It’s time to break out your most fashionable outfits, charge your phone and stake out the good seats. The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off September 5, and with it comes our favourite annual sport: celeb sightings.
With so many A-list celebs hitting the city over the next couple of weeks (Tom Hanks! JLo! Joaquin Phoenix!), there are ample opportunities to spot all of our faves. Sure, you could line up outside of the TIFF Lightbox and press through for a photo-op on the red carpet. Or you could even stake out traditional celebrity haunts like the Soho or RBC house. But if you want to get a little creative and maybe even actually meet a celeb or two, here are seven unexpected places to stargaze in all your glory.
7. King Street
It’s no secret that King is basically TIFF central come September, as plenty of entourages stroll up and down the street to get to their various film-related destinations and Festival Street is home to free performances and screenings. But a great place to camp out is near Spoke Club, the private-members lounge that has been known to welcome the likes of Bradley Cooper, Christina Hendricks, Clive Owen, Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. Meanwhile, stars like Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgärd, Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson have all dined at Brassaii. And in terms of all-out entertainment? It may be worth a visit to the underground ping-pong club SPiN, of which Susan Sarandon is a co-founder.
6. Trinity Bellwoods
While you’re hitting up the Ossington strip you may as well head East and check out this patch of greenery, where celebs have been known to take a small reprieve—especially if they brought their dogs along (the off-leash dog park there even has its own dog fountain). Meanwhile, there are plenty of cute shops worth popping into for a look as well; in the past notable names like Julia Roberts have sampled pastries at Nadege and perused the shelves at Type Books, while everyone seems to love eating at Italian neighbourhood staple Terroni—including Roberts, Eva Longoria, Matt Damon and Rachel McAdams, to name a few.
5. Queen West
If you’re on Queen, head further West to the Drake Hotel, a longtime favourite for A-listers like Claire Danes and Margot Robbie. There are typically a few artsy TIFF parties there every September, but even just chilling in the lounge is a great way to spot famous faces. There’s also great shopping in the fashionable area, and Drake General Store and Outer Layer are two cute spots for celebs to grab unique mementos while they’re visiting the city.
4. Pearson airport
All of these stars need to come in and out of the city at some point, right? And sure, plenty of them will take private airplanes, which means we have zero chance of actually spotting them. But there are still plenty of celebs that take regular old flights like we do (Rachel McAdams! Charlie Hunnam!), and in order to do that they need to congregate at the airport. If you want to venture to Pearson, hang out in Terminal 1 and look for flights coming from or going to New York and Los Angeles—those are the flights most likely to have booked a star or two and your smiling face can be the first thing they see when they touch down in the 6ix.
3. Coffee shops
Celebs need their caffeine, too. Hang out at any of the Starbucks or Second Cups in the area and you’re sure to see at least one. Or, check out some of the independent shops that have brewed up big celeb status, like Dark Horse Espresso Bar, Little Nicky’s, or Grinder Coffee, which last year successfully campaigned on social media for a visit from Ryan Gosling himself. This year the shop is targeting a visit from Mister Rogers, Tom Hanks.
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And this happened… It worked!! Our #ryanneedsgrinder actually worked. The man himself #ryangosling showed up here and had a coffee with us. What a good sport (you can only imagine what Joelle actually said). Thanks for everyones support . A big thanks at Ryan for taking the time out of #tiff to visit #leslieville. What a gracious well brought up Canadian boy. Take that @idriselba your loss!!
2. The St. Lawrence Market
Celebs need to eat too, and this world-renowned market is a great place to satisfy any craving. The Peameal Bacon at Carousel Bakery seems to be a favourite (Drake, Emeril Lagasse and Catherine Zeta-Jones all have autographed photos on the wall there), while Jake Gyllenhaal has also gotten his sushi on in the area. Other shops to hit up for potential star-sightings include St. Urbain Bagel, the sandwich shop Uno Mustachio, and Chrurasco’s, THE place to pick up a Portuguese Tart.
1. The Ossington strip
Sure, this previously-overlooked neighbourhood used to be known as one of the city’s questionable underbellies, but a lot has changed in the past two decades. These days, the Ossington strip hosts plenty of trendy bars, restos and shopping outlets, making it an offbeat and unpretentious favourite among visiting celebs like Mark Ruffalo and Drew Barrymore, who have notoriously stopped by watering holes like the Dakota Tavern or Sweaty Betty’s.