With the Locals


With the Locals x Brooklyn Bicycle Co. : Toronto

Over the next year, we’re teaming up with our pals over at Brooklyn Bicycle Co. to create a bike-friendly local-approved travel guide. You know the drill. Each month, we’ll be featuring a new city, a new local, some beautiful bikes, and lots of amazing spots - right here on WithTheLocals.co

Hey guys, I'm Ana from bluebirdkisses, a Toronto lifestyle blog. While I spent a good part of my life moving around living in different places, Toronto for me will forever feel like home. There's something about a big city vibe that I just cannot trade in for smaller city living. I love that I can bike to work in fifteen minutes and still have plenty of fun just walking around my neighbourhood, too. Waterfront, green parks, it's kind of got it all.

Toronto is the perfect city in my books. It's big enough that you don't feel stifled when you visit, but as soon as you leave the touristy downtown core, you find yourself jumping from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.  Each one with its unique vibe, culture, fun activities.  It would take me at least a month to bike around all my favourite neighbourhoods to show you my favourite spots, so instead I focused on just a portion of the West End, which is also closer to where I live with my ever-growing troop of kids, pets and one really understanding husband. I decided to take you around my favourite city, with my favourite Brooklyn Bicycle Co bike, the Willow 3 in Sea Glass, to show you our favourite spots.

One of our favourite neighbourhoods is Little Italy.  Not only do they have incredible restaurants, gelaterias and coffee shops lining the streets, but the annual Italy street festival in the summer is so much fun to attend, with kids or adults alike.  But by far our favourite restaurant on College Street is Bar Raval.  Open from 8am-2am they serve some of the most incredible tapas, drinks and coffee I've ever had.  Even the tapas we had while visiting Spain several years ago do not compare to the food at Bar Raval.  Stay in and eat or take out, you're in for a treat!

From Little Italy it’s just a skip hop and a jump to head into Kensington Market, one of the most eclectic neighbourhoods you'll ever visit. Kensington is full of colorful shops, great little places to eat international cuisine, do some serious damage vintage shopping or just sit on the side and people watch.  Kensington Market is not to be missed.  One of our favourite cocktail places, El Rey, is nearby and their Mezcal is not to be missed believe me.

From there we head down to our old neighbourhood of Queen West. This place has changed so much since we lived here.  Great shopping, even better restaurants (can you tell we're foodies?), and the streets lined with great cafes. You can easily get lost here for days on end.  If you need some restaurant recommendations, check out Terroni for amazing pizza and a great outdoor patio, Sud Forno for yummy pastries and takeout sandwiches, and Nadege for the most incredible Parisian macarons.

One of the best places to relax in Queen West is Trinity Bellwoods Park. Vast, green and full of life, it’s perfect for a little picnic or to bike around with your kids. We love having dinner at Terroni, grabbing some macarons and then heading to the park with the kids for some evening fun.

If you visit Toronto in the summer you should make it a point to come during the Canadian National Exhibition which always runs during the last two weeks of summer.  It’s not only fun, but the food seems to get better and better every year.  The CNE is right across from Coronation Park and the marina.  So beautiful and peaceful too.

The Toronto waterfront is long and beautiful.  Full of beaches, little eateries and parks along the way.  You can easily bike from one end of Toronto to the next via the bike paths that line the waterfront.

Our last stop was in good old Parkdale.  Minutes walk from our house, Parkdale is full of life and great little places.  With a high concentration of Nepalese immigrants this is where you can find the very best momos in town.  Parkdale is also home to our favourite plant guys at Crown Flora.  I may not be the best green-thumb, but Adam from CF always makes sure to give me the scoop on the best plants for our home environment, knowing full well my track record when it comes to plants.


And look! He has the sister bike to mine! We couldn't leave without snapping a sister-bike shot.

Be sure to follow @bluebirdkisses for more locally loved Toronto spots. Check out Brooklyn Bicycle Co.  for beautiful bikesevents, and more information. And of course we love love love to see where you venture, so share with us your favorite places to cruise to on your bike - #localxbrooklynbikeco

A big shout out to Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop for helping out our Toronto Locals.