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Toronto - Canada
Museums & Galleries
Canada's largest museum is the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), an all-round museum with adjoining planetarium, greeting you with four impressive Amerindian totem poles in the hall. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) boasts an extensive and well-presented collection of landscape paintings by Canada's famous Group of Seven. Don't miss the world's largest exhibit of Henry Moore sculptures, beautifully arranged by the artist. The AGO is also known for the skillfully simple Inuit stone carvings, as is the Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art. On a lighter note, the Bata Shoe Museum is unique; among their 10,000 shoes are Elvis' blue suede loafers. The Hockey Hall of Fame also has shoes, but only those with blades beneath them.
Theater & Performances
Busloads of Americans drive for ten hours to spend just three hours in Toronto. Why? With over 500 theater productions every year, the city on Lake Ontario is the second largest stage center in North America. You can see Kiefer Sutherland in a Tennessee Williams play or the metamorphosis of Kiss's hard-rocking lead singer to Phantom (of the Opera) in King Street's Royal Alexandra and Princess of Wales theaters. It is also worth going a little off the beaten track to catch more adventurous offerings in places such as Front Street's Sony Centre.
The grassroots of theater are just as fresh and strong in Toronto. Community-centered theaters such as Tarragon and the Factory master challenges like Beckett, as well as drama from new and upcoming playwrights. Modern dance has found a home in the Premiere Dance Theatre, a multicultural venue for music and movement at the Harbourfront Center. More classical but nevertheless innovative performances can be seen at the National Ballet Company, considered the top dance troupe in the country. The Yuk Yuk is still defending its position as the major comedy spots, but recently Rivoli's backroom has established a reputation for edgy comedy.
Not only is Toronto one of the most popular American film sets—watch out for huge white trucks and sealed-off streets - it is also a great movie theatre city, especially at fringe and second-run cinemas like the Bloor or the Fox. Apart from Hollywood fare at entertainment complexes, you can see international films at the Cumberland, and theme retrospectives at the Cinematheque. Not to mention the Toronto International Film Festival, considered among the top in the world.
No, those lines you see as you walk along Richmond Street are not for soup kitchens. You're in hot nightclub country, the places where only the coolest and hippest get in. Most clubs don't specialize in one style, but often change their playlist daily from retro to dub to techno in order to attract the most diverse dance crowd. The biggest club around here is the Joe, a three-level auditorium-sized dance hall for the masses. College Street and environs is another good strip with the smoky Comfort Zone late-night hangout.
For live music events, Horseshoe Tavern is the place to see a great young band before it fills the concert halls. Toronto is on the A-list for pretty much every major tour in North America, from the Three Tenors in the Rogers Centre multi-purpose stadium to the Buena Vista Social Club in old Massey Hall or Celine Dion at the Air Canada Centre. The repertoire of classical music offerings is too long to list, but Roy Thomson Hall is a safe starting point for excellent acoustics, be it for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir or the latest Philip Glass opera.
The Air Canada Centre is home to two of Toronto's big sports teams. Cheer the Raptors as they slam dunk against their NBA competitors and the popular blue-and-white Maple Leafs playing for ice hockey's Stanley Cup. They compete for spectators with the Blue Jays, who swing their baseball bats in the 53,000-seat Rogers Centre.
Over the last ten years, Toronto has discovered street life. In the summer, you will have trouble deciding whether to go to Nathan Phillips Square or to Harbourfront for free concerts and different festivals every weekend. East along the lakeshore, Ontario Place combines waterpark fun with massive open-air rock concerts and the first Imax Theatre (Ontario Place Cinesphere) in a family amusement park.