Shop til you drop in Toronto: 8 best shopping areas

 

7

MARCH 2020

Best clothing stores in Toronto

It’s not often that I get the chance to go shopping when I travel. The landscape, architecture and food of a new destination tends to attract my attention.

However, when a shopping opportunity presents, my inner shopaholic is unleashed as is credit card carnage.

North American cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are widely known for being shopping meccas. However, there’s another big city, north of the US border, that holds plenty of spending potential.

While Toronto may not be the Canadian capital, its number of shops and malls makes it the nation’s shopping capital.

There are some fantastic shopping areas to visit in Toronto, and this post will show you where to find them. So, if spend, spend, spend is your M.O when you travel, this post has your name on it.

Get to a Toronto mall — best clothing stores in Toronto

My love of shopping malls began in North America, so it’s only fitting that shopping in Toronto begins here.

Prepare to pound the pavements and rack up your steps. These malls are large, lively and filled with some of your favorite top name brands.

1. Toronto Eaton Centre

Tick off one Toronto landmark at the Toronto Eaton Center. This mammoth mall has more than 230 retailers and restaurants beneath its glass roof.

From designer brands with eye-watering prices, to mid-range and budget, there’s something for everyone.

The variety of eateries and cafes is just as impressive. There are 7 dine-in restaurants plus its grand food court with a diverse array of eateries.

Toronto Eaton Center also holds special promotions throughout the year. Check the website to see what’s on before your visit.

How to reach Toronto Eaton Centre — best clothing stores in Toronto

There are several ways to get to the center. However, I found that taking the metro was the easiest option.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is the public transport agency in Toronto. It operates bus, subway and streetcar services across the city. Queen and Dundas subway stations — on the Yonge line — are the closest to the Toronto Eaton Centre.

Alternatively, there are 2 streetcar services that you can also use. The 501 streetcar stops at Yonge & Queen st, which is located on the south end of the center. Dundas Station, on the north side of the center, is a stop for the 505 streetcar.

Boutique hotel close to the Toronto Eaton Centre

How does a luxury boutique hotel in a 19th century restored chocolate building sound? The exquisite The Ivy at Verity is a short walk from some of Toronto’s main attractions.

Spacious rooms, Italian linens and marble bathrooms are some of the features you can expect to find.

The delicious St Lawrence Market is an 8-minute walk away, while the Toronto Eaton Centre is just 5 minutes on foot.



Booking.com

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A Toronto shopping institution — Toronto Eaton Centre

 

“…if spend, spend, spend is your M.O when you travel, this post has your name on it.”

Map: 8 sizzling shopping spots in Toronto

2. Square One

Covering 2.2 million sq ft of space, Square One (SQ1) is the largest mall in Ontario.

The mall’s in Mississauga, a city on the lakefront just southwest of Toronto. Nearby is Port Credit, with even more shops, plus a working lighthouse and a marina.

There are 360 stores and services for eager shoppers. Square One is home to many top fashion brands, both Canadian and international.

Visitor discounts and savings — best clothing stores in Toronto

Tourism is something that also sits high on SQ1’s agenda. Along with organizing group tours of the mall, SQ1 also offers tourist privileges for its out-of-town guests.

Tourist visitors* receive access to exclusive offers, savings, and complimentary services at participating stores and restaurants.

You need to present a form of ID, such as your passport or driver’s license to receive tourist privileges. Show one of these at a guest experience kiosk and enjoy the perks.  

*A tourist visitor is defined as anyone who has traveled 60 km or farther to visit Square One. Valid ID is required.

Reaching Square One — best clothing stores in Toronto

Unlike the Toronto Eaton Centre, there isn’t (yet) a nearby TTC subway station within walking distance of SQ1. You can take the metro to Islington Station, but you also have to take a bus from here.

Buses 109, 35, 76, 3 and 26 will take you to the shopping center. Journey times range from 31 to 38 minutes depending on the time of travel and traffic.

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The Square One shopping mall is one of the biggest and the best clothing stores in Toronto

 

3. Yorkdale Shopping Centre

The Yorkdale area is synonymous with luxury. It’s home to several high-end hotels, such as the exquisite Four Seasons Toronto.

Around this area are also many luxury stores, including the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. It has been around for more than 50 years. There are, at present, 270 stores to browse or buy from.

The center’s also home to the country’s largest collection of designer brands, stocking everything from Balenciaga to Valentino.

If clothes shopping really isn’t your thing, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre has plenty of other stores within its walls.

Tesla has a showroom here, with some of its models in store. And, if case your budget doesn’t stretch to an electric sports car, looking and admiring is 100% free.

Getting to Yorkdale Shopping Centre — best clothing stores in Toronto

Yorkdale Station is the closest metro subway to get to Yorkdale Shopping Centre. You can find it on the Yonge to University subway line. 

The number 29 Dufferin Bus stops directly in front of the Yorkdale West entrance. Another bus option is the 47 Lansdowne, which stops at Yorkdale Subway Station bridge.

Where to stay in Yorkdale

Continuing the luxury feel of the area, I stayed at The Windsor Arms Hotel. A traditional hotel within easy reach of shops in Yorkdale, my suite was a luxurious and comfortable stay.

Spend some downtime in their European-style spa, and don’t forget to book in for afternoon tea at their tea room.



Booking.com

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Luxury brands and more at Yorkdale Shopping Centre

 

4. Dixie Outlet Mall

Who doesn’t love a good bargain? Just 20 minutes from downtown Toronto, and also in Mississauga, is the Dixie Outlet Mall.

Hunt for Canadian and international labels across 116 retail stores. It’s one of the country’s largest enclosed outlet shopping centers and is popular for good reason.

Dixie Outlet Mall also has a variety of dining venues, ranging from specialty dining to its food court.

Get fit, shop or do both — best clothing stores in Toronto

While some may knock shopping as a meaningless pastime, they’re forgetting the amount of exercise that takes place.

It’s something that the Dixie Outlet Mall recognizes, and has responded to with its mall walker’s program.

Walking for Wellness is free for anyone to join, and keeps you fit walking with friends, or in a new group.

Walk comfortably anytime of the year, and in a climate-controlled environment.

Getting to Dixie Outlet Mall

Like Square One shopping center, there’s no nearby metro subway station. Instead, the best route from downtown Toronto is the following:

 

  • Take the GO Transit Lakeshore West Line train from Union Station (21 minutes)
  • Get off at Long Branch station
  • Take the Mississauga Transit Route 5 Northbound bus and get off at South Service Rd at Haig Blvd. This bus will take your directly to Dixie Outlet Mall (9 minutes).
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Bag a designer bargain at one of the outlets at Dixie Outlet Mall — best clothing stores in Toronto

Toronto’s best clothing and goods markets

Whether it’s food, clothing or antiques, I adore visiting local markets on my travels. And in Toronto, there are several that will easily fill up half a day.

5. Kensington Market

Colorful, bohemian and alternative, your Toronto market experience should begin at Kensington Market.

The neighborhood’s known for its independent boutiques, eateries and specialty food shops. On the clothing front, Kensington Market has some excellent vintage stores. Bungalow, Exile and Astro are just several in the area selling items you won’t find anywhere else.

The market’s also renowned for its number of art shops and galleries as well as for its custom-made jewelry.

Getting to Kensington Market — best clothing stores in Toronto

The Kensington area of Toronto is in a prime central downtown location. Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street and College Street are the surrounding principle streets.

The closest metro subway station is St Patrick, and it’s about 17 minutes’ walk to reach the market.

Another option is to take a streetcar. From Union Station, you can take the Queen’s Quay / Spadina streetcar. Get off at Spadina Ave at Dundas St West North Side.

Boutique hotel close to Kensington Market

Enjoy beautifully-designed modern rooms with plenty of natural light at The Annex Hotel. It’s within walking distance to Kensington Market, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum.

On site is a restaurant, concierge and complimentary WiFi.



Booking.com

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Edgy, colorful and individual — come to Kensington Market for some of the best alternative clothing stores in Toronto

6. Dr Flea’s Flea Market

What better than to head to a flea market whose name’s actually called Dr Flea’s? This Toronto favorite has held the title of the city’s largest indoor and outdoor flea market for over 30 years.

It takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Dr Flea’s has over 400 vendors selling everything from clothing to comic books. It’s the place to come to find rare stamps, antique coins and used books.

What’s more, there’s also a farmers market that attracts over 10,000 visitors each weekend. During summer, it operates indoors and out, while in winter, it stays indoors and is fully heated.

Reaching Dr Flea’s Flea Market — best clothing stores in Toronto

If you do decide to visit, I suggest hiring a car, or taking a car sharing service such as Uber. There are transport options to reach the flea market from Union Station, but it involves several changes.

Dr Flea’s Flea Market, 8 Westmore Dr, Etobicoke, Toronto

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From clothes to unique ornaments, Dr Flea’s Flea Market has it all

Vintage shopping

Stand out from the crowds and make a bold fashion statement. Toronto has plenty of vintage shops to release your inner fashionista and find some fabulous finds at the same time.

7. Gadabout Vintage — best clothing stores in Toronto

Gadabout Vintage has a fine selection of clothing and accessories dating from the late 1800s right through to the 1970s.

Take the time to search through the racks of clothing and bag yourself a potentially historical bargain.

Along with vintage clothing, Gadabout Vintage also sells accessories, fabrics, blankets and rugs. Eccentric and unique, the store was voted ‘best vintage clothing store’ on Toronto.com.

Men are welcome too — best clothing stores in Toronto

At Gadabout Vintage, it’s not just about the ladies. The store has a manly man corner, packed full of ‘guy’s stuff’, such as penknives, lighters and swords.

How to get to Gadabout Vintage

The best way to get is here by streetcar. Numbers 301, 501 and 503 stop at Queen St East at Alton Ave, which is right outside the store.

You can also get the 501 streetcar from Queen subway station.

Gadabout Vintage, 1300 Queen St. East
Toronto

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Best clothing stores in Toronto — Gadabout Vintage has all your glamorous clothing and accessory needs

8. Public Butter Vintage — best clothing stores in Toronto

If you like your clothing edgy, individual and vintage, you need to add Public Butter Vintage to your list.

Carrying secondhand clothing and retro furnishings, it’s the place to get something that no other store has. Think distressed Levi’s jeans and 1980s cartoon t-shirts. Prices are extremely reasonable too, and your money will go a long way here.

Public Butter Vintage is the sister shop of Black Market Clothing. As well as selling alternative vintage pieces, they also sell new casualwear apparel.

 

close-up of a pair of blue jeans — Best clothing stores in Toronto

Vintage jeans and more on offer at Public Butter Vintage and Black Market Clothing

 

How to get to Public Butter Vintage and Black Market Clothing

From Union Square, take the 1 Yonge to University train line to Osgood station. Then, change for the 501 streetcar. The stop you need is Queen St West at Dufferin St stop. Public Butter Vintage is a 1-minute walk from here.

For Black Market Clothing, follow the same directions from Union Square to Osgood station. Walk for about 5 minutes, and you’ll come across the store.

Public Butter Vintage, 1290 Queen St W, Toronto,

Black Market Clothing, 256 Queen St W, Toronto

Have you been to Toronto? Did you get the chance to visit any of these shops or areas? Which one would you most like to visit? Leave me a comment below.

Till next time, happy boutique travels x

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

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Lisa Rivera

Lisa Rivera

Founder

 

Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…

       

 

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