Shopping on King Street East
As the longtime commercial centre of the city of Toronto, King Street East is home to some of the city’s most iconic and diverse shops, restaurants, parks and art displays.
With the likes of St. Lawrence Market and the Albany Club, this historic area of the city is a great place to get a taste of Toronto’s rich and vibrant past, present and future.
Things to buy on King Street East
As with the street’s slew of eateries, there are hordes of shops on King Street East to pop into on a whim. Don’t miss the Galerie Beauchamp, a free art gallery that sells beautiful Toronto-themed prints and art-inspired wares. Next door, Wine Rack has an extensive selection of special wines to commemorate your trip to Toronto. Make sure to ask the friendly staff for advice if you aren’t sure which vino you’ll fall in love with.
One theme of the shops on King Street East is high-end furniture and design. You’ll never run out of swanky designs to peruse and daydream about—or walk into shops like Calligaris or Kiosk Design and ask the staff for help decorating your space. At D&E Lake Limited, peruse a large selection of rare books. This unique and literally one-of-a-kind collection is a great place to find an old copy of your favourite book or select a special Toronto souvenir.
For enjoyers of cannabis, Tokyo Smoke’s King Street East location has a wide selection of strains to try. Staff will help you find what you want—or it’s fun to just look around and marvel at Canada’s cannabis retail industry.
Places to eat on King Street East
With tons of places to choose from, the best way to find a bite on King Street is to simply walk around and pop into whatever piques your fancy—but here are some Toronto favourites.
For beer lovers, this restaurant’s long draught list and warm atmosphere are the perfect reasons to try a pint. The menu is even tilted toward cooking with beer! It’s located at King and Victoria, just across from Topcuts.
Bluestone Lane Downtown Coffee Shop
This women-led coffee shop is the perfect place to grab a cup of joe on your stroll downtown. With plenty of cosy places to sit with a book, as well as quick service and delicious coffee, it’s a King Street shopping day staple.
After lunch or dinner, save room for the fares from this delicious and intentional bakery. Traditional recipes are innovated into beautiful, creative pastries and crepes to go with your fresh tea or coffee from this cosy spot.
Grab a little lunch at this Belgian-Canadian restaurant with food made from seasonal ingredients. If the brick walls aren’t enough to warm your soul, try the Belgian waffles. This one is located by the intersection of King and George.
Things to see on King Street East
Located right in Toronto’s downtown, King Street East is a sight to see in its own right. It’s also home to tons of what Toronto is known for worldwide—street art, architecture, shopping and multicultural food.
For example, the Caravanserais installation, located across from the Aveda Institute by St. James Park, is a beautiful piece of artwork where visitors can sit and watch the street life. Choose your seat and watch the world go by on this busy Toronto street. The park is an impressive site, too, with flower gardens, a playground and a fountain to enjoy some time outside. The park backs up to King Street East, making it easily accessible from the road. Also near St. James Park is the beautiful Cathedral Church of St. James, which was built in 1853. The gothic revival cathedral is home to a functioning church as well as an events centre.
St. Lawrence Hall is another iconic and historic building located just off of King Street East—and the home of farmers’ markets, shopping, events and community gatherings. The building itself has beautiful architecture and vintage interiors and is well worth a visit. Further down King Street East, visitors with kids should stop at the children’s favourite playground, Sackville Playground, by Adelaide Street East. Several slides and jungle gyms will keep the kids happy after a day of shopping.
Fun facts about King Street
- King Street is one of Toronto’s first streets planned out in the 1793 mapping out of the city’s layout
- When King Street was constructed, the city of Toronto was called York. It became Toronto in 1834
- King Street became one of Toronto’s first commercial centres after the construction of Market Square and St. Lawrence Market in the early 1800s
- King Street was extended to its current length in 1901
- The first office block in the city of Toronto was located on King Street
- The 1849 Great Fire destroyed much of the commercial centre located on King Street, including St. Lawrence Market
How to get to King Street East
With bus and subway stops all along the road, getting to King Street East is no problem no matter where you start.
By bus: The 75 bus offers service from the northern areas of Toronto to several stops along King Street East.
By car: From the Gardiner Expressway, get off at any downtown exit and head North toward Old Toronto. King Street East stretches from downtown to the Don River.
By streetcar: The 304, 503, 504A, 504B and 504S streetcars travel along King Street East.
By bike: Bike share docking stations are located along King Street East. Tourists unaccustomed to biking in Toronto should approach a cycle trip through the city with care.