Sixteen things to do in Toronto before summer’s over
The leaves may be changing and drunken freshmen may be stumbling around the streets again, but summer isn’t officially over until September 22. Instead of whinging about the inevitable end of the warm weather, make full use of the remaining lazy, hazy days with our list of 16 things to watch, eat, do, see and buy before it’s time to break out the scarves and jackets.
1. Go to Sugar Beach. The Claude Cormier–designed park is the newest addition to Toronto’s ongoing waterfront rejuvenation project, with quartz-speckled sand, pink umbrellas and grassy knolls. The beach is nestled between the slick Corus Entertainment building and the Redpath Sugar Factory, and the Muskoka chairs are a good vantage point from which to contemplate Toronto’s past and present or work on a late-summer tan. Jarvis slip, lower Jarvis St. and Queens Quay E.
2. Taste killer sorbet. The Drake Hotel’s ice cream and T-shirt shop, Scoops and Tees, will lose the ice cream come October. Go on a sweltering day and order the refreshing lemon–olive oil sorbet. 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042.
3. Worm your way up to the Thompson rooftop. Sure, the 18th-floor patio is reserved for hotel guests and VIPs with access cards, but where there’s a will, there’s a cute doorman to sweet talk. We recommend going on a weeknight, when revellers aren’t jostling for a poolside perch. 550 Wellington St. W., 416-640-7778.
4. Watch The Last Exorcism at the 5 Drive-In in Oakville, where you can cringe and cower in the privacy of an air-conditioned sedan. 2332 9th Line, Oakville, 905-257-8272.
5. Eat at Enoteca Sociale. With its house-made pastas, laid-back attitude and pedigree (chef Rocco Agostino also heads up the kitchen at Pizzeria Libretto), the new Dundas Street West wine bar will be just as appealing in the fall. But we suggest going before the leaves drop: the small patio is shaded by leafy trees, making dinnertime lighting nicely dappled. Order the casarecce pasta with eggplant, heirloom cherry tomatoes and ricotta salata. 1288 Dundas St. W., 416-534-1200.
6. Order a French 75 at Parts and Labour. The cocktail—gin, prosecco, lemon and simple syrup—is the ideal thirst-quenching drink for balmy September evenings: equal parts fizzy, tart and sweet. Plus, a bar stool provides the best view of the restaurant’s hot clientele and an opportunity to chat up Constantines drummer Doug MacGregor behind the counter. 1566 Queen St. W., 416-588-7750.
7. Hear The Wall. During the course of Roger Waters’ full performance of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, a 35-foot barrier will be constructed (and ultimately knocked down) between himself and the audience. There are three dates for the show (September 15, 16 and 18) at the Air Canada Centre. 416-870-8000.
8. Get lost in the foreboding cedar hedge maze on Centre Island. The dark, overgrown paths can be scary for kids, but it’s frustrating fun for adults.
9. Buy corn. This year’s late-summer crop of sweet Ontario corn at the Dufferin Grove farmers’ market is possibly the best we’ve eaten. Thursdays 3–7. 875 Dufferin St.
10. See Best Coast. Technically, the band’s September 25 Lee’s Palace concert date is in the fall, but listening to the indie surf-rock California trio is sure to extend the summertime buzz.
11. Swim at Sunnyside. The lakeside public pool has been closed most of the summer because of flood damage, but it reopened last week for the final weeks of the season. Weather permitting, Sunnyside will be open until two weeks after Labour Day, but brace for cooler-than-usual waters: save for a small propane unit, the heaters remain inoperable after the flood. Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Parkside Dr., 416-392-7929.
12. Sneak into a TIFF party. There’s more free booze and celeb sightings to be had in Toronto during the film festival (September 9 to 19) than at any other time of the year. Plus, it’s not that hard to get past the velvet rope. Sidle up to the doorman, talk on your cellphone and look bored. Wear something low-cut or bring a date who will.
13. Hunt for the city’s best burger. We’ll point you in the right direction: the thick John’s Burger (made of braised short rib) at Marben comes on a just-baked bun with aged cheddar and Branston pickle. For a full-on coronary, finish the meal off with the decadent chocolate ice cream sandwich. 488 Wellington St. W., 416-979-1990.
14. Watch Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The Michael Cera summer blockbuster hasn’t exactly broken box-office records, but it’s a cute flick with enough Toronto references to keep people averse to comic book adaptations entertained. May we recommend our Scott Pilgrim drinking game?
15. Fire up the barbecue. Before outdoor grilling becomes a task for the most devoted toque-wearing carnivore, try making a batch of finger-licking pork ribs from Union chef Teo Paul’s recipe. We’ve got it right here.
16. Shop at Vaughan Mills. Until the end of September, the humongous shopping centre runs a free shuttle that leaves twice daily from Union Station. All the better to save pennies for purchases at Holt Renfrew Last Call. vaughanmills.shopping.ca.