How to Spend a Day in the Distillery District
Delicious Bites, Incredible Coffee, Stellar Shopping and so Much More
The Distillery District is reopening and Summer 2021 is the perfect time to visit. Intertwined between iconic shops and coffee are new art pieces that need to be seen (and photographed) up close. While you’re sipping luxurious coffee from Arvo, stroll past art galleries like Into the Wild and Beauchamp to experience striking visuals.
Follow along for our Summer 2021 guide on how to spend a day in the Distillery District. The time is perfect to revisit the iconic Toronto neighbourhood.
Morning Coffee on the Red-Bricked Trinity Street Patio
French Pastries, Premium Coffee = People Watching Perfection
For 2021 the Distillery District’s outdoor patio is back and beautiful. With 5 coffee shops and 3 bakeries, there’s no shortage of tasty delights to enjoy while lounging in the morning sun. Our favourite breakfast pastries are found at Cluny Cafe & Boulangerie. Featuring authentic French style baked goods, their breakfast sandwiches and Chocolate Almond Croissants make the top of our list.
Do you want the best coffee in Toronto? For those on the cutting edge of coffee culture, the clear choice for morning brew is Arvo Coffee in the Distillery District. Their cheerful team and lovingly roasted beans will have your tongue singing. While you’re sipping on the Trinity St. outdoor patio, watch the slow pace of life in the Distillery walk on by. This is a perfect opportunity to take out that book you’ve been meaning to finish before your day truly gets rolling along.
Other fantastic coffee and breakfast spots in the Distillery District:
- Want to try the Distillery District’s first coffee shop? Head over to Balzac’s Distillery District for their namesake blend and a scone.
- The Sweet Escape showcases the best in local baked goods – share one of their Peanut Butter Bars and experience pure bliss.
- If Montreal is more your style, Cacao 70 features a diverse menu of chocolate delights and easy to sip coffee.
- Looking for English style breakfast? Fill up on a Spinach Pasty Roll or Sausage Roll from Brick St. Bakery.
- Go for local Toronto beans (Pilot Roasters) at Arena Coffee. While you’re waiting, check out their incredible shop of sports memorabilia and apparel.
A Brewery Lunch and Segway Tour
Mill Street Brewery and the History of Canadian Whisky
After you’ve sipped and snacked for breakfast in the Distillery, you’re ready to roll. Literally – join Go Tours Canada for a Segway Tour of the Distillery District. Since 2005, Go Tours has trained over 100,000 riders. If that’s still not your vibe, take a Distillery District Walking Tour instead.
Stroll through the Distillery District’s streets with an expert Tour Guide and learn some fascinating old Toronto history. How did the Gooderham and Worts Distillery become the largest in the world? Join Go Tours to find out. Distillery District Walking and Segway Tours start mid-morning and are available until early evening.
Whether you Walk or Segway, you’re bound to work up an appetite – luckily the Distillery District’s suite of restaurants won’t leave you wanting.
Since 2004, the Mill St. Brewpub has been serving up modern pub food paired with their world class beer. Start with shared Poutine and Pretzels before moving to mains like their Chicken and Chorizo Pot Pie or LightLife Burger. If you’re visiting on a weekend, enjoy their stellar Brunch menu.
Producing over 100 types of beer every year means you have no shortage of brews to pair with lunch. If you’re a fan of traditional beer, try the Tankhouse Organic Ale or Vanilla Porter. Want something shiny and new? Give the Juicy Union or Big Little Lager a swig with lunch.
More great restaurants in the Distillery District:
- Right next door to the Mill St. Brewpub is their Beer Hall. Munch on modern North American cuisine inspired by global cultures.
- Got tacos on the mind? El Catrin features a fantastic patio, great drinks and a mural wall inside the restaurant that’s worth the trip.
- Featuring grilled cheese, soups and other lunch favourites, Wildly Delicious lives up to their name. Their store also carries a full line of pantry items, fresh cheese, and other culinary delights.
- Madrina Bar y Tapas is one of Toronto’s few spots for Catalan cuisine. Go Tours Canada CEO Aaron’s personal note: “Try the Steak Tartare on Bone Marrow with a side of tinned anchovies – seriously.”
- Cacao 70’s chocolate based concoctions will put you into sweetness overload.
- For those cooler Summer and Fall afternoons and evenings, visit Boku Distillery for thrilling and filling Ramen. You can also order a flight of Canadian whiskies including Gooderham and Worts 4 Grain based on one of the original Distillery’s recipes.
- Want Salads and Seafood? Pure Spirits Oyster House and Grill is your destination – their extended bar is another reason to visit this long running restaurant.
- If you didn’t get enough Cluny in the morning, pop by for lunch. French inspired dishes (some with Moroccan flair) will have you coming back on your next visit.
Take a Walk, Try it On, Explore the Galleries, Experience Live Theatre
Fluevogs, Euro Fashion, Canadian Painters and Stage Shows
Once you’ve wrapped up lunch, it’s time to explore. If you’re the type for second coffee, we recommend stopping by Arena’s parent store, Sport Gallery, to check out their selection of Sports swag and memorabilia. From classic logo hats to socks and signed jerseys, there’s something for every sports fan.
If shoes are more in step with your taste, pop by Fluevog Distillery for a gander at the world’s quirkiest kicks. Complete your look with socks from Floorplay Socks, a pair of pants from Gotstyle or Hoi Bo, and Italian tailored shirt from Gentil Uomo. Add accessories from Bergo, Corktown Designs, or Crimson and Clover.
Don’t forget there’s a whole building full of clothing, accessory, and art creators in the Artscape Case Goods Warehouse.
Distillery District Art Galleries
When the Distillery District opened in 2003, it quickly became known as a neighbourhood of Art Galleries. While some have left and new ones have popped up, there’s a style for everyone. Thompson Landry Gallery has been a Distillery District mainstay for years. Featuring Quebec-based artists almost exclusively, there is lots to explore in their two architecturally fascinating spaces.
If Contemporary Art is your flavour, visit Arta Gallery and Corkin Gallery. Both feature stunning spaces as a backdrop for their collections. Arta is one of the original Distillery District galleries and features many group exhibits. Corkin’s space is spacious and designed for exploration. Lose yourself in their art and the nooks and crannies of the gallery.
Some Other Favourite Distillery District Activities
- Grab a bubble tea from Palgong Tea and explore the Deaf Culture Centre.
- Visit Spirit of York Distillery for a tasty flight
- Journey to Japan with a tasting at Izumi Spring Water Sake Brewery
- Find the secret hallway paintings of the Distillery District
- Experience quiet bliss in a float tank at H20 Float
- Rejuvenate yourself at Lemon Water Wellness
- Light up your home with Artemide Toronto
- Buy your favourite dad an apron at Hatley Boutique
- Discover a new skincare routine at Deciem Distillery
- Book a haircut at McManus and Campbell
- Get your nicotine fix at Green Panda
- Declare your undying affection and devotion to a stranger at the Love Locks