I checked my to-do list one more time: Spring is coming up, so I want a new vase for flowers, and maybe an art piece for that empty wall in the living room. Easter Eggs for the kiddos. Need to get a new face cleaner, makeup remover, and hand cream. Also, an outfit for that trendy party coming up.

March break week is not the best time to get into a mall; however, I need to get my entire to-do list done. Hopefully all in one place, so I’ll need to be creative. And then, the light bulb turned on. I could visit the Distillery District!

The Distillery District is an internationally acclaimed village of brick-lined streets with vibrantly restored Victorian industrial buildings. It is home to converted warehouses, live theaters, and a hive of creative galleries, exclusive boutiques, chic cafes, and award-winning restaurants. It is all completely closed to traffic and just a few minutes walk from downtown Toronto – It is exactly the place I need.

As soon as I arrive, I take out my list, and start browsing the charming pedestrian-only village.

Art works.

Case Goods Warehouse is an entire building filled with open-to-the-public artists studios and workshops. This place can sometimes fly under the radar of tourists but it is one of the most distinctive spaces in the entire village. There are 63 artists here, featuring miniature quilts, wearable art, knitting, ceramics, glassworks, printmaking, sculptures, jewelry, and art works.

Although there are 22 galleries in the village, art aficionados can find affordable limited-edition paintings, photographs, and art pieces from Canada’s top artists at the Case Good Warehouse.

As a local artists supporter, this is the place where I am fulfilling the first item of my to-do list.

Chocolate Factory.

A must-stop is the Distillery’s very own chocolate factory SOMA. The love and curiosity of all things chocolate bring cocoa-obsessed people, like myself, to this space where a precious collection of modern and vintage chocolate making machines were restored back to life.

While I wait for my collection of colourful Easter eggs and a few big booty bunnies to be ready, I sipping a cup of hot chocolate, while watching the chocolate being made on-site.

The building is located in a fairly hidden area but not to worry, the aroma will guide you in.

Beauty Products.

Only one stop is needed to get my new face cleaner, makeup remover, and hand cream: The Abnormal Beauty Company.

In April 2017, the Internet went crazy for a $6 foundation that had a 25,000-person waitlist worldwide. The product, which comes from Canadian brand The Ordinary, received rave reviews from beauty editors, bloggers, and is even a favourite of Kim Kardashian. The brand falls under the umbrella of a larger company called The Abnormal Beauty Company (aka Deciem), a Toronto startup founded in 2013. The company’s portfolio of products includes affordable skincare, makeup, supplements, and hair care items. Sold in dropper bottles and tubes that look like they came straight from the lab, and sound like they were named by a dorky chemist.

Deciem currently has a gorgeous location in the Distillery District but also has stores in New York, Seoul, Mexico City, Australia, and London.

Unique boutiques.

The Distillery houses 25 crème de la crème shops. The clothing stores here are a shopping haven for those who love one-of-a-kind pieces. Some cater specifically to vintage-lovers, made-in Canada lines of organic and ecofriendly clothing, artsy garments, to high-end apparel. From boho to stylish accessories, the Village is the perfect place for some retail therapy.

After getting everything from my to-do list done, I stop at the Balzac’s Coffee Roasters for something with caffeine. On my way out of the Village, I walk by the Love Installation. The famous 9-meter long word “Love” is created in steel and lumbar alongside a heart where hundreds of visitors have locked their love.

It’s amazing how we can live in the city but rarely get to know it intimately. Just one place, and you can spend your entire afternoon enjoying art, shopping, and delicious chocolate. It is well worth your time to pay a visit to the Distillery District.


How to get there:
The Distillery District is located east of downtown Toronto, very accessible by car and public transit. From Union Station, ride the eastbound 504 King streetcar to King Street East at Trinity Street and walk south two blocks, or take the eastbound 514 Cherry streetcar to the end of the line. Walking from Union Station will take 20-25 minutes. If you do drive, there is paid parking right on side.

Site Accessibility:
The Distillery Historic District is an accessible site and provides for mobility-accessible parking, ramp access to buildings, shops, restaurants, and washrooms.