Planning a “shop-cation” in Toronto? Your getaway itinerary probably includes retail hot spots like Toronto Eaton Centre or the swanky shopping area of Yorkville. But have you considered adding some off-the-beaten-path shopping experiences in the GTA to your getaway? Toronto is a treasure trove for unique, one-of-a-kind finds, with many obscure shops to explore – including these five spots.
You’ll want to buy all the things in Soma Chocolatemaker – a chocolatier in Toronto’s Distillery District that makes small batches of chocolate directly from the cacao bean. The staff roasts, refines, and conches organic and fair-trade cocoa beans onsite, sourced from places like the Caribbean, South America, and Madagascar. Grab a basket and load up on chocolate bars, cookies, toffee, drinking chocolate, or truffles – all great gifts (or treats for yourself).
Afterwards, wander the cobblestone streets of the Distillery District – a cluster of 19th-century factories converted into a pedestrian-only village containing more than 80 of the city’s coolest artisan shops, galleries, and designer boutiques.
Just west of Spadina Avenue is Kensington Market – a multicultural enclave that’s filled with vintage clothing, specialty grocers, quirky boutiques, and a mash-up of international restaurants and cafes. The stores are nestled within colorful Victorian heritage houses and hidden in alleyways, and it’s one of the best places in the city to shop for bargains and unusual finds.
A must-stop is The Cocktail Emporium – a bright boutique selling everything cocktail-related. The shelves are stocked with original products, ranging from absinthe fountains and beautiful bar-tool sets to special drink ingredients and gorgeous glassware. Afterwards, pop into Blue Banana Market for a look at the eccentric finds, like posters, musical instruments, local handcrafted goods, gourmet treats, and other oddball items.
Getting to Kensington Market is a cinch from the luxurious Hilton Toronto – it’s just a 10-minute taxi ride or 20-minute walk to this lively little ‘hood.
One of a Kind Show and Sale
Among the largest craft shows in North America, The One of a Kind Show is Toronto’s one-stop-shop for handmade goods and gifts. This expansive marketplace has been bringing together artisans and shoppers since 1975, and features more than 800 artisans from Canada and abroad. Peruse the stalls at your leisure, admiring everything from handcrafted furniture and home accents to baked goods, clothing, and jewelry.
A Streetsville Shop-cation
Don’t limit the shop-a-thon to downtown Toronto. Nicknamed “The Village in the City,” Streetsville is a lovely little nook in Mississauga that has the largest number of historic buildings in the city. This quaint neighborhood attracts visitors for its old-world charm, but also for the collection of interesting stores to explore on foot, starting with The Shop For All Reasons. This boutique has long been the “go-to” spot for rare gifts and artisan goods, ranging from gourmet food products to handmade jewelry and home décor pieces made by local family-owned studios.
After so much shopping, take a time-out at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale, which is an eight-minute drive from Streetsville. You’ll be able to enjoy the fabulous indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, along with “Big Blue” – the longest water slide in the GTA.
Art Etc Gallery Shop
It’s worth the trek to Burlington to shop at Art Etc – a boutique inside the Art Gallery of Burlington that sells some of the region’s highest-quality artworks, all handcrafted by Canadian and local artists. For your shopping pleasure, choose from more than 400 paintings and photographs, as well as blown glass, jewelry, textiles, and ceramics. The best part about shopping here? The profits support the Art Gallery of Burlington and Canadian artists.
Since it’s a bit of a journey to Burlington, break up the trip with a relaxing overnight stay at Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Burlington. It’s only a 10-minute drive from the art gallery.