AOL PICK from our Editors
There is a constellation of areas that constitute the best Toronto shopping districts and those serious about splurging will want to hit all of them. King East is the prime spot if house and home are at the top of your shopping list—King Street between Jarvis and Ontario has every room covered. For fashion finds, hit Queen West and West Queen West—or if your budget is big, herd your credit cards and make for Yorkville. Clusters of antique and vintage ware stores can be found dotted along Queen East in Leslieville and along West Queen West where it meets Roncesvalles. For vintage wears, head for Kensington Market’s retro clothing stores. If it’s too hot or cold outside, duck underground and into the city’s PATH network—a complicated, often infuriating, vast underground walkway connecting 17 miles of Toronto shopping and entertainment.
If it’s edible and available in Ontario, it’s here at this 200-year-old market. On Saturdays, the province’s farmers leave their fields and flock to the north market building, fresh produce in tow. On Sundays, the same space becomes an antique market. The south market building—formerly Toronto’s first city hall—opens Tuesday through Saturday and offers an abundance of Ontario produce from fish to fine tea to meat and mustard. Make sure to try a hearty peameal bacon sandwich from the Carousel Bakery—it’s an Ontario specialty of thickly sliced, cornmeal-dusted unsmoked bacon.
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Covering almost an entire city block from Yonge and Dundas to James and Queen, the four-story megamall is home to more than 230 retailers, restaurants and services. It’s a nice, airy place to saunter through when it’s too hot or cold outside, and it links to the underground PATH network, the subway system, and the Bay department store on the south side of Queen and Yonge. A $120 million facelift for the 30-something-year-old mall is due to be finished by 2012.
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Selling designer delights to Toronto’s rich and well-dressed since 1976, Hazelton Lanes and surrounding blocks are home to some of the world’s most upscale luxury retailers. Conveniently situated beside the Four Seasons and the Royal Ontario Museum, 60-store Hazelton Lanes boasts tenants selling Dolce & Gabbana, Gaultier, Boss, Burberry and Blahnik. If you’re lucky enough to be in town in January, hotfoot it to the Lanes’ annual sale—there’s a minimum 50% discount on fall and winter items and plenty of winter left to wear them.
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Queen Street West
The catwalk of Toronto, you’ll see the latest looks along Queen Street West—in stores and on well-dressed and perfectly-coiffed locals strutting along the sidewalks. The looks and the window displays get edgier and more alternative as you progress west into West Queen West, with local designers and artists outnumbering the chain stores by the time you reach Bathurst. There’s a profusion of edgy record stores, independent bookstores, coffeehouses, chocolate and dessert artisans as the street goes west—and the rents go down. The street offers an incredible array of one-of-a-kind fashion and art finds.
Neighborhood: West End
For a very different take on shopping in Toronto, head to the Market. Bordered by College to the north and Dundas to the south, quirky Kensington Market spans just five blocks from Spadina to Bathurst, but encompasses a whole world in shopping experiences in those few feet. Vintage fans can get a slew of new looks at chaotic Courage My Love, intriguing Exile and wacky Dancing Days; knock-off sunglasses on almost every corner, and Latin American foods by the gallon. Carefully pruned old-school attire is placed alongside current designer duds at Bungalow. An enticing array of eateries—with a strong Mexican and Latin American flavor—is crammed in between the stores and stalls. The Market is car-free every last Sunday of the month.
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