Shopping in Queen West: The Hippest of the Haute

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Named the second coolest neighbourhood in the world (link) by Vogue magazine, the uber-trendy two-kilometre Queen Street strip between Bathurst and Gladstone is home to some of the city’s most cutting edge boutiques among the art galleries and hip bars and restaurants. Shoppers can be sure that the street style around these parts will be as intriguing as what’s in the stores. Here’s a sample itinerary for a day of shopping and exploring in the Queen West neighbourhood.

Morning: Queen & Spadina to Bathurst

Start your morning at Queen and Spadina to breeze through the tried-and-true chain retailers that are clustered around the intersection such as H&M, Le Chateau and Guess. Continue west past the bead and textile shops that line Queen until Bathurst Street, where the Queen West neighbourhood gets a little more eclectic.

Here, upscale interior design shops and clothing boutiques grow higher in number. Stop into Crate & Barrel’s sister store CB2 and Urban Barn, and don’t miss chic boutiques Champagne and Cupcakes and Fashion Crimes for fabulous women’s gowns and formalwear.

Pass Trinity Bellwoods Park and drop by the cozy Oyster Boy Bar and Restaurant for oysters and a Caesar. Don’t do oysters? Head next door to Fresh instead, one of Toronto’s leading modern vegetarian restaurants.

Afternoon: Queen & Ossington strip and West Queen West

For a little break from shopping, pop into one of the many galleries in the area such as Stephen Bulger or Twist. Or head north up Ossington Avenue and discover the hottest strip for vintage and consignment clothing stores. Shops like I Miss You and Vintage 1 offer a hand-selected mix of merchandise ranging from the 50’s to the present day.

Don’t leave the strip without a turnabout at the back alley that runs between Queen and Humbert Street. Here, the local art community has sprayed dozens of garage doors with vibrant murals. Grab an Americano from self-proclaimed coffee snobs Ideal Coffee and stroll back down the other side to continue west on Queen. Pop into the many niche accessory shops until you reach the Drake General Store, where Canadiana-themed curiosities range from backpacker’s cologne to DIY moonshine manuals.

Evening: Pub Fare and Patio Crawl

After dark, Queen West’s nightclubs and bars come to life. Pull up a seat at the Beaconsfield Pub’s sidewalk patio and relax as you watch the evening unfold over tequila cocktails and refined comfort food. Head further west for your next round at The Cadillac Lounge, a longstanding rockabilly-themed mainstay on the strip with a spacious back patio, pool tables and live music most nights of the week.

After a day of rack rummaging and people watching, indulge in some well-deserved rest and relaxation at one of Toronto’s downtown luxury hotels. Rest in style at the Shangri-La, where you can enjoy the striking cityscape from your spacious suite. Or retire at the Sheraton Centre across the street instead. You’ll wake up in the heart of downtown, ready to explore a new neighborhood with a brand new outfit.