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A Whole New World in Toronto: A Journey to Kensington Market

Things to Do in Kensington Market

A Whole New World in Toronto: A Journey to Kensington Market

By Kandice Vincent

If you’ve ever been to Toronto, then you must’ve heard about Kensington Market. If you haven’t, Kensington Market is a cultural hub that’s teeming with shops, food, and fun activities to do! 

Whether you’re a first-timer or a frequent visitor to the market, it never hurts to discover something new. So here’s a list of fun things to do at Kensington Market!

A Whole New World in Toronto: A Journey to Kensington Market

1. Go cafe hopping 

Go cafe hopping

FIKA Cafe

Address: 28 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2J9, Canada

Moonbean Coffee Company

Address: 30 St Andrew St, Toronto, ON M5T 1K6, Canada

11:59 Bar:Café

Address: 70 Temperance St Unit 1, Toronto, ON M5H 0B1, Canada

Dispatch Coffee

Address: 390 Bay St., Toronto, ON M5H 2Y2, Canada

Kensington Market is home to a rich selection of trendy coffee shops and artsy cafes, making it the perfect place to go cafe hopping! There are lots of unique cafes here; some of which boast a minimalist aesthetic while others are more fun and colourful. 

There are some that serve delicious croissants, and some offer interesting Japanese desserts. A must-visit for anyone is Jimmy’s Coffee, which is the best place to get a hearty chai latte or a strong americano. 

Pro tip:

If you’re into books and artsy cafes, then visit FIKA Cafe. This cafe has an incredible, Instagrammable book display, and its creamy cardamom latte is perfect for sipping on while reading a book. 

2. Shop for steals at vintage stores 

Shop for steals at vintage stores

Vintage Depot

Address: 70 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K1, Canada

Exile Vintage

Address: 60 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K1, Canada

Tribal Rhythm Vintage

Address: 248 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z7, Canada

Black Market Vintage Upstairs

Address: Upstairs, 347 Queen St W 2nd floor, Toronto, ON M5V 2A4, Canada

If there’s one thing that Kensington Market is famous for, it’s definitely the variety of affordable vintage shops spread across the market. 

Among the popular shopping districts in the city, this place is the go-to for anything vintage, affordable, and high-quality. 

The great thing about vintage shops here is that they don’t just sell cute clothes but also niche furniture you can’t find elsewhere. You never know what you’re going to get, which is great for anyone looking to try new things. 

Pro tip:

Vintage stores in Kensington Market are known for being cheap, but to get bigger discounts, you should visit the market during Vintage Crawl. This seasonal event offers huge discounts on everything being sold at vintage stores. 

3. Marvel at the Kiever Shul

Marvel at the Kiever Shul

Address: 25 Bellevue Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2N5, Canada

Here’s something for history buffs: if you want to see one of the best surviving historical buildings in the market, then visit the Kiever Shul! Built in 1927, this interesting building is one of the oldest synagogues in Toronto. 

The synagogue’s architecture sports an interesting blend of beautiful Romanesque and Byzantine designs. The building also features remarkable twin domed towers that sport the Star of David.

Pro tip:

We recommend visiting the synagogue at night. This is because the building shines bright with warm lights that give off a picturesque and tranquil atmosphere. 

4. Join the festivities on Pedestrian Sundays

As one of the city’s top shopping districts, Kensington Market is always tightly packed. Thankfully, when summer rolls around, so does Pedestrian Sundays.

At this time, the market’s roads are closed to cars to create space for one of the city’s biggest street festivals. 

Expect to see an array of food and people jamming out to live music. There are also lots of live performances from local artists and public art displays!

Pro tip:

Since there are no cars during this event, it’s the best time to snap some pictures of the market’s colourful houses. There is a series of colourful houses along Kensington Avenue sporting interesting Victorian architecture. 

5. Try local craft beer 

Trinity Common

Address: 303 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M2, Canada

Burdock Brewery

6 Denison Square, Toronto, ON M5T 1K8, Canada

Handlebar

Address: 159 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4, Canada

Embassy Bar

Address: 223 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4, Canada

If you love beer and you’re in Kensington Market, then you’re in luck since the place is known to have many stores and bars selling craft beer at different prices! 

Our favourite place to grab craft beers is at Kensington Brewing Co., where they serve flavours inspired by the sights and smells of Kensington Market! One of our must-tries is their In The Weeds ale which has an earthy undertone.  

Pro tip:

One spot we recommend for one of the best fruit-flavoured craft beers is Burdock Brewery. This brewery has several craft beers, but we recommend Cherry B, which has a hint of tang.

6. Have a cheesy day at Cheese Magic! 

Have a cheesy day at Cheese Magic

Address: 182 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 1L8, Canada

Operating Hours: 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Saturday: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

If you’re a cheese lover, then you don’t want to miss a visit to Cheese Magic. This yellow-coloured shop will make you forget all about planning a trip to Switzerland with its huge variety of cheese products and cheese wheels! 

Its wide selection of cheese ranges from artisanal provolone and pecorinos to classic cheddars! The store sells over a hundred types of cheese, which can get pricey!

Pro tip:

If you don’t have money to buy a whole wedge of cheese, you can sample each! And yes, that also includes the most expensive pecorinos imported from Europe. 

7. Get a taste of Germany at Otto’s Berlin Döner 

Address: 256 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L9, Canada

Operating Hours: 

Monday – Sunday: 12:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Kensington Market is known for its multicultural cuisine, and when it comes to German food, there’s no better place than Otto’s Berlin Döner! Unlike most German restaurants in the city, Otto’s is focused on serving the tastiest German street food.

Despite being a newer restaurant, people flock here daily to get hearty comfort food like halloumi Döner fresh off the grill. 

Pro tip:

If you’re interested in quirky public art displays, then you will love their bathroom. It’s decked out in flashing lights and a spinning disco ball!

8. Get a hip tattoo 

New Tribe Tattoo + Piercing

Address: 232a Queen St W 2nd floor, Toronto, ON M5V 1Z6, Canada

Pearl Harbor Gift Shop

Address: 24 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2J9, Canada

Golden Iron Tattoo Studio

Address: 401 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2G6, Canada

Ancient Future Studio

Address: 148 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L5, Canada

If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for a way to express yourself, then get tattooed at Kensington Market. There are a bunch of tattoo shops in the market, each having different crowds and themes.

It’s one of the best places to get a tattoo without breaking the bank. If you’re a first-timer, we suggest going to Midway Tattoo which is the oldest and most trusted tattoo shop in the market!

Pro tip:

If you want something more flamboyant than just a tattoo, you can also get a wide range of piercings at Midway Tattoo. They offer nipple piercings, helix piercings, and just about any piercing you can imagine! 

9. Admire the market’s vibrant art murals

Young Jarus Street Art Mural

Location: Nora Shawarma and Kebab (Google Maps

Remax Mural

Location: RE/MAX Ultimate Realty Inc., Brokerage – Dundas (Google Maps)

Kensington Market isn’t just a cultural hub for its hip cafes and expressive vintage shops but also because of its rich arts scene! The shopping district has colourful murals and public art installations around every corner. 

There are some that reference pop culture icons and figures, such as the jazz legend Miles Davis. There’s also one that makes use of geometric shapes to depict the CN Tower, and there are also classic wildstyle graffiti.  

Pro tip:

One of our favourite murals is one that pays homage to Amy Winehouse! This monotone mural has great details and stands out from the rest of the colourful graffiti that surrounds it. 

10. Sit back and relax at Bellevue Square Park 

Address: 5 Bellevue Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2N4, Canada

After a long day of shopping and exploring the busy streets of Kensington Market, there’s nothing better to do than relaxing at Bellevue Square Park. 

This vibrant greenspace is a little escape from the busy crowds and loud noises of the bustling market. 

The park features an awesome life-size bronze statue of actor Al Waxman, and it also has a nice wading pool, which you can sit by. It’s also a great place to cool off after a long day of walking since it features a splash pad you can freely use. 

Pro tip:

If you have kids with you, the park has a playground that’s filled with lots of slides and swings that your children can use!

11. Watch some street performers

Watch some street performers

As one of the most vibrant places in Toronto, it’s not a surprise that Kensington Market is often flooded with street performers throughout the day. You’ll find a good amount of buskers, sketch artists, and musical performers. 

There’s also a bunch of eccentric characters that you can meet, from the classic human statue to Chewbacca!  

Pro tip:

If you’re going around the market make sure to keep an eye out for Peter Parkour. This eccentric performer is quite popular around Kensington Market for his acrobatic stunts and skateboard tricks. 

12. Buy fresh cooking ingredients

Buy fresh cooking ingredients

Kensington Fruit Market

Address: 36 St Andrew St, Toronto, ON M5T 1K6, Canada

Kensington Market BIA

Address: 160 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON M5T 3K7, Canada

Augusta Fruit Market

Address: 65 Nassau St, Toronto, ON M5T 1M3, Canada

If you’re looking to buy quality ingredients but don’t want to travel all the way to St. Lawrence Market, then Kensington Market’s got you covered! Kensington Market has a fantastic selection of fresh produce that is just as diverse as its many vintage shops. 

The market has a number of select butchers and grocers that sell the most premium cuts of meat and fresh goods. There are also lots of outdoor vendors that sell the freshest vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms at affordable prices. 

Pro tip:

If you’re looking for the best meat in the market, head to Sanagan’s Meat Locker. This deli has everything you can think of, from salami to sausages and even high-quality cut steaks. 

13. Fill your bag with the market’s artisanal products 

Fill your bag with the market’s artisanal products

Daniel’s Art Supplies

Address: 414 – B Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2G7, Canada

Gwartzman’s Art Supplies

Address: 448 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2G8, Canada

Aside from being the best place to shop for vintage clothes, the market is also a popular spot to buy artisanal goods made by local artists. Everywhere you walk, you’ll come across vendors and shops selling shiny jewellery and novelty items worth buying. 

With such a wide selection of artisanal stores, you’ll surely find something that ticks your interest like tribalesque masks and luxurious rings. We suggest visiting the Kensington Flea BAZAAR where you can find quality goods like patterned scarves and more. 

Pro tip:

If you want to bring home some Canada-themed souvenirs, we suggest you head over to Blue Banana. This store has a bunch of Canadian flag mugs, jewellery, hoodies, and even hot sauce.  

14. Stop by the annual Kensington Market Art Fair 

One thing art lovers don’t want to miss is the annual Kensington Market Art Fair, where artworks are exhibited outdoors. It features interesting artwork made by local artists such as sculptures, paintings, sketches, and photographs.  

Previous exhibits in the fair featured cowboy-esque paintings, colourful flower sculptures, and impressionist paintings. 

Pro tip:

At the fair, you can find wallets, paintings, and framed pictures with unique designs at an affordable price!

15. Join a diverse food tour 

Address: Moonbean Coffee Company, 30 St Andrew St, Toronto, ON M5T 1K6, Canada

Price: Per head – $66.96

Operating Hours: 

Monday – Sunday: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

If you’re looking to get a taste of the best dishes at Kensington Market, we suggest joining the Taste the World in Kensington Market food tour. This is one of the best food tours in the market, as it takes you on a culinary journey across different cuisines! 

You’ll be able to sample some unique dishes around the market like indigenous fry bread and even authentic Syrian hummus. This guided tour will take you to numerous bake shops and vendors in the area while telling you about their history. 

Pro tip:

If you have any food allergies, you can indicate them on a list while you book the tour. This is really helpful since the tour guides will help you identify which food you can and can not eat. 

16. Grab some cute treats at DaanGo 

Address: Inside R&D, 241 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 3A8, Canada

For the sweet tooths exploring the market, one thing you don’t want to miss is DaanGo’s Cake Lab. This cute bakeshop serves sweet pastries like macarons, cookies, tarts, and even Asian-fusion cakes! 

What makes their pastries a must-try is their use of ingredients like homemade butter ganache, which gives their desserts a more intense flavour. Also, their macarons and tarts don’t just taste good; they’re also designed to look like cute animals. 

Pro tip:

Besides their macarons, we suggest ordering their zen cake and miso butter tarts. The zen cake incorporates white sesame cream and matcha flavours that melt in your mouth, while their miso butter tarts are a malty flavour bomb.  

17. Unwind and appreciate art at Sonya’s Parkette

Address: 63 Oxford St, Toronto, ON M5T 1N8, Canada

Although Bellevue Square Park is the go-to green space in Kensington Market, Sonya’s Parkette is another great spot to relax. This lowkey park is located in the centre of the market and has a very relaxing atmosphere. 

One of the most notable things about the park is that it’s surrounded by walls that are covered in lovely murals. One of the murals depicts a colourful giant sleeping peacefully in the middle of a lush valley! 

Pro tip:

If you’re into street art, make sure to snap some photographs of the murals. Unbeknownst to most people, the murals are actually designed by P.S or the legendary Philip Saunders who is one of Toronto’s most celebrated artists! 

18. Go hunting for some vintage records 

Invisible City Record Shop

Address: 222 Spadina Ave. Unit C4, Toronto, ON M5T 3B3, Canada

Play De Record

Address: 411 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2G6, Canada

Invisible City Record Shop

Address: 222 Spadina Ave. Unit C4, Toronto, ON M5T 3B3, Canada

Sonic Boom

Address: 215 Spadina Ave., Toronto, ON M5T 2C7, Canada

If you love music and classic vinyl, then you’re in luck because Kensington Market is home to lots of shops selling vintage and new records.

For instance, check out Paradise Bound, which sells rare collectable records, and Play De Record, which offers new and vintage vinyl. 

Also, you can find quality records for cheap in vintage clothing stores! 

Pro tip:

If you’re looking for a place that sells turntable cartridges, just shop at Play De Record. They’ve got tons of options that fit into a variety of turntables. 

19. Have some drinks on a patio 

Have some drinks on a patio

The Rec Room

Address: 255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3M9, Canada

El Rey Mezcal Bar

Address: 2a Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2J7, Canada

Last Temptation

Address: 12 Kensington Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2K1, Canada

Trinity Common

Address: 303 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2M2, Canada

One of the best things to do in Kensington Market after a long day of shopping and exploring is to relax on a patio. 

There are bars, restaurants, and cafes around the market with great patio spaces, refreshing drinks, and great food. One of our favourite things to do here is people-watching at KOS’s patio under the summer sun while sipping on a peach bellini. 

Pro tip:

If liquor isn’t your thing, we recommend a visit to Moonbean. This rustic cafe serves specialty drinks, coffees, and milky smoothies, which are fun to sip on as you relax on their charming patio decked with wooden chairs. 

20. Immerse yourself in the city’s nightlife 

Embassy Bar

Address: 223 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4, Canada

Handlebar

Address: 159 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L4, Canada

Ronnie’s Local 069

Address: 69 Nassau St, Toronto, ON M5T 1M7, Canada

Toby’s Pub & Eatery

Address: 411 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 1T1, Canada

There are lots of places to experience Toronto’s bustling nightlife, and Kensington Market is one of the best places to do so! At night, the market transforms into a medley of bars and pubs where tourists and locals come to party and dance the night away. 

We recommend visiting Supermarket, as it’s a 3-in-1 bar, restaurant, and dance club!. 

Pro tip:

If you love bikes and are looking for an eccentric bar, we suggest visiting Handlebar! This bike-themed bar has cute bikes hanging from the walls, and it’s a low-key spot to have great drinks while listening to music.