One of Toronto’s most well known neighbourhoods is the Distillery District, a historic area located east of the city’s downtown. This neighbourhood, now known as the Distillery District, was once a distillery facility owned by Canada’s largest distiller, Gooderham and Worts. The facility was closed back in the 90s, purchased by a company in 2001, converted into a pedestrian-orientated area, and finally reopened to the public in 2003. This National Historic Site of Canada has since become a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, for many good reasons. In this post I am going to be guiding you throughout the neighbourhood, filling you in on the best spots to shop, visit, and eat at in Toronto’s Distillery District.
What to See:
Here are some of my favourite things that you must see on a visit to the Distillery District. Fun Fact: The Distillery District is home to the largest collection of Victorian era architecture in North America.
Gooderham & Worts Sign
An iconic marker of the district, the Gooderham & Worts sign is quite hard to miss on a visit to the Distillery District. This sign commemorates the Gooderham & Worts company, which used to “own” the area. This sign is located in the unofficial heart of the neighbourhood, and it is perfect for a tourist photo.
Located down a side street away from the Gooderham & Worts sign is this 12m tall spider sculpture. This sculpture is built out of steel, and it is apparently named “IT”. I found it a bit creepy but it is kind of interesting.
Continuing down the same street, you will find this red heart sculpture. This sculpture is the perfect spot for a photo, with either just yourself or with a loved one. When I visited the Distillery District a couple of years ago during the holiday season, there are a mistletoe hanging from above the sculpture which I thought was really cute!
My personal favourite of all the art pieces I’ve mentioned so far is this Love Locks sign. The idea of this art piece is similar to the one of the famous bridge in Paris (which was unfortunately taken down); to show that your love for someone will stay forever, you write their name on a lock, lock it onto the sign, and throw out the key. Next to the sign is a stand where you can buy a lock, for 10CAD (I believe). This sign is another perfect spot for a photo!
What to Do:
Here are a couple of things I’d recommend doing during your visit to the Distillery District. Fun Fact: Toronto’s well known Gooderham Building (flat iron building) was originally built as an office for the Gooderham & Worts Distillery.
Explore the Shops
As the Distillery District is home to more than 80 shops and boutiques, which sell pretty much everything you could think of, an obvious thing to do while there is to shop! If you’re looking for a cute souvenir to remember your trip by, or a gift for a friend or family member, this is the perfect place to find one. Even if you’re a local not looking for anything “touristy”, there are a ton of regular clothing and decor stores. I know I say to go shopping in almost every one of my neighbourhood guides, but I guess all the neighbourhoods I write about just have great shopping options.
This photo was taken in Got Style.
Practice Your Photography
The Distillery District is one of the most photogenic spots in Toronto (trust me, there are a lot), therefore it’s a great place to take some photos and work on improving your photography skills. There are a lot of obvious things to take a photo of, like some of the things I mentioned in the “What to Do” portion of this post, but sometimes the best photos are taken of unorthodox or irregular things that you wouldn’t think to take a photo of. Above are some of my favourite photos I took in the Distillery District (P.S., We visited in June, AKA Pride Month, so that’s why there are rainbow flags throughout the district)!
Where to Eat:
Here’s a couple of (in my opinion) the best places to eat in the District. Fun Fact: The Distillery District became a popular location for TV and film productions in the 90s, and over 800 things were filmed in the District.
A great place to stop for a treat or a meal is the Distillery District’s Cluny Bistro. This restaurant/café offers a wide selection of food, from dinner, lunch, and dessert options. The food is reasonably priced, and I thought that it was really tasty. Above is the treats my family ordered, including a raspberry gelato, chocolate croissant, and a scone.
Brick Street Bakery is another great place to stop for a small meal or snack, as they serve many sandwich and treat options for a great price. This is also the perfect place to rest after walking around the neighbourhood for a while since as you can see the bakery has great outdoor seats where you can relax and people watch.
That brings us to the end of this post. I really hope you enjoyed my first Toronto post and I hope you’re excited for more! Have you ever visited the Distillery District in Toronto? If not, would you like to? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Thanks for reading!