Here’s the beaten path: Eaton Centre, Chinatown, Yorkville, Kensington Market, Queen West. If you’ve been shopping in Toronto, that’s where you’ve been.
Ready for something different? Here you go.
You’ve probably passed right by Evergreen Brickworks plenty of times driving into Toronto and never thought to stop. Right by the Don Valley Parkway (and accessible via shuttle from Broadview Station), the Brickworks is an eco-friendly home to bike shops, a pottery collective, a cidery, and very busy farmer’s market. Make sure you check out their events listings too—they’re pretty busy in the summer.
2. Mirvish Village
Once set to be demolished and turned into a parking lot for Honest Ed’s, this little side street has become an artsy hidden gem near the Annex. It’s an eclectic mix—visit a gallery, a movie memorabilia store, boutique clothing shops, design studios, comics stores, a horror genre shop, and so much more. Then you can hang out on Victory Café’s enormous patio, or eat delicious Cajun food at Southern Accent.
Leslieville is the next Queen West. Or it’s already Queen West. The point is, back around 2001, Leslieville was all run down houses and drug addicts. Then the forces of gentrification, spearheaded by artsy types, gays, and young couples moved in, renovated houses, and now Leslieville is a bastion of million dollar homes surrounded by excellent dining, boutique clothing stores, and, by our count, at least ten antique shops. And not the sad kind, either.
4. Little Italy
By night, Little Italy has sort of a club vibe. But by day, College Street between Bathurst and Ossington is rich with small clothing stores, a custom hat shop, home design, shoe stores, and of course, Vespas. Of course, you can take a break at one of the many delicious restaurants along the way—or just stop for gelato.
5. Pacific Mall
Normally we hate malls, but we’ll give the largest Chinese indoor mall in North America a pass, largely because it isn’t like all the other malls in the GTA. It boasts over five hundred shops and can be a trifle over-stimulating. From the practical to the unusual, Pacific Mall has pretty much everything, including Japanese candy, unique electronics, and every cell phone accessory imaginable. On the downside, you should bring cash. On the upside: you can haggle.