St. Lawrence Hall, Toronto. Photo courtesy Old Town Toronto, Photographer - Neil Muscott St. Lawrence Hall, Toronto. Photo courtesy Old Town Toronto, Photographer - Neil Muscott

When was the last time you hit the Bloor Street strip?

Did you know that the stretch of Bloor St. between Bathurst and Avenue Road has 20 of the best walking destinations?

Check out destinations like the Japan Foundation, the Bata Shoe Museum or the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. The “Bloor St. Culture Corridor” is super easy to access by TTC.

Just be a little creative and you’ll be amazed and delighted.

And remember – between you and the walkabout destination you choose, there’s a world of new things to see, dogs to say hello to, possibly even old friends to bump into.

Not to mention the fresh air and the warmth of the sun, so welcome after a long winter cooped up inside.

Quick: Where is Old Town Toronto?

Old Town Toronto. Map courtesy of Alex Laney

Old Town Toronto. Map courtesy of Alex Laney

Old Town was named way back in 1815. when the original Town of York was expanding. Lucky for us strollers, it still contains a large number of 19th-century buildings.

Overall, Old Town is bounded by Queen Street on the north, Front Street on the south, Church Street on the West and Parliament Street on the east.

It actually encompasses an area now known as the King East Design District (KEDD), as well as the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, the original Town of York, Corktown, Historic Queen East and the Distillery District.

If you haven’t been downtown in a while you’re in for a surprise. A stroll along this stretch of King Street will introduce you to the King East Design District, now one of the hottest furniture, design and cultural areas in the city.

You may not be in the market for furniture now, but if you downsize from a house to a condo sometime soon, this is a great area to come to for inspiration

All too familiar? Or all too overlooked?

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market

What if your best walk would be in a place that you think is all too familiar, such as the St. Lawrence Market area?

When was the last time you spent a pleasant Saturday tasting cheese, discussing fresh fish, sampling quirky mustards and trying one or another ethnic food speciality in such a rambunctious environment?

Can you handle a sidewalk tango?

If you prefer a Sunday visit, a temporary North Market – the Farmers’ and Sunday Antique Market – is open at 125 The Esplanade. It’s lush with vendors of antiques, tchotchkes (trinkets) and foods.

Strolling about before or after your visit, you may come across a sidewalk surprise. One weekend, my wife and I came across tango dancers who had set up their music besides the condo across from the South Market. We were tango students then, so we joined them for a dance or two. The familiar – the St. Lawrence Market area – became Buenos Aires for a while. Distinctly unfamiliar!

Oh, no – not the Beaches! Oh, yeah – the Beaches!

Remember – finding your best walks is sometimes about making the familiar unfamiliar.
If you want to get out of the city on a balmy Spring day – or a steaming hot summer day – there’s no finer destination than the Beaches.

Cruise the side streets for a few minutes and you’ll find a parking space. Then stroll to the famous boardwalk. Fresh air. the lake. endless sand. Towering trees for shade. Happy children and dogs. Walkers. Runners, Cyclists (on their own path). Sunbathers. Giant bubble makers. It’s all there. And the moment you desire to return to the city, restaurants, cafes and bars are just about a block’s walk away.

By the way, few Torontonians seem to know that Toronto’s beaches are among the cleanest in the world – certified Blue Beaches. Water condition is posted daily during the swimming season. So feel free to dip your toes in!

This one is out of left field – the Pickering Marketplace

This is one heck of a marketplace, about 40 minutes from Toronto City Hall via the DVP and Highway 401. It once was called the Flea Market, but it’s much more than that now. There’s lots of free parking, the vendors are diverse and friendly. The atmosphere invites strolling, looking and trying the merchandise. And there’s all kinds of food, from Newfoundland food to Island food to Mediterranean and more. The Pickering Marketplace is a real change from the same old, same old.

A clifftop stroll above Lake Ontario

Ajax Waterfront Park

Ajax Waterfront Park

Just a few minutes east of the Marketplace, my wife and I discovered an awesome paved walk on a long clifftop above the lake in Ajax. It starts with free parking at Rotary Park and continues eastward as Ajax Waterfront Park. There’s the boundless lake on one side, a sea of green lawn on the other and homes in the distance. This is one of our best walks when we want to clear our head.

Feeling a little artsy?

You could discover all the new recently opened art galleries in the Junction Triangle. The area welcomes strollers with cafes and restaurants, not just galleries. Then you can get creative about the schedule and pace of your visit to the Junction Triangle. And it could become one of your best walks ever.

When is a familiar neighbourhood not familiar? When there’s a street festival!

We’re lucky to live a city as vibrant as Toronto is. Once the weather warms, the street festivals go into operation. You can find multicultural events, ribfests, music festivals and more. Bookmark or print the festival list in the link above for easy reference on one of those “Waddayawannado?” days.

So why not get out there and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air?

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