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How to Staycation in Toronto in 2020

When planning a vacation you are probably thinking: location, location, location! Then suddenly a pandemic hits and you’re being told to stay “home”. But after being at home with the kids for 4 months, you desperately need a break. If you live in a city, you can create a “staycation” –  made up of day trips in and near the city  – or include accommodation and feel like you really are a traveler.

If you live in Melbourne (AU) where a stage 4 lock-down restricted everyone from traveling more than 5 km from your  home, this helpful interactive map will help you to see just how far you can go:  Interactive: See where your 5km lockdown limit ends 

Fortunately, you don’t live in Melbourne. And unfortunately, due to the pandemic, you may not be able to visit Melbourne, or many other cities in the world, at the moment. However  you can take a staycation in your own city and open your eyes to some wonderful paces near you – just like a tourist would.


View of CN Tower from Radisson Hotel poolIn Toronto, you have a choice of many excellent hotels in the city, or nearby areas. You can also  find some unique accommodation that will certainly give you the feel of being a visitor. Recently I had the pleasure of gazing up at the CN Tower from the outdoor pool when my daughter and granddaughters stayed at the Radisson Admiral Hotel -Harbourfront. At the same time, we also had a great view of the harbor which made us feel like we were some place far away.

Another unique location for a staycation is this renovated cottage on Toronto Island. Usually only permanent residents have the pleasure of an overnight on the islands. Even a day trip to the islands is an escape from the city.

Learn a little about the history of Toronto by staying in one of the older still-working hotels like The Drake or The Gladstone. There are also many great places to explore in that neighborhood if you or your family haven’t been on Queen West for awhile.

Or take the money that you would have spent on airfare and splurge on a hotel room at the 5-star Shangri-La. Treat yourself to one of their 68 different teas before you try their luxury amenities fit for royalty, or head out to the nearby Entertainment District.

Check-out this list of  Top 12 cool and unusual hotels in Toronto 2020 for nine other unique suggestions. If budget is a consideration try staying at a hostel or a bed-and-breakfast for a change of scenery.

Do you live in the ‘burbs? Try living somewhere different like a waterfront condo or a stunning skyloft on . Check out their category “unique stays” and you might even find a boat to live on for a few days. It will open your eyes to a whole different lifestyle within the city you love.

A new location for a few days might just be enough to give you the fresh perspective on the world that you need during this pandemic.  One option is to trade homes or cottages with a friend or a friend-of-a-friend. Or you could check out a house-swapping website to find someone in a different location you might like to try. Or you could house-sit for someone whocan get away to their cottage for a break.

No matter where you live, if you type the request “unique accommodation in [YOUR city]” into a search engine, you are likely to come up with surprises that you never expected.

Tourist Attractions

If you type the words “tourist attraction in [YOUR city]” into Google or Bing, there will be no shortage of articles advising on places to see – like these in Toronto:

They all list the usual: CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Rogers Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame, AGO, ROM, Ontario Science Centre, Entertainment District, Distillery District, Casa Loma,  as well as Black Creek Pioneer Village or Fort York (for  local history), St. Lawrence or Kensington markets (to buy the ingredients for a picnic), and one of the many parks like Toronto Islands or High Park (for that picnic). I love exploring Toronto and recommend all of them.

However I also recommend you get off the” beaten path” occasionally and discover some of the things in the heart of the city  that make me say #ilovetoronto  Among them are:

  1. University of Toronto – where exploring the buildings on campus you will find history, beautiful art and interesting architecture.
  2. Street Sculpture and Art – check out some of these: Toronto Sculpture Garden on 115 King Street East; Full Circle Sculpture at 152 Victoria Street; Henry Moore in the park behind the AGO; Max Tanembaum at 1 Bridgepoint Drive; or the many sculptures dotted along the streets where you least expect them. And don’t forget our famous Graffiti Alley. You can pretend you are CBC’s Rick Mercer doing a rant while observing some amazingly good art.
  3. Bata Shoe Museum and Textile Museum of Canada – two smaller museums that give you a new perspective on everyday life – both past and current.
  4. Churches and Historical Buildings – there are many fine old buildings where you can find serenity and beautiful architecture.

Even if you are not a sports fan yourself, Toronto attracts a lot of visitors to see our teams play. While we may not have many sports teams playing in Toronto at the moment, you can still appreciate their contribution to our city by visiting places like the Hockey Hall of Fame or the many venues where they would normally play. One of these is the Rogers Centre near the historic railway roundhouse which is now the Steam Whistle Tap Room. You might even be able to book a brewery tour.

Day-trips outside the city

You also have plenty of places to explore just outside Toronto that make excellent “day trips” such as: Niagara Falls, Niagara wine region, Hamilton’s Botanical Gardens, St. Jacob’s Market, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, Prince Edward County, and the list goes on-and-on.

TIP: Check COVID-19 restrictions online before setting out to visit any of these places. in Ontario, the restrictions are different by region.

Perhaps after you complete your staycation, you will have a better perspective why more than 27.5 million visitors come to Toronto annually. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful places to explore – all “close to home”.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail offered these tips for staycations on August 18, 2020: Staycation incentives are encouraging locals to visit like tourists

Are you taking a staycation? Where will you stay? What will you visit? Have you been there before? When was the last time you visited one of the tourist attractions in your own city? What is your favorite day-trip?

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