1. The Distillery District: This historic area of Toronto used to be The Gooderham and Worts Distillery. There are lots of shops and restaurants located in beautiful Victorian Industrial buildings. This is a great place to catch a festival, take photos, go shopping for specialty items (sake, olive oil or chocolate, anyone?), see some art in the galleries and of course, drink!
Soma Chocolatiers: Very inventive chocolate. Try the spicy Mayan hot chocolate in the winter!
Greg’s Ice Cream: The best ice cream! Flavours change often.
Balzac’s Coffee: Beautiful two level coffee shop with fresh baked goods.
Brick Street Bakery: Cheese twists to die for! For serious.
Getting there: From King or St. Andrew subway station, take the 504 King Streetcar and get off at Parliament.
2. Kensington Market
Where can you grab a Mexican churro, fresh fish, cheese and vintage clothing? Kensington Market, of course. Half outdoor market and half thrift store, this unique area of Toronto is stuffed with tiny mom and pop shops, fish mongers, butchers and Mexican treats. Back in the day this used to be a predominately Jewish area. Now, it’s home to hippies and artists and a great place to people watch. In the summer, cars are not allowed and Pedestrian Sunday takes over.
Courage my Love Great for vintage finds, jewelery, post cards, beads, leather string…any and everything.
Pancho’s Bakery: Mmm. Really good churros. Get them plain or filled with chocolate!
Nu Bugels: The best bagels outside of Montreal. Buy them…you won’t regret it!
4. Queen Street West
Queen West is where all the cool kids hang out. It used to be that anything below Queen & Spadina was a great area for shopping and finding edgy, unique clothing. Although some stores can still be found there, most have moved west. Head here to visit galleries, hang out in Trinity Bellwoods Park and go shopping.
Fashion Crimes for super fancy, funky dresses and tights.
The Ten Spot for a manicure that will last for days.
The Magic Pony to check out what show they have in their gallery, and to pick up one of a kind jewelry, vinyl toys, notebooks and more.
Arepa Cafe: for freshVenezuela cornmeal sandwiches filled with your favourite toppings. I recommend the Curvy Chick.
Nadege Patisserie for some of the best macaroons and madelines you will ever have. They come in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate!
Gladstone Hotel & Drake Hotel. Great places to stay and hang out with artsy types. The Gladstone always has new shows on it’s second floor gallery (I had an installation here!), and the Drake has a rooftop patio.
This charming east end neighbourhood has become a foodie destination. Lots of specialty shops have popped up here, including Paulette’s Donuts and Chicken, Rasher’s and the Leslieville Cheese Market to name a few. This area is also home to a year-round artisan market called Arts Market. Here you’ll find handmade accessories, jewelry and art.
Bobette and Belle: This fab bakery makes delightful cakes, whoopie pies and cupcakes. They also make their own marshmallows!
Le Matin Bakery: The best baguette in the city. Really.
Tango Palace: My favourite coffee shop. Yummy naan sandwiches and orange chocolate tea lattes. Mmm.
6. The Beaches
The Beaches are located in the east end of the city, and it’s a popular area for families and yuppies. (really).
Queen Street East has tons of tiny shops and bakeries. Each summer they have a famous Jazz festival. Hang out on the beach (Kew Beach) and catch some fireworks during the summer holidays.
The Pie Shack: Pie, pie and more pie! You can enjoy both savoury or sweet pies here.
The Remarkable Bean: Good coffee and delicious savory muffins.
Ed’s Real Scoop Ice Cream: Home made ice cream available in an array of delicious flavours! You can get as many flavours as you want in one cone. (within reason!)