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From outdoor skating to indoor retail therapy, the city's best coffee to its best dinners, we've got you covered if you're in town for this fine holiday.

Mary Luz Mejia
December 03, 2015

If you find yourself in Toronto during the holiday season, fret not; there are a spate of options open to the public that you can enjoy should hotel or cabin fever hit. A Toronto Christmas can start with a good cup of steaming joe and move on to grabbing a pair of skates and hitting the ice—there's something for everyone during what crooner Andy Williams calls "the most wonderful time of the year."

Fuel the Day

A good cup of coffee is paramount to most Torontonians. Go ahead and make your wise cracks about this country's baffling love of Tim Horton's, but for the good stuff, check in with Manic Coffee on College Street at Bathurst for a perfectly pulled espresso (until 3 p.m.). Or grab a late breakfast at Bar Italia down the street, where a good frittata and eggs Florentine await.

Retail Therapy

If you're in the mood to pick up a few keepsakes or perhaps want to buy a little something for yourself, head north to Markham to get your fix of holiday retail therapy. You'll feel as though you've stepped into a downtown Hong Kong mall, when in fact you're at The Pacific Mall, North America's largest indoor Chinese mall. With its various high tech shops, Asian fashion stores, and food stalls (if it's open, check out Sun's Kitchen for the Northern Chinese, hand-pulled noodles), the vibe is Blade Runner meets Chinatown, with a little holly jolly thrown in.

The Great Outdoors

For a truly Canadian kind of holiday experience, lace up and hit the ice at one of the city's many skating rinks. Until 10 p.m., you can skate to your heart's content at the Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail, the city's first outdoor trail, shaped in the form of a figure eight. Evergreen Brickworks also boasts an al fresco outdoor rink in the Don Valley, as does Nathan Phillips Square, right in front of City Hall (skate rentals on-site). Down by the waterfront, you can always count on the Natrel Rink at the Harbourfront Centre to provide some smooth ice and, on weekends, a live DJ to enhance the atmosphere.

Scenic Sightseeing

If you'd prefer to stick to snow boots over skates, take a walk through some of the city's historic neighborhoods. When it snows, they take on a peaceful, hushed tone, perfect weather for exploring. There's Roncesvalles or High Park in the west end, and in the center of the city, the Annex and Yorkville. The latter two are both close to the historic buildings adorning the University of Toronto campus. You might also want to traipse through The Beach on the east end, replete with a wide boardwalk, minus the palms.

Catch a Film

The TIFF Bell Light Box and other theaters across the city are open, which means that you'll have your pick of the seats and first-run films. Grab some popcorn and settle in.

Evening Sustenance

When it's time to nosh, you've got a good selection at your disposal. Since most hotels will have at least one restaurant open to the public on Christmas Day, they're a sure bet. Head over to the Four Seasons' Cafe Boulud for French bistro fare with flair. The Thompson hotel's diner is open, serving up comfort food favorites like poutine and pastrami reubens, as is Mark McEwan's One Restaurant in tony Yorkville (Turkey dinner's on offer most Christmas days). If you're craving Japanese, College Street's Hapa Izakaya and Guu SakaBar are sure to fill the bill.

Mary Luz Mejia covers Toronto for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter.

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