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Monday, October 20, 2014

Toronto’s Emerging South Core Neighborhood

As soon as my Porter Airlines flight arrived at Toronto Island Airport and I took the 2-minute ferry ride over to the city, I noticed the numerous cranes tilting towards the sky. Toronto has a mind-boggling 180 high-rises currently under construction, more than the combined building efforts currently underway in New York and Mexico City, which along with LA are the three cities that have a larger population than Toronto in North America. A good chunk of that construction are office buildings and condos going up in the South Core neighborhood, where I’m spending the week at the Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square. This is the entertainment corridor, bookend on one side by the Air Canada Centre, home to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors; and on the other side by the Rogers Centre, originally known as the SkyDome, where the Toronto Blue Jays play their home games under the retractable roof.

 On my first day here, Jason Kucherawy, owner of Tour Guys and guide at Toronto Urban Adventures, took me on his “Teams, Trains, and Tower Tour,” a walking tour that’s offered to the public for free (simply tip the guide). His first stop was right behind the hotel at the sports bar ESPN called the best in all of Canada, Real Sports Bar and Grill. Hundreds of folks were inside watching college football games on the largest high-definition television in the country. Then we walked along Bremner Boulevard to see Toronto’s newest attraction, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada (which I’ll describe later this week), backed by the CN Tower. Across the street is the historic John Street Roundhouse, now home to the Toronto Railway Museum. Next door is Steam Whistle Brewing, known for their one beer, a crisp, cool pilsner. If you like your brew, you’ll want to know about Jason’s other tour, a pub crawl. Other favorites include tours geared to bacon lovers, graffiti aficionados, and this being the Halloween season, ghost tours. 
 
One of our clients highly recommended Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square after we put his family of four up there this summer. The location is excellent for seeing the Toronto sights, rooms are spacious, a continental breakfast is included in the price, and there’s a cozy lounge downstairs, Play, that features local microbrews and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. What I especially love is that there’s no bottled water. You simply fill your pitcher up with filtered water in the hallway, next to the complimentary apples. Sustainable practices along with great service (the concierge Chris and Susan can answer any question) are the reasons why the Quebec-owned Germain brand is growing across Canada, with 10 properties in Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, and Calgary and another 4 under construction. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/20/14 at 06:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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