distillery district toronto

How to spend a day in the Distillery District

The cobbled streets of the The Distillery District make up one of the most tourist-friendly areas in the city. Home to the annual Festival of Lights and Christmas Market, this revived historic site features upscale restaurants, distilleries and a smattering of galleries. It's easy to spend the day walking around here or exploring it on a segway, if you prefer.

Here's how to spend a day in the Distillery District.

Breakfast and Coffee

For that morning pick-me-up, head to Balzac's for a parfait or scone to enjoy beneath a giant Vaudeville chandelier or, for something distinctly Distillery, choose Arvo for pourover coffee and one of their chocolate croissants from Delysees

arvo coffee toronto

Arvo Coffee uses glass pour over coffee makers for that morning cup of joe. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Morning Activity

There's no shortage of artsy things to peruse in the Distillery, with furniture and jewellery studios hidden in the old buildings. For one of the most popular stops, waltz into Corkin Gallery, a 10,000-foot space where you can catch the latest exhibition by international talent. 


Formerly Boku Sushi, the less pricey Boku Noodle Bar serves up a menu of Japanese noodles, poke bowls and small izakaya-style snacks.

For one of the best BLTs in the city there's Brick Street Bakery, which also offers a famous Coronation chicken sandwich and an assortment of bread baked fresh at their Leslieville store.

dstillery district toronto

The BLT from Brick Street Bakery is a popular lunch option in the Distillery. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Shopping and Culture

There's so many stores to check out in this neighbourhood that you simply won't find anywhere else thanks to the longstanding policy to feature independent shops over chains.

For vintage goods, Blackbird Vintage always has some interesting finds while those looking to upgrade their wardrobe might do well to pick up the latest classic-wear for men and women at the spacious Gotstyle, or  at John Fluevog where you'll find the designer's quintessential quirky shoes. 

distillery district toronto

You can grab a pair of funky shoes at John Fluevog. Photo by Tanya Mok. 

For fashionable fits and sunnies there's Crimson & Clover, or City of Angels for L.A.-inspired looks. Deciem is where you'll find the brand of locally made skincare products. For sportswear fashion, Sport Gallery is a unique spot for retro goods and apparel.

Afternoon Snack

Indulge your sweet tooth at Cacao 70 or SOMA for all things chocolate, Greg's Ice Cream for one of the best scoops in the city or Sweet Escape — tucked away at the back of the Bergo building — for ice cream flavours like caramelized banana and birthday cake. 

cacao 70 toronto

Cacao 70 is one of many options in the Distillery where you can indulge your sweet tooth. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

Tastings and Tours

It's not called the Distillery District for nothing: get your pre-drink on before dinner at the Mill Street Brew Pub with free samples of beer on tap, or take an hour-long tour of the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company and sample four types of sake.

For flights of gin, vodka and whiskey, head to Spirit of York and do a distillery walk-through. For something non-alcoholic, there's Vom Fass with barrels of olive oil you can sample all afternoon. 

spirit of york toronto

Everything is made on site at the Spirit of York Distillery where you can cozy up to the bar for some tastings. Photo by Hector Vasquez.


Any of the restaurants by the Distillery Restaurant Corp. are a good bet: enjoy the fabulous nighttime patio at the two-floored Mexican restaurant El Catrin, oysters at Pure Spirits or a drink of absinthe with your French food at Cluny. They also have really good weekend brunch. 

Drinks and Entertainment

Catch the latest rendition of your fave Beckett at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts by Soulpepper Theatre. If you spent too long at dinner and missed the show, you can opt for bottle service at the Stirling Room instead — just remember to register for guest list.

distillery district toronto

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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