The quaint, sometimes junky shops of Yonge Street deal in touristy trinkets, antiques, and local book chains like Book City, while Kensington Market is all vintage racks, most of them loaded down with clothing. Top labels like Gucci and Chanel line Mink Mile along Bloor Street West, which borders tony Yorkville where luxe boutiques reign. Downtown West leads to locally designed and generally hip finds like Muttonhead (unisex wear, nothing to do with shepherding), Lilliput Hats on College Street, and Anice Jewllery on Ossington. An emerging design area along King Street East, in the heart of the historic Corktown neighborhood, promises dazzling showrooms featuring the latest in top brands. The city is also dense with ethnic pockets offering culinary delicacies and other delights, from Little India in the east to Koreatown in the West, Little Italy(s) north and south, and multiple Chinatowns to explore, as well as many more to suit your tastes.
Chinatown—The city’s original Chinatown (there are six and counting) is in the heart of the city, steps away from Kensington Market and other shopping destinations. It is well worth a visit: You can peruse bins of touristy junk such as cheapo plastic toys and jewelry, or search out fine rosewood furniture, exquisite ceramics, homeopathic herbs, and a bounty of exotic foodstuffs. But don’t try driving here: This is traffic purgatory and best navigated on foot.
Eaton Centre—A downtown mall is a bit of an oddity, but this is one popular destination. Toronto’s most famous shopping arcade has more than 200 international chain stores spread over four levels. Think: Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, Abercrombie & Fitch, and the Gap, plus two department stores, the Bay and Nordstrom, at either end of the block-long mall. The Eaton Centre is convenient, yet generally boring.
Kensington—Between the charming cafes and cheesemongers are a half-dozen or more thrift stores. Rebelling teens love the army-surplus stores for clunky boots and camo gear. Fashionistas prefer to thrift through vintage shops. Exile has great prices, but demands sifting through piles, while King of Kensington, Courage My Love, and Flash Back have top-tier threads ranging from ’40s ball gowns to ’80s acid wash cutoffs.
The Junction—It’s a bit of a trek to get to this west-end neighborhood, but it’s worth the 5-minute bus ride from Dundas West station. This is where restaurateurs come when they want to decorate Toronto’s next top eatery. This is where Diane Keaton comes to antique when visiting Toronto. This is where you’ll find everything from oddities (boar skulls at Latre) and high-end Japanese design (Mjolk) to art supplies (Articulations) and Fair Trade chocolate (Delight). The Junction went dormant for nearly 100 years of Prohibition—the booze ban was lifted in 2001—as a result, many of the turn-of-the-20th-century window displays remain intact. It makes for a charming window-shopping experience.
St. Lawrence Market—This market is a local favorite for fresh produce, and it even draws people who live a good distance away. The peameal bacon sandwiches are famous, but there’s far more here than just food. There are Baltic amber traders, stalls dedicated to kitchen gadgets, and even pashmina purveyors and vendors who deal exclusively in kitschy souvenirs.
Queen Street West—Queen Street West, between University Avenue and Bathurst Street, once the hip destination, is still a stomping ground for fashionistas in need of a fix. There’s a mix of stores like the Gap and neighboring Canadian-based Le Chateau for budget fashions, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Kiehl’s (originally of New York), and some fine local designer fare such as Hayley Elsaesser (just the kind of boutique Dali would adore: psychedelic prints, melting sunglasses, neon walls).
The Underground City—Subterranean Toronto is a hive of shopping activity for the multitudes working in the Financial District. While you won’t find many shops down here that don’t have an aboveground location, the Underground City is a popular retreat for winter’s coldest days and for summer heat waves, and it’s convenient for those who have little time to explore beyond the neighborhood.
West Queen West—Queen Street West cool cred has shifted west of Bathurst. This is where you’ll find a concentration of fashion talent, art galleries, and some of the best new restaurants. While you’re at it, walk north (along Ossington) to the next major street, Dundas Street West, which is on the avant-garde of all fronts, from fashion to food.
The Mink Mile—This strip of pricey Bloor Street real estate is bordered by Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west. It’s where most of the top international names in fashion set up shop. If you’re in the mood to see what Karl Lagerfeld is designing or to pick up a glittering bauble from Cartier or Tiffany, this is your hunting ground.
Yorkville—One of Toronto’s best-known—and most expensive—shopping neighborhoods, this is where you’ll find art galleries of note like LUMAS, designer boutiques, major outlets such as Anthropologie and Whole Foods Market, and boutiques such as the Papery for curated stationery.
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.