With over 40 specialty boutiques, restaurants, cafes, theatres, galleries, and artist workshops plus world class festivals and events, the Distillery District is one of Toronto's most unique shopping, culinary, arts and entertainment neighbourhoods.
The Distillery District is much more than a shopping mall. It’s a complete experience linking past and present with its 19th century architecture and charming cobblestone streets housing top-notch boutiques, inviting cafes and restaurants, performance venues, and special events. All of this is housed on a 5 hectare site in 40 Victorian industrial buildings that once was a part of a whisky distillery. The entirely pedestrian only area spans 10 streets.
For up-to-date information and details on the Distillery District, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.
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More about Distillery District
Located in Old Town in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Distillery District is easily accessible using the city’s subway, bus, and streetcar networks. If you are driving, paid parking is available off Parliament Street.
What we see today in the Distillery District humbly began in 1832 with a single windmill. But the enterprise grew, becoming the Gooderham & Worts Distillery producing whisky. Over time, it grew into the largest distillery in the world. When the Gooderham & Worts Distillery closed in 1990, the industrial buildings remained. But they stayed empty and unused even after being given National Historic status.
It wasn’t until a small group of developers envisioned a new purpose for these buildings, a place that would excite everyone who visited. Their vision was to showcase the beauty of the traditional Victorian-era industrial buildings while bringing a modern feel and sensibility. The old distillery buildings would become a place where creativity reigns. Culinary magic, art, performances, and unique specialty boutiques all work together to become the place to experience the best of creativity in Toronto (and all of Canada). The Distillery District opened in 2003 and quickly became the ‘it’ place in Toronto.
Now a car-free zone, it’s easy to lose yourself in the atmosphere. Though the Distillery District may look vintage, it’s completely fresh and feels new. There’s an inescapable excitement that comes over you. No matter how long you stay in Toronto, you can count on making multiple visits.
There is so much to experience in the Distillery District, and its attraction goes far beyond the exterior look. Let the aroma of just-baked treats and freshly brewed coffee give you your morning energy. Restaurants, bistros, pubs, and cafes offer mouth-watering meal options including seafood, pizza, sushi, and tapas perfect for a casual meal or the ideal date night. Window shopping has never been so much fun or irresistible. The more than 40 individual shops offer a wide range of goods, including fashion, vintage finds and home decor.
But what really sets the Distillery District apart from other shopping areas is its concentration of galleries and artist workshops. If you love art, this is the place to go. Over a dozen artists have spaces displaying their distinctive talents, and you can purchase original pieces of art. Additionally, performance groups regularly hold stagings. Their biggest and most famous event is the Winter Village market that is held every year from November to March.