The Hornet Guide to Gay Toronto
With culture, arts, nightlife and more, gay Toronto attracts thousands of visitors every year. An entertainment hub, Toronto, the capital city of Ontario, is the center for music, theater, both film and television productions. Home to excellent museums and galleries, Toronto also has over 8,000 fantastic restaurants to please all of your senses.
For a gay Toronto experience, go to “The Village,” the gayborhood located downtown. At the intersection of Church and Wellesley Streets, The Village has gay-friendly cafés, restaurants and shops — and plenty of bars for a night of fun.
Interesting facts about Toronto
Toronto has always had a diverse population, dating back to its beginning. Over 50% of residents belong to a visible minority group. English is the primary language of the city, though you can hear over 160 languages in this multicultural city.
Founded in 1793 as York, the city renamed itself Toronto in 1834. Though it’s a modern city, many parts of Toronto still show off the charms of the past. For example, though today Dundas Street is one of the busiest roadways in Toronto, it was initially just a series of smaller streets.
There is even a bridge underneath parts of Toronto; Crawford Street Bridge spanned Garrison Creek until the 1960s, and to this day its north railing is visible if you head south on Crawford Street from Dundas.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Toronto’s PATH is the world’s most extensive underground walkway, covering 18 miles of retail space. It connects over fifty office towers, five subway stations, six hotels and one railway terminal.
Thankfully, Toronto also has about 300 days of sunshine, meaning you can visit anytime and be greeted with good weather.
Must-visit Toronto sites
The CN Tower is the most visible structure in Toronto. Not only an iconic landmark, the observation tower features an eatery with a panoramic view of downtown.
A combination natural park and recreational area, High Park is a lush outdoor space perfect for hiking, wandering around and generally enjoying a nice day out. There are also sports and cultural facilities.
The Toronto Islands are a chain of small islands in Lake Ontario. Popular with cyclists, there’s also kayaking opportunities here. And if you’d prefer spending some time by the beach, the main beach along the south shore and the area on the west shore are both clothing-optional.
If you’re feeling artsy, go to Kensington Market and enjoy an afternoon in this walkable bohemian neighborhood. There are plenty of indie and vintage shops plus a variety of specialty grocery stores. And, of course, where there’s hipsters, there are trendy bars, cafes and international restaurants.
The Distillery District, another outdoor area, attracts crowds to its cobblestone streets with hip restaurants, bars and boutiques. A pedestrian-only area, the Distillery District gets its name from the large whiskey distillery that used to be here.
There are plenty of off-the-beaten-path attractions in Toronto. Drive through the Don Valley Parkway to check out this colorful piece of art. This mural has a sweet backstory, too: Initially painted as a memorial to a friend who passed away, B.C. Johnson, the artist behind the rainbow, decided to use this artwork to brighten up the dreary Toronto days and cheer up its residents.
There is a half-house in Toronto. Built originally between 1890 and 1893, this structure preserves history — or at least half of it. If you love street art, the Crazy Doll House display in the Leslieville neighborhood is a must-see. This Doll House has dolls, toys and stuffed animals all over the front yard. And during the holidays, the owner gives the house a wintery theme.
If you’re a rare book lover, The Monkey’s Paw is the place to go. The Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial commemorates the contributions and sacrifice of Chinese railroad workers from the 1880s. Over 17,000 Chinese men worked on the construction of the railroad, and many of them were thrown into poverty after the project was complete. The memorial honors these nameless workers.
Gay Toronto nightlife
At The Village, you get to experience a variety of aspects of gay Toronto. Woody’s, a local institution, is the place to start your night. A laid-back environment with friendly staff and nightly events like a Best Chest Contest on Thursdays or the Best Ass Contest on Fridays and Saturdays.
Crews & Tango has the best drag entertainment in town, seven days a week. This bar also has two dance floors and a patio out back perfect for those warm summer nights.
Fly 2.0 is the place to dance. With go-go dancers, throbbing music and plenty of hot shirtless men, Fly is also famous for being featured on Showtime’s Queer as Folk as the fictional club Babylon.
Pegasus is a friendly bar where it’s easy to make new friends. It has four pool tables, pinball machines and video games to keep the fun alive.
The Black Eagle attracts a leather/denim crowd with its dungeon-themed decor and friendly, open-minded atmosphere.
If you love people-watching, O’Grady’s is the prime spot. Best of all, for those cold days, O’Grady’s has an indoor fireplace and serves delicious pub food.
Boutique Bar, a posh cocktail bar, offers a different gay Toronto experience with its late-night chill-out lounge and neo-disco music spinning.
Bovine Sex Club is actually a cool dive bar on Queen West. With its junkyard décor, retro vibe and regular live music, this bar attracts a wide spectrum of customers from hipsters to urban professionals.
Are you ready for a gay Toronto experience?