- Kensington Market: You’ll hear a United Nations' worth of languages and dialects as merchants spread out their market wares. Think squid and crabs in pails; local breads; cheese from around the world; Mexican cooking cactuses and chilies; artisan chocolates; and heaps of great cheap eats. Kensington Avenue itself is a treasure trove of vintage clothing stores. You’ll see a lot of junk here, but the hunt for gems is half the fun. During Pedestrian Sundays, the entire place becomes one big party: drumming bands hold impromptu marches, patios spill out into the streets, buskers entertain with magic and music, while artists add whimsy with installations peppered about the place.
- Queen Street West: This street was once considered the heart of Toronto’s avant-garde scene. That would be a stretch today. Sure, it’s home to several clubs—such as the Rivoli and the Horseshoe—where major Canadian artists and singers have launched their careers, but it’s also where you’ll find mainstream shops such as Aritzia, Gap, and Le Chateau. Edgy? Not anymore, although you’ll still find a number of antiquarian bookstores, junk shops, nostalgic record emporiums, kitchen supply stores, and discount fabric houses.
- West Queen West: The artsy population has relocated farther west along Queen Street. Even Vogue magazine has taken notice, naming the stretch of Queen that begins west of Bathurst one of the coolest strips in the world. Here you’ll find Trinity Bellwoods Park (popular with both hipsters and the preschool set); chic hotels the Drake and the Gladstone; and a bounty of good cafes, small clubs, and restaurants.
- The Beaches: This is one of the neighborhoods that makes Toronto a unique city. Here, near the terminus of the Queen Street East streetcar line, you can stroll or cycle along a lakefront boardwalk. The sandy beaches are popular with volleyball players, families, and sunbathers alike.
- Chinatown: Crammed with shops and loud restaurants, Chinatown has bilingual street signs and red-painted poles topped by dragons. A walk through Chinatown at night is especially exciting—the sidewalks fill with people, and neon lights shimmer everywhere. You’ll pass gleaming noodle houses, windows hung with rows of glossy roasted ducks, trading companies filled with Asian produce, and peddlers selling knock-off Gucci and Dior. Chinatown’s eastern front is also where you’ll find the AGO.
- Yorkville: Since its founding in 1853 as a village outside the city proper, Yorkville has experienced many transformations. It’s going through another right now. In the 1960s, it was Toronto’s answer to Haight-Ashbury. In the 1980s, it became the hunting ground of the chic, who spent liberally at Hermès, Chanel, and Cartier. Today, the area is still a shopper’s paradise, from high-end Holt Renfrew to bargain-basement Winners.
- Roncesvalles: Strolling distance from High Park is Roncesvalles Avenue, a charming boulevard that has everything it needs to be its own, self-contained village: quaint cafes, Polish bakeries, a rep cinema, excellent bars pulling craft beers, live-music venues, and great boutiques selling made-in-Toronto wares.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.