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Getaway: How to Spend a Weekend in Toronto This Holiday Season

Getaway

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Written by Jessica Kelly

Published on November 29, 2018

This post was last updated in December 2021

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Toronto is the kind of city you can go to a million times, and have a different trip each visit. In need of an adventure? Swim with stingrays at the aquarium or challenge yourself to the EdgeWalk around the CN Tower. Craving a beach getaway in the summer? Island hop and explore during the warmer months. Hungry? Always. Take a culinary tour and stroll through some of the best markets, food halls, and restaurants in the world all in the same city.

Toronto just simply never gets old and it’s only a short 2 hour drive away from Buffalo! During the holiday season, they feature numerous markets, including their famous Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District where the shops are open late and food vendors line the streets with holiday treats. The market is reason alone to make the trip north, but there are plenty of other things to do, inside and out, to fill a 2 day 1 night visit!

Here’s our go-to itinerary for a weekend visit to Toronto during the holiday season:

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Day 1


Check into the Broadview Hotel

106 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON M4M 1G9, Canada

(416) 362-8439 / thebroadviewhotel.ca

Just off the beaten path is a newly renovated hotel with character and cozy amenities. The hotel itself is only just over a year old, but the building has been around since 1891 in the historic east end of the city.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Hotel Bar / Photo x Jessica Kelly

As soon as we stepped inside, I noticed the beautiful bar to the right and the employees were so friendly and helpful, immediately asking what are plans were to explore with city. We were just going to ask if they could store the luggage, but they offered an early check-in allowing us time to get situated before heading back out. Of course that’s not always a guarantee, but they were willing to accommodate us in anyway.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

We stayed in the king traditional room with, of course, a king size bed with luxury Italian linen. I’ve officially decided I won’t accept anything less from here on out because those sheets were so cozy and warm. The record player in the room was playing soft music and the beautiful light pink floral wallpaper was a nice touch, perfect for photo ops!

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Take an Uber or Taxi to the Hudson Bay Yonge and Queen Street Area

After getting settled into the room, we called a taxi to take us to the Hudson Bay area where we landed right in the middle of some holiday decorations you’ll definitely want to see!

Start by exploring the iconic holiday window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue where we saw nutcrackers, winter wonderlands, and even a narwhal. Epic. The store is notorious for having 8 floors of designer clothes, shoes, and perfumes, but if you weren’t banking on a splurge this trip, they have a great, and very affordable, home goods section on the ground floor. Speaking of the ground floor of Saks, there’s even a food hall down there where you can get candies, oils, chocolates like the famous disco eggs from CXBO, and poutine, of course. You need a snack to shop, right? It’s fuel!

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Disco Egg / Photo x Jessica Kelly

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After Saks, walk over to the Nathan Phillips Square where you’ll see Toronto’s City Hall building, the famous Toronto sign, and the Christmas Tree. Nathan Phillips Square is also home to the Cavalcade of Lights happening November 27 to January 7.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

I’m not one to seek out malls when traveling, but for the Eaton Centre Christmas Tree, I’ll make an exception! This 100 foot Christmas tree in the Toronto Eaton Centre is so extra, you need to see it to believe it. Decked out in twinkling red lights, this tree is boujee beyond belief and deserves a photo at the very least. It’s stunning!

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Lunch at Chef’s Hall

111 Richmond St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2G4, Canada 

(647) 557-5993 / chefshall.com

I’m going to try to remain calm, maintaining my dignity, while I talk about this place. Walking distance from the windows at Saks and the Toronto sign is a foodies version of heaven on earth. Seriously though, I begged my family to just leave me there. Chef’s Hall, just around the corner from Nathan Square, is a food hall in Toronto’s Financial District that brings together 17 of the city’s top chefs, baristas, and restaurant owners in one building. Under one roof, you can taste some of the city’s best dishes and experience cuisine from all around the world… and incredible cookies the size of your head from Short & Sweet Bakeshop where their slogan is “ruining diets since 2009.” I believe it.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Lamb Burger from Mira Mira / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Boho Truffle Gnocchi from Resto Boemo / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Crispy Peking Glazed Confit Duck Wings with duck pancakes and cucumber scallion from DaiLo / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Cookies at Short & Sweet / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Visit the The Distillery Winter Village in the Distillery Historic District

The Toronto Christmas Market is cancelled for 2021 and has been replaced by the Winter Village

thedistillerywintervillage.com

After lunch, grab a Taxi to the Distillery Historic District where you’ll find The Distillery Winter Village in 2021 to replace the canceled Toronto Christmas Market. (TCM got its inspiration from the European Christkindlmarkt that began in the 1400s in Germany.) Traditionally, the cobblestone streets are lined with vendors selling treats, spiced wine and festive cocktails, handmade ornaments, and crafts.

For 2021, The Distillery Historic District shops, restaurants and cafés, are open seven days a week, starting at 10:00 am daily. The Distillery Winter Village outdoor shopping and food cabins are open Tuesdays to Sundays from noon to close, at which time proof of full vaccination and government issued ID is required to gain entry. Amongst The Distillery District’s 75+ local merchants, restaurants and cafés, you’ll find 8 new vendor cabins offering uniquely curated seasonal items and gifts, plus 12 mouth-watering food cabins.

Tickets are required on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after 4:00 pm, and between December 20th – December 23rd after 4:00 pm. Tickets are $8 each (age 6 years and up). Kids 5 and under, including babies, require a ticket — but admission is FREE of charge. This is to help manage capacity during peak hours. All other times, access is free of charge and tickets are not required. You can read more about it on their website.

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toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Toronto Christmas Market 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Enjoy Dinner within the Distillery District at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie

35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4, Canada

(416) 203-2632 / clunybistro.com

Once you finally get your appetite back, stop for dinner at Cluny, an upscale restaurant inside the Distillery District. At first glance, you can tell its going to be a special experience.

As we were being guided to our table, I noticed a chef shucking oysters behind the raw bar for the huge, smoking seafood towers the waitresses were delivering to nearby tables. In the middle of the room was an island with loaves of fresh bread being sliced and placed in baskets for guests to enjoy with their meal. The open kitchen concept allows customers to see what the chefs are doing behind the scenes, almost like watching the Food Network, while you sipped wine and decided what to order. The atmosphere immediately makes an impression – and a very elegant one!

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Steak Frites 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Charbroiled Octopus 2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly

When you find out the pastry chef has won awards around the world for his chocolate, you save room for dessert. With options like the vanilla crepe flambe lit on fire at your table or the chocolate bombe that you smash open to reveal treats like Pop Rocks, ice cream, marshmallows and more inside, how do you pick just one one? We finally decided on the Kwokolate pot de creme, creatively named after the Pastry Chef, Chris Kwok, who’s chocolate is so amazing that he landed a well deserved spot in the World Chocolate Masters final in Paris. This dessert was great to share with salted caramel, flourless cake, cotton candy, raspberry sorbet with a sprinkle of fresh basil and fresh berries. There were so many flavors going on, it was even fun to talk about it, let alone eat it!

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When you ask anyone at Cluny about the team behind one of the most incredible meals I’ve ever had, they’ll say “we’re just a bunch of people who are dedicated to great customer service and making your experience a memorable one.” And that they did. Thank you for creating a dining experience I’ll never forget!

Photo x Jessica Kelly

Enjoy a Cocktail at the Rooftop Bar at the Broadview

Get one last glimpse of the tree as you’re heading out of the market before taking a cab back to the Broadview Hotel where you can ride the elevator up to the rooftop bar for a drink. Take in the spectacular view while sipping your fancy craft cocktail.

Day 2


Enjoy a Light Breakfast at the Broadview Hotel

Guests can enjoy breakfast in their sun filled cafe, with delicious foods, fresh squeezed juices, and roasted coffee to fuel the rest of your day! Go light though, because in a few hours after checkout, you’ll head just outside of the hotel where you’ll meet your tour guide to check out some of the best spots in Riverside and Leslieville.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Montreal-style bagels and lox for two / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

Take a Culinary Tour with the Culinary Adventure Company

culinaryadventureco.com

Embark on the 3-hour culinary tour, while listening to stories about the history of the surrounding areas and tasting famous local dishes. On our visit, we toured around Riverside & Leslieville with an outstanding guide who had a lot of knowledge about the area. We tried fresh bread and scones before they sold out for the day while learning the story behind St. John’s Bakery and their mission to help the community.  We also learned about how to make coffee from the green bean to the cup from the owner of Merchants of Green Coffee. It was a blast like I’m sure all of their tours are.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly

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toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
2018 / Photo x Jessica Kelly

When the tour ended, we popped into Queen Books and the Leslieville Cheese Market before hopping on the street car to visit a few shops on Queen St. West and see Graffiti Alley.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly

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Other Attractions and Activities


Explore the Local Attractions with your Toronto CityPASS

citypass.com/toronto

Visit the CN Tower to get spectacular views of the city and watch the brave souls do the EdgeWalk, the world’s highest external walk on a building, during the summer months… or join them. A stop at the Ripley’s Aquarium to ride through the famous Dangerous Lagoon tunnel is a must! You’ll get up close and personal with a variety of sharks and ocean life. At Casa Loma, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the castle grounds of what was once the home of Canadian financier, Sir Henry Pellatt.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Graffiti Alley / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Kensington Market Area / Photo x Jessica Kelly

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Explore Local Markets

With a city full of incredible markets, you have to make time to see at least one.

toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly


toronto road trip - christmas market guide
Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
St. Lawrence Market / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
St. Lawrence Market / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
St. Lawrence Market / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
St. Lawrence Market / Photo x Jessica Kelly
toronto road trip - christmas market guide
St. Lawrence Market / Photo x Jessica Kelly

Thank you to Visit Toronto, the wonderful staff at the Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, the Broadview Hotel, Chefs Hall, and Culinary Adventure Company for having us!

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/jessicakelly/" target="_self">Jessica Kelly</a>

Written by Jessica Kelly

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