July 7th 2022
The 13 most walkable neighbourhoods in Toronto
Good news: it’s officially summer in the GTA!
That means it’s time to slide on your sunglasses and set out for a city stroll because—in our humble opinion—the best way to discover the Toronto area is by foot with your family and friends.
Not sure where to take your first steps? We’ve got you covered: we dove into 13 of Toronto’s most walkable neighbourhoods to inspire your future city-wide explorations of the 6ix’s tastiest foods, most generous outdoor spaces, and most buzz-worthy events. We’ll recap:
- Kensington Market
- The Distillery District
- Old Town
- The Annex
- West Queen West
- Dundas West
- The Entertainment District
- Liberty Village
- The Beaches
From old favourites to trendy up-and-coming neighbourhoods, these are the areas you’re going to want to get to know this summer.
#1. Kensington Market
The always-delightful and unique Kensington Market borders Chinatown, which means you can stop for dumplings or dim sum as you stroll up Spadina.
You can also round off your afternoon in this novel neighbourhood with a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which offers diverse programming, and summer art classes for kids.
#2. The Distillery District
The pedestrian-only Distillery District is like stepping into a time capsule. With a high volume of visitors during the colder months (it has a whimsical Winter Village every year), this neighbourhood’s cobblestone streets are wonderful to walk any time of year.
Nestled among the Victorian-era industrial architecture are some of the city’s best coffee roasters, including Arvo, Arena and Balzac’s. Fancy something a bit harder? Sample the whiskey that gives the neighbourhood its namesake at Pure Spirits, which also offers a variety of fresh oysters.
#3. Old Town
Continue your trek into the past in Old Town, the most historic neighbourhood in Toronto, with landmarks dating back to the 19th century. One of the most iconic of these is the Gooderham building (a.k.a. the Flatiron building), whose distinctive narrow architecture is instantly recognizable on many motifs of the city (and one of the most photographed), and in the feature image of this article!
Here, you can take in the scenery and stock up on fresh summer fruit like cherries and peaches at the St. Lawrence Market, then make your way to the nearby ferry for a family picnic on Toronto Island.
#4. The Annex
Near the University of Toronto campus and home to both students and families, The Annex is where you’ll find the city’s best used bookstores and record shops.
There is simply too much to choose from in this entertainment-heavy neighbourhood. Duck into Snakes & Lattes for board games and a bite after visiting Toronto’s famous castle, Casa Loma. If you happen to get caught in a summer rainstorm, check out the Hot Docs cinema for a film.
#5. West Queen West
Famously named one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Vogue, West Queen West holds up to the title. Check out the aptly named Graffiti Alley that runs parallel to the street, and spend an afternoon thrift shopping, or exploring the boutiques that dot the strip.
Cool down at Bang Bang Ice Cream & Bakery, where unique flavours like lychee rosewater raspberry are sandwiched between their homemade cookies. Or, caffeinate at the White Squirrel Coffee Shop window, which gets its name from the critters that inhabit one of the city’s most beloved parks—Trinity Bellwoods.
#6. Dundas West
Get your shopping fix at the many vintage stores that dot the street, then stop for a pastry at the vegan, gluten-free, and very delicious Bunner’s Bake Shop.
And, make sure you spend happy hour at Famous Last Words – a cocktail bar whose drinks are named after celebrated novels.
The posh, pedestrian-friendly Yorkville neighbourhood is home to art galleries and designer boutiques. Old York Lane is a pedestrian-only street that runs through the neighbourhood, with plenty of window-shopping (and splurging) opportunities.
Take the family to The Royal Ontario Museum (the ROM), the largest natural history museum in Canada, where special summer exhibits and yearlong favourites are both educational and exciting.
Keep your momentum by caffeinating on-the-go at the Jacked Up coffee truck—a blue van with the best brew north of Bloor.
#8. The Entertainment District
Tourists and locals alike delight in the bustling downtown area home to Toronto’s must-sees, must-dos, and must-eats. Ripley’s Aquarium at the base of the CN Tower is guaranteed fun for all ages, or take your crew to see a Blue Jays game.
If you don’t feel like filling up on peanuts and cracker jacks, make a reservation at one of Canada’s top restaurants—there are plenty to choose from in The Entertainment District. Try PAI for unforgettable Northern Thai cuisine, or treat yourself to the world-renowned Canoe.
#9. Liberty Village
This waterfront neighbourhood has seen a boom in recent years. Masses line up outside of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen every weekend for their famous brunch—the pancakes and profiteroles are well worth the wait. If you don’t want to queue, there are plenty of other great options nearby, like Vietnamese at Pho 90.
Liberty Village is also a short walk from Exhibition Place, where all the city’s biggest events are hosted. The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, also known as Caribana, takes place the first weekend in August.
Cabbagetown gets its distinct name from its Irish inhabitants who allegedly planted the cruciferous vegetable on their front lawns.
While the beautiful Victorian homes likely don’t grow the same amount of produce anymore, the neighbourhood’s Riverdale Farm comes pretty close. Other gorgeous greenspace around these parts includes Allan Gardens Conservatory, which is home to six greenhouses.
East Toronto’s hippest ‘hood is Leslieville, where you’ll find countless vintage shops and stunning street art. Get your nature fix in nearby Riverside by hiking the Lower Don River Trail.
Related topic: Best neighbourhoods to shop locally
#11. The Beaches
Summer was meant to be spent beachside, so there’s no better spot than the lakeside neighbourhood The Beaches. Woodbine Beach is a family favourite (and is also dog-friendly!). After a beach day, grab dinner at one of the many restaurants along Queen Street East.
The free Beaches International Jazz Festival takes place all July and boasts top performers from Canada and around the world.
Fondly known as “Roncy”, Roncesvalles is a neighbourhood that feels like its own separate village. Spend a sunny day at High Park, where plenty of trails and even a small zoo await. Refuel at The Ace, whose kitschy kitchen is in a restored 1950’s diner.
There is an impressive amount of incredible neighbourhoods to be found in Toronto, and we hope our roundup provides you with inspiration for exploration. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know! And happy travels, near and far, this summer.