The Sustainable Traveler's Guide to Canada’s Largest and Most Diverse City!
One of our favorite nearby international travel locations, Toronto, Canada is quickly making a name for itself as a top green city. Toronto—the capital of Ontario and Canada’s largest city—is also one of the most diverse cities in the world with more than 140 languages spoken. If you’re practicing a new language, make sure to brush up with one of our recommended language apps before your trip!
So, for conscious travelers headed north this summer or in the near future, here are our favorite places to stay, eat, and sleep in the city:
// Where To Stay //
Why We Love It | The Gladstone Hotel is not only Toronto’s oldest hotel still in operation, but it is also the only hotel with a B Corp certification in all of Canada. First opened in 1889 by Susanna Robinson, a local widow and mother of 13 children, the walls at The Gladstone are rich in history. And today, the restored building is one of the leading environmentally-conscious hotels in operation.
The Gladstone Hotel is a trailblazer when it comes to its sustainability model and social impact initiatives. Not only does the accommodation have numerous eco-friendly projects happening—green roofs, nontoxic cleaning products, compost and recycling initiatives—but the company is 100% woman-owned and queer feminist led. The business is also a big advocate of supporting local artists, farmers, and social justice organizations. In fact, every boutique room is designed by an artist. Other amenities include all natural bath products, bikes to borrow, yoga classes, and in-room dry bars with local and organic snacks.
Where To Find It | 1214 Queen Street West
The Drake Hotel
Why We Love It | One of the things we love most about staying in boutique hotels is the unmatched hospitality: we’ve found that businesses that care about the environment and the local community also treat travelers like dear friends and family. And this couldn’t be truer than at The Drake Hotel, a renovated and sustainable accommodation space dedicated to catering to the community and the art scene in Toronto.
Whether it’s the made-from-scratch restaurant dishes using local ingredients or the carefully selected music playing in the communal spaces, every detail at the Drake Hotel feels purposeful and intended to make your stay that much more memorable. Further, this chic accommodation is committed to wellness, creativity, and eco-friendly policies: travelers can stay fit by joining a spin class or borrowing a bike, rooms are stocked with natural bath products, and rotating art exhibits are featured throughout the space.
Where To Find It | 1150 Queen Street West
Why We Love It | Conscious travelers can experience European luxury while visiting Toronto with a stay at The Ivy, a family-run boutique hotel in the heart of the Queen Street East district. A preserved chocolate factory from the 19th century, this quaint accommodation prides itself in its cozy atmosphere, elegant decor, and sustainable details. Further, it is the only hotel in the world that has Hästens beds, handcrafted using only natural materials, in every room.
Also in every room, travelers can relax in the soaking tub, stocked with organic bath salts, after a long day of exploring the city. And as a member hotel of Verity—a members-only women’s club—The Ivy also invites female guests to visit the adjacent and award-winning Sweetgrass Spa, a luxury retreat space designed for women. Located in a restored loft space adjacent to the hotel, conscious travelers can spend an afternoon swimming in the chlorine-free pool and book a non-toxic spa treatment.
Where To Find It | 111d Queen Street East
// Where To Eat //
Why We Love It | Happy food and happy times are what’s on the menu at Hello123, a Toronto-based vegan and vegetarian restaurant. A cheerful and sunny spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks, Hello123 is loved by locals and travelers alike for its nutritious plates and sustainable ingredients. We recommend the Blue Smoothie Bowl with a shot of espresso to jumpstart your day of exploring all that Toronto has to ofer!
Where To Find It | 1122 Queen Street West
Why We Love It | For that night during your vacation when you just need pizza and ice cream, we recommend dining at Virtuous Pie’s newest location in Toronto, opening summer 2018. An elevated fast-casual eatery, the award-winning restaurant (voted restaurant of the year by Veg News Mag) specializes in 100% plant-based and gluten-free pizza, as well as vegan ice cream. Using in-house nut cheeses, fresh produce, and a hand-stretched 3-day dough, Virtuous Pie has us forgetting all about pepperoni and sausage pizzas. The restaurant is also passionate about giving back to the community and is involved with various events throughout the year.
Where To Find It | 611 College Street
Why We Love It | Toronto isn't only diverse in languages, it's also a hub for international cuisine. For a taste of Thailand in Canada, spend a night indulging in Jeff Regular and Chef Nuit Regular’s newest restaurant, Kiin (which means eat in Thai). Serving sustainable dishes that might be less familiar to visitors, the restaurant specializes in Royal Thai Cuisine—delicate and artistic plates that incorporate the freshest and richest ingredients. Moreover, the menu focuses on food that is shared, similar to how it would be served back in Chef Nuit’s hometown of Phare, Thailand.
Where To Find It | 326 Adelaide Street West
Why We Love It | For a more upscale dining experience during your travels, consider visiting one of Toronto’s greenest restaurants, Cafe Belong. Owned and operated by Brad Long, the renowned chef and co-host of the Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover, Cafe Belong prides itself in serving some of the finest and most sustainable farm-to-table and organic cuisine in the region. The restaurant is also a part of community-based food programs, such as MealShare and Restaurants for Change.
Where To Find It | 550 Bayview Avenue (Evergreen Brickworks)
// Where To Shop //
Why We Love It | For handmade goods from up and coming Toronto-based artists, women makers, marginalized designers, and non-binary creators, Likely General is the place to shop. Founded in 2013 by a group of local artists who are passionate about responsible consumerism, community, and social change, the store also hosts frequent Feminist Film Nights, as well as various social gatherings (check the events calendar for happenings during your visit). Oh, and don't forget to meet the shop dogs while browsing the store!
Where To Find It | 389 Roncesvalles Avenue
Why We Love It | A brick and mortar in the heart of Cabbagetown since 2013, conscious travelers will love browsing the vintage gems and handcrafted home goods at Spruce. The shop, which was a video store for three decades before becoming Spruce, also hosts frequent pop-ups for local brands and Canada-based artisans. Make sure to check out this sunny female-owned shop while wandering the city!
Where To Find It | 455 Parliament Street
Why We Love It | Host of exhibitions, studio of local artists, space for gatherings, and shop with curated home goods, Souvenir is one of our favorite boutique stores gracing the streets of Toronto. Founded by two longtime friends in 2013, the woman-owned and operated shop is home to artisan home decor, small batch apothecary, and local jewelry, among other things. With its muted tones and airy ambiance, it’s the perfect little place to shop for novelties.
Where To Find It | 2136 W Fulton Street
Kayti Christian, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.