collection's newest property is an obvious choice for meetings and conventions, but it's also a comfortable option for leisure travelers, especially those flying into Billy Bishop, just a few minutes away by courtesy shuttle service.

Considering that Hotel X has more than 400 rooms, service is remarkably personalized, especially for guests in the 39 suites or a guestroom with library club lounge access, which includes daily continental breakfast and an evening hors d'oeuvre reception. Nature permeates the hotel, from the massive green wall in the lobby to hundreds of striking landscapes by Toronto-based nature photographer Neil Dankoff on display in guestrooms and public spaces. Each floor in the hotel represents a different global destination.

If you prefer to stay in the heart of downtown, The St. Regis Toronto is the most elegant address. The former Trump Hotel has been completely rebranded and the atmosphere couldn't be more different. There's a new level of sophistication here, with nightly sabrage, bigger and better penthouse suites and more changes coming this year. A floor-by-floor room renovation begins this month and should be complete by end of 2020, along with a renovated spa and fitness center.

Park Hyatt Toronto reopens this summer after two years of renovations and Toronto's first W Hotel also opens this summer in Yorkville with its own DJ booth recording studio.

DINE

Donna's is the most creative and affordable casual restaurant in Toronto right now, a bright, welcoming space for foodies in the know. Every dish on the menu sounds familiar (there are no foreign words to look up), but there's always a twist to elevate the plate from basic to brilliant. A simple dish of ham and bread is accompanied by soft, mustardy leeks and Spanish-inspired potato tortilla is served not just with sour cream, but also chili oil.

You might not think of Toronto for seafood, but new Greek restaurant Petros82 flies in fresh seafood from the Mediterranean and around the world daily, served raw and simply grilled with traditional Greek side dishes like lamb stuffed peppers and horta – olive-oil braised bitter greens. The olive oil comes from owner Peter Eliopoulos's mother's garden back home in Sparta. For dessert, housemade baklava ice cream is studded with pistachios, walnuts and shards of phyllo dough then drizzled with honey (also imported from Greece of course) at the table.

Vegans can rejoice in the six-course tasting menu at ēst, certainly the most refined vegan experience in town with delicately plated dishes like brassicas with XO sauce and meaty caramelized celeriac rather than meat substitutes like seitan and tempeh. There's also a traditional menu with seafood and meat priced identically, but it's the vegan dishes where chef Sean MacDonald really shines.

When you're feeling indulgent, Louix Louis is a glamorous date night spot that's worth dressing up for. The menu at dinner is a safe mix of American and French classics, accompanied by strong classic cocktails and a collection of more than 500 different whiskies. During the Toronto International Film Festival a few months ago, this was the hub for celebrity sightings. Adam Sandler celebrated his birthday here and Matt Damon was a permanent fixture in the dining room. The seven-course royal brunch is enough for two (or three) to share, accompanied by bottomless mimosas. Just what you need before shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue across the street.

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