15 Things to do in Toronto this January

Lockdown may last all month, but there are still plenty of things to do in Toronto this January to keep your spirits high and your belly full. 

In the wake of the holidays, after the excitement and our bank accounts have dwindled, it may seem as though there's nothing left to look forward to except for the cold, grey days of January stretching on indefinitely.

But thankfully there are ALWAYS things to do in Toronto and fun to be had — yes, even during a pandemic, and yes, even during a province-wide lockdown.

If you've already ordered from all of the restaurants in Toronto offering takeout and delivery, tried your hand at stirring up some new cocktails curtesy of the bars and restaurants delivering cocktail kits and cooked your way through all the recipes you can think of, we've got a list of activities for you.

And no, we're not telling you to skirt the rules. All of these events and experiences can be enjoyed outdoors following provincial regulations, or in the comfort of your own home.

From a physically-distanced street food festival to afternoon tea served in your living room, these are the best things to do in Toronto this January.

15 things to do in Toronto this January

The Lockdown Chili Challenge

January 16 (Pick up on January 14 and 15); 2876 Dundas St. W.

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Break out your chili spoon and get ready to help name the pope of chili town, because Indie Alehouse is bringing Torontonians a take-home chili fest. Along with the west end brew pub, Bar Hop, The Hole in the Wall, Beast Bodega and Beauty Eats will all be competing for the crown. For just $65 you'll receive five portions (225 ml each) of chili (one from each restaurant) in your choice of traditional or vegetarian, paired with six Indie beers. It may be intended for two, but nowhere in the rules does it prohibit you from scoffing this all to yourself. Pickup is on January 14 and 15, while the main event — a livestream with celebrity judges — will take place on the 16th.

Try some low alcohol bevies for a dry(ish) January

Available now; at your local LCBO or The Beer Store

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Hands up if you feel like you need a dry January? Hands up if you feel like you're going to need a drink now and then just to get through January? If you're anything like us, you're a bit of both. And that's exactly why we're taking a different approach this year: welcome to dry(ish) January, a month of boozing, but healthy. Kind of. Enter hard seltzers and sodas: canned drinks that are a little bit better for you, but still pack a lightly boozy punch.

While you might think boozed up fizzy water is a fad, these sparkling sippable bevs are one of the most rapidly growing drink trends out there, and even the coolest booze brands are jumping on the wagon with drinks that are seriously creative both inside the can and out.

From boundary-pushing Whiteclaw to SPLASH's spiked water, here are some of the best seltzers and sodas going.

Get takeaway afternoon tea from Café Boulud

Available now for pickup; 60 Yorkville Ave

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Scones, marmalade and clotted cream — afternoon tea is what our dainty dreams are made of. More than just a midday meal, traditional tea service is an experience. While the lockdown lingers on, Café Boulud is bundling up their afternoon tea service into a perfect parcel of joy to take home and tuck into at your leisure. For $55, you'll get an assortment of scrumptious scones, sandwiches and sweets alongside a selection of teas. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance for pick up on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Visit the Street Eats Market

Open now; 9350 Yonge St.

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The team behind several of Toronto’s summer food festivals is back with a new outdoor eating event at Hillcrest Mall. Upwards of seven food trucks have rolled up to the Street Eats Market pop-up to peddle their delicious bites. Tuck into a beef bulgogi poutine from Golden Grill; a fried chicken sandwich smothered with pesto aioli, three cheeses and garlic rosé sauce from 6 Spice Rack; or a mouthwatering jerk chicken burrito from the Jerk Brothers. Street Eats Market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Take your tastebuds on a trip to France with Marvelous by Fred

Open now; 224 Queen St. W.

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Everything at Marvelous by Fred is made from scratch, from croissants and pain bagnat (sandwiches) to the flat waffles stuffed with vanilla. Lip-smackingly good Belgium cakes are made by stacking two meringues on top of each other and welding them with whipped cream. Frédéric Vaucamps made his name by developing his own versions of the confection with coffee, cherry and caramel iterations. Delicieux!

Another staple at the bakeshop is the cramik brioche, a typical Flemish brioche from the north of France and Belgium. The kind studded with chocolate chip is our favourite version.

Play crokicurl at Stackt Market

Open now until February 27; 28 Bathurst St.

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Part curling and part crokinole, two classic sports that only true Canadians know how to play come together for crokicurl. Starting at $71, you'll get access to the rink at Stackt Market for 45 minutes of crokicurl gameplay with two to eight players (within your household). The Belgian Moon Warming Huts onsite will be available to help you stay toasty during your game. Afterwards grab takeout food and drinks from one of the vendors at Stackt.

Find local shops to love

Open now for curbside pickup and delivery; various locations

Things to do in Toronto this January | Independent shops in Kensington Market

Look, Amazon had a really good year. As for our local Toronto small businesses, we can't say the same. So let's change that by shopping small when we can and supporting the independent business we know and love in our neighbourhood.

Going local doesn't mean breaking the bank, we've got a list of our favourite Toronto small businesses that are full of affordable gifts and unique treasures that you can't find anywhere else. From customizable bottles of Reid's gin in Leslieville to Salt Wine Bar on Ossington where you'll feel like you're at a Spanish market instead of freezing in an LCBO lineup, we've got all your foodie finds covered and then some.

Click here for a list of local businesses in Toronto to support right now.

Learn how to make the perfect charcuterie board

Available now; online

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The charcuterie board-bringer is always the favourite person in the room — not all heroes wear capes, OK? If you're stumped on where to start, we've got the ultimate guide for how to build that perfect charcuterie board.

To teach us a thing or two about assembling a charcuterie board, we've recruited the help of maître fromager, Afrim Pristine of the Cheese Boutique. From how to organize your cheese to which cured meat to buy, Pristine tells us everything we need to know about making a charcuterie board that's sure to impress.

Click here to learn how to make the perfect charcuterie board with Afrim Pristine.

Satiate your sweet tooth with the best cookies in the city

Open now for takeout and delivery; various locations

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Freshly baked cookies, how do we scoff thee? Let us count the ways. We eat you for breakfast, we eat you for dessert, we eat you as a snack. You are truly the sweetest treat of all. But we're not talking about any old cookies: we're talking about Toronto's very best cookies.

Whether you like yours gooey or crisp, we've got you covered. We've got pizza-sized cookies, mini cookies, normal-sized cookies, but no matter how big they are, we promise they're all dough, dough good.

Click here for the best cookies in Toronto.

Visit a fully automated coffee shop

Open now; 1235 Bay St.

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It's the year of contactless everything so why should coffee be any different? Enter Canada's first automated café. Located on Bay Street just north of Cumberland, the robo-barista serves up Dark Horse coffee, lattes and more. There's a touch screen, but you can go completely contactless by scanning the QR code and ordering from your phone. The partnership between RC Coffee and Dark Horse is set to be the first of many.

Learn how to brew the perfect cup of tea

Available now; online

10 Things to do in Toronto this December | Brewing the perfect cup of tea

It's the season to hunker down and cozy up, and while nothing can solve the nightmare that was 2020, there's something about tea that never fails to give our souls a much-needed boost. We pick up a cup and saucer and talk to Jennifer Commins, tea sommelier and founder of Pluck Teas, to discover what really goes into the perfect brew.

Order from the Afrobeat Kitchen pop-up

Open now; 1165 Bloor St. W.

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Private chef and catering project Afrobeat Kitchen is back with another pop-up, this time at Caravan Cafe & Tea House on Bloor near Dufferin. For a limited time, you’ll be able to get your hands, or mouth, on modern African eats from chef Victor Uguweke. Order for pick up or delivery through Ritual.

Eat your way through the best pizzas in the city

Open now for takeout and delivery; various locations

10 Things to do in Toronto this December | A spread of pizza from the Parlour

Whether you're talking about Neapolitan, sourdough, deep-dish pie, stuffed crust or calzone, pizza is a universal language. And there are very few occasions when a pizza wouldn't fit the bill — it's great with mates, it's great with dates and you can even find it at fancy Italian restaurants, too. But we're not the only ones to hold this opinion, which is probably why Toronto is stuffed to the gills with brilliant pizza places dishing up all kinds of slices to hungry city dwellers. 

Click here for our list of the best pizza in the 6ix.

Grab a burger from Matty’s Patty's

Open now; 923a Queen St. W.

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Fans of homegrown hero Matty Matheson now have a permanent spot where they can get their hands on the celebrity chef’s beloved burgers. Directly across from Trinity Bellwoods park on Queen West, Matty’s Patty’s serves their hefty burgers on a sesame milk bun, topped with gooey American cheese and with a side of fries. An Impossible vegetarian burger is also on offer. Be sure to pre-order on their site ahead of going to pick up.

Sign up for the world's first pizza subscription with General Assembly

Available now; Free delivery across Toronto

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The world’s first pizza subscription service recently launched in Toronto and we're surprised it took this long. You can thank General Assembly Pizza — their new pizza subscription offers free home delivery (to postal codes in Toronto) of their naturally leavened, frozen pizzas, which cook in under 10 minutes. Subscribers can choose their monthly stack size, select their type of pizza from the subscription menu and cancel at any time. Goes exceptionally well with pyjamas.