Best Guidebooks for Toronto, Ontario

Recommended guidebooks for Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Reviews of the top rated books to help you make the most of your trip to Toronto. Explore the attractions and festivals, find the best accommodations to suit your style, get the skinny on the best time to visit and much more.

Click here for reader reviews of the top rated Toronto guide books.

Your best bet is to arm yourself with a decent guidebook if you've never visited the city of Toronto. Peruse our reviews of top rated Toronto guidebooks. Leave your travel plans open to serendipity, but have a plan so you don't miss out on some of the best attractions Toronto has to offer.

Toronto City Guide

Not only is this guide a great choice for tourists, it is also a must have reference for anyone who lives in the city. A good source for more practical, straight-up info about Toronto. Focusing on neighborhoods, places of interest, museums and restaurants and clubs. There's more to Toronto than the CN Tower and the Maple Leafs. Listed in this handy guide are hundreds of restaurants, interesting neighborhoods, shops, nightlife, theatre and more. It also includes some nice parks to wander in, and insights into the city. Even if you thought you knew this city, you're in for a surprise. Note: this book is not all-encompassing, and doesn't include a comprehensive listing of accommodations, and may be shy in the cultural event listings, but as a reference guide for tourists and Toronto residents alike, this one is a good choice.

Avant-Guide Toronto: Insiders' Guide for Urban Adventurers

A comprehensive travel guidebook containing easy-to-use information on the most exciting and stylish facets of the city, the guide also digs deeper, offering the inside scoop on local culture via short, candid interviews with major artists, musicians, chefs, and others who are the epicenter of their scene. Features such as "Toronto Unzipped" introduce travelers to the Canadian state of mind and provides a crash course in the city, recommendations of places to stay for all budgets, the top sights, the best restaurants, nightlife, shopping, sports, fitness centers, and spas that make this the only guidebook you need.

Frommer's Toronto

Editorial Review:
Completely updated every year (unlike most of the competition), Frommer’s Toronto is written by a native who'll show you all the highlights and hidden pleasures of this fascinating city. She’s inspected countless hotels and selected the most inviting places to stay for every taste and budget: historic downtown hotels, best bets for families, romantic inns, and more. She'll also show you the best of Toronto's multicultural dining scene, from elegant French bistros and Italian trattorias to eclectic spots for Asian, Greek, and fusion cuisine.

Secret Toronto: The Unique Guidebook to Toronto's Hidden Sites, Sounds & Tastes

This detailed guide leads travelers far from the beaten path to uncover Toronto's best-kept secrets. From obscure museums and overlooked neighborhood treasures to tucked-away green spaces and exotic ethnic cuisine, these little-known destinations yield big rewards for the more adventurous traveler. The soul of this cosmopolitan city is highlighted by hotspots where visitors can learn Latin dancing at night, disco after hours, and rent a private dungeon at an S&M bed-and breakfast.

Lonely Planet Toronto

You may want to wait until the new edition is released in July 2004. Not necessarily always the best guidebooks, lots of people still swear by their trusty LP, so it should be included here.

Editorial Review:
From colorful Cabbagetown to frenzied Kensington market, Toronto tempts visitors with its world-class restaurant scene, quirky neighborhoods and beachfront boardwalks. Whether you want to savor the serenity of the Toronto Islands or trip through the Hockey Hall of Fame, this authoritative guide will show you the best of Canada's Megacity.

Must-see sights and hidden treasures, from the CN Tower to the SkyDome to the Bata Shoe Museum neighborhood walking tours. Lodging and dining options to satisfy every budget and taste. 20-page full-color map section, excursions to Niagara Falls, wine country and more.

Quick Escapes Toronto

A guide for getting OUT of the city. Great book to help you plan things to do in and around the greater Toronto area.

Editorial Review:
Twenty-six convenient minivacations can take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a trip to Elora, a picturesque river town, and stay at one of the nation's most elegant inns. Wander through cedar-lined Elora Gorge, then dine on superb cuisine in The Elora and Fergus Escape. Visit Kingston, the museum capital of Ontario, and indulge your interests in ice hockey, antique dolls, the maritime history of the Great Lakes, and more. Ship out on a dinner cruise through the Thousand Islands and rest comfortably at an inn in The Kingston Area Escape. Climb aboard the Polar Bear Express to Moosonee, the Gateway to the Arctic. Overnight at a rustic lodge, view wildlife at a bird sanctuary, hunt for fossils, explore a former gold mine, and shop for native handcrafts in the Moosonee and Moose Factory Escape. Each escape includes detailed route maps, travel directions, destination highlights, activities for morning, afternoon, and evening, choice restaurants, picnic sites, and lodgings, special events and festivals, shopping and local sources of information.

The OTHER Guide to Toronto : Opening the Door to Green Tourism

Discover the OTHER side of Toronto! Explore the mystical realms of ravines and gardens, experience a diversity of neighbourhoods, visit historical wonders, kayak around the islands, take a bike tour… Let this city guide book help you become an urban explorer. All proceeds support the work of the Green Tourism Association (a non-profit organization).

The Green Tourism Association is a non-profit organization that works collaboratively with a network of businesses, community organizations, government agencies, and individuals to develop Toronto's urban green tourism industry. Our mission is to develop and cultivate a green tourism industry within the Toronto region, an industry which is ecologically sound, fosters appreciation of, and respect for, diverse natural and cultural heritage, and strengthens local economies and communities.

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The GTA extends beyond the city boundaries and includes the regional municipalities of Halton, Peel, York and Durham.

The GTA is part of a larger, natural ecosystem known as the Greater Toronto Bioregion. This ecosystem is bounded by Lake Ontario, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Oak Ridges Moraine, and includes several watersheds that drain into Lake Ontario.

Up until the 1970s, Toronto was the second largest city in Canada, after Montreal. The economic growth of Toronto was greatly stimulated by the completion in 1959 of the St. Lawrence Seaway which allowed ships access to the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean. Further growth in the Toronto area is often attributed to the rise of the separatist movement in Quebec and the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976. The PQ enacted several French-language laws that were unfavourable towards businesses and English-speaking Montrealers, a number of which relocated to the more anglo-friendly Toronto

The suburbs immediately surrounding Toronto are also known as the "905 belt" or simply "the 905", after their original telephone area code. (Toronto is known as "the 416", despite the fact that there are now two area codes, 416 and 647, that serve the city proper. The 905 belt is served by two area codes, 905 and 289.) These include Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering and Vaughan.

Toronto Ontario Landmarks:

  • The CN Tower - a steel/concrete transmission tower that (at 553 meters, or 1815 feet) is the tallest free-standing land structure in the world and the most famous landmark of the city.
  • SkyDome - the world's first sporting arena to feature a retractable roof.
  • Toronto City Hall, Old City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square
  • The Toronto Islands - a 2.3 km² (568 acre) park accessible from the city waterfront via ferry and the largest car-free urban community in North America.
  • Exhibition Place - the site of the annual Canadian National Exhibition and the permanent home of the WindShare wind turbine.
  • Queen's Park - site of the provincial legislature.
  • Dundas Square
  • The Roman Catholic St. Michael's Cathedral and Anglican St. James' Cathedral, both on Church Street. Toronto has a low crime rate
    Although crime (including violent crime) in Toronto has been steadily decreasing over the past decade, concern over gun and gang related crimes has come to the attention of the media. Although Toronto's homicide levels are extremely low compared to similar sized American cities (in 2003 Toronto had 65 homicides, while similar sized Chicago had over 590) and Toronto has lower crime rates than most cities in Canada, there are many calls to take action to prevent what is seen as a slide towards an increase in crime. American gang experts have been brought in and increased funding for programs in troubled neighbourhoods have been recently initiated.

    Toronto is also struggling to come to grips with a steadily growing homeless problem. Many programs and responsibilities have been recently downloaded to the city from provincial and federal government, with many arguing that new ways for the City to raise revenue need to be given to fund these new responsibilities.

    Located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto was originally a term of indeterminate geographical location, designating the approximate area of the future city of Toronto on maps dating to the late 17th and early 18th century. Eventually the name was anchored to the mouth of the Humber River, the end of the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail portage route from Georgian Bay; this is where the city of Toronto is located today.

    The source and meaning of the name remains a matter of debate. Most common definitions claim that the origin is the Huron word toran-ten for "meeting place". However, it is much more likely that the term is from the Mohawk word referring to "the place where trees grow over the water", a reference to a specific location at the northern end of what is now Lake Simcoe, then known as Lake Toronto. The portage route up the Humber River eventually leads past this well known landmark. As the portage route grew in use, the name became more widely used and was eventually attached to a French trading fort just inland from Lake Ontario on the Humber.

    Part of this confusion can be attributed to the succession of peoples who lived in the area during the 18th century: Huron, Senecas, Iroquois, and Mississaugas (the latter having lent their name to Toronto's modern-day western suburb). Until the beginning of British colonization there were no permanent settlements, though both native peoples and the French did try, including the construction of another small fort near the mouth of the Humber, currently buried on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition.

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