When Beyonce announced the Renaissance tour dates, my friends and I were scrambling to find a city to see the show. Yes, I live in Houston and obviously her hometown would be an excellent place to see her. However, we wanted to get a vacation out of it! So we looked at the schedule and picked Toronto. A city that was new to all us. Our group included about 10 ladies from Houston and Missouri. We had a great time! Here is my recap of Renaissance in Toronto!
Where to Stay
Within the group, we stayed at various hotels all in the downtown area. Most of what we did was walking distance from our hotels or a quick uber drive. My friend and I picked the Hyatt Regency for our stay. It was pricey so I expected a nice/new/updated Hyatt. That’s not what we got! The plus here is the location, but the hotel could use some updating. For a bit more though you could stay at the Bisha Hotel. A couple of my friends stayed there and it was a beautiful hotel. The rooms were large and it also had several restaurants/bars in the building.
Where We Ate
If you are looking at this list for places to see and things to do in Toronto you may be a bit disappointed. We really came just to eat!
We love a good brunch when traveling. Every weekend, Marked hosts a $70 all you can eat tapas brunch which includes prosecco. This brunch is a party! They have a great dj who of course mixed in some Beyonce for us that were there for the show. A few dancers come around and get the diners to dance as well. Beautiful, fun spot. Check out my IG reel here.
This restaurant brought us to the St. Regis. As you can imagine, it’s a beautiful hotel. We picked Louix Louis mainly for the ambiance. It’s a gorgeous space. We liked our drinks and many of our appetizers. Our entrees were hit and miss. Like the risotto wasn’t cooked long enough and the pasta water for the mac & cheese was not salted. Despite this, we still liked the place overall, but on a return visit I would probably only sit at the bar for cocktails and dessert (the large chocolate cake is good!)
Located on the rooftop of the Bisha Hotel, Kost is a great breakfast stop for those staying downtown. Here you can get great views of downtown Toronto and their pool. However, note the pool is only for guests. I ordered a turkey sandwich while my friends went with a traditional breakfast. It was the perfect stop before heading to the airport.
I always try to visit a Black owned restaurant when I travel to a new city. In Toronto, I found Chubby’s, a Jamaican restaurant with a Black co-owner. We made an early reservation for lunch and loved it. The drinks especially the rum punch were great. For entrees, we ordered a little bit of everything. I loved their mac & cheese which had saltfish and the jerk pork.
Originally, we were scheduled for a tasting dinner at Canoe as soon as we landed in Toronto. However, Houston weather and Air Canada had other plans. We arrived six hours late and decided to salvage the evening by stopping over to Bar Chef. This cocktail bar is famous for curating unique cocktails that are truly experiences. I ordered the rose gold margarita. It came out in a terracotta pot! Stop by here if you want to experience unique different cocktails.
What to See/Do
So please remember we were here for the concert and good eats. As such, we did not see to many of the sites in Toronto, like Niagra Falls or the water attractions. Here are the few spots we visited.
This mixed use space was really cool. From my understanding, the businesses are housed in historic buildings from an old now closed Canadian distillery. You walk through cobblestoned streets and see shops, restaurants, and even live music. During our visit, we took pictures at the lock sign, grabbed chocolate from a small chocolatier and ordered cocktails at a local restaurant. There is a little something for everyone, so I think it is worth the stop.
A market made of old shipping containers, Stackt Market is similar to the Distillery in that there is a little bit of everything there, plus views of the CN Tower. We visited during the day so we mainly just shopped. They had items like sunglasses, jewelry and clothes. There were also lots of setups for liquor carts for what I assume is later in the evening. If I were to go back, I would go later in the evening because it seems like it gives an outdoor party vibe.
Whew, we went to a “club” y’all. But honestly, it was what we would call vibe dining in Houston. For most of the day Lavelle is a restaurant, but at night, they bring in a DJ and the setup quickly changes to a club. We made a reservation ahead of time and expected to just walk in. Nope. Lavelle shares an entrance with another club, so there are tons of lines, lots of checkpoints before you can enter. Once inside,we thought it was a cool spot with great views of downtown.
Now for the main event! Doors opened at 5:30pm with a 7pm start time. We aimed to be in our seats at 6:30pm, but as you probably know by now she does not start anywhere near 7pm. In Toronto, the show began at 8:30pm, but it was a closed arena. Shows with open stadiums, seem to start later as they wait for the sun to go down. I didn’t mind arriving early, but I would have gone and waited in the souvenir line or walked around a bit more if I knew I had more time. So I am telling you all, you have time!
And once the concert starts, it’s a non-stop show which for the most part goes in the order of the Renaissance album with a few surprises throughout. When you consider how great the album’s transitions are, this is the only way to do it! We were on our feet the whole concert having a great time. At the end, all of us said “so when are we going to see it again??”
Toronto was a great time and Beyonce was even better. I would definitely visit the city again based on the restaurants and vibes alone. And because people always ask me, yes we felt safe as Black American women traveling to Toronto. Keep in mind how close the city is to diverse cities like Detroit and New york City. Likewise, Toronto was diverse and welcoming.
*Also, I mainly took video and not as many photos. Check out my reel from day one in Toronto here.