I once described Toronto as my second love. One of my favourite cities in the world, there are numerous ways to spend a perfect afternoon in Toronto. I’ve lived there twice and try to visit often, exploring and spending time with the people I know who still call the metropolis home. As a non-resident, I no longer have the luxury of dawdling my way through the colourful alleys and scrumptious eateries with no care for time or the parking meter. It’s back to visiting for events and leaving when they’re done – not my favourite way of experiencing Toronto – however it’s one I know many of us can relate to. Short visits are exactly why I’ve compiled this intro list of ways to spend several hours in Toronto! Below you’ll find a mix of tours, food spots, and places to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Travel with TMc with Raccoon in Toronto's Graffiti Alley

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Where to Eat

If you want to spend an afternoon in Toronto like a true Torontonian, you must start with brunch. There are a plethora of options for the best waffles, pancakes, and instagrammable fruit bowls to satisfy your hunger.

Hugs and Sarcasm

Located near Trinity Bellwoods on Queen West, Hugs and Sarcasm is a must for all-day brunch. Their s’mores pancakes are the perfect balance of fluffy and sweet. They also have a cozy patio, late night snacks, and a small takeaway selection of international goodies. On Thursdays and Fridays they host trivia and sometimes there are also karaoke events. My favourite things about Hugs and Sarcasm are that it’s female-owned, they have several gluten free options, and their menu has Irish items like Chicken Fillet Rolls.

Pancakes at Sarcasm and Hugs in Toronto

Otto’s Berlin Döner

Quirky Kensington Market has everything you could want for spending an afternoon in Toronto – art, shopping, music, and fabulous food. This little neighbourhood has food from around the world. Two of Berlin’s (Germany) most popular items, döner and currywurst, are available at Otto’s Berlin Döner. Having eaten both of those items in Berlin and in Kensington, I am confident you’ll be happy with either choice. Everything is made fresh in-house, which is evident in how flavourful everything tastes. On hot summer days, choose from a range of refreshing drinks including beer, cider, and kombucha to complement your chosen dish.

Lunch at Otto's Berlin Doner

Scooped (ice cream!)

My friend and fellow travel content creator, Maiku introduced me to Scoop a couple of years ago. He told me it was the best ice cream in Toronto, a label I took with a grain of salt since many places are given said compliment. However, when I tell you that it was top of the tops, it really was! After sampling a few flavours I chose the Maple Pecan Crunch, which mixes Ontario’s liquid gold and crunchy Mexican pecans. It was all I could do not to go and order a second one after I gobbled down the first!

Scooped has been entertaining tastebuds since 1989 and is located in Toronto’s Distillery District – another neighbourhood you could spend the whole afternoon exploring. The historic buildings, now housing gorgeous locally-owned artisanal shops, whisk visitors back in time. Back to the details on Scooped. All of their sorbetto are vegan and most of their flavours are gluten free. If you’re around, especially on a hot summer day, Scooped should be on your itinerary.

Scooped Ice Cream in Toronto's Distillery District

Guided Tours

Walking Tour of Toronto’s Graffiti Alley

This past spring I went on a hosted walking tour of Toronto’s street art scene with Destination Toronto and guide extraordinaire, Alex (Oleksandr) Sein. Anyone on his tours are in for a treat. Not only is he a tourism and hospitality professor, he sits on the Board of Directors for the Tourist Guide Association of Toronto, and is extremely passionate about digging into the city’s nitty gritty street art history. He’s a pro at pointing out the often-overlooked details that we rush by in our day-to-day lives. Alex curates interactive tours for all ages, with treasure hunts for kids, as well as youthful adults in the group.

Travel with TMc Peekaboo in Toronto's Graffiti Alley

Alex and I met during the pandemic when the tourism industry and our livelihoods were at a standstill. We talked from a distance across Graffiti Alley, ending our introductory chat by exchanging contact info. I promised I would take one of his tours in the future when things settled. We’ve kept in touch online since then and several years later, I finally fulfilled that promise to experience Toronto’s graffiti alley through his tour. It was well worth the wait. I learned a great deal about the artists, the city as a canvas, and the intricacies of policy and public art. Alex highlights those that are often forgotten or omitted from the official written history of a place. As a former resident and frequent visitor, I appreciate having a new perspective with which to appreciate Toronto. The sunny spring weather was the cherry on top!

Toronto Tour Guide Alex Sein with Graffiti

Whether you live in Toronto or are passing through, connect with him out on Instagram or book one of his multilingual tours (English, Ukrainian, Russian) through Tours by Locals.

Toronto Tour Guide Alex Sein and Travel with TMc

Bike Tour of Toronto Island

A few years back I had the great fortune of joining a guided tour of the Toronto Islands with Toronto Bicycle Tours. Any opportunity to be on or near water is one I jump on and this was no exception. The company started as a side gig when the founder, Terrence, began to share his love of Toronto with friends and travellers passing through the city. Today Toronto Bicycle Tours has a multilingual team of guides who are equally enthusiastic and welcoming. They offer 5 family-friendly tours: Heart of Downtown, Island Tours, Downtown + Island Combo, a 15-neighbourhood mega tour called Round the City, and an e-bike tour called Pedals and Progress.

Toronto Bicycle Tours City Biking
Photo Taken by Terrence at Toronto Bicycle Tours

Food Tour of St. Lawrence Market


Of all of the items and activities in this blog post, a St. Lawrence Market food tour is the only thing I have yet to personally experience. With that being said, family members and colleagues in the travel industry have taken multiple food tours at Toronto’s prized market and raved about them each time. This has included individuals with dietary concerns, such as celiac disease, who remarked that they still had plenty of food options. I’ll be sure to update this section when I finally hop on one of those tours, but in the meantime I wanted to drop this nugget in your ear!

Los Vienamito Food Truck Fries in Toronto

Attractions & Parks

High Park

As Toronto’s largest public park, there are umpteen activities that could fill your afternoon here. From hiking trails and a lakefront, to the dog park, zoo, and playgrounds, not to mention greenhouses, picnic spots, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and an outdoor swimming pool, there is plenty to suit everyone’s interests. If you’re in Toronto for Cherry Blossom season, High Park is the place to be. To miss the camera-wielding crowds, head there during the week in the afternoon.

High Park Cherry Blossoms

CN Tower

You know how locals don’t visit their own tourist attractions until they have visitors? That was the case with me and the CN Tower. It wasn’t until one of my best friends was visiting from Ireland for the first time that I ascended the world’s 9th tallest freestanding building. It was pretty dizzying to both stand outside at the base of the tower and look up and to walk around the observation deck inside and look down. If you haven’t been, I definitely suggest making the climb at least once in your life. For a unique experience, there’s a guided evening tour of the Distillery District, Cherry Beach, and the CN Tower where you watch the sun set.

Travel with TMc at Toronto's CN Tower

How to Spend a Perfect Afternoon in Toronto, Ontario

There are so many iterations of the perfect way to spend an afternoon in Toronto. Check out this reel for a sneak peek into your super fun afternoon in Toronto! If you’ve been to Toronto and have even more ideas for how to spend an afternoon there, drop them in the comments below!

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About TMc

 

Me having a seat in front of one of the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes in Australia!

Heya! I’m Tara (Tar-ah)! Welcome to Travel with TMc where you’ll find quirky language tidbits, travel hacks for Canadians, and stories from the road. I hope you enjoy!
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