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Toronto is a busy city. Most tourists only ever experience the hustle and bustle of the Financial and Entertainment districts, however the city has much more to offer. One of my favourite neighbourhoods is Yorkville, located just north of the downtown core and easily accessible by public transit or a quick Uber ride.
Yorkville is a small area, with Cumberland Street being the main attraction. There are no skyscrapers on Cumberland, just quaint converted townhouses home to upscale shops, dining and more.
You could easily spend an afternoon roaming the street and surrounding area. But if you only have time after 5:00 pm, Yorkville is perfect for fancy cocktails, delicious food and excellent shopping.
Don’t leave Yorkville without trying one of the upscale restaurants and polishing it off with gelato and a stroll down Cumberland Street.
How to Get to Yorkville, Toronto
Most visitors fly into Toronto Pearson Airport and take either a cab or the train to the downtown core. I recommend taking the train as it is both faster and cheaper. Follow signs to the UP Express or Union-Pearson Express. This will take you to Union Station, the transit hub of Toronto.
Surrounding Union Station are the Financial and Entertainment districts. Here you will find many of the classic Toronto attractions – the CN Tower, Nathan-Philips Square, etc. In order to get to Yorkville, either take the Subway (Line 1 toward Vaughn Metropolitan Station, get off at Museum Station) or take an Uber and set the destination to Yorkville.
As you may have gathered from above, public transport in Toronto is pretty decent. The majority of destinations a visitor would enjoy can be accessed directly from the subway lines. Do not rent a car. If you want to go somewhere further than the subway can take you, hop in an Uber.
Where to Eat in Yorkville, Toronto
Bar Reyna // I love this spot for either post-work drinks or Sunday morning brunch. They have eclectic (though expensive) cocktails. If you like tequila, I recommend the Mezcal Smokeshow. If Bourbon’s more your style, The Queen Likes It Hot is a showstopper. Or order Her Royal Highness and be presented with the largest, most delicious $30 concoction you’ve ever tasted. In addition to the cocktails, Bar Reyna features delicious Mediterranean food. If you go with co-workers, I recommend ordering a lot of items and sharing everything.
Sassafrazz // Holy moly this place has excellent food. I’ve gone for both dinner and brunch and both times my meals have been excellent. I’d categorize it as fancy new-age American. They have taken common entrees like steak, salmon and pasta and made them taste bud experiences – all done up like beautiful art on your plate. It’s a bit pricey, so if your employer is covering your meal costs, definitely visit this place.
Planta Yorkville // Feast your taste buds on some of the best vegan food in Toronto. I went to Planta with work friends and we ordered a variety of appetizers and entrees to share. It was absolutely delicious – and not just for vegan food. Planta also has excellent cocktails.
Other restaurants – Chabrol (elegant French fare) and Yamato (fancy Japanese food) are both popular restaurants I’m less familiar with.
Chabrol // Chabrol has a simple menu (if anyone on your team struggles with making decisions, take them here) and everything is good so you can’t go wrong. The “Gene Kelly” is a popular cocktail.
Yamato // Yamato, on the other hand, is for co-worker whose tired of dry take-out sushi and needs a reminder of what real sushi tastes like. Yamato has tons of rolls and sashimi, plus meat dishes for anyone not in the mood for raw fish.
Cafes // Yorkville has quite a few excellent cafes if you want to relax post-dinner or sneak away from the client mid-morning. Goldstruck Coffee is probably my favourite for both coffee and atmosphere. If you’re feeling fancy, head to the Nespresso Boutique-Bar. Sorry Cafe (located within Kit & Ace clothing store) has the best iced lattes and HOM Cafe has great food to pair with your coffee.
Things to See in Yorkville, Toronto
Check out the restaurants // As you may have gathered from above, there are so many restaurants in Yorkville and this is the primary reason people come to the neighbourhood.
Go shopping // Surrounding the restaurants, you’ll find seemingly endless shopping possibilities. There are upscale shops like Gucci and Louise Vuitton, but also mid-priced Toronto favourites like Kit and Ace, Aritzia, Lululemon and Anthropologie.
Grab gelato and walk the street // Pick up some excellent gelato from The Gelato Shop and wander down Cumberland Street. There are several places to sit, and because Cumberland doesn’t get much car traffic, you can sit outside and enjoy your surroundings, rather than staring at stop-and-go traffic.
Take a walk through the University of Toronto and Queen’s Park // In the summer, when the weather is warm and the sun sets after 8 pm, take a walk through the beautiful University of Toronto. The campus features beautiful European-inspired stones buildings framed by gardens and large oak and maple trees. Queen’s Park is home to Ontario Legislative Building (which is pretty to look but don’t bother seeing) and large expanses of grass covered in a canopy of large trees. It’s a popular place for running, walking and reading.
Visit the Royal Ontario Museum // The ROM is Toronto’s best museum located on the perimeter of Yorkville. While most days it closes at 5:30 pm, on the third Monday of the month it stays open until 8:30 pm and admission after 5:30 pm is free. If you happen to be in Toronto on a Friday night, the museum hosts Friday Night Lights where it scatters bars throughout the exhibits and features live music and food stands.
Also check out our guide on Toronto After 5:00 pm.
Also check out:
- Scarborough, Toronto After 5:00 pm
- Yorkville, Toronto After 5:00 pm
- Montreal, Quebec After 5:00 pm
- Gatineau, Quebec After 5:00 pm
- Ottawa After 5:00 pm
- Mount Pleasant, Vancouver After 5:00 pm