Your Fan Expo Game Plan for Navigating Nerdy Toronto

Manga meccas, pinball palaces, Harry Potter-themed bars: Toronto has no shortage of nerdy delights to thrill visitors in town for August’s annual Fan Expo. In this city, there are a million ways to let your geek flag fly.

Every summer Fan Expo Canada takes over the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to celebrate sci-fi, fantasy, comic culture and (best of all) cosplay. It isn’t unusual to spot a caped crusader wandering around the core or see someone dressed up as one of the 13 iterations of Doctor Who’s iconic lead character grabbing a coffee to go. It’s the time of year that Toronto gets extra-nerdy — but in this city there are ways to geek out all year long.

Nerds unite! Check out the latest Fan Expo Canada schedule, exhibitor list and celebrity guest lineup to start planning your trip.

Get Me Out of Here!

Escape rooms are popping up everywhere but a handful of these popular game venues really stand out — like the one set inside an actual castle. Toronto landmark Casa Loma hosts an escape game with real history at its roots while at Yonge and Dundas, Roundabout’s ninja, spy, or horror movie-themed game rooms get extra points for realism and design. At The Great Escape in Toronto’s west end, cosplayer-wannabes can dress up to really get into character for their Da Vinci Code or Indiana Jones-themed games.
Casa Loma Escape Rom cast of King of the Bootleggers
King of the Bootleggers Escape Room | Casa Loma

Comic Book Curiosities

Toronto is home to two legendary comic book stores; Yonge Street’s Silver Snail Comics and College Street’s The Beguiling. Both offer their own unique selection of comics, graphic novels, and manga that first-timers will likely spend hours pouring over. West End Comics is Parkdale’s nerdiest destination while in the east end, Leslieville serves up a double whammy: coffee and comic books under one roof at The Sidekick.
The Beguiling Comic Book Store
The Beguiling comic book store on College Street

Pro Tip

Do not skip a stop at the Toronto Reference Library. The main floor houses Page and Panel, the official Toronto Comic Arts Festival shop, which offers exclusive merchandise you won’t find anywhere else on the planet (or off).  
Page and Panel ,Toronto Comic Arts Festival shop 2
Page and Panel | Toronto Comic Arts Festival shop in the Reference Library

Level Up, Chow Down

Sister spots Get Well (on Dundas West) and Greater Good (on up-and-coming Geary Ave.) both serve up a wide selection of craft beers and made-to-order North of Brooklyn pizzas. And while pizza and beer might be the most perfect combination known to humankind, the main draw at both Get Well and Greater Good is the large selection of classic pinball machines that are free (!!!) to play. If the world of wizarding is your thing, check out the subtly Harry Potter-themed bar, The Lockhart, where chocolate frogs are the star of the snack menu and Campfire Old Fashions feature toasted marshmallow and graham crackers. Church Street’s Storm Crow Manor rounds out this nerdtastic list. The eye-poppingly renovated Victorian mansion pays homage to Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Shining (to name just a few genre movie faves). Wash down your Dracarys Dragon Eggs and Wolverine Poutine with a Butterbeer… if you dare.  
Inside Storm Crow Manor
Storm Crow Manor on Church Street

Are you Game?

Gamers, get ready: your wallet (and thumbs) are about to get a serious workout. A&C Games in Toronto’s Chinatown is a massive store stocked top to bottom with retro video games, controllers, handheld games and imported gamer oddities from the world gaming capital, Japan. Head to the back of the shop for low-tech fantasy card games like Magic: The Gathering. Then walk south on Spadina to AnimeXtreme, a store that takes the gaming obsession even further. Find a rare Pokemon figure, a cute Super Mario Bros. plushy or a couple of Gundam Orphans looking for a good home in this bigger-on-the-inside-looking store (Whovians, that one was for you).
AnimeXtreme on Spadina
AnimeXtreme on Spadina

About the Author

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.


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