The next time the gleaming Toronto sun beckons you to seize the day, head to Harbourfront Centre with your girlfriends for an outing filled with shopping, dining, entertainment, and even an aquatic adventure. This non-profit organization is all about creative expression and fun, with more than 30 venues spread over a gorgeous waterfront site that bring music, art, drama, dance, festivals, cooking demonstrations, and countess other forms of entertainment to the public. That means, of course, that no matter what your group is into, you’ll find it.
When you arrive in the morning, lattes in hand, duck into The Centre Shop in the Bill Boyle Artport to peruse its stunning collection of home decor, unique accessories, and gemstones. You’ll know you’ve scored some one-of-a-kind stuff because the shop is the exclusive retail space for the artist-in-residence program. Keep your shopping momentum going at Lake View Market, which is filled with extraordinary designs, colorful crafts, rare fair-trade products, and traditional artifacts. Whatever you find is sure to have a story behind it.
No need to shop till you drop. When you need a break, park yourselves at one of the Centre’s many restaurants. Fish tacos and cocktails make the perfect pairing at the Lakeside Local Patio, while Amsterdam Brewhouse is the place to knock back a local craft beer before sinking your teeth into scrumptious smokehouse burgers, margherita pizzas, and pale ale cheddar dip.
There’s a reason for all that fueling up. You might just have to get down and boogie to music coming from the Street Stage, with different entertainers every weekend, or just browse the work of some talented local artist in one of the galleries. But you’ll definitely want to drop your bags off in the car before hitting your next destination, the Harbourfront Cane & Kayak Centre.
Though you can rent a canoe or learn how to use a stand-up paddleboard, opt to rent a couple of kayaks for maximum fun. Make this one a solo journey, or test your teamwork skills with a tandem boat. Paddle across the calm water and feel the warm breeze in your hair as you leave all your worries on shore. This isn’t a race, so lean back, close your eyes, and relax as your boat bobs in the small waves.
Of course, if you prefer an even more relaxed approach to the water–the kind where everything is taken care of for you–up to six of you can take a private yacht cruise to the Toronto Islands (see offer). Enjoy a picnic lunch as you snap photos of the picturesque skyline, and make sure to ask the crew to take a shot of all of you together–and another with the captain.
As you cruise back to shore, look out at the center and realize that you and your besties have barely scratched the surface of this vibrant place. No need to call out S.O.S. — you’ll be back soon.
Photo by mark.watmough