Shopping in Distillery District Toronto
Check out our sample itinerary for a day of exploring and shopping in the Design and Distillery Districts of Old Town Toronto.
From cobblestone streets to industrial-era buildings, it’s easy to see where Old Town Toronto gets its name when you’re in the Distillery Historic District. This collection of neighbourhoods in Toronto’s lower east end dates back to the city’s beginnings in the early 19th century.
Places to eat in or near Distillery District
From bustling market stalls to quiet, tucked-away spaces, you can find it all (and give yourself a break from your shopping sprints).
If you haven’t had breakfast when you head over to start shopping, be sure to grab a peameal bacon sandwich (a local invention) at Carousel Bakery. There are also bagels, pastries and other delish bites and sips there, as well.
Book a table at Archeo for upscale Italian fare leaning heavily on seasonally selected local ingredients. It also features an extensive boutique wine list.
Enjoy some mussels and frites at Bier Markt, where you can choose from 150+ biers (aka beers) from around the world.
Take down a pint and traditional Irish fare at Fionn MacCool's. You can sometimes catch live entertainment here, but you can always count on a friendly atmosphere.
Distillery District in a day
Once a centre for industry, the area has evolved into a premiere shopping and cultural destination. Highlights in Old Town include the quaint Distillery District, the bustling St. Lawrence Market and the King Street Design District. Explore them all with this sample itinerary for a day spent shopping, exploring and noshing in one of Toronto’s most unique areas.
Morning: King Street East and St. Lawrence Market
Home to the largest collection of home decor and design stores in Toronto, the stretch of King Street East between Church Street and Parliament Street is a budding interior designer’s dream and the perfect spot to begin your day of shopping in Old Town Toronto.
Starting at King subway station, head east past Church Street. Admire the exhibit at the Toronto Sculpture Garden—a testing ground for innovative contemporary sculpture installations. Take a quick detour south through Market Lane Park to St. Lawrence Market. Home to over 120 vendors, merchants and artisans, the Market is a Toronto landmark that has been around for over 200 years. Among the vast selection of edible delights like deli meats, cheeses and baked goods, you will also find treasures like jewellery and clothing handmade by local craftspeople.
Head back up to King Street to continue your exploration of the Design District. Must-stop spots include Calligaris, EQ3, Design Within Reach and Urban Barn. Browse for home design inspiration, or place an order for delivery if you spot that need-to-have item.
Afternoon: Distillery District
For lunch, take a leisurely stroll down to Market Street and The Esplanade. Lined with restaurants, cafés and a public park, this area is an ideal spot for a relaxing bite to eat. It’s a short walk from The Esplanade to the Distillery District. This popular tourist attraction was once home to the famous Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Today, it’s a pedestrian-only area containing over 70 of Toronto’s hottest designer boutiques, artisan shops, restaurants and art galleries. The restored red-brick Victorian-era buildings and cobblestone streets will make you feel like you’re in an old European town as you stroll among inviting patios and store-fronts.
There are so many shops to explore here, it’s hard to fit them all into a single afternoon. Admire the selection of sleek contemporary home decor and accessories at Bergo Designs. For the latest men’s and women’s fashion, head to GOTSTYLE, Blossom Lounge or Lileo. Distill is a great spot for unique gift items like handmade clothing and ceramics, while Corktown Designs specializes in one-of-a-kind jewellery.
In between shops, immerse yourself in the Distillery District’s numerous art galleries, featuring breathtaking pieces by some of Canada’s most esteemed artists. Then satisfy your sweet tooth with gourmet chocolate from SOMA.
Evening: dinner and a show
When evening falls, the Distillery District buzzes with the chatter and laughter of the bar-and-restaurant crowd.
Wrap up your day in the Distillery District with a first-rate production from Soulpepper Theatre Company at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts before heading back to your hotel to unload your haul and get some much-needed rest.
Fun facts about Distillery District
- There’s a history of ghost sightings and unusual activity in the District, reported by tourists, locals and those who work in the neighbourhood
- It’s known as the Hollywood North because more than 1,700 movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos were filmed here
How to get to the Distillery District
By streetcar/TTC: From Union Station, take the subway to King station on the Yonge-University line. Walk or take the 504 King streetcar a few blocks east to Parliament. Walk 2 blocks south on Parliament to Mill St.
By foot: The walk from Union Station is about 20 minutes along Front Street
By car: Take the exit for Jarvis Street on Gardiner Expressway and follow the signs for the Distillery District