Once home to the 1832 Gooderham and Worts’ mammoth distilling facility, Toronto’s charming arts and entertainment quarter is now a popular strolling spot for off-duty creatives. The cobblestone streets are lined with Victorian-era industrial buildings, which have been repurposed to serve as contemporary art galleries, third-wave coffee shops, concept boutiques, restaurants, and bars.
Toronto’s Distillery Historic District is one of the city’s most vibrant cultural quarters. You can explore it during a walking tour or a Segway tour, with guides chronicling the evolution of the neighborhood from a manufacturing powerhouse for Canada’s largest distillery to a hip heritage district. Many tours include tastings from local and artisan producers, including the award-winning Mill Street Brewery.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The streets are cobblestone so wear sturdy, comfortable shoes.
- Pack weather-appropriate clothing, as most of your time will be spent outdoors. Should it rain, there are lots of shops, bars, restaurants, and cafés where you can find shelter.
- Take a camera. The district’s red-brick facades and quaint gables make excellent photo backdrops.
How to Get There
The Distillery District is located east of downtown Toronto. From Union Station (which is served by subway line 1 Yonge-University), ride the eastbound 504 King streetcar to King Street East at Trinity Street and walk south two blocks, or take the eastbound 514 Cherry streetcar to the end of the line (Distillery District). Walking from Union Station will take 20 to 25 minutes.
When to Get There
There is no bad time to visit Toronto’s Distillery Historic District. The neighborhood is at its liveliest during summer, when many of the cafés and restaurants set up outdoor seating areas—perfect for people-watching. Weekends tend to be busier than weekdays.
Seasonal Markets and Events
Seasonal events are a key draw of the district. During the holiday period, a popular Christmas market sets up shop here, with dozens of stalls piled high with food and handcrafted gifts, and carol singers belting out festive favorites. In summer, the Distillery Historic District hosts food-oriented events, live jazz, art and craft shows, and flea markets. On summer Sundays, vendors at the weekly farmers market sell produce from around Ontario, including maple syrup, meats, cheeses, and ready-to-eat treats.