Stipulated: the perfect travel time for a three-day weekend getaway is four hours. More, and you waste your vacation. Less, and you’re still too close home. Hence: The 4hr. Rule.
This month: Toronto, recently just dubbed “Best City in the World” by The Economist.
It’s clean. It’s close. It’s the safest city in North America. There are 301 days of sunshine. Nightlife: booming. Food: bottomless.
The dollar is good. And the hosts are kind in that uniquely Canadian, “Hey neighbor, I took it upon myself to shovel your driveway while you were out of town” kind of way.
Here’s what to do up North.
Porter Airlines, hands down. The planes are smallish, but new. There’s a complimentary lounge with coffee and bites for all passengers. And Wi-Fi. And gracious amounts of vino poured in-air. (Dear Every Other Airline, why are you not doing this?) And you’ll land in an exclusive airport in the heart of the city. Book it.
Where to Stay
Nestled between the financial and entertainment district, the Shangri-La is a renowned celebrity hangout. Stargazing season is at its best during the Toronto International Film Festival, second only in prestige to Cannes. So, expect to be seated in the vicinity of at least one notable with bodyguard in tow while you’re dining in one of the four Momofuku options in-house. Despite the clientele, the vibe is mellow and not stuffy in the least. Five stars, sprawling views of the cityscape and high-tech, convenient controls in every room make for a lovely little stay.
Runner-up: The Drake
Where to Eat
If you’re eating in Toronto, you need to know Susur Lee, arguably the most famous chef in the city. A humble-beginnings chap who used to scrub and oil 180 woks a day, he just announced a new restaurant opening at the Drake (no relation to Toronto’s other, more musical Drake). Lee, his third Toronto locale, is low-lit, stylish and sexy. A good place to take a date — or pick one up. Top-notch Asian and French-influenced cuisine. Order the Singapore Slaw, Cheeseburger Spring Rolls and Hunanese Lobster Ravioli for certain.
Runner-up: Nota Bene
What to Do
Head to the Distillery District to check out some art and gear before heading to the can’t-miss Kensington Market, an urban hub and melting pot of food and drink. In search of less bustle? Catch some jazz at The Rex, oft-frequented by Grammy winners like saxophonist Jeff Coffin and in operation since 1951. High brow? Go for a show at the lavish Princess of Wales Theatre. But you’re on vacation, so we recommend one of the vast plenitude of craft breweries and a stogie with Frank Correnti. The only cigar manufacturer in the city, this little haunt is tucked away down an alley and up a set of stairs a century long. In a dim room with a modest grouping of tables, Frank and co. skillfully hand-roll cigars with fine imported Cuban leaf.
Get Outta Town
Only 2.5 hours out of Toronto is Canada’s answer to Sonoma: Ontario Wine Country. Prince Edward County houses some quality vines that’ll hold a strong candle to any West Coast blends. Hop a ride in an Aston Martin to get there, and don’t miss brother operation Three Dog Winery before retiring at the dashingly handsome Drake Devonshire.