You’ve heard about The Distillery District in Toronto and want to check it out for yourself. This historic neighborhood is located just east of downtown Toronto, a quick streetcar ride away. Once there, you’ll feel instantly transported to the Victorian era as you explore the pedestrian-only cobblestone streets lined with preserved warehouses, factories and other industrial buildings from the 1800s.
There’s so much to experience in this 13-acre district. Shop for unique handcrafted goods at the boutiques, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants featuring patio dining in the summer, or catch an outdoor festival, art exhibit or concert. The Distillery District is a living time capsule where the old world charm of the buildings blends seamlessly with modern amenities. As a local, I highly recommend spending an afternoon getting lost wandering the lanes, soaking in the atmosphere and history. You’ll soon discover why this national historic site is one of Toronto’s top attractions.
Where Is the Distillery District Located in Toronto?
The Distillery District is located in downtown Toronto, just east of Yonge Street. This historic neighborhood is a great place to spend a day exploring.
What to Do
Once an abandoned distillery, this district is now filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Start your visit at the Distillery District Visitor Center to pick up a map and learn about the area’s history. Then check out the Victorian-era buildings, cobblestone streets, and public art.
Shop at the boutiques featuring everything from handmade jewelry to organic skincare. Or catch a show at the Young Center for the Performing Arts. In December, the annual Toronto Christmas Market brings festive food, drinks, and shopping.
When you get hungry, you’ll have lots of options. Cluny Bistro, El Catrin, and Archeo are popular spots serving up cuisine from around the world using locally-sourced ingredients. On Sundays, the Distillery Sunday Market offers artisanal food, live music, and crafts.
There’s always something going on at the Distillery District. Check their events calendar for live music, food festivals, movie screenings, and seasonal celebrations. Some highlights include the TD Jazz Fest in July, Food Truck Festivals in August, and the Winter Village from November to March.
The Distillery District is a historic neighborhood located in downtown Toronto with no shortage of events, shopping, dining, and entertainment options for visitors. Spend a day exploring the cobblestone streets and Victorian buildings, then stay for a show and a delicious meal. This charming district is a must-see for any trip to Toronto.
Top 5 Things to Do at the Distillery District
Once a historic whiskey distillery, The Distillery District is now one of Toronto’s hottest spots for dining, shopping, culture, and entertainment. Located in the east end of downtown Toronto, it’s an easy walk or streetcar ride from Union Station and St. Lawrence Market.
Top 5 Things to Do
First, explore the Victorian-era buildings and cobblestone streets. Over 40 heritage buildings house modern shops, eateries, and event spaces. Walk around, soak in the atmosphere, and snap some photos.
Second, catch a show at the Soulpepper Theater Company or Young Center for the Performing Arts. They offer drama, comedy, music, and dance productions on multiple stages.
Third, dine out at one of the many restaurants like El Catrin, Cluny, or Pure Spirits. You’ll find everything from upscale Mexican to fish and chips to craft cocktails.
Fourth, browse the boutiques for unique gifts, art, clothing, and more. Check out Soma Chocolatemaker, Pacifica, or Cork & Abstract.
Finally, take a guided tour to learn about the history of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The 45-minute walking tours run daily and provide insight into how this industrial site was transformed into the popular district it is today.
With stunning Victorian-era architecture, delectable dining options, shopping, culture, and entertainment around every corner, you’ll find an abundance of ways to spend a perfect day exploring the Historic Distillery District. Discover this vibrant community hub in the heart of Toronto and create memories that will last long after you return home.
Upcoming Events and Festivals at the Distillery
The Distillery District is one of the best places in Toronto to experience festivals and events throughout the year. Originally founded in 1832, the Victorian-era buildings and cobblestone streets provide a perfect historic backdrop for the various cultural celebrations held here.
Winter & Holiday Festivals
During the winter months, the Distillery District is transformed into a winter wonderland. The annual Toronto Christmas Market features vendor stalls, live music, and delicious food in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You can also catch some outdoor ice skating at the Distillery District Skating Rink.
Music & Art Festivals
In the summer, the Distillery District hosts several music and arts festivals. The Toronto Jazz Festival, Luminato Festival, and Salsa on St. Clair are just a few of the exciting events held here. You’ll find multiple stages showcasing a variety of musical genres along with art installations, photography exhibits, and family-friendly activities.
Food & Drinks Festivals
Being the historic heart of alcohol production in Toronto, the Distillery District is also an epicenter for amazing food and drink. Don’t miss the Toronto Whisky Festival, Toronto Cider Festival, or the Distillery Sunday Market. These events celebrate the city’s thriving craft beverage scene with samples from local and international producers, as well as gourmet food trucks and interactive workshops.
The Distillery District is a magnet for cultural events and celebrations in Toronto. No matter the season, you’re sure to find an exciting festival to experience the history, food, music, and community in this unique neighborhood. Check the official event schedule on the Distillery District website before your trip to see what’s coming up. With so much going on, you may just find yourself planning another visit!
Best Restaurants and Cafes in the Distillery District
The Distillery District has no shortage of dining options, from upscale restaurants to casual cafes. Here are some of the best places to grab a bite in this historic neighborhood.
Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
This Parisian-style bistro offers classic French fare like croque-monsieurs, quiches, and crepes for breakfast and lunch. They also have an in-house bakery churning out fresh breads, pastries and other treats daily. With reasonable prices and a charming ambiance, Cluny is a perfect spot for a casual meal or coffee break.
For modern Mexican cuisine in an stylish setting, head to El Catrin. This vibrant restaurant features an open kitchen, colorful decor, and patio seating. The menu highlights regional Mexican fare from ceviches and tamales to moles and mezcal cocktails. They have options for sharing as well as heartier mains. It’s a popular spot, so go early or make a reservation.
If you’re looking for finer dining, Archeo provides an upscale experience with Mediterranean-inspired dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients. Their tasting menus offer multiple courses paired with wines for a special night out. The sleek space features an open kitchen, marble accents and a wall of windows overlooking the district.
For a quick pick-me-up, stop by the popular Balzac’s Coffee. This small-batch roaster has outposts across Ontario, with its flagship cafe located right in the Distillery District. They offer high-quality coffees, teas and light snacks in a cozy space. Grab your drink to go or find a spot on their patio to soak in the surroundings.
With so many dining options in one area, the hardest part will be deciding where to go first. But no matter where you end up, you really can’t go wrong—the food, drinks and ambiance are all top-notch at the Distillery District’s collection of restaurants and cafes. Enjoy!
Tips for Visiting the Distillery: Hours, Parking, Getting Around
The Distillery District is open year-round, so you can visit anytime. That said, here are some tips to make the most of your visit:
The Distillery District is open every day of the week from 10 am to 7 pm. Many of the shops, restaurants and cafes have extended hours, some staying open as late as midnight, especially on weekends.
The Distillery District is located in downtown Toronto, just east of Yonge Street. The easiest way to get there is by public transit. Take the TTC subway to King Station, then walk 10 minutes east along King Street. You can also take the 72 Pape or 121 Fort York bus and get off at Distillery Loop. Limited street parking is available but often fills up quickly, especially on event days. I recommend transit or ride-sharing.
Exploring the District
The Distillery District spans 13 acres with over 40 heritage buildings, so there’s lots to see and do. Allow at least half a day to explore. Some highlights:
-Stroll along the cobblestone streets and check out the Victorian-era buildings. Many date back to the 1800s.
-Visit the art galleries like Corkin Gallery or Lonsdale Gallery. They feature contemporary art by Canadian and international artists.
-Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the former distillery. Tours run daily and last about an hour.
-Check out the unique shops like Chocolateria for artisanal chocolates or Preloved for vintage clothing.
-Relax at one of the patio cafes like Cluny Bistro or Pure Spirits Oyster House. They offer craft cocktails, local fare and stunning views of the district.
-Attend one of the many events like the Toronto Christmas Market, Summerlicious or Buskerfest. There’s always something going on.
-Do some people watching. The Distillery District attracts locals and tourists alike, especially on weekends when the patios are bustling.
Following these tips will help you make the most of your visit to this popular historic neighborhood. Have a great time exploring the Distillery District! Let me know if you have any other questions.
So there you have it, a local’s guide to one of the coolest neighborhoods in Toronto. The Distillery District is a perfect spot to spend a day strolling, shopping, eating and drinking. With so much history and charm around every corner, you really can’t go wrong. Whether you’re visiting Toronto for the first time or are a long-time local looking to rediscover the city, put the Distillery District at the top of your list. The vibrant events, cafes, and people watching will make you wonder why you didn’t come sooner. But now that you’re in the know, get out there and start exploring—you won’t regret it! The Distillery District is waiting for you.
Top photo by heat13her
Photos used with permission of respective photographers and/or in accordance with Creative Commons license.