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Your guide to Toronto’s historic Distillery district

Toronto Distillery District

Your guide to Toronto’s historic Distillery district

Toronto is famed for its colorful, lively neighbourhoods. Perhaps the best known is the pedestrian-only Distillery Historic DistrictExternal Link Title east of downtown, with some of the best-preserved 1800s-era industrial architecture in North America. It's a national historic siteExternal Link Title and you'll see why: the area showcases the handsomely refurbished 1830s Gooderham and Worts Distillery, once the world's largest whiskey producer.


You'll find stately Victorians, chic converted warehouses, high-ceiling lofts, and brick-paved streets with tons of character -- a hive of creativity now housing anything from farm-to-table caf?s to boho boutiques. Trinity Street is the de facto public square for outdoor markets and such. Yes, it's touristy, but you'll love the bustle, the vibe, and stumbling on the latest emerging trends. All you need is a little intel on how to best navigate The Distillery.


While you're at it, leave time to get to know Toronto's other distinctive 'hoods. Here's our insider's must-sees and dos for The Distillery.

Take in the sights

With 13 acres dedicated solely to arts, culture, and entertainment, you'll want to take full advantage. Walk the pathways and people-watch or join a tour: walkingExternal Link Title or beerExternal Link Title. There are 22 galleries, plus design and furniture showcases. Browse Sport GalleryExternal Link Title, high-end lighting at ArtemideExternal Link Title, and the sprawling Corkin GalleryExternal Link Title, one of the city's most interesting. Case Goods Warehouse is an entire building filled with open-to-the-public artist studios and workshops, including crafts, artisans, and jewellersExternal Link Title. Take your time.

Indulge in a little retail therapy

The Distillery houses 25 cr?me de la cr?me shops. For the stylish gent there's Gentil UomoExternal Link Title with the latest Milano menswear. Hit Hoi BoExternal Link Title for artsy garments, bags, and bangles, and Tank Jewelry and BeadsExternal Link Title for jewellery and accessories from celebrity stylist Annie Jagger. Get your funky shoes custom-coloured in the industrial space of John FluevogExternal Link Title, the Canadian footwear design legend, and try something entirely new with a scented candle making workshop at Yummi CandlesExternal Link Title.

Watch, listen, celebrate

What to see? That's the question. There are 17 performing arts companies staging live performancesExternal Link Title all the time. Check the calendarExternal Link Title because year-round plays, events, and concerts are far too many to detail. But standouts are ongoing craft shows, December's Christmas MarketExternal Link Title, the LuminatoExternal Link Title cultural celebration, CONTACT photography festExternal Link Title, and the meticulously curated weekly seasonal Sunday marketExternal Link Title with 100% locally sourced edibles, organics, unusual textiles, hand-spun originals... you get the picture.

Feed your appetite

It's hard to know what not to eat here. There's crystalized ginger dipped in Peruvian chocolate at SOMA ChocolatemakerExternal Link Title distillery and lab and decadent desserts from Cacao 70External Link Title. Dig into fresh oysters and seafood flown in daily at Pure Spirits Oyster Bar & GrillExternal Link Title, pick up all-natural breads, sandwiches, and pastry creations at charming Brick Street BakeryExternal Link Title, and eat sushi at authentically Japanese BokuExternal Link Title. Check out floor-to-ceiling murals while biting into artisan tacos at high-energy El Catrin External Link Title-- the patio alone is 5,000 square feet. Cluny BistroExternal Link Title is known for authentic modern French for good value. Go early to graze at world-famed St. Lawrence Market ComplexExternal Link Title, a permanent bazaar of fine imports and locavore everything -- pristine produce, meat, fish, caviar, and other essentials -- in the former vintage City Hall space. Rest assured: you won't go hungry.

Enjoy some liquid refreshments

First things first: coffee. Go refined at sumptuously Parisian Balzac's Coffee RoastersExternal Link Title or modern Roma at Arvo CoffeeExternal Link Title with perfetto cuppas to match. Favourite watering hole -- and patio -- Mill Street Brew PubExternal Link Title serves 16 made-onsite craft beers on tap -- try the signature trio: Tank House Ale, Organic, and Wit -- and elevated pub fare a la linguine a la bison Bolognese. Explore Japanese spirits at the hands of a master sake makerExternal Link Title or toast Communist glory days at Pravda Vodka BarExternal Link Title.

Explore your surroundings

Look for one of many playful sculpturesExternal Link Title throughout The Distillery, find a seat and appreciate art -- over a wild apple-hibiscus jelly-rum truffle, of course. There's also a sculpture park near Distillery Lane ideal for contemplation and conversation. Stroll the 18 acres of trails in the emerging waterfront park next to West Don Lands. Or, take up residence at a Euro-style sidewalk caf?. Catch some live music, watch buskers, and relax -- after all that entertainment, you'll need the R&R.


But remember: the Distillery is just one of many neighbourhoods in Canada's biggest city. Make time for everything else: attractionsExternal Link Title, shopping, festivalsExternal Link Titledining and more.