Gay Travel Toronto
Ranked right up there with San Francisco and New York as a vibrant and openly gay city, Canada's largest city has something for every kind of traveler. The gay and lesbian population alone hovers somewhere around 250,000 people, making this a great place for gay travelers to let loose and be themselves.
Given its rich LGBTQ-friendly culture, it's no surprise that Toronto boasts one of the largest pride festivals in the world, a must-see for any gay traveler!
One of Toronto’s most notorious GLBT events is its 10-day Pride Week, which is generally held at the end of June. It is one of the largest pride festivals in the world, this year it is THE PRIDE of the WORLD!
The Gay Scene in Toronto
Toronto's LGBT community thrives in two neighborhoods in particular. The East Village, known as "Queer East," is on Toronto's East end and home to tons of LGBTQ-friendly bars, restaurants, parks and beaches. The West Village, or "Queer West," is a charming and trendy gayborhood full of art galleries, shops and restaurants.
Church and Wellesley, also known as Church Street, the Gay Ghetto or the Village, is another hotspot for the LGBTQ community. With a number of gay-oriented businesses, including restaurants, bars and clubs, this area became a symbol for gay and lesbian rights after the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids.
Sometimes referred to as "Canada's New York City," Toronto's booming and diverse population brings with it some of the most exciting foodie destinations.
The first official martini bar in Toronto, this well-known restaurant is located in the heart of the Gay Ghetto. At Byzantium, you can enjoy a romantic meal on the outdoor patio or in the tastefully decorated dining room, or stay until 2 a.m. dancing the night away to a live DJ on weekends.
This café and catering service is also a city agency and registered charity, providing support, counseling and employment opportunities to members of the LGBTQ community. Support a worthy cause while grabbing lunch at the community café and learning about the history of the LGBTQ community in Toronto.
Featuring mouth-watering brunches, burgers and bar food, this unpretentious pub with a great outdoor patio is the perfect place to drop in for a casual date or grab a hearty meal before a night out.
Part restaurant and part concert venue, Sneaky Dee's is a Tex-Mex restaurant with graffiti-grunge décor and a vibrant energy. Serving late-night pub food, including the best nachos in the city, and boasting live music performances multiple times per week, Sneaky Dee's is a home away from home for night owls, tourists and locals.
Harbour Sixty - The quintessential Toronto steakhouse located in the historic Harbour Commission Building. In August 2009, Harbour Sixty completed a major redesign with timeless and elegant decor and modern, luxurious features.
Claudio Aprile, Owner and Executive Chef of Colborne Lane, is regarded as one of the most innovative and creative chefs in Canada today. Aprile’s curiosity and passion for the culinary arts has taken him through some of the most progressive and influential kitchens in North America, South East Asia, Spain, the UK and numerous other parts of the world.
Chef Lorenzo Loseto presents an a la carte tasting menu consisting of 3 courses with a selection of cheese and desserts to follow. The courses graduate from lighter to richer and you may choose one item from each to create your own menu.
An exquisite French restaurant constructed around the rustic vestiges of two 1860’s woodcutter’s cottages. Cozy wood burning fireplaces in winter and lush garden terraces in summer. Inspired modern French cuisine, seasonal tasting menus lunch and dinner, and a 500 label wine selection has something for every palate.
Gay Nightlife in Toronto
Canada might not have a reputation as the most happening nightlife spot in the world, but the gay scene is pretty darned on point.
Leather it up in church… Church Street that is! The Black Eagle Toronto is not for the conservative or more reserved crowd—leather bars so rarely are—but the scene there is friendly to everyone's vices. Black Eagle is a great place to grab cheap drink and find someone to talk to. Cool if you like leather without a lot of attitude, and a great place to start or end your night since there's a ton of bars and clubs nearby.
Self-proclaimed as Toronto's hottest gay bar since 1989, Woody's is certainly one of the top names when it comes to gay nightlife in Toronto. Really five separate bars in one, Woody's has a nightly DJ, fun contests ("Best Ass" every Friday!), a pool table and tons of video monitors displaying racy images that add to the vibe. If you're there already, be sure you visit their brother bar, Sailor.
Gay-Friendly Activities & Destinations
Toronto's gay-friendly culture and diverse population mean there's never a dull moment.
This nonprofit professional theater company is dedicated to promoting queer Canadian culture through theater, artist residency programs and youth-based initiatives. Catch a show with friends or a date, or stop by on a Saturday night to watch performers and have a few drinks. All proceeds go directly toward supporting the theater.
Thought to be North America's oldest standing LGBTQ bookstore, the Glad Day Bookshop offers literary classics, young adult fiction, activist literature and more. Recently relocated, the new destination on Church Street features a bar, café, restaurant and dance floor.
Located on one of the three islands that make up Toronto's Island Park, Hanlan's Point is one of the only clothing-optional beaches in Canada. Go for a swim or bike ride, have a picnic or bonfire, or enjoy a friendly game of volleyball at this queer-friendly outdoor destination.
Local Tips, Tricks & News
Travelers coming to Toronto in the winter or spring should pack their snow gear and plan a trip out of the city to some of the ski resorts nearby. Those planning their trip during the summer months will enjoy the bonus of outdoor activities, like the famous 10-day Pride Week, but pack some extra cool-weather clothing just in case.
Visitors can get around with taxi services or using the extensive subway system, as parking can be scarce and expensive in downtown Toronto. History and science buffs can make a day out of a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum, one of the most celebrated natural history museums in the world, while no hockey fan would miss out on a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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