I love to head into the heart of Toronto on weekends to explore neighbourhoods and visit restaurants. Some of our most enjoyable experiences as a family have come from exploring Toronto neighbourhoods like High Park, Kensington Market, Harbourfront and Queen Street West.
Because we travel by car, our first priority is always looking for convenient, safe and affordable parking. Toronto streets can be quite busy, so it's best to know where you are going before heading out. There are a lot of one-way streets too, so you want to map your route. Before we leave home, I visit the Toronto Parking Authority website and type in the location we plan to visit. This past weekend, for example, it was the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Once I submitted "Art Gallery of Ontario," up popped a map showing me all of the "Green P" parking available in the area. There was also a list showing me the distance of each parking location from the art gallery and the parking costs for each location. You can download free Green P mobile apps for your iPhone or android phone too.
We were able to pick a parking structure that was close to the gallery and affordably priced. Because Green P parking is run by the Toronto Parking Authority (owned by the City of Toronto), I trust that I am getting good value. Other lots may have fluctuating prices depending on events going on in the area (hello Toronto Blue Jays fans!), and the costs can get very high. Plus, 42 cents of every dollar you spend on Green P parking goes back to the City.
The Larch Street Green P garage is right in Chinatown, making it a great central location for exploring. And it has an impressive view of the CN Tower too!
We were very tempted by the offerings of fruit and veggies at Chinatown markets, but with time at a premium we had to move on to the gallery pretty quickly.
We were eager to see the Art Gallery of Ontario's Francis Bacon and Henry Moore exhibition, "Terror and Beauty." And what an incredible show it was, combining the works of two men who both experienced the horror of wartime England and responded with amazing and very different artwork.
During any jaunt to the Art Gallery of Ontario, we pay a visit to the architecturally stunning Galleria Italia, which runs along the front of the building.
That's where we stopped to refresh with a strawberry Italian soda from the cafe.
On our way back to the parking structure, we saw this cool car from the University of Toronto. I don't think I'd be brave enough to drive that around the city!
What I liked about the parking garage was that we didn't have to guesstimate how long we would take at our destination. We simply inserted a credit card into the machine when entering the garage and then inserted the same card while exiting. This way there's no worry about not inserting enough money in a parking meter. Have you ever had to send one person running to check the parking meter while the other person pays the restaurant bill? I'm sorry to say we have...a few times.
What's your favourite Toronto neighbourhood? Do you travel by car or some other means of transportation?