Toronto has some of the most expensive cabs in the world, and as someone who tends to drive, parking is also ridiculously expensive and always difficult to find so as others have said - walk once you're in down town - and also get TTC passes - I find public transit to be annoying particularly street cars but if you're a tourist, they do the job. Pretty fantastic public transit app for Toronto (and other places) - free, at least on the Canadian iTunes store: http://thetransitapp.com/
. Others suggested bikes but it's not something I recommend friends do given how cabs drive (and tourists) around Toronto. If you really want to, there are bixi bikes (https://toronto.bixi.com/
) but bring a helmet.
For broad guides here:http://www.seetorontonow.com/my-toronto/top-5-things-to-do-in-toronto/
- good starting pointhttp://www.timeout.com/toronto/features/229/20-great-things-to-do-in-toronto
- another good selection to start generating general ideashttp://www.toronto.com/things-to-do/
- run by the TorontoStar (one of the local papers)http://www.seetorontonow.com/seasonal/things-to-do/
- things specific to the fallhttp://www.blogto.com/best_of_toronto/
- great guides for all sorts of stuff, mostly good for food
- 2011, but kensington market is a good idea - I also liked the distillery idea abovehttp://www.tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i129-Three_Perfect_Days_in_Toronto.html
2006 -(Zelda's moved from where it used to be and as I understand it, it's not as good)http://www.lonelyplanet.com/canada/toronto/travel-tips-and-articles/76141
- not exactly budget, but one recommends st lawrence market which is kind of a cool space and nice market but everything is pretty expensive.
I'm a huge foodie - so if you're in town on a weekend where Toronto Underground Market is happening, go - as it's also at the Evergreen Brickworks which is a cool little place in the middle of a valley that is pretty close to downtown (free shuttles):http://www.yumtum.ca/
It's an event that always sells out though, so you'd have to plan early and buy tickets. My favorite places for food - both are fairly inexpensive but be forewarned that food tends to be a bit more expensive than the US:
Banh Mi Boys (they have two locations I think) which is a fusion korean/vietnamese sub place - http://www.torontolife.com/daily-dish/openings/2013/04/29/banh-mi-boys-yonge-toronto-restaurant/
RaviSoup (though the founder recently passed away) - they do amazing soups and wraps: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/10/335027/restaurant/Entertainment-District/RaviSoups-Toronto
Khao San Road (http://www.khaosanroad.ca/
): awesome place for thai food, it's not entirely cheap but the menu is online, and you can't get reservations, you just have to go and line up so try to go earlier during the day.
For late night (they're open 24 hours) but middling food: http://www.fransrestaurant.com/
- all day breakfasts and a great place to hang out after clubbing
If you're really on a budget, for groceries go to one of the Chinese grocers near Dundas & Spadina (I use the larger one on south east corner) - groceries are far cheaper than Loblaws / Sobeys / Metro (typically you'll find that veggies are 1/3 the cost at the Chinese Grocer's but they don't really have things like bread or typical things to make sandwiches). Patrons are a bit pushy and the places are a bit fragrant so the bf prefers paying the white guy premium and western grocers. Expect prices in general to be more expensive than the US.
For cool architecture/history, check out Steamwhistle Brewery's tour - basically you can drink as much of their beer as you want at the end of the tour for the cost of $10 of the tour. I also really like their space. You may have to sign up early though as I do know they do book up:http://www.steamwhistle.ca/tour/tourInfo.php
A reminder: basically the only places you can buy alcohol other than the obvious restaurants and bars are the LCBO stores + Beer Stores + Wine stores (not many and they only sell ontario wines as I recall - I'm not a drinker but I have enough friends who have visited who are). LCBO's hours are sometimes limiting which some friends find a bit frustrating. To find stores that sell alcohol - which the bf uses religiously: http://www.beerhunter.ca/
More generally, check out Yelp which is fairly well populated in Toronto, also blogTO and torontolife.com. As an aside, you can get free wifi from Starbucks + many McDonald's should you need it as many cell phone providers rape customers for roaming - and not in the good way.
For something active over the weekend, check out the o-course - I haven't done it but a few friends who have, have really enjoyed it:http://www.theocourse.com/
There are also a number of drop in games/leagues in toronto and also gay ones though not sure they will do drop ins - you can look (just google the sport + drop-in + toronto [+ optional: gay/glbt]). It's kind of nice to meet different people in a city I think...
You can also drop into most gyms and Goodlife is the dominant general gym in Toronto where you can get a several day pass online for free:http://www.goodlifefitness.com/Memberships/FreeVisitPass.aspx
If you're somewhat masochistic, check out a local CrossFit gym (I go to CrossFit Toronto which is a bit out of the ways via public transport, but on google maps you can find a few of them closer to the core). But drop ins generally cost about $20 bucks.
Oh and niagara falls is not toronto ;)... but you might want to check out wine tours in the area if you're down there.
Please post what you end up doing and like as it's useful for future recommendations