Toronto Tailor-made for Shoestring Budgets

Having lived in London and spent time in many of the World’s largest cities, I can honestly say that I have found nowhere as accessible as Toronto for quality cheap or next to nothing entertainment.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I will add as I learn more.
Knock yourself Out!

Theatre & Comedy
National Theatre of the World – look out for NTOW’s Baram and Sniekus who practice their particular brand of improvised comedy all over Toronto but can often be found on Friday evenings at the John Candy Theatre (Second City training theatre) on Peter Street – Pwyc
http://www.thenationaltheatreoftheworld.com

Shakespeare in the Ruff puts on amazing Shakespeare adaptations every summer in Withrow Park
Pwyc
http://www.shakespeareintheruff.com

Same goes for Canadian Stage’s High Park Shakespeare Productions running June 26 through to September 1.
http://www.canadianstage.com

Jazz & Blues
The following primarily operate on a tip- jar payment system so essentially pwyc
Gate 403
http://www.gate403.com

The Rex Hotel
http://www.therex.ca

The Winchester Kitchen
http://www.winchesterkitchen.com

The Monarch Pub at the Eaton Chelsea pub has music – jazz and blues every night. No cover
See website for details
http://www.monarchspub.ca

Play
Want to play a board game, do a jigsaw, play pinball on a vintage machine, draw something?
Unlike many of other “Board Game cafes” 3030 does not charge a cover for you to exercise your creativity – help yourself on first-come first-serve basis. Just buy a drink or two and your evening’s entertainment is sorted for the price of that drink
http://www.3030dundaswest.com

For $7 return take a Ferry over to Toronto Islands.
Ward and Algonquin Island for boardwalk cute cottage community and gardens, Hanlan’s Point for beaches and shady dappled trails. Centre Island for Amusement Park/Bike hire, pier, busy kid friendly beaches etc.
TIP: The best way to avoid the enormous queues in the summer and if there are a few of you likely to be visiting the Islands a couple of times a year. Buy a string of 10 tickets for $63 and march straight through the lines and onto the ferry.

Food
Summerlicious and Winterlicious foodie events ensure that the most cash strapped amongst us can enjoy a slap-up meal in a host of Toronto’s more high-end restaurant.
lunch is best value with a fixed price
menu for generally $25 for 2/3 courses and dinner more expensive at $35/$40.

Art/Museums
Visit the AGO for free on Wednesday evenings after 5pm
http://www.ago.net

Visit the ROM at a reduced price on Friday nights after 4pm
http://www.rom.on.ca

Ripleys Aquarium
If you live in town and you love Aquariums then the most cost effective way of visiting again and again is to buy an annual membership for $100
Whilst this is hardly “shoestring ” speak; when you consider that the cost of an individual ticket is almost $40 – you do the math…..
Subscribe to their newsletter too as they frequently have deals for students…

Hart House offers free tours of their eclectic art collection – check website
http://www.harthouse.ca

Go for an Art Gallery crawl along Tecumseth Street or Queen Street West – many gallery owners are happy to show interested parties around the work they are profiling in their spaces.

Last but not least sign up for Groupon, Buytopia, Yipit and Travel zoo to get huge discounts and deals on local restaurants , museums and experiences ( and of course products)

Over and Out

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Tailor-made Toronto – Girls morning out (Eating)

Iphone summer 2012 177Butter Avenue 2 - Copy (2)

Spending the day with girl friends, sisters or Mum?
Whilst some of the following are definitely male-friendly there is a girl bias so leave the chaps behind this time…..

For summer mornings; delicious breakfast/melt-in-your mouth breakfast croissants, pastries and espresso at Nadege on Queen street West adjacent to Trinity Bellwoods park. Sun drenched summer patio on the side.

Stratus at the top of the Toronto Athletic Club – 36 floors up with an up-front and personal view of the CN Tower and the Lake shoreline. Open for breakfast only Monday – Friday

A Bluegrass brunch at the Dakota Tavern!

Sunday brunch in the Harry Potter gothic atmosphere of The Hart House Gallery Grill – http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca

On Queen Street East at “Bonjour Brioche” the best French breakfast pastries – zesty lemon twisty croissants is a speciality you won’t find anywhere else – this is also a summer patio cafe.

Sunday brunch in the Lee Chin Crystal at C5 in the ROM – now headed up by TV Chef Corbin Tomaski (who used to be at Holts and who amingst other tv credits hosted “Dinner Party Wars” with Anthea Turner).

A Bluegrass brunch at the Dakota Tavern!

A little further out and combined with a wonderful walk in the wetlands conservation area that is the Brickworks, visit Cafe Belong for delicious feather-light buttery breakfast biscuits bursting with sausage,eggs and bacon – more filling than biscuit.
Worth the tedious queuing at the weekends!

The Grenadier Cafe in High Park does a damn good breakfast and has a huge patio for the summer and you can make your day out about walks in High Park, Toronto’s largest park – lots of trails, a zoo, allotments area, fishing, Shakespeare in the Park venue.

“ELEVENSES” break (anytime)

Google Curbside Bliss mobile cupcakes for the MOST divine cupcakes in town. Seriously find out where they are parking for he morning and plan your trip around them – best cupcakes in town
Cupcakes at Dlish on Queen street west.
Prairie girl on King Street East.
The Cupcake Shoppe on Yonge north of Eglinton – claims to be Toronto’s first cupcake speciality shop – 28 but free varieties with 11 rotating flavours served daily.

Crema coffee
This burgeoning coffee chain uses some type of whizzy highly pressurized milk- frothing technology to concentrate the size of the bubbles in the cappuccino cream. I am so addicted to the macchiatos/lemon and ginger scones/lemon poppyseed scones/ cheese and bacon breakfast corn bread/coconut macaroons etcetera, etcetera that I make detours to fit a visit into my days!

French pastries and wicked espresso at Jules or Thurbors on Mount Pleasant or La Cigogne on The Danforth or Bayview.

Thuet on King West – mouthwatering croissants in shabby chic loft store.

At the point where the Lawrence/Yonge pish-posh shops virtually run out “Butter Avenue”- just south of Loblaws – has attracted rave reviews from foodie and city papers since it opened at the back end of 2011.
This sort of patisserie shop has been a long time coming to the area. It boasts a simple minimalist desgign – teeny tiny round tables, Philip Stark style white cafe chairs, a stunning stand-alone window display comprising a huge conical tree of macaroons – the cafe’s speciality. Great espresso reasonably priced and “special” tarts and macaroons sparingly displayed for maximum visual impact can be purchased.

Spend a morning in “The Distillery” heritage area:
Have a cup of thick Spicy Chocolate plus lots of other naughty chocolate creations at Soma and watch them make their chocolate through glass walls through to the kitchen.
Balzacs coffee also have a beguiling and unusual space here. Just expensive and slow but the tables spill onto the cobblestones in the summer making it a wonderful place to toast in the sun and people watch. Plenty of shi shi boutiques and Galleries in this area too.

The Art Cafe is one of the nicest of the cafes lining the street opposite the AGO as they serve a huge array of sweet and savoury crepesin the midst of its tiny art gallery, oh AND a great espresso – During summer one of those darling patios that pop up in the city in the shape of a couple of tables outside in the “secret garden” shady courtyard; also a couple of seats on the entrance patio that seem to be positioned so as to capture any sun going.

The best most eclectic boutique Shopping on Queen Street West including vintage and one-off unique designer spaces.

Coming up next “Girls Afternoon Out” yep more eating up be done!