Toronto is such a dynamic, fast-growing city that even residents have a hard time keeping up. For visitors, this means you’re in for an extra special treat with endless shopping, restaurants, bars and attractions to pack your days. Even if you’ve been here before, Toronto is transforming so rapidly that you’ll discover new experiences around every corner.
The energy, excitement and buzz of Toronto is infectious—from the vibe on the street to hopping bars and restaurants to vibrant shops, galleries and museums.
Some neighbourhoods are especially hot. We’ve put together an insider’s guide to a few happening areas of the city where you can find the hard-to-find in chic shops and kick back in trendy restaurants and lounges. Plus, Fall is prime time to visit — crowds are smaller, leaves burst with colour and temps are walking-around comfortable.
Queen West/West End
Despite ever-present fears that gentrification would kill its cool, Queen West (you don’t say street) has retained the creative cachet that has caused publications from Vogue to the New York Times to gush. Queen West and nearby areas offer a variety of stores, bars and boutiques just waiting for you to explore on your strolls!
Did you know? Artists seeking cheap rents first began reclaiming Queen West from urban decay some 40 years ago.
Make sure to visit these top shops during your travels, all located in West Queen West, between Bathurst Street and Gladstone Avenue.
Toronto’s Art and Design District and nearby haunts also offers plenty of great spots to see and be seen while enjoying a designer cocktail, craft beer or a foodie delight. Check these out:
- Bar Buca – King St. W.
- Duke of Richmond – Queen St. W.
- Smoke’s Poutinerie – Queen St. W.
- Bisha Hotel Lobby Bar & Rooftop restaurant (Kost) – King St. W. area
- Ricarda’s – Queen St. W. area
- The Drake – West Queen St. W.
Not long ago, Ossington station was a sleepy, under-used subway stop. Now, the twenty- and thirty-somethings who pack its platform are a testament to how much this area has taken off. Ossington Avenue intersects with established Toronto destination Little Italy as a hotspot for shopping, restaurants and bars—with heavy influences from the area’s rich Italian and Portuguese heritages.
Pro tip: Little Italy is much more of a rich, multicultural blend than its name suggests, incorporating Vietnamese and Spanish influences among others. Many Italian families moved north to the Corso Italia along St. Clair Avenue.
Walking the Little Italy strip in the evening is the time to strut your stuff. So before dinner why not do a bit of shopping to take your wardrobe to the next level—you might even discover some great finds for your home! Check out:
- Shop Fitzroy – Ossington
- Bite Beauty Lab – Little Italy
- V de V – Ossington
- Peace Collective – Ossington
Little Italy and Ossington are at the epicentre of Toronto café culture. The many lounges, restaurants and bars offer a dizzying array of delicious distractions while you relax, enjoy great conversation, and watch the world go by. These spots should be high on your list in Little Italy:
Along Ossington, here are some good spots to keep an eye out for:
- La Banane – Ossington
- Soos – Ossington
- Reposado – Ossington
- Böhmer – Ossington
- Dakota Tavern – Ossington
- Boralia – Ossington
Now is quite possibly the BEST time to visit, whether you come with friends for a concert or show or bring the whole family! Click here to see what’s happening in Toronto this fall.