Toronto: Places to Explore

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Queen's Park, The Annex, and Little Italy

This vast area that encompasses a huge chunk of Toronto's downtown core holds several important attractions, but it couldn't feel further from a tourist trap if it tried, bringing together Toronto's upper crust, Ontario's provincial politicians, Canada's intellectual set, and a former Italian neighborhood turned entertainment district. Take a break in one of The Annex's many casual spots and you could be rubbing shoulders with a student cramming for an exam, a blocked author looking for inspiration, or a busy civil servant picking up a jolt of caffeine to go.

The large, oval Queen's Park circles the Ontario Provincial Legislature and is straddled by the sprawling, 160-acre downtown campus of the University of Toronto. Wandering this neighborhood will take you past century-old colleges, Gothic cathedrals, and plenty of quiet benches overlooking leafy courtyards and student-filled parks.

The University of Toronto's campus overflows west into The Annex, where students and scholarly types while away the hours after class. This frantic section of Bloor Street West abounds with ethnic restaurants and plenty of student-friendly cafés and bars, plus two of the city’s must-see attractions: the Bata Shoe Museum and Casa Loma.

Similarly energetic is Little Italy, where music spills out of trendy eateries and patios are packed in the summertime. The myriad wine bars and boutique clubs in this neighborhood attract a young professional crowd.

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