Shopping in the Distillery District: Discover Old Town Toronto

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From cobblestone streets to industrial-era buildings, it’s easy to see where Old Town Toronto gets its name. This collection of neighbourhoods in Toronto’s lower east end dates back to the city’s beginnings in the early 19th century.

Once a centre for industry, the area has evolved into a premiere shopping and cultural destination. Highlights in Old Town include the quaint Distillery Historic 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.

St. Lawrence Market

Morning: King Street East and St. Lawrence Market

Home to the largest collection of home décor 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 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 jewellry and clothing handmade by local craftspeople. If you haven’t had breakfast yet be sure to grab a peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery.

Afterward, 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 a 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, cafes and a public park, this area is an ideal spot for a relaxing bite to eat. Enjoy some mussels and frites at Bier Markt, or a pint and traditional Irish fare at Fionn MacCool's.

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’s so many shops to explore here, it’s hard to fit them all into a single afternoon. Admire the selection of sleek contemporary home décor 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. Book a table at Archeo for upscale Italian fare or opt for local craft beer and pub food at Mill Street Brew Pub.

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.