A night out with friends in Toronto doesn’t always have to mean club outfits, dance music, and modern cocktails. A gathering in the Distillery District, for example, involves a bit of history, learning, and, well, old-fashioned cocktails. So the next time your pals are clamoring for group outing, escape to the cobblestone streets of this picturesque area and forget all about the stresses of the modern world. The 13 acre neighborhood is the site of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, which began making whiskey in 1832 and grew to be the largest distiller in the country. Now repurposed as a historic and entertainment district, this pedestrian paradise is entirely free of cars–that’s right, you can walk right down the middle of the street without getting run over–and consists of three main thoroughfares lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants.
The beautiful Victorian-era architecture, marked by red brick and wrought iron, makes for an awe-inspiring stroll through the streets, but it’s what’s inside these buildings that truly impresses. Show up mid-afternoon to do a little shopping and sightseeing before dinner. Listen to a live band playing as you photograph the various buildings from different angles. Pop into a gallery to buy an original print by a local artist, or pick up a box of artisanal chocolates for your spouse who was kind enough to stay home with the kids while you went out. When it’s time for dinner, Mill Street Brew Pub is your spot, where steamed mussels, chicken pie, and fish ‘n’ chips pair perfectly with one of 12 handcrafted beers made on-site. As you relax on the patio watching the people go by, you’ll be glad to know that this area is once again alive and well, offering a laid-back alternative to the thumping club scene.