What to See and Things to Do in Trinity Bellwoods Toronto
Trinity Bellwoods is definitely one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Toronto. It combines the best of Queen West and Dundas West… but have you seen the park?? If not, go! Right now. You’ll catch all of the coolest people in town lounging in the grass, and once you leave its sunny slopes there’s so much to do in the area too. Ossington Avenue is Toronto’s hub for wining and dining, while Queen Street’s got some amazing shops. Not sure where to start? Here’s your guide to the best Trinity Bellwoods has to offer – both within the park and outside of it.
If you’re looking to explore a couple more creative and enriching neighbourhoods nearby, head a block or two north to vibrant Little Italy, and then east to Kensington Market, another unique and art-centered area, with a more bohemian vibe. There’s Amazing Things to Do all over the city this summer, though
1. Have dinner at a delicious restaurant
So you already know Ossington Avenue has the best restaurants in town… but how do you pick just one? We’re here to help. Of course, it’s hard to narrow it down, but you can’t go wrong with any of these establishments.
With minimalist, Scandinavian-inspired design, Queen Street restaurant Canis brings a feeling of upscale serenity to the bustling strip. Their beautifully textured and vegetable-filled dishes are just as pleasing on the eyes as they are on the palate. While the food on the seasonally-changing tasting menu speaks for itself, global wine pairings really give it a chance to stand out. website
Named for the family that owns it, Soos serves Malaysian street food with a fine dining twist. The dishes are imaginative while still being authentic, and above all, they’re delicious! For $40 you can opt for the « Feed Me » option where your whole table gets to sample a selection of the best dishes. website
Serving Greek recipes that have been passed down through generations, Mamakas Taverna’s space pays homage to tradition. The dishes are made to share, but are so good it might be difficult to! Their home made dips and pitas have been such a hit that they’ve also opened up Agora, a takeout place and market, on Queen Street nearby. website
Té is a true multicultural experience, named after the Spanish word for Tea, it serves tapas style Korean & Taiwanese bites that have global comfort food influences: from kimchi falafel to bulgogi mac and cheese. On top of that, their dessert and cocktails are all made with tea. website
In the atmosphere of a Parisian bistro, Union serves simple and hearty meals made only from farm fresh, organic and local ingredients. During the week they do lunch and dinner with an ever-changing menu, and on the weekend they add on an exceptional brunch. website
Once you step off the Ossington strip, the delicious food doesn’t stop. Patois serves up a perfectly executed blend of Jamaican and Chinese cuisines, and excellent cocktails. This Caribbean-Asian fusion is exemplified in their signature dish: Jerk Chicken Chow Mein. Try it on its own or come by as group of four to sample everything with their Order the Whole Menu special. website
2. Tour the local bars on a night out
When it comes to bars, you don’t have to pick just one! But if you’re trying to, you can be assured that everything on this list will make for an exceptional night, it just depends on what you’re looking for… a cozy dive for pints with friends? An upscale spot to celebrate a special occasion? Somewhere to let loose? Trinity Bellwoods has it all.
This area is so cool, it’s got its own brewery. It’s a brewpub that makes its own beer in-house and serve bites made of local ingredients too. Try their creative and delightful beers on tap or stop by the bottle shop to pick up an one of their ales on your way home. website
Part of a trifecta of affiliated establishments on Dundas, Cocktail Bar, naturally, has an amazing selection of cocktails that range from bold & citrusy, to liquour forward, to seasonal selections. Even in the same night, stop by Haitian restaurant Rhum Corner, or the original The Black Hoof restaurant, serving mostly meat based eats.
This cozy and low-key bar is a favourite hangout for locals. In fact, it’s so low-key that it still has the old sign up for Nazare Snack Bar. Now that you’re in the know, stop by for some beers with friends and to check out some live music performances in the evenings or to listen to the bar’s vinyl collection. facebook
Ossington Ave Bar Crawl
Ossington Avenue has one of the highest concentrations of bars and restaurants in Toronto, so it’s also perfect for an indulgent bar crawl. Starting at Queen Street, we recommend diving in at Sweaty Betty’s dive bar, then make your way up to Gift Shop cocktail bar, 80s inspired Oak Island, Cote De Boeuf‘s wine bar, tequila haven Reposado, and chill out at Man of Kent to finish off the night. You could have several amazing dinners while you’re at it, too.
3. Explore in Trinity Bellwoods Park
Ok, duh, the park is amazing. But did you ever realize just how many different things you can do there? The park is not any one thing, it’s a canvas for you to create your own fun year round. website
Play a Sport
The park is set up with a baseball diamond, four tennis courts, sports fields for any game from soccer to ultimate frisbee, a swimming pool in the community centre, an artificial ice rink in the winter, and the community centre also has a new gym floor with just about anything you need.
Lounge and Chill Out
Parks are perfect for relaxing – and Trinity’s got you covered: there’s a lovely grove, countless picnic benches and grassy meadows to spread out your picnic blanket in. A lovely spot to hang out is on the hill above the Dog Bowl watching the happy pups run around. You can also stop by the community greenhouse to see what they’re about.
Fun for Kids
Trinity is fun for the little ones, too. There’s a great new playground to climb on, a wading pool, and countless classes and activities to take at the community centre from piano to basketball. And they have adult classes too!
4. Check out what’s happening at Artscape Youngplace
A school building that has been converted into a community hub for all things creative. Artscape Youngplace is now dedicated to growth, learning and expression and is full of artists and organizations. Read their website to check out some of the amazing work that’s happening. They also run a wide variety of workshops and classes. Programming is offered both for kids as well as adults, with events such as a workshop on acupuncture for artists, or on mental health in the arts, and a variety of group art shows and art lessons. They’ve also got the Urban Living Lounge, a space with wifi that’s open to the public during the day, and the hallways double as free art galleries, with each floor making up a different exhibition. website
5. Hit the shops along Queen Street
If you’ve got some extra cash or an affinity for window shopping, you can’t go wrong at the stores on Queen Street. We bet there’s a beautiful boutique store that sells whatever it is you’re looking for. You can easily stroll down the street and and see what strikes your fancy, but here are some unique shops that we think are worth paying a visit.
Zane is the perfect place to shop around in, the accessory store is full of stylish pieces, unique knick knacks and small goods that you’ll just want to play with. They have a big selection of handbags, jewellery, and sunglasses which all strike a balance between style, quality and price. website
Type is an independent community bookstore. True to this agenda they sell small press, along with the classics, and often host community events. It’s a good place to go to find art and design books as well as children’s literature. They’re known for their ever-changing, sculptural window displays, so stop by often to see what the theme is this month. website
This shop is a collab between two companies that make « living things in glass. » Half cold-pressed juice shop, and half botanical garden, it’s one green store. You can stop by to pick up some juice, some imaginative plants and floral arrangements or sign up for a terrarium making workshop. Greenhouse / Crown Flora
Cosmos is a charming little vintage record store equipped with listening stations. It has a really great selection of music, especially jazz and exotica, including some rare finds. The friendly staff are also ready to chat and they’ll help you find what you’re looking for or discover something you didn’t know you’d love! website
This is probably the most fun designer clothing store you’ll ever go into. Hayley’s clothes combine wearable silhouettes with bright, colourful and spunky patterns that really stand out. Focused on making the wearer feel good, her line is inclusive, body positive, and artistic. website
Morba’s a funky furniture and lighting store that you could get lost in. Packed to the brim, they carry new and vintage furniture in sleek mid-century and industrial styles that’ll make you fall in love. They also have a wide selection of home decor and other accessories that make perfect gifts. website
And so much more…
This stretch of Queen Street is packed with shops, and there’s so many other boutiques and clothing stores worth checking out. Kotn sells delicately soft basic pieces, Philistine‘s got clothes for all genders as well as cool buttons and patches, and The Coal Miner’s Daughter carries cute Canadian fashion. There’s also Victoire Boutique on Ossington that stocks clothes designed by Canadian women.
6. Pay a visit to an art gallery
Naturally, where there’s artists there are art galleries! The streets south of Queen Street are quite the hub for independently owned art spaces. These three represent a diverse range of contemporary artists, from seasoned pros to up-and-coming provocateurs.
It’s easy enough to find, considering there’s a giant arrow pointing to the door. Once you’re there, come in to see the art by their artists, and have a chat with the gallerist, who’s always ready to teach and discuss. Living room friendly, or avant-garde the art is always thought provoking and considered. website
Since 1998 the gallery has been representing artists from around the world who’s work is progressive, challenging and intellectually motivated. The museum-quality exhibitions mounted in the gallery’s 7500 square foot space are sure to expand your mind. website
Susan Hobbs was established in 1993, making it one of the oldest private galleries in the city and it’s on the same stretch of road as Birch Contemporary. Only 2 doors away, in fact, with Georgia Scherman Projects sandwiched in between. Hit up all 3 in a tour of innovative contemporary spaces. website
7. Visit the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market
The Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market brings you the all fresh, local, organic, seasonal ingredients that you’ll need to prepare some culinary creations in your kitchen at home. They also have some ready-to-eat options for those passing by or to fill up on as you shop and talk to the wonderful people behind the stands: the farmers and food producers of Ontario. Come by for everything from fruit and vegetables, to bread, cheese, coffee, and even wine and cider. The Market runs on Tuesdays from 3m to 7pm, May 8 to Oct. 30, 2018. website
8. Join the coffee culture at a cafe
Cafes are the perfect place to warm up in the winter and cool off in the summer. Whether you want to curl up in one with a book, or take your coffee on a walk in the park, these are the best places to get your Trinity Bellwoods caffeine fix, and satisfy your sweet tooth too.
Named after the white squirrels that are infamous for hanging out around the park, the White Squirrel has become a Bellwoods institution in it’s own right. Aside from coffee, they serve homemade treats, delicious ice cream, breakfast foods and sandwiches. website
Their berry scones are heralded as some of the best in the city, so make sure to try one. Also, while their espresso is good, sometimes you just need to spice it up… among other specialty lattes there’s the red mocha, made with two shots of espresso, hot chocolate and cayenne pepper. Tip: they only accept cash. instagram
So much more than a cafe, it’s actually a general store too! You can simply get your morning pick-me-up with a hot cup of coffee, or do a full grocery haul. They’ve got Blackbird bread, local fruits and veggies, farm fresh meat and dairy, even ice cream and other small batch goods. Ready-to-eat lunch foods, too. website
Expert roasters and baristas make Pilot Coffee a prime Toronto favourite for your caffeine fix. With state of the art equipment, meals both for eating in and heading out, and even cold brew and kombucha on tap, you’re sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for. website
9. You can shop on Dundas too
Dundas West really gives Queen West a run for its money when it comes to shopping. It’s got a mix of upscale shops and some that have a real neighbourhood feel, making sure there’s something for everyone.
Tying together much of what we love about Trinity Bellwoods, OFFSITE is a coffee bar, fashion boutique and gallery all in one. The retail experience merges with the gallery experience, and the clothes on the racks become art, too. OFFSITE also hosts events in the space, often celebrating the opening of a new exhibition. website
State Goods sells prints featuring Canadiana, nostalgia and circles who’s frame is meant to be broken. Walking around the store is like being in a gallery, it’s full of curious and inspiring art and design, but the best part is: you can easily take a piece home! website
Two local artists teamed up to make this studio and shop to showcase their work in everything from sculpture to textiles. Stop by for some home goods and to look around at their hand-crafted projects (with an emphasis on natural materials!) In addition, they run a couple classes, such as their upcoming Punch Needle Workshop. website
A stylish clothing boutique for the empowered woman, Comrags clothes are designed and made in-house right above their flagship store on Dundas. The clothes have a price tag, but if you can afford it you’ll know you’re paying for the care and craftsmanship the designer duo puts into every piece they make. website
10. Look around at the local street art
The Trinity Bellwoods area is teeming with amazing street artists. Notably, on the northern edge of the park, there’s a row of garage doors with some much-photographed graffiti murals. One of the most distinct pieces is a horse by Toronto-based street artist Jerry Rugg (instagram/website) a.k.a. BirdO who’s known for his works featuring animals, geometric shapes and forced perspective, such as this garter snake mural nearby.
You can also check out Lovebot‘s ode to the Bellwoods white squirrel on Gore Vale Ave. in the alley just north of Queen Street. His robot with a heart graphic has become nearly an icon for the city itself, but look critically, this graffiti artist has been embroiled in online controversy. Since its height in 2013, the graffiti artists of the internet still haven’t made up their minds on wether Lovebot is really spreading love and a utopian message by proliferating its image all over the city, or is just a privileged guy taking up space for capital gain.
While you’re in the area, make sure you take a look at the tennis court and baseball diamond fences for some simpler inspiration – there’s often some writing woven into the chain link, delivering a kind message to passers by.
If you haven’t had your fill by then, Toronto’s famous Graffiti Alley is in the Fashion District just south of Queen, past Bathurst, to the east from Trinity Bellwoods.
11. Get some dessert
You don’t even have to get dinner first! And seriously… what is better that sitting in the park with some ice cream in the summer? Or sipping some velvety hot chocolate in the winter? These three places serve up some decadent sweet treats.
We’ll confess, this place is no secret – it’s insanely popular, but for good reason. They’ve usually got about 15-20 different flavours on the menu and you can get your ice cream in whatever form you like: in a cup, a cone, a waffle, sandwiched between two cookies or even just straight in a tub. website
Created in 2009 by a 4th generation pastry chef, Nadège has taken the Toronto dessert world by storm. If you decide to stop by, don’t get overwhelmed by all their colourful French treats, get a sampling of their delicate and delightful macarons: it’s what they’re known for. website
Odile Chocolat’s specialty is truffles, and each little square of cocoa is a work of art in itself, from the play of flavours in your mouth, to the intricately detailed designs stencilled on top. Get some to treat someone special (yourself), or to show off at a corporate or family function. website
12. Join in to an organized event in the Park
There’s always something exciting happening at Trinty Bellwoods. For example, there are annual Bed Ins/performances that commemorate the Bed In of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and also just serve as an excuse to hang out in the park. There’s also monthly Flea Markets hosted by Trinity Bellwoods Flea, someone is always organizing yoga in the park, or other acro events, as well as endless group meditation sessions, drum circles, even movie nights and so on!