The Distillery Historic District
“Visit the Distillery and come out ten pounds heavier; great place for a late-afternoon wander.”—Joanna Track, founder, sweetspot.ca lifestyle guide. Pedestrian-only village features the largest collection of Victorian industrial architecture in North America; quaint brick-lined streets, art galleries, artist studios, cafés, and restaurants. www.thedistillerydistrict.com
“Worth the price of admission alone: the jaunty, tragicomic Meissen Harlequins.”—Alec Scott, arts columnist, Toronto Life magazine. Intimate, jewel-box ceramics museum in the tradition of New York’s Neue and Paris’s Rodin Museum; lunch at on-site restaurant JK at the Gardiner is a similarly artful affair. 111 Queen’s Park; tel. +1 416 586 8080. www.gardinermuseum.on.ca
“One of the most charming strips in town.”—Nathalie Atkinson, style and culture columnist, National Post. Midtown neighborhood named for late discount-store owner and theatre impresario “Honest Ed” Mirvish (whose family owns all the real estate on the block). Hodgepodge of art studios, galleries, bookstores, florists, and cafés, all in pretty (often dilapidated) Victorian semis. Markham Street between Bloor and Lennox Streets.
“Wander through the market and eat like a king.”—Chris Nuttall-Smith, former food editor, Toronto Life magazine. Scruffy warren of streets filled with vintage clothing shops, cafés, and fruit stalls; the city’s longtime bohemian centerpiece. Try Salvadorian, Mexican, Peruvian, French, and organic cuisine. Located west of downtown; bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas, Bathurst, and College Streets. www.kensington-market.ca
Queen Street West
Former seamy drag (known to locals as Queen West West) is now the city’s hippest boulevard; clothing shops, art galleries, cafés, bakeries, bistros, bars, and bookshops. Spend an afternoon exploring the neighborhood; walk west from Bathurst Street to Gladstone Avenue.
The R.C. Harris Filtration Plant
“More suited to a scene in The Last Tycoon than to mundane functions like water processing.”—Nathalie Atkinson, style and culture columnist, National Post. Extravagant, 1930s art deco building nicknamed the Palace of Purification; marble floors. Featured in cult Canadian classic film Strange Brew and in Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion. Grounds are open to the public; free plant tours on Saturdays. 2701 Queen Street E; tel. +1 416 392 2934.
Royal Ontario Museum
The razor-edged glassy Daniel Libeskind addition (one of the world’s largest restoration and expansion museum projects) has been equally maligned and praised for its daring. More than six million artifacts in an array of light-filled galleries; kids can dig for dinosaur bones in the popular Discovery Gallery. 100 Queen’s Park; tel. +1 416 586 8000. www.rom.on.ca
“Pack a picnic and a blanket and behold the city from the other side.”—Joanna Track. Hair-tousling ferry ride chariots visitors to the city’s eight islands offering 568 acres (230 hectares) of bike-and-stroll–happy parkland. Ward’s Island is the prettiest: with pedestrian-only streets, precious cottages, and a neo-hippie vibe. Call for ferry schedule. Tel. +1 416 392 8193; fee for ferry. www.toronto.ca/parks/island/
The city’s redoubtable pocket of posh, Bloor-Yorkville (like so many of its denizens) has enjoyed a recent facelift; new luxury hotels (The Hazelton), more than 100 salons and spas, and a collection of jewel-box boutiques (Finn, Zola Shoes, George C., Augustina) attract the well-heeled and their platinum cards. www.bloor-yorkville.com