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Toronto’s most unexpected tourist attraction celebrates art in a way that’s controversial, sometimes illegal and yet extraordinarily vibrant.
Fortunately for street art lovers and visitors of this great city, the thin line between vandalism and street art has somehow faded. The current consensus is that it is fully acceptable as long as it is pleasing to the eyes and leave a more positive vibe.
So if you’re looking for Toronto’s most Instagrammable tourist spot, head on over to Graffiti Alley.
The Graffiti Alley, also known as Rush Lane, is just a block south of Queen Street W. It runs west from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street.
How to get there: By Streetcar, get off at Spadina Ave & Queen St W Stop and walk toward the direction of rush Lane. We went there using a rental car that we parked at a Green P garage in Kensington Market. From Kensington Market, we walked south on Spadina Avenue.
Surprisingly, not everyone who visits Toronto is aware of this little street art nook in the city. Sure, you’ll see graffiti almost everywhere in Toronto (or any major city for that matter) but it’s not often that you see them all in one place, celebrated as if it is like an open-air free art museum. My aunt was rather surprised (and amused) when we told her that we wanted to see the Graffiti Alley. In her mind, she probably imagined a dingy old alley with dumpsters and a few spray-painted vandalism.
Her idea can somehow be justified, it is indeed an alley after all. But at every inch on every corner, there is spray-painted art waiting to be gawked and photographed.
I’ve compiled here a few of my favorite photos from our Graffiti Alley walk, so you’ll have an idea of what to expect when you visit. They say that some of the street art here are painted over with new graffiti from time to time so it is quite possible you won’t see some that are on here and maybe you’ll get to see even something cooler.
This wall full of positive words has got to be my favorite of them all. How I wish I can pass by this wall every day just so I can be reminded and inspired.
With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, do not be surprised if someone offers you a joint as you stroll along this alley. Yes, that’s how they roll!
There’s completely no pressure to do it though if you’re not up for it. The choice will always be yours.
The popularity of the Graffiti Alley has reached far and beyond. It’s a common scene to see Instagrammers and Bloggers/Vloggers wandering the streets and documenting the art.
This huge wall has one of the most intricate and colorful murals depicting undersea adventures.
I’ve always been interested and curious to know the story behind any kind of art. But compared to a regular museum where you can simply read the literature or rent an audio guide, street art is very much open for all types of interpretation.
In the midst of it all, you’ll find this little patch of a green sanctuary. My eyes welcomed this nice break from all the color tones of street art.
Being a dog-lover myself, this is one of the street arts that had immediately caught my attention. I am just in awe of how talented and yet unrecognized these street artists are.
Honestly, these photos are just the tip of the graffiti iceberg that you’ll find in the area. Every corner you’ll see interesting street art, you’ll also see them in the Kensington Market area.
I hope that my photos can help you decide if Graffiti Alley is something that you’ll want to see on your Toronto visit. Honestly, it’s a worthy trip if you ask me. You can visit Chinatown and Kensington Market which are also in the same area. The best part of it all, it’s absolutely free!
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Have you ever been to Toronto’s Graffiti Alley? Share your experience by leaving a comment below!
If you want to make the most of your time in downtown Toronto and cover the highlights in one go, I suggest booking a ride on the Toronto Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. This is the perfect and most convenient way to see the city. You can always choose which of the sights you want to see up close and just hop on back to your next destination.
Check out my other posts about our Toronto, Quebec City, and Montreal Road Trip below:
Day 1: The Toronto Islands | CN Tower Experience
Day 2: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada | Must-See Sights in Downtown Toronto for First-Time Visitors
Day 3: Niagara Falls, Canada: Hornblower Cruise, Table Rock Centre and Outlet Collection
Day 4: Royal Ontario Museum | Kensington Market and Chinatown | Toronto’s Graffiti Alley
Day 6: Montmorency Falls | Old Quebec Town
Day 7: Musee de la Civilization
Day 9: Montreal Botanical Garden
Day 10: Mont-Royal Parc