If you’re looking for a fun neighbourhood to explore in Toronto, there are a ton of ideas below on how to spend a day in Liberty Village. This trendy neighbourhood is full of fun to do, from shopping to strolling to dining out or even rock climbing. Just north of the BMO Field on the opposite side of the Gardiner, east of Little Tibet, and adjacent to Fort York National Historic Site, Liberty Village is a historic area mixed with a lot of vibrant young energy. It’s also the perfect distance from downtown or from Lake Ontario if you want to head to the water.
Where to Eat
There is no shortage of delicious places to grab a quick bite or sit down and indulge when you’re spending the day in Liberty Village. Here are a few of my favourites to get your appetite started.
Breakfast Bites at Brodflour
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh baking to lure you out of bed in the morning. It is also how I stumbled upon Brodflour – by following my nose. The aroma of warm sourdough breads and bagels beckoned me in and I willingly obliged. Brodflour opened in 2017 and has been growing a loyal customer base ever since, thanks to their commitment to using the best quality ingredients. They bake with certified organic ancient and heritage Canadian grains, but what’s really unique about this Toronto bakery is that their stone mill is on-site. You don’t get fresher flour than that! Brodflour is the place to go to buy fresh loaves of bread or order breakfast or lunch. Their menu covers everything from coffee and cold-pressed juice to Jerusalem Bagels, avocado toast, cookies, sandwiches, pizza, and even bags of flour to bring home. In the summertime they also have a small patio out front where you can sit in the sun and enjoy your morning treats.
Fluffy Pancakes at School
Toronto’s fluffiest pancakes can be found at School. There’s a reason why this restaurant always has lineups. I’m promise the wait for this well-loved brunch and breakfast spot is worth it though. As a teacher and lover of word play, the creative menu item names crack me up to: Synonym Toast, the Coles Notes at the bottom, and the Extra Credit side options. They have indoor and outdoor seating and their energetic playlists immediately put you in a good mood. Between the delicious eats and hype atmosphere, you’ll be smiling all day long.
Boozy Brunch at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
Liberty Village is no one-stop shop. There’s another boozy brunch spot in town with a tasty reputation that should be added to your To Eat At list. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen has been serving delicious local flavours since 1989 and been in their current location for about a decade. The decor is light and airy, instantly relaxing you with vacation vibes while at home. From caesars and oysters to porchetta pancakes, shakshuka, and grilled cheese, all of your morning meal wishes will be surpassed. In addition to their mouth-watering menu, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is environmentally conscious, supporting a range of important initiatives such as phasing out water bottling permits, protesting unnecessary gravel mining, and Swim Drink Fish to name a few. Prefer to eat breakfast in bed? No problem! Take home any of their homemade pantry items.
Groceries at Organic Garage
Organic Garage has a quiet unassuming brick façade. Step inside, however, and a kaleidoscope of colours, graffiti, and bold branding will march you through this one-of-a-kind supermarket. It’s not everyday that grocery store signage tells you to “Punch today in the face” afterall. While the prices are steep, it’s an experience just to walk through this inside-out wonderland of art and food. Local vendors line their shelves, there’s a kombucha keg with several taps, and you’ll find enough Instagrammable moments to double the time it should take you to finish your errands. Go here for the art or the food. Either way, your senses will be buzzing.
Dinner at CaFfiNo
A day in Liberty Village wouldn’t be complete without somewhere to eat dinner. For the perfect date night, event space, or Italian getaway, visit CaFfiNo in the heart of the historic 18th century Carpet Factory buildings. The 20-foot ceilings, elegant Opera Room, and quaint courtyard patio will whisk you away to another place and time. With homemade pasta and organic ingredients at the heart of every dish, CaFfiNo’s southern Italian roots are proudly represented throughout the menu. I have yet to eat here, but I peeked in the window this spring and it looked like an absolute dream.
Where to Shop
I Have a Crush On You
Walking along a fairly non-descript street, the sign below snagged my attention. As I got closer, I noticed that it was handmade. What a labour of love! Intrigued and curious to learn more, I looked up and there was the owner welcoming us into her gift shop / gallery / workshop / design studio. Amy Kwong designs and creates much of what’s available for sale in the adjacent studio workshop. Her design studio, @smittenkittenca, has been featured in Flare, Designlines, blogTO, and NOW. Amy oozes cool, and not in an ironic way – she’s the real deal. Friendly, funny, and clearly very talented, she introduced us to many of the other artists’ work for sale. Each funky item is packed with sass, wit, and pop culture references that will have you chuckling your way around the store.
Entering I Have a Crush On You is like bringing to life the bedroom you wished you had growing up. Covered with bright 3D faces, the door screams THERE’S FUN IN HERE! Just inside the doorway, gold streamers and a neon sign greet you. Only good times can follow an entrance like that. Don’t miss checking out the Instant Gratification Shop where you can pick up all of life’s necessary quick fixes – instant noodles, candy, and rubbers to go. The stand is Smitten Kitten’s spin on in-store coffee shops and was inspired by Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dongs (noodle stands). If you’re in Toronto, I Have a Crush On You is definitely a destination to put on your list.
What to Do
Toronto Carpet Factory Murals & Buildings
Take yourself back in time for a moment and imagine it’s 1891. The Toronto Carpet Manufacturing Company was just established and business was going well. Eight years later it moved to a new location and within a few decades the busy factory covered an entire city block. The company was highly efficient, producing its own steam-generated heat, power, and electricity. Pretty impressive for the turn of the century! It covered its bases on safety as well, equipping itself with a pump and huge cistern in case of a fire. Today the historic Carpet Factory buildings have been converted into magazine-worthy offices with courtyards and laneways that would actually entice you to come in to work. (I have it on good authority that that’s actually the case!)
Nothing beats exploring on foot, so when spending the day in Liberty Village make sure to walk around the Toronto Carpet Factory buildings. It’s a great way to get a feel for the area, picture yourself walking these streets over one hundred years ago, and find some gems along the way. Speaking of gems, there are a few murals and pieces of street art to find in the area, such as the Carpet murals outside of CaFfiNo, the 2 Hustle and Love murals, the Liberty Village map on School’s exterior wall, and the gigantic carpet mural across the parking lot.
Joe Rockheads is the place to be if rock climbing is your jam. Open since the summer of 1990, it was the first rock climbing gym in Canada and spearheaded the movement in southern Ontario. Like many the spark for many businesses, the owners (Bob Bergman, his brother Brian and his wife Sharon) saw a need for a climbing gym in the winter months. The community grew wildly from there, attracting attention from the US when Joe Rockheads would hold climbing competitions. Today the centre is a place for beginners and enthusiasts alike to gather, trade tips, and increase their skills.
If you’re around the area in the summer, check out a TFC (Toronto Football Club) game at the BMO Field. The TFC is a Canadian professional soccer club that competes in Major League Soccer as a member of the Eastern Conference. The Reds fans are an enthusiastic bunch and even if soccer isn’t your sport, you’re likely to get swept up in the crowd’s energy. Toronto’s club was formed in 2005, joined the MLS in 2007, and are the first Canadian team playing in the league.
Check Out These Other Fun Activities in Toronto
Toronto has a lot to offer visitors and residents, whether that’s strolling along the waterfront, taking a bicycle tour on the islands, visiting historic sites like Castle Loma, or enjoying the arts scene with museums like the Gardiner or events like TIFF. One of the best parts of Toronto is that there is so much to see and do that each visit is a whole new experience.