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The eclectic and vibrant Kensington Market is one of Toronto’s must-see neighborhoods. Spending a few hours walking and browsing through the many shops and restaurants in the area will give you a glimpse of Toronto’s incredible diversity.
The colorful streets of Kensington Market are easily walkable from Chinatown and another popular tourist spot, the Graffiti Alley. It is also a short walking distance to the Art Gallery of Ontario. You could spend a whole day just exploring this area, you’ll never get bored and you won’t go hungry!
Address: West of Downtown Toronto
Operating Hours: Most shops are open from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Bars and restaurants close late in the night. It should be noted though that some shops are closed on Mondays.
How to get there: Kensington Market is easily accessible by Street Car. Get off at Spadina Ave and Dundas St W stop then walk 1 block West to reach Kensington Ave. If you are traveling by car, be aware that there’s limited parking in the area. We, however, took our chances and was able to find parking at a Municipal Green P Parking Garage. The entrance of the parking garage is on Baldwin St.
Website: Kensington Market
Suggested Tour: Small Group Walking Tour of Kensington Market and Chinatown
The streets of Kensington Market are lined with vintage and artisan shops, art spaces, bars, cafes, restaurants, and various specialty stores. I’ve seen organic products, vegan shops, psychic readings, script writings and even pharmacies selling cannabis (it’s totally legal in Canada!). It is also likely that you’ll see some street artists and performers in action while you’re in the area.
It ain’t a market if there’s no fresh produce and food. There are several groceries, meat, and cheese shops, and fruits and vegetables stand in between the many boutiques and cafes.
The area is also home to Toronto’s amazing wall and building murals.
During the months of May through October, visitors of Kensington Market should make it a point to go on the last Sunday of the month for Pedestrian Sundays. As you may have guessed, this basically means that no cars are allowed on the streets. It is completely taken over by the crowds of tourists and locals enjoying the outdoor market, art fair, food stalls and street performance throughout the day.
Another reason to visit Kensington Market is for its diverse culinary scene. A melting pot of flavors, any craving you might have can be easily satisfied as you walk through the streets and alleyways.
Address: West of Downtown Toronto
Operating Hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (Time varies per shop)
How to get there: Chinatown runs along Spadina Avenue and covers the stretch between Sullivan and College Streets, and of August and Beverley Streets. You can take the Spadina Street Car and get off anywhere between Spadina and Union Stops OR by Subway, take the University-Spadina Line, stop at St. Patrick Station, then walk 2 blocks west.
Website: Chinatown Toronto
Suggested Tour: 3-Hour Old Chinatown Food Tour
It was lunchtime by the time we reached Chinatown and we walked into the first Chinese Noodle Restaurant we saw. I know what you’re thinking. Kensington Market is full of restaurants but we chose Chinese food. Well, it’s the ultimate comfort food for these part-Chinese travelers so it was the obvious choice.
Almost all the major cities in the world have their own Chinatown. My home country, the Philippines, has the world’s oldest Chinatown in Binondo and it is one of my favorite places in Manila for some seriously delicious food-tripping!
Chinatown Toronto is one of the largest in North America and is clear testimony of the huge community of Chinese (and other Asian ethnicities) immigrants in Toronto. Aside from the restaurants, tea shops, and cafes, locals also frequent Chinatown to buy their stock of Asian food and ingredients, and herbal medicines. It was also interesting to see some local clubs in the area like this Hong Kong Kung Fu Club!
Two major events are celebrated in Chinatown Toronto. There is, of course, the Chinese New Year celebration, held in the first week of February. The other one is the Toronto Chinatown Festival held on a full weekend in August. There’s Asian street food, crafts from local artists and entertainment that runs all-day during the weekend affair.
We did not spend that much time roaming the streets of Chinatown, it’s not something entirely new to us. Instead, we head on over to view some of Toronto’s street art at the Graffiti Alley.
I hope you enjoyed my short post about Kensington Market and Chinatown Toronto!
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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