Looking for the best things to do in the Toronto Distillery District?
Once home to the largest whiskey distillery in the world, the Distillery District is now a trendy, pedestrian-only neighbourhood filled with tons of fun things to do.
You can find unique activities, amazing restaurants, and decent shopping in this quaint little area.
It’s only within the last 20 years that the Distillery District has become what it is today, and the owners have done an amazing job of restoring this national historic site.
If you’re looking for fun activities in the Distillery District, here’s your guide on the best things to do in the neighbourhood!
I also have a separate blog post all about the best Distillery District restaurants if you’re interested.
Best things to do in the Distillery District
Grab fair-trade and organic coffee at Balzac’s
Always have to stay caffeinated, ya feel?
Lucky for you, the Distillery District has quite a few local coffee shops in the neighbourhood.
Balzac’s is an Ontario-based coffee shop chain with incredible coffee made from fair-trade organic beans.
They have tons of locations across Toronto, but their Distillery District location is definitely my favourite.
It’s housed in what was once a Victorian fire pump house, which was built for fire protection.
My fave thing to get at Balzac’s is the Cafe Canadian, and you should definitely swap out the milk for macadamia nut milk because it’s hecka delicious.
LOCATION: 1 Trinity St, Toronto, ON
Make your own candle at Yummi Candles
Looking for a fun and unique gift idea, or just something cool to take home with you?
Yummi Candles offers candle-making workshops in the Distillery District, a fun experience for DIY lovers.
You get to choose the fragrances, combine the scents with the waxes and wicks, and even customize the label.
It takes a few hours for the candles to cool down so you have to come back later to pick it up, but they can hold it in-store for up to a week.
At $90 plus tax per person, it’s a little more on the expensive side, but it’s one of those activities worth doing at least once!
LOCATION: 10 Trinity St, Toronto, ON
Grab lunch and shop local at Wildly Delicious
Once you’re ready to eat, enjoy a delicious sandwich at Wildly Delicious.
I’ve only had their grilled cheese, but it was probably one of the best grilled cheeses I’ve ever had.
Afterwards, you can shop Wildly Delicious’ unique house-made sauces, dips, and spreads.
There’s plenty to see and shop around the shop – grab some of their chimichurri steak rub, French onion & goat cheese dip, or spiced whiskey marmalade to take home!
LOCATION: 11 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON
Go window shopping in the Distillery District
The Distillery District is filled with dozens of one-of-a-kind stores and adorable boutiques, and you can do tons of window shopping (or actual shopping, if you please).
Here are some stores and boutiques worth checking out:
- Hoi Bo is a Toronto sustainable fashion brand that makes their clothes by hand in their studio/shop.
- Deciem is a local clean skincare brand loved by Torontonians, and their Distillery District store is gorgeous.
Snap away at all the Instagram-worthy corners
The 19th century Victorian Industrial buildings and cobblestone streets provide tons of Instagrammable photo opportunities.
The big red heart and “love” signs are there year-round, also for your photo-taking pleasure.
My fave time to visit for taking photos is the holidays because of all the cute Christmas decorations!
If you’re looking for indoor spots to take photos, Balzac’s is beautiful with great lighting, but they only allow smartphone cameras.
It might be better to stick to smartphone photos in the Distillery District, because they’re a little prickly about “professional” photography and you may get stopped by security.
Wander around an art gallery in the Distillery District
In the mood to gaze at some local art?
The Distillery District is home to several art galleries, and Arta Gallery is a cool one worth stopping by in the neighbourhood.
There are also a bunch of art studios and shops, which you can learn more about on the Distillery District’s website.
Enjoy dinner at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Get a taste of modern French cuisine at Cluny Bistro, a huge and Instagram-worthy restaurant with a stunning Parisian-style interior.
While I do think their dishes can be hit or miss, their foie gras eclairs are phenomenal and worth trying.
I’ve heard good things about their fried frog’s legs and have yet to try them!
LOCATION: 35 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON
Watch a live performance at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
I watched the live play of Kim’s Convenience at the Young Centre several years ago, and it was so emotional and well-performed.
LOCATION: 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON
Get your sweet tooth on at Greg’s Ice Cream
Satisfy your sweet tooth with some locally-made ice cream for dessert at Greg’s Ice Cream.
Greg’s has unique flavours like Roasted Marshmallow that are always fun to try!
If you’re in the mood to sit down somewhere instead, enjoy some melty chocolate fondue and lattes at Cacao 70.
LOCATION: 32 Gristmill Lane, Toronto, ON
If you think you can handle the spooky (true) tales, go on the Spirits of the Distillery District Ghost Tour.
You’ll get to walk along the cobblestone streets by lantern light, all while learning about one of Toronto’s most haunted spots.
It’s run by the Haunted Walk of Toronto, who also operates other haunted tours across the city!
Do it in October for a fun Halloween experience.
Check out a seasonal activity in the Distillery District
While the Distillery District is fun to visit all year-round, it’s definitely the most lively during the winter season.
The Toronto Christmas Market (now known as the Distillery Winter Village) happens every November through December, and the Toronto Light Festival happens every January through March.
They also have some fun art installations around the neighbourhood throughout the year!
Best things to do in the Distillery District:
- Grab fair-trade and organic coffee at Balzac’s
- Make your own candle at Yummi Candles
- Grab lunch and shop local at Wildly Delicious
- Go window shopping in the Distillery District
- Snap away at all the Instagram-worthy corners
- Wander around an art gallery in the Distillery District
- Enjoy dinner at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
- Watch a live performance at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts
- Get your sweet tooth on at Greg’s Ice Cream
- Go on the Spirits of the Distillery District Ghost Tour
- Check out a seasonal activity in the Distillery District
While there are many other things to do in the Distillery District, these were just activities and spots I personally recommend.
If you’re looking for more Toronto neighbourhoods to explore, check out some of my other posts on the best things to do in various neighbourhoods: