The northwest shore of Lake Ontario is home to Canada's largest city and the fourth-largest city in North America. Gear up for Toronto's immensity from the outset: this green city has a financial district of world importance and the needle-like CN Tower, but also a gentler side with hundreds of parks and 52 outdoor skating rinks open from December through February. If you prefer the great indoors, Toronto also has PATH, holding the Guinness World Record for the world's largest underground shopping complex, complete with 18 miles of pedestrian tunnels.
Start with the CN Tower, a structure that was the world's tallest until eclipsed by newer projects. If you're into extreme urban adventures, opt for the Edgewalk, a tethered but hands-free walk on the roof over the tower's revolving restaurant 1,168 feet above street level. Make sure you book ahead for this particular adventure, but don't fret if daredevil thrills are not your idea of fun. You can experience a tamer version by opting for a glass-paneled elevator ride up more than 1,100 feet to the Lookout, the Outdoor SkyTerrace or, 300 feet higher, the Skypod. The elevator floor is also glass for a stomach-tumbling experience!
Back on the ground, you'll find plenty to do. The Royal Ontario Museum, paired with the Art Gallery of Ontario, make a perfect itinerary for museum lovers. The latter institution is home to the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre and houses 900-plus works by this important 20th-century creator. The city is also overflowing with musical culture—everything from world-class symphony, opera and ballet to reggae, Broadway and hip-hop. For a Hearst Castle-like experience, visit the Casa Loma in midtown.
If you're more of a sports enthusiast, try the Hockey Hall of Fame or see the Toronto Argonauts play in the Canadian Football League at the Rogers Centre. If you opt for a CFL game, note that the field dimensions are longer and wider than in the NFL and that there are only three downs, so expect an exciting passing game.
Toronto is also a multicultural powerhouse with over 140 different languages spoken locally, so enjoy the many authentic world food choices that you'll find in just about every neighborhood. In particular, check out its thriving Chinatown, the St. Lawrence and Kensington Markets, and The Distillery Historic District. The latter gets its boozy name from the Victorian distillery warehouses that line the streets, though nowadays you'll find a huge number of chic cafes, independent shops and galleries, and top eats from pub grub to French patisserie.
The Toronto International Film Festival, held each September, gives you the chance to see numerous publicly-screened offerings while catching a glimpse of your favorite Hollywood and international film artists. Check out the city's bursting program of free winter events if you're on a budget: from public ice-skating to the sculptures at Ice Fest, to free opera at Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre.
To experience North America's most flamboyant street festival, visit during the summer and literally dance along with the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival, known to many locals as Caribana.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) handles all international flights and is 14 miles northwest of downtown Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario. Union Station sees a high volume of inter-city rail passengers each day and is worth a visit, if only to walk through its historic edifice built in the era of grand railway stations like those in New York and Washington, D.C. Toronto's extensive subway and streetcar system puts the whole city easily within reach, so any of the city's hotels will offer convenient access.