Although Meghan Markle is technically American (she was born and raised in Los Angeles, California), ask anyone north of the border and they’ll tell you that the soon-to-be British royal is an honorary Canadian at heart. This is mostly due to the fact that the former actress spent nearly six years setting down roots in Toronto, Canada, while filming her hit TV series Suits. Markle was frequently photographed at up-and-coming restaurants and trendy yoga studios, chatting with famous Canadian socialites, and walking her adorable rescue dogs Bogart and Guy in local parks, and it’s clear that she quickly fell in love with the bustling city during her time there. “We tape nine months of the year,” Meghan once said in an interview with The Toronto Star. “This California girl is now a pro at Canadian winters.” In fact, the city played a monumental part in her courtship with Prince Harry as she was living in Toronto when the famed royal romance began. It’s rumored that the lack of paparazzi made the city an ideal place for their relationship to bloom, and the prince visited Markle on Canadian turf during multiple low-key visits, leading to their now-famous first official outing as a couple during the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.
While Markle has since sold her Toronto home and jetted off to London to prepare for the royal wedding, this energetic Canadian city couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. Along with formal royal wedding festivities being held at various hotspots around the city, tourists are also flocking to several of Markle’s favorite Toronto haunts (some local restauranteurs and shopkeepers are even fielding daily questions from curious onlookers about Markle’s favorite eats and treats). After spending a few jam-packed days exploring a ton of Markle’s favorite hangouts, we crafted a weekend travel guide to help fans explore Toronto through the eyes of the soon-to-be princess.
Where to stay
The Fairmont Royal York: Located right in the middle of downtown Toronto, this gorgeous historic building has a rich history of welcoming the British royal family. Along with hosting dinner parties for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 and Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1951, the Fairmont Royal York is also connected with today’s generation of royals: Prince Harry stopped by during the Invictus Games in Toronto (Harry signed and dated the hotel’s guestbook, pictured below). Also, for all you Suits fans out there, the hotel actually makes an appearance in the series during the scene where Markle’s character Rachel Zane is planning her dream wedding (spoiler alert: the “Plaza” hotel showed in the episode is actually The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto).
The Fairmont Royal York is dedicating the entire month of May to celebrate Prince Harry and Markle. Along with an extravagant lobby-level English garden installation, the hotel is offering multiple packages to celebrate the royal wedding. Whether you want to watch the happy couple wed from the comfort of your guestroom (The Duke and Duchess for a Day Package, starting at $349) or cheer loudly with other excited guests at their royal wedding viewing party in the EPIC Lounge (starting at $25), you can bet that The Royal York will be buzzing with excitement come May 19. (Photos via Ashley Macey)
Where to shop
1. LINE: Because their relationship was kept quite private, the world watched with bated breath when Markle stepped out wearing a beautiful white coat to announce her engagement to Prince Harry earlier this year. Well, as it happens, that coat is made by none other than Toronto-based fashion company LINE. “We had gotten to the point where we had put together part of her wardrobe for her London trip,” says co-founder of LINE John Muscat. “I suspected that she might be getting engaged, but I had no idea that she was going to and I had certainly no idea that she was going to be wearing our white coat during the engagement!” Markle was shopping the brand for years before she officially met Prince Harry, and she actually owns that same coat in multiple colors. “I think she went to London and she stayed true to herself. She’s a very chic woman and it’s her look and she wanted to support the Canadians. She did a huge thing for Canada by doing that; it kind of garnered the most amount of press, I think, Canadian designers have ever received internationally.” When in Toronto, make sure to stop by and check out their current collection available at numerous outlets across the city. (Photo via Ashley Macey)
2. Sentaler: Another Toronto-based company that Markle has frequented is Sentaler, which was established in 2009 by Bojana Sentaler who grew up in the city. Markle sported a long camel wrap coat with a wide collar (now named The Meghan Coat) by the brand when the royals attended church on Christmas morning at Sandringham (Markle’s future sister-in-law Kate Middleton also wore a grey Sentaler coat during her tour of Canada in 2016). The coats are famous for their ribbed arm detail and made from luxurious Peruvian alpaca. You can shop their Toronto showroom on Richmond St. West to see the entire collection. (Photo via Ashley Macey)
3. Drake General Store: If you’re looking for a trendy store that’s full of authentically Canadian gifts and merchandise, check out the Drake General Store. It’s officially affiliated with the chic and artsy Drake Hotel, and Markle was spotted shopping for gifts here during the holiday season of 2016.
4. 6 by Gee Beauty: This high-end accessories and apparel store is another favorite Toronto shopping destination for Markle. “This is my favorite store for a curated selection of clothes, gifts, jewelry, and fragrance,” Meghan Markle told My Domaine. “Think Assouline coffee table books, Aviator Nation frocks, and Le Labo, all within the shop that is likely smaller than your bedroom. I love that you don’t have to pilfer through racks, and I always find something I love either for myself or my girlfriends.” Consider it a must-do!
Where to eat
1. Terroni: An authentic taste of Italy in The Six? Yes, please! Terroni is a local family-owned Southern Italian restaurant with six venues in Toronto and two in Los Angeles and was a culinary staple for Markle. Along with dining inside the restaurant, Markle has told several magazines that she’s particularly fond of Terroni’s red chilies in oil (pepperoncini piccanti). The chilies are available to buy in-store or online, but we highly suggest stopping by for a delicious bite to eat at their restaurant before picking up a jar of chilies to go. (Photo via Ashley Macey)
2. Drake One Fifty: Located in Toronto’s hip downtown core, this chic and artsy resto-bar is rumored to be another one of Markle’s favorite Toronto eateries. It opened in 2013 in the bustling Financial District, and we suggest snagging a spot on their street-level patio for cocktails and appies at least once during your trip.
3. Blackbird Baking Company: If you’re in the mood for something starchy, this independently owned bakery specializing in rustic European pastry and artisan breads is a must in Kensington Market. “Kensington Market is a local mecca for all things food and fun and is several blocks of fishmongers, meat purveyors, mom-and-pop veggies stands, juice bars, and fantastic hole-in-the-wall restaurants,” Markle gushed to MyDomaine. “Throughout the summer the market has pedestrian Sundays where no cars can pass through it, and it feels like one big block party: bands performing, the smells of every exotic cuisine wafting in the air, and a relaxed vibe that makes you feel that Sunday kinda love.” When you stop by Blackbird Baking Company, make sure to try Markle’s reported favorite, the Kensington sourdough loaf with red-fife flour. Everything in the bakery is made from scratch and baked fresh daily.
What to do
1. Take a stroll through Trinity Bellwoods Park. After eating all that delicious grub, you may feel inclined to take a long walk in this idyllic park, which borders trendy West Queen West. Markle has been pictured walking her rescue dogs Bogart and Guy here on many occasions and raves about the park in her interview with MyDomaine. “I call this hipster’s paradise,” says Markle. “It’s a massive park with a huge dog run in the middle, which is ideal for my super active dog, Bogart. But beyond the normal park humdrum (tennis courts and softball field), you’ll see people set up stands for the likes of free hugs, yoga in the park, dance classes, and performance art. It’s really the mecca for meeting up with friends, throwing a frisbee until day turns to night, and listening to the ambient beat of bongo drums from another end of the park.” Keep your eye out for white squirrels too — apparently, rare white squirrels are known to frequent the park, and some superstitious locals believe that a sighting could lead to good fortune. (Photo via Ashley Macey)
2. Attend a yoga class. If you happened to bump into Markle while she was still living in Toronto, you’d probably find her with her yoga mat stashed under her arm. As an extremely experienced yogi, it’s been reported that Markle enjoyed a regular yoga practice at a studio in Rosedale. While in Toronto, make sure to catch a class at a local studio to really get the full Markle experience (check out Yoga Tree‘s drop-in schedule for a popular class with Toronto yogis).
3. Go to a Toronto Blue Jays game. Markle has been spotted at numerous baseball games rooting for the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. If you’re in the area during the season (late February to September, with the World Series in October), we recommend spending an evening at a ballgame and cheering on Canada’s only team in the MLB. Don’t forget to pick up some Blue Jays merchandise as a souvenir too — Markle is notorious for sporting her iconic Blue Jays hat at airports and more casual hangouts.
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(Featured photo via Vaughn Ridley/Getty )