At first glance it would be easy to wonder what exactly it is that makes West Queen West so special. The beloved Toronto neighborhood was named the 2nd coolest neighborhood in the world by Vogue in September 2014, but the cool factor here is very low key and far from obvious.
West Queen West is gritty, incoherent and messy – much like life. But look closer and you’ll find the beating heart of this diverse and dynamic city, along with nearly endless opportunities and options for fun and joy.
West Queen West is known as the art and design district of Toronto, but it’s also a hub for musical arts, with several wonderful venues providing live music daily, including Parts & Labour (1566 Queen St W), The Rex (194 Queen St W) and Cadillac Lounge (1296 Queen St W).
Officially the neighborhood is contained between Bathurst Street and Gladstone Avenue, but much of the same cool atmosphere reigns all along this lengthy street. The trendy area is packed with a reported 300 galleries, but art can never be contained by walls, and it has also spread out onto the streets, with beautiful street art covering most brick walls in wonderful colors.
Street art is everywhere in Toronto, especially around the West Queen West neighborhood
Unique, colorful and vibrant, the area is a creative hub and a beloved hangout spot with many fantastic restaurants, cafés and bars with sunny patios. Try Java House on the corner of Queen St W and Augusta Avenue for a refreshing pint of freshly made sangria and some of the best people watching in the city!
The trendy street is also a great spot for some shopping!
Known as the South Ossington Strip, the part of Ossington Avenue turning up from Queen Street West has also become a burgeoning hot spot, with wonderful shops and restaurants. Try La Cubana (92 Ossington Ave) for some authentic Cuban cuisine and some of the best cocktails in town, and head across the street to Bang Bang Ice Cream (93 Ossington Ave) for the most eclectic selection of ice cream flavors in Toronto – my favorites are the Totaro (purple yam) and London Fog.
Also nearby, Graffiti Alley is a block of dull alleys turned into a wonderful work of art
West Queen West also lives by night