A few hints before you head out for the evening.
- The drinking age in Ontario is currently 19, and most establishments enforce the law.
- Bars and pubs are open daily from 11am to 2am. Expect long queues on Friday and Saturday after 10pm at downtown clubs.
- During such special events as the Toronto International Film Festival, Nuit Blanche, the North By Northeast Music Festival (NXNE), and Pride, a number of downtown bars are allowed to stay open until 4am.
Comedy Clubs: Toronto must be one heck of a funny place. How else to explain why a disproportionate number of comedians, including Jim Carrey and Mike Myers, hail from here? The 9-day Just for Laughs (JFL42), Toronto's offshoot of Montreal's celebrated comedy festival Just for Laughs, delivers laughs every September with star comics as well as up-and-comers. The 2018 fest included headliners like Seth Meyers, Wanda Sykes, and Hannibal Buress. Individual tickets are $25 to $32 and festival passes run from $55 to $299 (VIP).
Dance Clubs: Dance clubs come and go at an alarming pace in Toronto, and most of the big-box clubs are in fact on the outskirts of town. Be sure to check out the club listings in the free weekly Now, or at Toronto Life, to keep up with the currently cool (or hot) spots. Those listed have survived the ultra-competitive scene by presenting a consistent music policy and lively atmosphere. Most clubs don't have rigid dress codes, though "no jeans" rules are not uncommon. And remember, it's always easier to get in earlier rather than later in the evening, when lines start to form. Several primarily gay and lesbian clubs attract a sizable hetero contingent; one notable destination is El Convento Rico.
Bars: The current highly competitive night scene encompasses a flock of attractive bistros with diverse cuisine. You can enjoy cocktails, a reasonably priced meal, and in some, a game of pool in comfortable, aesthetically pleasing surroundings. Compared to dance clubs, the bars and lounges in Toronto are a pretty stable bunch.
The Gay & Lesbian Scene: Toronto's queer community is one of the largest of any city in North America, so the nightlife scene is diverse. It remains largely concentrated in the Gay Village, around Church and Wellesley streets, but popular new locales have recently opened in Parkdale. Queer women are generally served by monthly or semi-regular parties at various venues around town in lieu of a designated bar—listings for these parties can be found in the free weekly newspaper Xtra!. Xtra! Is also a great resource for finding LGBTQ+ community–oriented events, seminars, and performances.
Starbucks has certainly staked out plenty of territory in Toronto, but there are two Canadian chains that are just as popular: the Second Cup, which charges less for a latte, and the donut-and-coffee destination Tim Horton's (also known as Tim Ho's). Another chain with fewer locales is Timothy's. There's a growing barista movement in Toronto where the joe is strictly a daytime commodity—and often offers truly top brew.
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.