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.
There’s a lot of history behind the Distillery District and how it came to be, and you can do a walking or segway tour around the area to learn more about it.
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.
1. Start your day off with fair-trade organic coffee at Balzac’s
Gotta start your busy day off with a little caffeination. Lucky for you, the Distillery District has quite a few local coffee shops in the neighbourhood.
Balzac’s Coffee is always my go-to café in the Distillery District, but Arvo is another favourite.
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 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 delicious.
LOCATION: 1 Trinity St. | Website
2. Make your own candle at Yummi Candles
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 $75 per person, it’s a little more on the expensive side, but it’s one of those activities worth doing at least once!
LOCATION: 49 Tank House Lane | Website
3. Grab a quick lunch at Wildly Delicious
Once you’re ready to eat, enjoy a 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.
Grab some of their chimichurri steak rub, French onion & goat cheese dip, or spiced whiskey marmalade to take home!
LOCATION: 11 Tank House Lane | Website
4. 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:
- City of Angels is a super cute women’s fashion boutique with lots of trendy pieces.
- Hoi Bo is a Toronto sustainable fashion brand that makes their clothes by hand in their studio/shop.
- Deciem is a local skincare brand loved by Torontonians, and their Distillery District store is gorgeous.
5. 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.
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.
6. Wander around an art gallery in the Distillery District
The Distillery District is home to several art galleries, and Arta Gallery is a cool one worth stopping by.
There are also a bunch of art studios and shops, which you can learn more about on the Distillery District’s website.
7. Grab dinner at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Get a taste of modern French cuisine at Cluny Bistro, a huge 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 | Website
8. Watch a show 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.
The TV show itself is one of my favourite comedies, and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee actually performed as Appa in the live play as well!
Watching a show at the Young Centre is a great way to warm up after exploring the Toronto Christmas Market or Toronto Light Festival.
LOCATION: 50 Tank House Lane | Website
9. Get your sweet tooth on at Greg’s Ice Cream
Got a sweet tooth craving? End off your day 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 | Website
10. 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 happens every November through December, and the Toronto Light Festival happens every January through March.
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: