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Toronto, ON

In DepthIt's not New York. It's not London. And, though Toronto has been compared to those great world cities, Ontario's capital and largest city is distinctly, well, Toronto.

Once described by Fortune magazine as the “world's newest great city,” Toronto lives up to its billing. For a true Toronto experience, take an exhilarating ride in a glass-windowed elevator to the top of the CN Tower. It won't take you long—58 seconds to be exact. Once your ears have stopped popping from the fast ascent, enjoy panoramic views from an observation deck where, on a clear day, you can see not just Toronto but also Niagara Falls. And you'll definitely want to stop by The Royal Ontario Museum—“the ROM” was called “Canada's single greatest cultural asset” even before the addition of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Named for the Canadian investor and philanthropist and designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, “the crystal” is a bold design—five prism-shaped appendages that seem to jut out at all angles from the front of the existing staid, brick museum.

You can even find a castle here. Casa Loma, financier Sir Henry Pellatt's dream home, was expensive even by today's standards. Built 1911-14 at a cost of $3.5 million, his re-creation of a medieval castle combines elements of Norman, Gothic and Romanesque styles. The 98-room mansion, perched on a hill overlooking Toronto, was built by Scottish stonemasons and is complete with suits of armor, secret passageways, 22 fireplaces and stately towers.

Like New York and London, Toronto is very walkable, and its neighborhoods are a good place to start. The commonly accepted translation of Toronto is “meeting place,” and even though that interpretation has been debunked, there's no denying the phrase certainly fits. Multicultural is a term often used to describe Toronto, and the city is, indeed, a “meeting place” of cultures and nationalities, one of the world's most ethnically diverse.

In fact, statistics show that more than half of the city's residents were born outside of Toronto, and there is not just one, but three Chinatowns, two Little Italys, and a Greektown as well as Polish, Portuguese, Indian and Korean enclaves.

Toronto's standing in the entertainment industry frequently comes as a surprise. Not many people are aware that it is often known as “Hollywood North,” ranking only behind the California city and New York as a film production center. And, though it was once characterized as a prim and proper place (one of Toronto's nicknames is “Toronto the Good”), it is now well-known for its comedic productions and the funny people it has spawned. Toronto's best-known comedy vehicle, “SCTV” introduced millions to John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short.

Like most cities with a bit of history, Toronto has had to deal with the delicate balancing act of preserving its heritage while still moving forward into the future. A walk through downtown proves the city has been successful. The architectural styles of newer commercial buildings are bold and striking, many bearing the distinctive signature of respected designers such as Daniel Libeskind, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and I.M. Pei.

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Toronto, ON

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.

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The Westin Harbour Castle

One Harbour Sq. Toronto, ON M5J 1A6

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Shangri-La Hotel Toronto

188 University Ave. Toronto, ON M5H 0A3

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Members save 5% or more and earn Honors points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Hilton Toronto

145 Richmond St W. Toronto, ON M5H 2L2

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Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

123 Queen St W. Toronto, ON M5H 2M9

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Travel Information

City Population

2,615,060

Elevation

172 m/566 ft.

Sales Tax

Ontario's Harmonized Sales Tax is 13 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(416) 808-2222

Temperature

(416) 661-0123

Hospitals

St. Joseph's Health Centre, (416) 530-6000; St. Michael's Hospital–30 Bond St. Site, (416) 360-4000; Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre–Bayview Campus, (416) 480-6100; Michael Garron Hospital, (416) 461-8272; Toronto General Hospital, (416) 340-3111; Toronto Western Hospital, (416) 603-2581.

Visitor Information

207 Queen's Quay W., Suite 405 Toronto, ON M5J 1A7. Phone:(416)203-2600

Air Travel

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is in nearby Mississauga and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) is on the Toronto Islands.

Rental Cars

Several major rental car agencies serve the Toronto area. Be advised that in some cases you must be 25 or older to rent a car in Toronto. Car rental arrangements should be made before you depart. Your local AAA or CAA club can provide this assistance or additional information. Hertz, (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak operates daily trains from Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago; phone (800) 872-7245. VIA Rail provides service to Canadian cities as well as to Buffalo, N.Y.; phone (888) 842-7245.

Buses

Daily bus service connects Toronto with all sections of Canada and with many cities in the United States. Buses arrive and depart the Toronto Coach Terminal, 610 Bay St., north of City Hall; phone (416) 393-7275.

Taxis

The initial fare is $3.25, $1.75 for each additional kilometre (.62 mi.), and 25c for every 29 seconds you spend waiting in traffic. Major cab companies are Arrow, (416) 233-1111; Beck, (416) 751-5555; Diamond, (416) 366-6868; and Metro, (416) 504-8294. Limousines often charge a flat rate for sightseeing excursions, more when you're just renting by the hour.

Public Transportation

Transportation is available by subway, Rapid Transit, bus, trolley bus and streetcar.

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