Rainbow Toronto

Canada's Gay Capital

Gay Neighbourhood

  • Church & Wellesley: The heart of the city's main gay village in downtown Toronto. (Subway: Wellesley or College)
  • The Danforth: A trendy area with lots of gay and lesbian residents as well as gay-owned businesses. (Subway: Broadview, Chester or Pape)
  • College Street: Little Italy around Clinton has a decided gay/artsy flair. (Streetcar: College)
  • Leslieville: Gay boys and girls in search of affordable homes and starving artists being, well, starving artists are transforming this gritty neighbourhood with great restaurants and quirky shops. (Streetcar: Queen east)
  • Queen West: Home to a vibrant arts, fashion and culture scene, "Queer West" (as it's affectionately called) is another neighbourhood attracting a younger gay/straight bohemian crowd. (Streetcar: Queen west)

 

Events

  • Inside Out: Lesbian & Gay Film & Video Festival - late May
  • Pride Toronto - late June
  • Dyke March - late June
  • Canada Cup - early July
  • Halloween on Church Street - late October

Best Known For

  • Celebration of diversity
  • Ethnic neighbourhoods
  • Great food and restaurants

Three Must Dos

  • Ride the Queen streetcar from one end of the line to the other.
  • Stroll up and down Church Street on a weekend afternoon with a coffee.
  • Take the ferry to "the island" and check out Hanlan's Point.

More Local Info

  • Gay Guide Toronto is a decent guide primarily for gay boys to events and nightlife in the city but is oriented primarily to locals.
  • LSBN Toronto is the lesbian equivalent, again primarily for locals.
  • Tourism Toronto has introductory gay and lesbian information along with general tourism stuff.

Tips

  • The Toronto CityPASS is an excellent value as it gives you admission to five of the city's favouite attractions including the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Toronto was laid out on a fairly standard grid with Yonge Street running northward dividing the city between "east" and "west" addresses. For example "Queen Street East" is east of Yonge and "Queen Street West" is (yes, you guessed it) west.

What else do you want to know about Toronto?

How To Get There

 

By Plane

Almost all flights arrive at Toronto Pearson International (airport code YYZ). Air Canada and Star Alliance flights arrive at Terminal 1 while all other carriers arrive at Terminal 3. (Terminal 2 is no longer used.)

If you're going to spend most of your time in central Toronto, you don't need to rent a car. Taxi and limo ranks are just outside the arrivals area at each terminal and a flat rate for a trip into downtown Toronto will be approximately $50 for a taxi and a few dollars more for a limo. The Airport Express bus offers shuttle service between the airport and downtown hotels for a one-way fare of around $17. The least expensive ($2.75) but most time-consuming option (about an hour in good traffic) is the TTC (the local transit system).

Porter, a short-haul airline, operates from the conveniently located Toronto City Centre Airport (also called the Island Airport, airport code YTZ). Air Canada Jazz is now available from the Island Airport. A taxi to downtown hotels will cost about $15 or you can take the free shuttle to Union Station where you can connect to the TTC.

 

By Train

VIA and Amtrak trains arrive at Union Station in downtown Toronto where you can connect to the subway and GO Transit, the suburban commuter rail service. Union Sation is connected to the PATH system of underground walkways connecting most of the downtown core.

 

Where To Stay

Banting House

Nestled on a quiet street, just a couple of blocks from the heart of the Church/Wellesley Village, Banting House has seven unique guest rooms and includes a hot, homemade-to- order breakfast. (73 Homewood, Subway: Wellesley)

  • Bearfoot Inn - rooms at this centrally located B&B have private baths. Leather, bear and pet friendly, clothing optional. (30A Dundonald, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Dundonald House - five guest rooms, some with shared bath, just a block from the subway. (35 Dundonald, Subway: Wellesley)
  • A Seaton Dream B&B - three simple yet elegantly furnished rooms with private baths. A bit of walk from Church Street. (243 Seaton, Subway: College)
  • 213 Carlton - Toronto Townhouse B&B - Traditionally furnished B&B, some rooms with shared bath. A mix of gay and straight guests. (213 Carlton, Subway: College)
  • 312 Seaton - In Cabbagetown, this four room B&B has rooms with both private and shared baths. (312 Seaton, Subway: College)
  • Bond Place Hotel - ideally located in the heart of downtown Toronto across the street from the Eaton Centre and steps away from other Toronto attractions. (65 Dundas Street East, Subway: Dundas)

Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Toronto

Located in the Village, this full service hotel offers free wireless internet, Starbucks® coffees, lap pool, fitness, restaurants, valet parking and more! 475 Yonge Street Reservations: 1-800-847-5075

  • Comfort Hotel Downtown - a moderate hotel close to Bloor Street shopping as well as Church Street nightlife. (15 Charles East, Subway: Yonge/Bloor)
  • Comfort Inn Toronto Airport - Steps from Pearson International Airport; Includes free shuttle, breakfast, internet.
  • The Drake - a funky, very gay-friendly small hotel with uniquely decorated rooms in the heart of "Queer West". Great restaurant and renown lounge. (1150 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west)
  • The Gladstone - the other very gay-friendly boutique hotel on Queen Street West. (1214 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west)
  • The Hazelton Hotel - five star luxury in Yorkville, a favourite with visiting film stars and divas. (118 Yorkville, Subway: Bay/Yorkville)
  • Hilton Toronto - rooms have a sleekly modern Canadian decor. Check out Tundra, the hotel's well-reviewed restaurant. Close to downtown and the theatre district. (145 Richmond West, Subway: Osgoode)
  • Holiday Inn Downtown Centre - a 3.5 star hotel within walking distance of many city attractions as well as the Church Street scene. (30 Carlton, Subway: College)
  • Hotel Le Germain - this boutique hotel is popular with the fashion crowd and is close to theatres and restaurants. (30 Mercer, Subway: Osgoode)
  • Le Meridien King Edward - traditional luxury at one of the city's landmark hotels, in the heart of downtown Toronto. (37 King East, Subway: King)

The Old Mill Inn & Spa

You deserve the luxurious décor, elegant service and exquisite menu The Old Mill Inn & Spa boutique Hotel provides. With 57 unique beautifully appointed rooms & suites it¹s truly an elegant, luxury getaway retreat.

  • The Primrose - a moderate hotel close to the Church Street village. Host hotel for many leather events. (111 Carlton, Subway: College)

 

The Ramada Plaza Toronto

This moderate hotel is just a short walk from Church Street and the subway. Rooms are good sized and well appointed but you might want to avoid the noisier rooms facing Jarvis. The hotel has a long tradition of hosting many of the city's leather events. (300 Jarvis, Subway: College)

  • Renaissance Toronto - located in the Rogers Centre, home of the Blue Jays, this gay-friendly 4 star hotel has many unique rooms and is perfect for the sports fan. (1 Blue Jays Way, Subway: Union or St Andrew)

 

Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville

Experience our hotel on your next visit to Toronto. This upscale location offers guests a unique retreat around the corner from "The Village", steps away from Yonge and Bloor subway lines, world-class shopping, dining and entertainment. (90 Bloor St. E, Subway: Bloor/Yonge)

  • Town Inn Suites - located right on Church Street, in the heart of the gay village. This all-suite hotel features full kitchens with separate living rooms, bedrooms and balconies. (620 Church, Subway: Yonge/Bloor)
  • Victoria's Mansion - ideally located just steps from Church Street, this guesthouse has a variety of suites (all with private bath) including studios with kitchenette (68 Gloucester, Subway: Wellesley).

 

Where To Eat

Toronto is renowned for its wide array of dining options. You'll find that you will be in good company at almost any eatery on Church Street between Carlton and Isabella. Similarily, there are plenty of exciting options on Queen Street (West anywhere from University to beyond Bathurst, or East between Broadview and Greenwood). Then there's the Danforth (home to the Summer Food Festival of the Danforth) with plenty of restaurants where gay boys and girls happily mix with straight folk. The cafe at Holt Renfrew is pricey but is fun for watching "Ladies Who Lunch" and the Wannabe sales staff who serve them. Here are some recommendations (both on and off of Church Street) that are worth checking out because of the food, the crowd, or the experience. 

  • Bonjour Brioche - be prepared to line up at this great (but tiny) French bakery/cafe that gets tremendously busy for weekend breakfast/brunch. (812 Queen East, Streetcar: Queen east)
  • Bright Pearl - a gay-friendly restaurant in the heart of Toronto's original Chinatown. (348 Spadina Ave, Streetcar: Spadina)
  • The Bus Terminal - a favourite retro breakfast stop for east end boys on a less fashionable strip of the Danforth. Great quality at good prices. (1606 Danforth, Subway: Coxwell) > Bull Dog Coffee - probably the best coffee near the Church Street village, served with attitude. (89 Granby, Subway: College)
  • Byzantium - good food but better known for its long, narrow martini bar. Ideally located for watching the boys and girls of Church Street stroll by. (499 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Cafe California - Mediterranean food that's always incorporating interesting twists. Favoured by an older clientele. (538 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Churchmouse & Firkin - pub-style food with a small but popular side patio. (475 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Cora's - the friendliest breakfast. (27 Carlton Street, Subway: College)
  • Daybreak Diner - very popular for breakfast. (399 Church, Subway: College)
  • The Drake - the hotel's restaurant has aspirations for greatness so the food is always interesting and adventurous. The crowd and atmosphere are part of the experience. Check out the excellent cafe for a quick bite or coffee. (1150 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west)
  • Edward Levesque's Kitchen - don't let the ordinary exterior deter you - it's probably one of Leslieville's best dining spots and is very popular for weekend brunch. (1290 Queen East, Streetcar: Queen east)
  • El Sol - truly authentic, unpretentious northern Mexican food. Check out all the masks on the wall while you sip on your margarita. (1448 Danforth, Subway: Coxwell)
  • Fire on the East Side - Cajun inspired food with a pleasant patio out the front. (6 Gloucester, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Fran's - a Toronto institution with two locations, it's open 24 hours so great for sketchy moments after a night of clubbing. (20 College, Subway: College)
  • Fresh - gourmet vegetarian using non-traditional recipes and influenced by many styles and cultures. (894 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west - and other locations)
  • Hernando's Hideaway - a local favourite featuring California-style Mexican food. (545 Yonge, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen - Asian influenced vegetarian that's been a long time favourite with east end dykes. (1262 Danforth, Subway: Greenwood)
  • Just Thai - simple, affordable Thai food in the heart of the Church Street Village. (534 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Kokyo - by all accounts the best sushi in the neighbourhood. (501A Yonge, Subway: College)
  • Mitzi's On College - the newest addition to a family of lesbian-run restaurants (890 College Street, Subway: Ossington)
  • O'Grady's - another spot that's best known for its popular patio rather than its food. (518 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Old Mill - the Dining Room is a great spot for Sunday evening dinner, weekend brunch or a Victorian-style high tea. (21 Old Mill, Subway: Old Mill)
  • Pulp Kitchen - cheap and cheerful vegetarian fare in Leslieville. (898 Queen East, Streetcar: Queen east)
  • Slack's - the lesbian late-night hangout in the Church Street Village has a pretty good restaurant with a limited but smart menu. (562 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Church Street Garage - a diner that's all about its location and patio rather than food or service. (477 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Sugo Trattoria - A modest home that warmly embraces food visitors of all kinds; those would be the best words to describe, Sugo Trattoria. (582 Church, Subway: Wellesley) 

Where To Meet Locals

Men

There are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from, but there are also weekly or monthly events, like Big Primpin' and Eva Christina Presents, throughout the month. Check out Buddies after hours at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Fridays and Saturdays) for a crowd that skews young and queer and out to party.

  • The Beaver - diner by day, artsy fag hangout by night with such cool programming it’s practically a queer culture centre - particularly busy on weekends. (1192 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west)
  • The Black Eagle - Toronto's main leather bar with a popular second room deck and active back room. (457 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Byzantium - martinis are the name of the game at this bar popular with party boys and lipstick lesbians. (499 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • El Convento Rico - a bit out of the way but very popular, particular with the Latino crowd. Famous for its drag shows. (750 College, Streetcar: College)
  • Fly - the city's premier dance club, open late. Very popular Grapefruit and Dance Camp nights draw particularly large crowds. Be prepared to line up. (8 Gloucester, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Pegasus - a relaxed bar with pool tables and a great second floor view of Church Street. (489B Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Remington's - a gay strip bar (yes, they take it all off) near the Eaton Centre. (379 Yonge, Subway: College)
  • Woodys - Toronto's biggest and most popular bar. Start your evening here or be there when it's busiest between 11pm and 1am. (465-467 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Zippers - piano bar during the week, dance bar over the weekends with Sunday being particularly popular. (72 Carlton, Subway: College)

Women

The women's social scene has an array of regular parties and events that litter the calendar each month. Bush Party at The Beaver (every Sunday night) and synchro at Andy Pool Hall (every Friday except the first Friday of the month) are just a couple of examples. Check out Buddies after hours at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (Fridays and Saturdays) for a crowd that skews young and queer and out to party.

  • The Beaver - diner by day, and a hangout for gay boys and girls by night with such cool programming it’s practically a queer culture centre - particularly busy on weekends. (1192 Queen West, Streetcar: Queen west)
  • Slack's - once they clear the restaurant tables away, the place crowds up with women out for a good time. (562 Church, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Flying Beaver Pubaret - And just FYI, "Pubaret" is a word made up for the pub/cabaret concept. As to what's a Flying Beaver, well it's an airplane you dirty birds. (488 Parliament St, Subway: Wellesley)

"Cruising"

Gay Men

  • The Cellar - it's dark and it lives up to its name. Conveniently close to the heart of the Village but has an unmarked entrance. Popular with a more mature, fetish-oriented crowd. (78 Wellesley East, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Central Spa - outside the downtown core, it's clean and attracts a "discrete" crowd including many married guys looking for fun on the side. (1610 Dundas West, Streetcar: Dundas west)
  • St Marc's - with no name on the door it's definitely a place for those in the know. (543 Yonge, top floor, Subway: Wellesley)
  • Spa Excess - attracts a somewhat younger crowd and busiest on weekends. (105 Carlton, Subway: College)
  • Steamworks - the biggest and flashiest, with gym facilities and events with DJs. Enter from the side of the building, across from the patio at Zelda's. (540 Church, Subway: Wellesley)

Lesbians

  • Pleasure Palace - special events put on by the Women's Bathhouse Committee to create casual sexual spaces for women and trans folk. Check their site for upcoming events.

Pan Sexual

  • Club 120 - a sex-friendly club where queers of all types can meet and play. Has a strong following among trans folk and lesbians. (120 Church, Subway: Queen)

Things To Do

Leisure Activities

Scugog Island Cruises Ltd.: 

Romantic cruises on Lake Scugog. Lunch, dinner, private, Weddings 119 Queen Street, Port Perry, ON L9L 1B8 905-982-1106 

Toronto Bicycle Tours

Explore Toronto with us on our fun and unique sightseeing bicycle tours! We'll go on and off the beaten path to visit the most popular landmarks and tourist spots as well as hidden neighbourhoods, parks, and locales. Our rides are leisurely and safe, with plenty of stops, stories and conversation. 416-477-2184

 

CN Tower

Aside from being the most noticeable feature in the Toronto skyline, the CN Tower is worth a trip to the top just so you can stand on the glass floor on the observation deck and see the city below your feet.

 

Pride Toronto

One of the biggest queer festivals in the world, Pride Toronto culminates in two parades - the Dyke March on the Saturday and the main event on the Sunday, both of which attract huge, friendly crowds and a street fair that takes over the Church Street Village.

 

Sports

Even though they never seem to do well as they hope, the city fanatically supports its sports teams, many of which have special gay events - baseball's Blue Jays, hockey's Maple Leafs, basketball's Raptors, Canadian football's Argonauts and the new soccer team, Toronto FC. For something different, check out the Rock, Toronto's professional lacrosse team.

 

Hanlan's Point

Located on one of the islands in Toronto Harbour, Hanlan's Point has long been a favourite sun spot for gay men. A few years ago the city acknowledged it as clothing-optional, making it one of the few offical nude beaches in North America.

 

Caribana

The Carnival tradition of the Caribbean finds a joyous home in Toronto each August. The Caribana festival features a massive parade of mas bands, wildly creative costumes and irresistible rhythms that will get you dancing in the streets.

 

Performance Art

Catch a performance in the brand new, acoustically brilliant home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The Four Seasons is sleekly modern and the glass encased lobby connects the street and the theatre. Arrive early, get yourself a cocktail and watch the crowds arrive.

 

Queer Shopping

Glad Day Bookshop has the widest selection of queer reading in the city while the Toronto Women's Bookstore is strongest with lesbian and feminist titles. Aside from Church Street shops like Out on the Street, there are plenty of gay and lesbian owned shops along Queen East and the Danforth.

 

Museums

Toronto has both the great and the quirky. The Royal Ontario Museum is worth a visit if only to see the new Crystal addition designed by Daniel Libeskind whilethe Frank Gehry-inspired facelift at the Art Gallery of Ontario has garnered raves and makes it a treat to enjoy the AGO's collection. Check out the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Bata Shoe Museum the McMichael collection of Canadian art or the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.

 

Fetish Fun

For both off-the-rack and custom leathers, visit Northbound Leather. Priape has a large shop with a broad selection of books, magazines, DVDs, leather and toys.

 

Retail Therapy

Head to Bloor Street for high end shopping but for the quirky and wonderful stop by Kensington Market, next door to one of Toronto's three Chinatowns. The St Lawrence Market (particularly the building on the north side of Front) has great farm fresh goods. And drop into the LCBO for the best of both local and international wines and spirits.

 

Festivals

Two of North American's best summer theatre festivals are just a day trip away from Toronto. The Shaw Festival in beautiful Niagara on the Lake features plays written or taking place during the lifetime of the festival's namesake. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival takes a broad approach to the Bard including both his plays as well as other classics - ancient and modern.

See all Toronto Trips