Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are rumoured to be making their first public appearance as a couple at the Invictus Games in Toronto, a city that holds special memories for them both. Los Angeles-born Meghan has an apartment in The Annex neighbourhood in Toronto. The actress has filmed legal drama Suits in the city since 2011, and has been spotted enjoying drinks at venues including the Four Seasons Hotel and Bar Raval.
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"Toronto is like my home now," she has said. "The people are so kind, I love the food scene and I really love exploring little nooks around the city with my two dogs. I love how much green space there is tucked away," she added. "You wouldn't expect that, and it reminds me of LA in a lot of ways."
Here are HELLO!'s recommendations for nine things to see and do in Toronto.
1. CN TOWER:
A Toronto landmark at 553.53m high, the CN Tower welcomes around 1.5 million visitors each year. The glass-fronted, glass-floored lifts speed to the 342m-high viewing point in 58 seconds, at 15 miles per hour. The tower features the world's highest bar in the Horizons restaurant. And thrill-seekers can try the Edge Walk – visitors are attached by a safety harness as they walk around the outside of tower at 356m above ground. Not for the faint-hearted.
2. KENSINGTON MARKET
There's a bohemian vibe to Toronto's Kensington Market, with its quirky stores, tattoo parlours, colourful houses and street art – look out for the mural of Mona Lisa holding a banana. For food, check out Wanda's Pie in the Sky, which claims to have the "best pies in Toronto" and that you can "taste bliss" with the first bite of their desserts. Visit the gluten-free Hisbiscus café for their buckwheat crepes, or enjoy brunch at Jimmy's Coffee.
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3. GRAFFITI TOUR
There are countless Instagram-worthy spots on the free guided walking tour in Toronto – this was HELLO!'s highlight on a recent trip. Visitors learn about graffiti greats such as Uber5000, whose artwork can be identified by his signature paintings of square birds. The tour guide also explains tagging, the battle between graffiti artists and local authorities and how a Banksy art work disappeared. If you weren't a fan of graffiti before this trip, this tour might change your mind. The tour culminates with a walk along the colourful graffiti alley, which features a huge mural by Uber5000 depicting various symbols of Toronto. Visit tourguys.ca.
4. DISTILLERY DISTRICT
A National Historic Site of Canada, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery was once the largest distillery in the British Empire. Today, the former brick warehouses, high-ceiling rooms and cobbled streets have been transformed into a commercial and residential district, filled with art galleries, restaurants and hipster stores. The area, which boasts the best-preserved 1800s-era industrial architecture in North America, has also been the backdrop for hundreds of films including X-Men, Cinderella Man, Three Men and a Baby and the Oscar-winning Chicago.
It might not be the usual holiday pastime, but axe-throwing is fast becoming popular in Canada. The Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL), which has various locations across Canada, has welcomed celebrities including Gerard Butler, Ruby Rose and Vin Diesel. Guests compete by throwing axes at a target, and can enjoy alcohol while they do so (safer than it sounds). The founder, Matt Wilson, said the idea came from a camping trip. "One guy, out of boredom, pulled out a hatchet and started throwing it at a tree. We were blown away by how addictive it was."
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This affluent neighbourhood, not far from where Meghan Markle has a home, is the place to head for serious shopping. It’s "Mink Mile" area is Toronto's version of New York’s Fifth Avenue, and you'll find stores including Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana.
Kasamoto is a modern Japanese restaurant in Yorkville – their stylish roof terrace is perfect for cocktails and sushi in the warmer months. For a more lively dining experience, visit the Real Sports Bar & Grill, next to the Air Canada Centre, which has been voted the best sports bar in North America. A massive venue at 25,000sq ft, the bar features a 39-foot HD screen, 199 HD TVs and serves more than 50 types of beer. Their chicken wings come in 10 different flavours including mild, honey garlic and suicide (extremely spicy).
8. THE TORONTO BLUEJAYS
There's an electric atmosphere at the Rogers Centre, the home ground of the Toronto Bluejays baseball team, which is situated close to the CN Tower in the downtown west area. The stadium was the first in the world to have a retractable roof, so you can watch matches rain or shine. They also offer hour-long stadium tours. Visit: toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/ticketing/index.jsp?c_id=tor
9. INTERCONTINENTAL YORKVILLE
The award-winning Intercontinental Yorkville is ideally located on the edge of Bloor Street, opposite the Royal Ontario Museum (as well as the Bata Shoe and Gardiner Ceramic museums). The suites are spacious and amenities include a fitness centre, pool, and massage studio. The Signatures Restaurant is a perfect spot for breakfast – their blueberry pancakes are a big hit.
Find out about the Invictus Games at invictusgames2017.com Toronto and visit seetorontonow.com.
Canadian Affair offers a three night stay in Toronto from £399 per person including direct return flights with Air Transat into Pearson International Airport from London Gatwick plus three nights' accommodation in a centrally located four-star hotel. Visit: canadianaffair.com/holidays/canada/city-breaks-holidays/east-coast-city-breaks/toronto-city-escape