We were lucky enough to find an apartment in the Entertainment District of Toronto. Within a few blocks we have the Rogers Center and Scotiabank Arena, Roy Thompson Hall (the Toronto Symphony), the TIFF Lightbox, Princess of Wales Theater, the Royal Alexandra Theater (we saw SIX! here), the CN Tower, Ripley's Aquarium, Roundhouse Park, The Four Seasons Center for the Performing arts (ballet and opera), and a movie theater.
Add a few more blocks and we have the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Hockey Hall of Fame, Meridian Hall, Massey Hall (we saw To Kill a Mockingbird here), The Second City Toronto, and tons more little spots here and there - museums (I think there's one at the CBC building), comedy, and theater venues, etc. There are also a number of multipurpose areas like the Convention center, Stackt, The Well, and Harbourfront.
When we were searching for a rental, we checked a number of neighborhoods, all of them urban. Each area had its pros and cons - different grocery stores (one was near a Whole Foods!), different entertainment, different commutes - and I know we would have been happy in any one of them and adapted to what it had to offer. We considered living along the lake for the awesome view, we checked out the area around a townhouse west of Spadina, we saw an apartment on the 70-something floor in Yorkville. Each building had different amenities and each street had a different vibe (while Yorkville is quite posh with lots of shopping there's not much affordable).
During the week, and even most weekends, we don't drive anywhere. There are trams, buses, and a subway system, but mostly we walk because this chunk of Toronto has pretty much everything we need - grocery stores, Staples, Michaels, restaurants, malls, bodegas, drugstores, a French bakery, the PATH. All that and we have a 9 minute walk to work.
The commute was top of our list, and we can see a sliver of lake which was pretty high on our list, but if you ask us what really sealed this building for us is the car elevator. This building has a car elevator. A. Car. Elevator. What sorcery is this? Drive the car into elevator, press the button, drop down to correct parking level. It's amazing and stress-free which I didn't expect living downtown. And even though we rarely take out the car we know it's secure and out of the elements. And there's a car elevator!
So far Toronto is proving to be a pretty good deal and I'm sure we'll keep discovering more fun things in the city and in Ontario as the months go on and the seasons change. I hear there's a tennis Open in August split between Montreal and Toronto, and the World Juniors tournament is coming to Ottawa in December!
There's no doubt that whenever the kids visit there will be something fun to do.