Toronto Music Off the Beaten Path

A listening room where top folk and world musicians play, a venue that reminds of a saloon from the old west, a music center that features classical music alongside world music and events for kids, and a garden inspired by the music of Bach: These are a taste of Toronto’s off-the-beaten-path music scene.

The Dakota Tavern

Toronto is urban Canada, to be sure, and a center for every strand of Canada’s music from rock to blues to classical. If you find yourself dreaming of the Rockies and the prairies, though, The Dakota Tavern could be your place. You’ll find cowboy boots, wagon wheels, and photographs of western plains on the walls. Local and touring country and bluegrass bands appear every night. The food is hearty and the atmosphere lively. Weekend brunch is a big draw too: all you can eat of six or seven breakfast staples with a side of high energy bluegrass are catalysts for good times.

Hugh’s Room

Perhaps you’re looking for a bit of quiet conversation? You could have that over your dinner at Hugh’s Room, that is, until the music begins. You and your fellow diners will want quiet for that—this is a listening room where top Canadian and international blues, folk, country, and world musicians perform. It’s a place where you want to hear every note and every word, and you will, too. Come about an hour before performance time for dinner (reservations are a good idea), or sample the dessert/late night menu if dinner’s not on your schedule. Either way, you’re likely to hear some of the finest music going in the city.

Harbourfront Center

Harbourfront Center is not exactly off the beaten path, as it’s a performing arts complex on the lakefront. But its eclectic programming, which includes festivals showcasing cultures and music from Africa, the Caribbean, and varied parts of Canada’s heritage, make it worth checking out. A number of the events are family-friendly, and some are even free. Weekly film showings are scheduled, too, as are festivals showcasing cultures and music from Africa, the Caribbean, and varied parts of Canada’s heritage.

Toronto Music Garden

While you are at the waterside, check out one of city’s beyondthe-beaten-path musical experiences: the Toronto Music Garden. A collaboration between a landscape garden expert and a world-renowned cellist, the garden is designed to interpret JS Bach’s Suite Number 1 for Unaccompanied Cello. It works, too, whether you’ve ever heard that piece or not. A path that swirls through wildflowers, an arc of evergreens, and a grassy open space: this could have you thinking of music in a whole new way. Guided tours can be arranged, and be sure to find out about classical music concerts held regularly in its grassy open space, which becomes an amphitheater for some of the region’s best classical musicians.

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