Born and raised on the beaches of Southern California, I tend to have a love/hate relationship with big cities. Things I LOVE: unreal food, great shopping, diverse people, and touristy picture spots. Things I HATE: traffic, everyone is running, takes you 20 min to get a mile, and trying to find/pay for parking.
Toronto is an amazing city and I don’t want people missing out on all it has to offer because you hate the hustle and bustle of a major city. So after spending the whole day in Toronto here is my guide and tips to surviving the day in a big city, like Toronto.
1. Have a Purpose
Drive into that city with a goal in mind. It could be anything from going to a sporting event, shopping till you literally drop, visiting a friend, eating your weight in amazing/diverse foods, or if you are like me… getting edgy photos for my blog at Graffiti Alley….mission accomplished!
2. International Data Plan….Worth it!
Living so close to the Canadian border, almost everyone in Buffalo has the international data plan with their cellular carriers. Being new to 716, I did not get the freaking memo! I can tell you from experience, paying for the international plan would have been a life saver! Anytime I wanted to send a Snapchat or check my text messages, I had to run into a Tim Hortons or McDonald’s pretending to gawk at their menu while secretly stealing their wifi (hehe suckers) but I still missed out on sharing awesome photos on my social media. Not to mention constantly being tempted with doughnuts and french fries everytime i wanted to send a text or snap…not cool.
3. Manoeuvre with Uber
Lesson learned from this one…We don’t have Uber in Buffalo (it is forbidden…stupid I know) so I am speaking from experience when I tell you to park your car somewhere safe in the heart of the area you want to explore, then download the Uber app and let the Uber drivers deal with the traffic of the big city. Not only do they know where they are going, but they also drop you off right in front of your destinations. ..WIN WIN.
4. All about the Food
Not only did I go to Toronto for awesome pics, but I also planned to take full advantage of my cheat day and try all the delicious foods we cannot get in Buffalo. Obviously, there were more options than I could handle, but we got small portions of different foods so we could try more without eating full meals every hour. However deciding where to go was the hardest part… Yelp and Trip Advisor were absolutely no help. My advice is to use Instagram. We followed @top_toront0_restaurants and they had hundreds of appetising photos of different foods and the places to match. After scrolling, we kept being drawn to the pizza, doughnuts, and macaroon (Sadly we got all 3) don’t judge! All three were delicious and just we wanted…thanks Instagram!
Tip: Don’t be afraid to take some delicious treats home with you! (Taking desserts over the border is not smuggling) Just think about the items that will taste just as good a couple days later like pizza and cupcakes not poutine and ice cream.
5. Canada = Hockey…Plan Accordingly
Buffalo and Canada live and die for Hockey so when you plan on travelling through a border…make sure you check what sporting events are happening that day. If there is a Blue Jays game, Maple Leafs, Sabres or Bills game, you might want to rethink crossing the border that day. Sadly we didn’t check until we were stopped in bumper to bumper traffic heading into Toronto. We quickly looked up the schedules and realised there wasn’t any games that day (just typical freaking Toronto traffic.) We dodged a bullet there! So learn from our mistakes and check the stupid sports schedules ahead of time.
6. Don’t Be Ashamed to be “That Tourist”
Do you think I felt awkward running around Grafitti Alley in a bodysuit while having my friend take pictures of me…absolutely…but I didn’t care. I came to Toronto for these awesome shots and I wasn’t going to let other people judging me get in the way. Things did get interesting when an entire field trip full of high schoolers walked right through the shot and we had to wait like 3 min for them all to pass…AWKWARD. Surprising, I still felt no shame being “That Tourist” that took snapchats of my food and selfies on the streets. Live it up and do what makes you happy. TBH Toronto people are probably used to all the tourists being tourists and they are never going to remember you, but you are going to remember those awesome pictures you had and that meal you get to reflect on for the next 24 hours on your snapchat story.
***Photo credit to my friend, Jess Ringler. Thank you for capturing these awesome pictures while we explored the streets of Toronto.