A Tiny Gem of a Gallery: The Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), located steps away from the AGO, has its own gallery. Called the OCAD Professional Gallery, it was launched in 2007 to explore the connections between art and design. So far, the tiny 111-sq.-m (1,195-sq.-ft.) space has shown work by Canadian Karim Rashid (famous for his stylish housewares and table accessories) among others. Located at 100 McCaul St., the gallery is open from Wednesday to Friday 1 to 7pm, and on weekends from noon to 6pm. There is no admission fee. For more information, call tel. 416/977-6000 or visit www.ocad.ca.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection: If you have access to a car and happen to be a fan of Canadian landscape painters (such as the Group of Seven, David Milne, and Emily Carr), drive the 40km (25 miles) north to Kleinburg for this very beautiful gallery. The McMichael sits on 40 hectares (99 acres) of conserved land, a bucolic setting that would have inspired many of the artists featured in its collection. It was founded by Robert and Signe McMichael in 1965, when they donated their property, home, and collection to the province of Ontario. Today, the collection includes more than 6,000 works. If you intend to visit, call ahead; the McMichael does shut down some galleries while preparing new shows, and its hours (normally daily 10am-4pm) are sometimes shortened.
Saving on Admission Costs
The major museums are pricey in Toronto, especially when compared with the smart and progressive freebie programs in cities like London. The ROM is particularly expensive, with a $20 admission for adults and additional charges for special exhibitions. The list below will help you save on admission fees. Just keep in mind that these free or discounted times do change, so check before you visit.
- Art Gallery of Ontario: Free admission every Wednesday from 6 to 9pm
- Aga Khan Museum: Free admission every Wednesday from 4 to 8pm
- Bata Shoe Museum: Pay-what-you-can admission every Thursday from 5 to 8pm (suggested donation is $5)
- Gardiner Museum: Half-priced admission every Friday from 4 to 9pm; free admission every Tuesday for students (with ID)
- Textile Museum of Canada: Pay-what-you-can admission every Wednesday from 5 to 8pm
Where to Eat When You're Going to ...
It's a growing trend that has thankfully come to Toronto: Decent food at museums, galleries, and other attractions. To make your planning easier, here are some of Toronto's top attractions where you can find inspiration for the belly, as well as the mind, all under one roof:
- Art Gallery of Ontario: The newly renovated AGO has two fine options: FRANK restaurant (expensive, top-notch cuisine) and the AGO Café (cheap and cheerful salads and sandwiches). Both are run by the same kitchen, which is headed by local star chef Anne Yarymowich. The emphasis is on local, and the wine list offers a good sampling of Ontario's top wines.
- CN Tower: The CN Tower's restaurant, 360, is a little pricey and touristy; but if you enjoy a panoramic view -- and a rotating one, at that -- with your foie gras and filet mignon, this might be your ticket. The prix-fixe menus offer good value. The wine cellar is built to impress.
- Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts: Toronto has a perfect culinary match for its sleek, modern opera house: the neighboring Nota Bene. Run by the pair who steered what was Toronto's top dining room, Splendido, this is a more casual affair with delicious fare. Book ahead.
- The Air Canada Centre: This complex prides itself on a range of tempting goods, from de rigueur hot dogs and beer to three fine-dining rooms, a wine cellar of more than 600 labels, and one of the country's top sommeliers. The vast kitchen feeds the teams, too. For a casual bite, there are dozens of concessions on-site, including customized hot dogs at Burkie's Dog House and Chef Jamie Kennedy's famous French fries. The Air Canada Club (tel. 416/815-5983) is the most luxurious of the three restaurants.
- Ontario Science Centre: While people who work at the OSC love to point out that it's in the geographic center of Toronto, it's Nowheresville as far as food is concerned (though the museum does have its own restaurant). But if you head north to the new Don Mills Centre, you'll find McEwan Foods, a tony gourmet store run by celebrity chef Mark McEwan, with chairs and tables for lunch and snacks.
- Royal Ontario Museum: The cafeteria-style Food Studio serves up middling lunches and suppers to keep you fueled for a long day at the museum.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.