Toronto: A City of Neighborhoods

Known as the “city of neighborhoods,” Toronto has more than 200 neighborhoods within its boundaries, which have grown from the original five municipalities named after the four patron saints of the British Isles and the patron saint of Canada. “Old Toronto” which consists of Downtown, East End, and West End is the most populous part of the city, and is known as the business and economic center. York and East York in the “inner suburbs” are older areas, and quite ethnically diverse. The “outer suburbs” consist of Etobicoke, Scarborough, and North York.  Many of these neighborhood are home to Toronto extended stay apartments, too.

Toronto, CN Tower
Toronto, CN Tower

This quick guide to the neighborhoods will give you an idea of the history and some starting points of what to do wherever your adventures in Toronto may take you.

Old Toronto

Downtown runs from the harbor to Lake Ontario with easy access to the Toronto Islands. As the business and economic center of the city, you can find the magnificent City Hall building and the CN Tower, one of the tallest structures in the world.  In the East End, check out Chinatown and the Gerrard India Bazaar. Catch a few rays on Sugar or Cherry beach, or wander the 16,000 square foot Allen Gardens Conservatory featuring exotic tropical plants, succulents, and cactus.  This area of Toronto is very cyclist friendly, so rent a bicycle and hop on the flat bike path along the lakeshore.

Downtown Toronto
Downtown Toronto

Inner Suburbs

This area is experiencing a sort of “modernization,” and is reflected in the shops and restaurants. There are the older, locally owned restaurants such as the Sunset Grill and The Bus Terminal Family Grill, and also more upscale, trendier places such as the popular restaurant Relish. The suburbs are close to hundreds of acres of trails and parks, so this is the place to be to get some fresh air and to get in tune with nature!

Outer Suburbs

The Outer Suburbs were transformed after World War II from mostly farmland into housing communities. The growth in this area has continued since that time, with some areas, such as North York, developing their own urban centers. Etobicoke is an area of the city with lots of fun things to do for just about any traveler. The Humbertown Shopping Centre has a combination of indoor and open air shops with a relaxing landscape complete with a rock garden and fountain. The Village of Murals was a project started in 2004 and has since grown to15,000 square feet of art that includes 22 murals. Check out an event at the impressive Etobicoke Olympium or schedule your visit during the annual Tulip Festival.

Scarborough is known as home to the Toronto Zoo, and the impressive Scarborough Bluff, where you can get a breathtaking view of the water from cliffs over 300 feet (100 meters) high.  In North York, visitors will find the Ontario Science Centre, the Holocaust Centre of Toronto, and the entertainment district, which not only has great nightlife but also the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and several art galleries.

What activities in the Toronto neighborhoods would you add to our list?