The Downtown East covers an area south of Bloor Street roughly between Yonge Street and the Don River. Most points of interest are clustered either in the north or south ends of this district.
Here are some of the neighbourhoods in Downtown East:
- Church-Wellesley Village is affectionately known as the "Gay Village" and is one of Toronto's biggest tourist attractions. There are a number of restaurants and pubs in the area centred at its namesake intersection.
- Cabbagetown gets its name from the large cabbages said to be planted in front lawns by Irish immigrants in the 19th century. It was once one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods, but is now a distinctive neighbourhood populated with elegantly renovated Victorian homes. The commercial heart of Cabbagetown is at Parliament and Carlton Streets with stores and restaurants catering to the local residents.
- Old Town Toronto is an area with many preserved Victorian-era commercial buildings. The area is roughly south of Queen Street East between Yonge Street and Parliament Street. The St Lawrence Market neighbourhood is south of King Street and is essentially the southern portion of Old Town Toronto. Included in this area are St Lawrence Hall and St Lawtrence Market.
- Corktown and the West Don Lands are neighbourhoods south of Queen Street East between Parliament Street and the Don River. This area includes the Distillery District, a complex of preserved Victorian-era industrial buildings.
By public transit
Subway line 1 along Yonge St provides access to the western side of the district; stations of note are:
- Wellesley - One block east is the Church-Wellesley Village.
- King - One block east is the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood.
- Union - Two and half blocks east along Front St will bring you to the St Lawrence Market.
Streetcar 504 King runs the length of King Street, from Broadview Station to Dundas West station, both on the subway line 2 (Bloor-Danforth). The 504 also connects with the U-shaped subway line 1 at St. Andrew and King stations.
Streetcar 506 Carlton runs through Cabbagetown from College Station on subway line 1 at Yonge St.
Bus 65 Parliament serves Parliament Street through Cabbagetown to Castle Frank Station on subway line 2 (Bloor-Danforth).
Bus 172 Cherry St runs from King Station on subway line 1 (King St at Yonge St) running past the St Lawrence Market and the Distillery District before turning south along Cherry St. into the Portlands.
Both streetcar 504 and bus 65 come within 2 blocks of the Distillery District, but bus 172 will deliver you right to its front door.
The main streets are Carlton and Parliament.
Sites of interest are mostly clustered north of Gerrard Street or south of Queen Street.
North of Gerrard Street
- Allan Gardens, 19 Horticultural Ave (South side of Carlton Street between Jarvis and Sherbourne Streets). Allan Gardens is a conservatory containing six greenhouses on large landscaped grounds. Admission is free and the greenhouses are open to the public year-round. The greenhouses contain plants native to many different countries and from different climactic regions of the world. Countries represented include Australia, Brazil, China, Mexico, and many others. On any given day one is likely to come across frolicking squirrels or birds that have found their way in through the doors. The ponds are home to turtles and fish and, if you look up, you just might see a snoozing raccoon. Allan Gardens is wheelchair accessible.
- Cabbagetown residential area. The best area to see a concentration of Victorian residences is east of Parliament Street and 1 block north of Gerrard Street. Many of the residences have a heritage building plaque by the front door.
- Winchester Street (One block north of Carlton St). Winchester Street is the main route from Parliament Street to Riverdale Farm, and is lined with Victorian houses with attractive front gardens. The street's landmark is the former St Enoch's Presbyterian Church built 1891 in Romanesque Revival style. Since 1979, the former church has housed the School of Toronto Dance Theatre.
- Millington Street / Sackville Place (1 block south of Winchester St between Metcalfe St and Rawlings Ave`). Millington Street and Sackville Place are two names for the same street which is a laneway lined with an eclectic mix of old and new small houses.
- Salisbury Ave (1 block north of Winchester St between Metcalfe St and Rawlings Ave). This narrow street (virtually a lane at its western end) is lined with Victorian residences circa 1887.
- Laurier Ave (off Wellesley St 1 block east of Parliament St). A short, narrow street lined with 3-storey Victorian townhouses (circa 1888) each having a second floor balcony over each entrance.
- Wellesley Cottages (off Sackville St 1 block north of Wellesley St). Wellesley Cottages is the name of a street and three cottage-style buildings built in 1886-1887 by William Hooker from the plans that won him an architectural award in 1851 at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The cottages in the middle are row houses for labourers while the two cottages at each end were for supervisors. Wellesley Cottages is a private street not owned by the City of Toronto but by its residents who are responsible for its maintenance such as for sewers and snow removal.
- Alpha Avenue (off Sackville St 2 blocks north of Wellesley St). A short, narrow street lined on each side with a row of two-storey Victorian townhouses circa 1887.
- Wellesley Avenue (off Wellesley St 3 blocks east of Parliament St). Wellesley Avenue (not to be confused with Wellesley Street) is a short, narrow street lined on both sides with semi-detached Victorian houses (circa 1888). There is a quaint decoration at the end of the street.
- Dermott Place (2 lanes east of Parliament St, south of Carlton St). This narrow street, only one lane wide, has a variety of small residences in different styles on both sides of the street, some with narrow front gardens.
- Canadian Sculpture Centre (Sculptors Society of Canada), 500 Church St (2 blocks north of Carlton St), ☎ +1 647-435-5858. Tue-Fri 12-6 pm, Sat 11am-4pm (except holiday weekends). A small collection of sculptures to promote local artists. The collection changes every several weeks which might result in additional closed days. (Two founders of the Sculptors Society of Canada were Frances Loring and Florence Wyle who have a small park, Loring-Wyle Parkette, named in their honour.) Admission free.
- Chapel of St. James-the-Less (St. James Cemetery), 635 Parliament St (About 100 metres north of Wellesley St near the cemetery entrance). Chapel of St. James-the-Less, erected in 1860 and opened in 1861, sits atop a knoll at the highest point in the St. James Cemetery. This small funeral chapel is an example of Victorian Gothic design with stone walls, enveloping roofs, and a soaring spire. It is a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
- Gallery Arcturus, 80 Gerrard St E (just east of Church St), ☎ +1 416-977-1077. Tue-Sat 12-5:30pm. This small contemporary art gallery has changing displays in five rooms. The gallery is located in a heritage building built in 1858 for a local barrister. Free admission.
- Riverdale Farm, 201 Winchester St (In Old Cabbagetown east of Parliament St north of Carlton St). Riverdale Farm is a turn of the century, that would be the twentieth century, Ontario farm and the site of Toronto's first zoo. Attractions include demonstrations of milking, cream separating, butter-making, egg collecting, sheep sheering, wool spinning and dying, amongst others. There is no parking on the grounds, but street parking is available near by. Admission is free.
South of Queen Street
- Cathedral Church of St. James, 65 Church Street (504 streetcar to Church Street), ☎ +1 416 364-7865. Sun-Fri: 7:30am-5:30pm; Sat: 9am-5pm. This impressive, gothic revival cathedral was built in 1844. It has an extremely pleasant garden that allows for relaxing people watching on King St. Free.
- Corktown Common, 155 Bayview Ave (504 or 501 streetcar to Lower River St; walk south). Situated on former industrial lands, the park features a lush landscape with a marsh, sprawling lawns, urban prairies, playground areas, a splash pad and other features like a fireplace, permanent barbeque, large communal picnic tables and washrooms. The park has a hill giving views of the surrounding area. Railfans can get a view of the GO Transit Don Yard for storing commuter trains between the AM and PM rush hours.
- Distillery District, 55 Mill St (172 bus from King Station to Trinity St or 504 streetcar to Trinity St & walk south), ☎ +1 416-364-1177. The Distillery District is a historic and entertainment precinct. It contains numerous cafés, restaurants and shops, as well as art galleries and a theatre, all housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The 13 acres (5.3 ha) district comprises more than forty heritage buildings and ten streets, and is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America. The district was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988. Walking tours are available from the Distillery Visitor Centre. Generally free admission except for some special events.
- First Toronto Post Office (Town of York Historical Society), 260 Adelaide St E (504 streetcar to Jarvis St, walk 1 block north to Adelaide St then 1½ blocks east), ☎ +1 416-865-1833. Mo-Fri 9am-5:30pm, Sa 10am-4pm, Su 12-4pm. Toronto's First Post Office (or Fourth York Post Office) is an 1834 post office that is today a historical museum with a few postal and local history exhibits. It is the oldest purpose-built and the only surviving example, of a post office that functioned as a department of the British Royal Mail. The style of the building is late Georgian architecture. Visitors can prepare an old-fashioned folded-sheet letter using a quill pen and sealing wax for a small additional fee. The museum also contains a modern post office outlet. Admission with a suggested $2 donation.
- Bank of Upper Canada Building, 252 Adelaide St E (2 addresses west of the First Toronto Post Office building). This building was built in 1827 for the Bank of Upper Canada, a bank that failed in 1866. It is a National Historic Site and one of the few buildings in Toronto that predates the city itself, known as the Town of York until 1834. The building is used today for commercial office space.
- De La Salle Institute, 258 Adelaide St E (1 address west of the First Toronto Post Office building). De La Salle Institute built a Catholic school here in 1871. The institute took over the First Toronto Post Office building in 1874 and the Bank of Upper Canada Building about 20 years later. The institute left all three buildings in 1916.
- Gooderham Building, 49 Wellington St E (Yonge subway to Union Station, then three blocks east on Front or 504 streetcar to Church Street, then one block south on Church St.). Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm. The Gooderham Building, generally known as the Flatiron Building, is a five-storey, wedge-shaped building at the intersection of Front, Church and Wellington Streets. It was built in 1892 and was the first flatiron building in a major city. Until 1952 the building housed the offices of Gooderham & Worts Distillers, whose distilling buildings now make up the Distillery District several blocks to the east. Also, take a look at the trompe-l'œil mural on the rear of the building from the adjacent Berczy Park.
- Old Toronto Street Post Office (later Old Bank of Canada), 10 Toronto Street (2 blocks east on King St from Yonge St, 1 block north of Toronto St). Interior not open to public. This Greek Revival building was the Toronto Street Post Office (1851–1872) and a Bank of Canada branch (1872-1959). Subsequently, it was owned by Argus Corporation which came under the control of Conrad Black. It was here that Conrad Black got in trouble with the U.S. justice system by removing boxes of documents from this office. The building is a designated National Historic Site of Canada.
- St Lawrence Hall, 157 King St E (504 streetcar to Jarvis Street), ☎ +1 416-392-7809. This ornate, Renaissance Revival building was built in 1850 to be Toronto's main meeting space and was a major centre for political speeches and concerts. It is now used for a diverse range of uses, from weddings to art shows.
- St Lawrence Market, 92 - 95 Front St E (504 streetcar to Jarvis Street), ☎ +1 416 392-7120. Closed Sundays & Mondays. A city market has been located on the southwest corner of Front St East and Jarvis St for over 200 years. The current incarnation of the South Market contains over 200 permanent food-related vendors on two floors, including butchers, fishmongers and numerous specialty and takeout businesses. The South Market is open daily except Sundays and Mondays. The North Market, located just across Front St, opens only on Saturdays for a Farmers' Market, when farmers from surrounding townships sell their wares, and on Sundays for an Antique Market.
- Toronto Sculpture Garden, 115 King St E (Just east of Church St, 3 blocks east of Yonge St), ☎ +1 416-515-9658. Toronto Sculpture Garden has a changing exhibit of sculptures. The small park is nestled between two buildings and has a waterfall fountain along its east wall. Admission free.
- Underpass Park, Lower River St at Trolley Cres (S of King St E). Underpass Park is located under bridges for an expressway ramp, a location one would normally associate with ugliness. However, artists have created a colourful mural gallery at the east end of the park (at Lower River St) painting bright murals on all the pillars and crossbeams supporting the bridges. There are also a few similar murals nearby where the same expressway ramps cross King St E at Virgin Pl.
- "The 519", 519 Church Street, ☎ +1 416 392-6874, fax: +1 416 392-0519. City-funded LGBTQ community centre hosts various community, athletic and cultural groups.
- Elmspa, 557 Church St, ☎ +1 416 964-4500, toll-free: +1 877-284-6348, fax: +1 416 977-8611. Spa, an urban boutique spa that is natural, modern, and environmentally responsible. elmspa treatments are designed to de-stress, relax, and revitalize your soul.
- Spa Excess, 105 Carlton St, ☎ +1 416 260-2363, toll-free: +1 877-867-3301, fax: +1 416 260-2290. A men's bathhouse open 24/7/365. Clean, well kept w/ friendly staff. Wide demographic - probably the best of 6 or 7 baths in T.O Open Daily 24 hours. A short distance outside of Church-Wellesley Village but still in the spirit of the village.
Stage theatres and concert venues
- Alumnae Theatre Company, 70 Berkeley Street (504 streetcar to Ontario St then 1 block east to Berkeley St then 1 blocks north of King St). Variety of dramatic productions staged by a long-running women-led company in a converted firehall (Berkeley Fire Hall Number 4, built in 1905).
- Berkeley Street Theatre (Canadian Stage Company), 26 Berkeley Street (504 streetcar to Ontario St then 1 block east to Berkeley St then 1½ blocks south of King St). Performing arts theater: stage plays.
- Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St (1 block east of Yonge St). Venue for bold gay & lesbian theatrical expression.
- The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, 80 Winchester St (1 block east of Parliament St), ☎ +1 416-967-6887. Venue at a contemporary dance school offering classic & new choreographed dance shows. Since 1979, the theatre has been housed in the former St Enoch's Presbyterian Church built 1891 in Romanesque Revival style.
- St Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St E (1 block east of Yonge St, 2 blocks east of Union Station). Performing arts venue with 2 small theatres for theatre, art & musical performances in many genres.
- Sony Centre For The Performing Arts, 1 Front St E (At Yonge St, 1 block east of Union Station). Large venue with elegant decor hosting concerts, theatre performances & cultural events.
- Cabbagetown Festival, Parliament Street, Cabbagetown. Held annually on a week-end in September. This is a local street festival with a number of activities. On the chosen festival week-end, Parliament Street is closed off to traffic between Gerrard Street and Wellesley Street.
- Pride Toronto. Held the last week of June. Pride Toronto is the annual LGBT festival which includes the very popular Pride Parade which draws crowds of straight people to discover how LGBT people have fun. During the last weekend, Church Street is closed off in Church-Wellesley Village for festivities.
- Toronto Christmas Market, Distillery District. From late November to a few days before Christmas. Many vendor stands are set up in the Distillery district with a Christmas theme offering food and merchandise. Free Mon-Fri; small fee Sat & Sun.
- Glad Day Bookshop, 598A Yonge St (½ block north of Wellesley St, 1 block west of Church-Wellesley Village). Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans Bookstore. The shop located on the second floor over another unrelated shop.
- 724 Movies and More, 584 Church St (1 block north of Wellesley). This local movie rental business is great for finding new releases and independent releases. All movie rentals are $4, between Monday and Thursday if you rent 2 you get a 3rd for free. The staff is friendly and helpful. This store does have some previously viewed movies for sale and does still carry VHS tapes.
On Church Street between Isabella to the north and Carlton to the south you will find more restaurants than just about anywhere in the city in a comparable distance (comparable to Greektown). The restaurants often suffer in Toronto's tourist districts, this is no exception. If you have to eat here, the take-out often beats sit-down, and you get to walk. There are several good "sub" joints north of Wellesley on Church. The key here is that you are eating as part of a larger plan to be out with friends for drinks, socializing, dancing and having a wild time.
- Byzantium, 499 Church St. The "see and be seen" attitude restaurant and bar. Overpriced and not what it once was, but still the destination for that first date, a smart little cocktail or introducing the straight family to the village.
- Cafe California, 538 Church St. Been there longer than anyone else. Extremely popular. Dependable if unexciting menu. Great staff.
- Churchmouse & Firkin, 475 Church St. English pub grub. Small summer patio.
- Crepe It Up, 507 Church St. Sweet & savory crêpes, coffee, pastries. Suggestion: Montreal or Hawaiian crepes.
- Ginger, 546 Church St. Asian fast food. can be tasty but high calorie.
- Hair Of The Dog Neighbourhood Pub & Restaurant, 425 Church St. Overpriced pub grub, but they have very good nachos.
- The Healthy Greek, 459 Church St, ☎ +1 647 435 3568, e-mail: email@example.com. Closed until further notice due to renovations.
- Just Thai, 534 Church St. The best part is food flexibility. They will make it any way you like, from mild to molten. Fun staff.
- Bulldog Coffee, 86 Gerrard Street East (East of Church St), ☎ +1 416-923-3469. 8am to 6pm. Espresso and espresso based drinks.
- Buster's Sea Cove, St. Lawrence Market (upper level at rear), ☎ +1 416 369-9048. Thu,Fri,Sat day time. Good selection of sea food dishes
- Cranberries Restaurant, 601 Parliament St (North of Wellesley). Serves good, reasonably priced meals, heavy on the comfort food. They also have great nightly specials.
- George's Deli & BBQ, 254 Dundas Street E (east of Sherbourne St), ☎ +1 416-964-6393. Open to 2AM. whole barbecued chicken and fries with gravy. No seating. No whacking people ahead in line.
- Nami Japanese Restaurant, 55 Adelaide St E (1 block north of King St, 2½ blocks east of Yonge St), ☎ +1 416-362-7373. Sushi bar, robata grill & tabletop hot pots. (Robata is a method of cooking, similar to barbecue, in which items of food on skewers are slow-grilled over hot charcoal.) Kimono-clad servers add to the traditional atmosphere of the restaurant.
- Peartree Restaurant, 507 Parliament St, Cabbagetown (½ block north of Carlton St; 506 streetcar or 65 bus), ☎ +1 416-962-8190. Restaurant with a fireplace & patio, serving French, Italian, Canadian & Cajun dishes, plus brunch.
- Red Rocket Coffee, 154 Wellesley St E at Homewood Ave. Finding a branch of this eclectic space-themed cafe is not hard; look for the red circle with the white rocket inside. Licensed by LLBO, serving wines from Niagara Region, beer from the Mill Street Brewery, and Waupoos cider from Prince Edward County.
- SOMA Chocolatemaker, 32 Tank House Lane (within the Distillery District), ☎ +1 416-815-7662. Artisan chocolate factory with viewing area crafting treats from bars to spicy cocoa. Try the spicy Maya hot chocolate.
- Tim Hortons (former Winchester Hotel), 537 Parliament St (at Winchester St, 1 block north of Carlton St in Cabbagetown; 506 streetcar or 65 bus), ☎ +1 416-972-0003. Open 24 hours. What distinguishes this Tim Hortons outlet from hundreds of others is its setting in the former Winchester Hotel, built in the Second Empire style in 1888. The coffee shop, located in the former hotel lobby area, has bare brick walls adorned with large historic photos.
- Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St (1 block east of Yonge St). A theatre by day, club by night.
- Crews & Tango, 508 Church Street. The quintessential gay bar/club in the gay village. 2 floors, 3 rooms, and weekly drag shows makes for a great night to town.
- Woody's, 467 Church Street. The biggest bar in the city. Very friendly. Hosting nightly DJs & men's competitions on weekends, this lively, cavernous gay club boasts 5 bars.
- C'est What?, 67 Front St East (At Church St). A homey subterranean bar that has been open for over 25 years offering Toronto's largest selection of exclusively Canadian microbrews, a varied menu, and a live music stage that has showcased many of Canada's independent musicians before they became famous.
- Mill St. Brew Pub, 21 Tank House Lane (within the Distillery District), ☎ +1 416-681-0338. Spacious brewpub with several beers that are only available on-site plus bar food.
- The Wine Bar, 9 Church St (south of Front St), ☎ +1 416 362-1957. Open Mo-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11AM-11PM. A wine bar with tapas-style menu, casual atmosphere, open kitchen. A good place to dine alone if you sit at the bar.
- HI-Toronto Youth Hostel, 76 Church St (at Adelaide; Subway: King), ☎ +1 416 971-4440, toll-free: +1-877-848-8737. A HI hostel conveniently located within walking distance of Yonge and Dundas Square as well as Union Station. Clean and well-kept, with friendly, helpful staff, but small rooms. Free Wifi included. $22-45 for a shared room, price depends on number of beds. Non-HI members pay $4 extra.
- Holiday Inn Express, 111 Lombard St, ☎ +1 416 367-5555. Cable TV, free Wifi, coffee and free breakfast, basic but ticks all the boxes. Book 2 weeks in advanced to get the cheaper rate. $145 (summer high season).
- Isabella Hotel, 556 Sherbourne St. Isabella Hotel and Suites, a historic landmark, offers boutique lodging accommodations in the centre of St James Town near the subway and local tourist attractions.
- Ramada Plaza Toronto, 300 Jarvis St, ☎ +1 416 977-4823. Restaurant, business center, meeting & banquet rooms, indoor heated swimming pool, hot tub, complimentary WiFi, underground parking available, central location.
- The Toronto Townhouse B&B, 213 Carlton St, ☎ +1 416 323-8898. Toronto Tourism award winners, they offer suites and rooms from $79 and up and are just 4 city blocks from Yonge & College subway. Amenities include free wi-fi and local & long distance calling.
- Town Inn Suites, 620 Church St (at Charles), ☎ +1 416 964-3311. Five minutes' walk from Bloor-Yonge subway. One-bedroom suites with bathroom and kitchenette; swimming pool. Showing its age, and furniture and fittings of variable quality (in particular, extractor fans generally defective), but redeemed by a friendly front desk and efficient service engineers. For a decent view you need to go to the very top. Recommended for stays of a month or more.
- Wellesley Manor Boutique Hotel, 29 Wellesley St E, ☎ +1 416 927-9820, toll-free: +1-888-927-9820. Victorian-era home converted to a bed and breakfast. There is a mix of single rooms (a single or double bed), double rooms (a double bed with private shower) and queen rooms (private bath or shower and comfortable bed). Furniture and decor tends towards Victorian style. $99-149 (prices could be higher in summer).
- Holiday Inn Toronto Downtown Centre, 30 Carlton Street, toll-free: +1-877-834-3613. Less than a block from College subway station, this high-rise hotel is also a 9-minute walk from shopping at the Eaton Centre.
- Shoppers Drug Mart, 467 Parliament St (506 streetcar to Parliament St), ☎ +1 416-925-4121. Open daily. Post office outlet within the store.
- Parliament Street Library, 269 Gerrard St E (506 streetcar to Gerrard St), ☎ +1 416-393-7663. Closed Sundays in summer. Wi-fi, computers with internet access.
- Shoppers Drug Mart, 18 Lower Jarvis St (506 streetcar to Parliament St), ☎ +1 416-203-3700. Open daily. Post office outlet within the store.
- St. Lawrence Library, 171 Front St E (504 streetcar to Jarvis St then 1 block south and 2 blocks east), ☎ +1 416-393-7655. Closed Sundays. Wi-fi, computers with internet access.
|Routes through Downtown East|
|Etobicoke ← Yorkville and the Annex ←||W E||→ East End → Scarborough|