Immerse yourself in Toronto’s buzziest street, where you can eat, shop, ice-skate, sightsee and more!
Downtown Yonge Street may be Toronto’s most famous street. The section of Yonge that runs north-south from Bloor Street down to the waterfront is an energetic and eclectic stretch that contains retail, restaurants and so much more.
To get the full Yonge Street experience, plan out your day in the heart of the city. Here’s how to spend the morning, afternoon and evening exploring Toronto’s trademark downtown thoroughfare.
Break your fast at these diners
By now, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Luckily, downtown Yonge Street has breakfast spots to satisfy every craving.
To get your day started, visit one of downtown’s most iconic diners, Fran’s Restaurant and Bar. Whether you’re looking for a fresh fruit bowl or a big stack of pancakes with home fries and eggs, Fran’s has got you covered.
If you want to eat on the go, stop at sammie-centric Egg Bae for fluffy, made-from-scratch gourmet breakfast sandwiches.
Or try breakfast with an Asian twist at Hong Kong-style bakery and café Bake Island, where you can pair freshly baked pastries with sea salt cheese coffee or honey-lemon black tea.
Winter fun all day long
Now that you’re fueled up and caffeinated, get set for some classic outdoor winter fun.
Grab your family, friends or significant other for ice skating at College Park’s Barbara Ann Scott Ice Trail. This scenic 5-m (16 ft) wide trail is oval and relaxed (no pickup hockey games to throw off your groove!), with a beautiful backdrop of urban landscaping and architecture. You’ll need to bring your own ice skates, but if you travelled light, no worries: just head south to Nathan Phillips Square for an exciting outdoor rink with on-site skate rentals.
After working up a sweat from all that skating, take a leisurely stroll along Yonge Street to observe the area’s period architecture. It’s there tucked above and behind the store signs, from elegant mid-19th-century Italianate and stately circa-1870 Renaissance Revival buildings to 20th-century Art Moderne, brutalist and International Style commercial buildings. (This City of Toronto guide is a detailed primer for architecture hounds.)
Heat up with some delicious lunch
Nothing works up an appetite like ice skating and sightseeing. Fortunately, Yonge Street offers many options where you can warm up with a piping hot lunch.
Edward Street is home to GB Hand-Pulled Noodles, a snug Chinese eatery specializing in beef soup with house-made noodles. Thick-cut noodles smothered in steaming broth and topped with thinly sliced meat, fresh cilantro and green onions will surely hit the spot.
Still hungry? Swing by Monga Fried Chicken, a Taiwanese-style fried chicken joint. Chow down on one of their many signature crispy fried chicken options (i.e., The King or Chee-Z) and quench your thirst with a fresh pineapple green tea juice or creamy brown sugar bubble milk tea.
Spice seekers should hit up Colaba Junction on nearby Bay Street for Indian street food and classic curries in a relaxed, contemporary setting. Try their Chowpatty Bhel, a medley of flour crisps, puffed rice, crunchy noodles, chickpeas, potatoes and onions tossed in a tamarind chutney with a hint of lime — the menu is inspired by the Iranian bistros in the Colaba district of Mumbai.
Shop till you drop
Once you’ve eaten your weight in food, burn it off by power walking — or in this case power shopping — at CF Toronto Eaton Centre. This indoor mall features 230+ shops and restaurants, including Nike, Apple, Canada Goose and more. Bookending the mall at Queen and Dundas streets are department stores Hudson’s Bay and Nordstrom, respectively.
If that’s not enough shopping for you, head back out onto Yonge Street, where you’ll find chains like Adidas and Urban Outfitters, as well as unique indie stores specializing in clothing, books, army surplus and more. If you’re a beauty and skincare lover, don’t miss K-beauty spots like M Brand Shop, Lamour DT and Cosmetic World.
Wine and dine into the night
As night falls, snap some blue-hour shots of Yonge-Dundas Square, then settle down to dinner.
Hankering for an old-school steak house? Try the wedge salad with buttermilk blue cheese dressing and 32-oz porterhouse at the iconic Barberian’s Steak House. The Toronto institution boasts a 15,000-bottle wine cellar and a renowned Canadian art collection.
In more of a seafood mood? Adega Restaurante sources fresh fish from Portugal’s Azores islands as well as Canadian Maritime lobster, Norwegian cod, Thai tiger shrimp and more. Turf lovers will find many options, too, including roasted free-range chicken breast with piri piri sauce, or grilled Black Angus strip loin in a cognac peppercorn sauce.
End your night at 3 Brewers, a Quebec-based craft brewery chain (where it is known as 3 Brasseurs) offering beer and casual pub eats. Toast the day with a pint of the Brewer’s Tap, which is developed and brewed on-site and is exclusive to each microbrewery location.
Getting to Downtown Yonge:
Take the Line 1 Yonge-University subway to Bloor-Yonge, Wellesley, College or Dundas subway stations.