Top 20 Streets in Canada: Vive Quebec!
Report by Vacay.ca Staff
The streets of Canada’s neighbourhoods are the arteries of our communities. The shops, people and experiences that occur on them define our societies. When Vacay.ca set out to find the best streets in the country we did it with a sense of exploration and authentic experience in mind. Neither Toronto’s Yonge Street or Montreal’s Rue Saint-Catherine — arguably the two most famous streets in the nation — placed on the list. Both of those thoroughfares have long ago lost out to corporate commerce. A walk along their main stretches isn’t distinct. To find that sense of place that travellers hunger for, you need to go deeper into the nation’s cities. The rewards for doing so is finding out the real Canada and uncovering the regional characteristics that help to distinguish each province and territory from its neighbour.
The streets on the Vacay.ca list are the best places for you to spend your time and dollars when touring the country’s urban centres. While some choices were difficult, top spot turned out to be an easy decision. Rue du Petit-Champlain, lined with shops that belong to an artists’ cooperative, was a clear choice for No. 1 among the Top 20 Streets to Visit in Canada.
1. Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: One of the most historic streets in Canada is quite likely the nation’s prettiest. A home to artisans, a centuries-old church, the famed breakneck staircase, and boutique shops, rue de Petit Champlain offers a touch of the past and all the present charm of contemporary Quebec City.
Top Attraction: The mural that depicts landmark moments in the street’s history (102 rue du Petit-Champlain). The mural is outside the building that is home to the Petit Champlain Quarter’s many artists.
Where to Eat and Drink: Bistro Sous le Fort (48 Rue Sous le Fort) is just off of the street on Rue Sous le Fort. Grab a drink at Theatre Petit-Champlain (68 Du Petit Champlain) and sit on its patio.
Where to Shop: There are a handful of boutiques and galleries on the tiny street. Drop in on Boutique Ibiza (57 Du Petit Champlain) for clothes and jewelry.
Hidden Gem: Sculptor Alain Flamand has had his lower-level shop (49 Du Petit Champlain) on the street since 1985, soon after the Quartier Petit-Champlain’s artists’ cooperative was founded.
Historic Event: An 1841 landslide killed 20 people and a memorial to the disaster still occupies the street.
Vacay.ca Columnist Adrian Brijbassi writes: ”The street has boutique shops, artisan galleries, and restaurants, as well as a 200-seat theatre within centuries-old stone walls, a mural that depicts different stages of the city’s history, and a touching memorial to the 20 victims of an 1841 landslide that saw shale from the hill above tumble down 300 feet. Look up beyond the cross that honours those lost and you will see the city’s greatest landmark, the Château Frontenac, rising tall from atop the Dufferin Terrace. The famed hotel was built in 1893, however, making it relatively modern when compared to the street and district beneath it. … Beyond the eye-catching scenery, what distinguishes Petit-Champlain from every other street in the nation is its emphasis on local culture in a tourist-heavy location. The street receives one million visitors a year, yet you will not find a Starbucks or McDonald’s here.”
2. Saint Laurent Boulevard between Rue Sherbrooke and Rue Saint Viateur, Montreal, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: The epicentre of Montreal’s famed music scene is here, at clubs like Casa del Popolo (4873 Saint Laurent Boulevard) and Green Room (5386 Saint Laurent Boulevard) that run along The Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods. It’s also home to trendy shops and is in the vicinity of Montreal’s two famous bagel shops — St -Viateur (263 Saint Viateur West) and Fairmount (74 Fairmount Avenue West) — and Dieu du Ciel’s brewpub (29 Laurier Avenue West), the No. 3 brewpub in Canada, according to Vacay.ca. Saint Laurent Boulevard is often called “The Main” because it is recognized as the divider between Montreal’s east and west sides.
Top Attraction: Mount Royal Park is a short walk west of Saint-Laurent Boulevard. On the street, Schwartz’s Deli (3895 Saint Laurent Boulevard) sees lineups that stretch out the door on most days.
Where to Eat: Pastaga (6389 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) ranked No. 13 and Lawrence (5201 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) ranked No. 27 on the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide. Pastaga is headed by Gold Medal Awards-winning chef Martin Juneau and serves superb Quebec dishes. Lawrence serves contemporary British cuisine and is best known for its brunch.
Hidden Gem: La Sala Rossa (4848 Saint Laurent Boulevard), next door to Casa del Popolo and partnered with that venue, is another excellent music hall that features numerous emerging acts.
Historic Event: Jewish settlement of The Plateau and Mile End in the early 1900s led to greater multiculturalism in this section of Montreal that’s been designated a National Historic Site.
Chef Martin Juneau of Pastaga says: “Saint-Laurent Boulevard is where the real Montreal happens. It is called Main Street. It divides east from west, French from English. You say Saint-Laurent and everyone in Montreal knows it is the important part of town, it is what helps to define the city.”
3. Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Why This Street Rocks: History, ghosts, and some of the best party atmosphere in the country.
Top Attraction: St. Paul’s Anglican Church (1749 Argyle Street) opened in 1750 and was the first Anglican cathedral outside of Britain. Of note is a wooden window frame that was launched into the church by the 1917 Halifax Explosion.
Where to Eat and Drink: Economy Shoe Shop (1665 Argyle Street) packs in the student crowd, but Pipa (1685 Argyle Street) is the choice for fine dining, with a menu that features Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine. Venture just off the street to Chives (1537 Barrington Street), the No. 1-ranked Halifax restaurant on the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list.
Hidden Gem: The Nova Centre. It’s hidden only because it hasn’t been built yet. The project, which includes a luxury hotel and massive convention centre, will rapidly transform Argyle Street and the vicinity in the city’s financial core.
Historic Event: Bodies recovered from the Titanic disaster in 1912 were taken to the funeral home on Argyle Street in a building that is now home to the Five Fishermen Restaurant (1740 Argyle Street). Ghost sightings aplenty occur inside the eatery, considered by many paranormal experts to be the most haunted property in Canada.
Vacay.ca Writer Katie Marti writes: For a microcosmic look at Halifax, head straight to Argyle Street, where the city’s entertainment and financial districts intersect. The nachos at the Economy Shoe Shop should be enough to draw a crowd, but two convention centres, a luxury hotel, pubs, clubs and a top-notch seafood restaurant make Argyle the go-to street for all things Halifax.
4. George Street, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
Why This Street Rocks: The closest thing Canada has to New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street. George Street has more drinking establishments (25) per square foot than any thoroughfare in North America.
Top Attraction: The screech-in ceremonies that happen nightly at Trapper John’s (2 George Street), which boasts that more than 100,000 have been screeched-in. If you’re not familiar, a screech-in ceremony involves visitors to Newfoundland being put through a hazing ritual that includes a shot of screech, aka rum.
Where to Eat and Drink: You’re not going to eat much on George Street. The drinking, you’ll be doin’ a lot o dat, bye. You’ll have a great time at O’Reilly’s Pub (13 George Street). Christian’s (23 George Street) also does fine (though very crowded) screech-ins.
Hidden Gem: It’s only two blocks long, so there isn’t much you’re going to miss. But do make it a point to get to the annual George Street Festival one summer.
Historic Event: The 1846 fire that razed much of St. John’s historic district began at a shop on George Street.
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor Julia Pelish says: Newfoundland is fun. Newfoundlanders are fun. George Street is where all of that energy and desire for a non-stop party pours out. Plus, the love of music can’t be missed, either, as excellent bands are playing nightly at almost every bar along the strip.
5. Queen Street, Toronto (between Trinity Bellwoods Park and Dufferin in the west; between Simcoe and Spadina in the core; between Woodbine and Glen Manor Drive in the east)
Why This Street Rocks: Chockful of good times — no matter where you might be. In the east-end Beach neighbourhood, Queen Street has tony shops and independent eateries like the Remarkable Bean (2242 Queen Street East). In the west, it’s about hip and trendy favourites like the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) and the Drake Hotel (1150 Queen Street West), and loads of clubs and restaurants for the twenty-something set. The historic part of the street is in the city centre, with institutions like the Rex Jazz Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar (194 Queen Street West) and the Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West) going strong decades after opening.
Top Attractions: MuchMusic and CityTV headquarters (299 Queen Street West) attracts celebrity spotters and more than few big-name performers. In the west, the Drake has become known as a Toronto landmark, but it’s not nearly as cool as it used to be. The hotel says it wants to be a cultural ecosystem but it has fallen victim to an expansive corporate vision. You’ll enjoy the Gladstone much more.
Where to Eat and Drink: In the east, the original Burger’s Priest (1636 Queen Street East) is a must for any visitor. More than one diner has called it home to the best burger on the planet, not just Toronto. In the core, Nota Bene (180 Queen Street West) is the best fine-dining restaurant on the street while newly opened Lisa Marie (638 Queen Street West) is a hot spot thanks to the cuisine of chef Matt Basile, known for his Fidel Gastro’s food truck.
Hidden Gem: Clafouti (915 Queen West) is a cozy bakery with reasonable prices and baked goods Torontonians will drive to get. Shortbread cookies, Montreal bagels and great sandwiches — and are the makers of the “crookie.” That treat includes a Double-Stuffed Oreo packed into a croissant and topped with a cookie.
Historic Event: Way back in 1793, the street was surveyed and founded. It was called Lot Street and bordered by thick forest to the north — something very difficult to imagine today when you visit Canada’s largest city.
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor Julia Pelish says: Queen Street has been my home for five years. It is a bustling mix of boutique fashions, oddities, music, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and everything you can possibly ask for in a big-city street. Toronto’s defining cultural moments all happen here. And, yes, City Hall is on Queen Street, so news happens here too!
6. Byward Market Square, Ottawa, Ontario (including short stretches of George, William and York streets)
Why this street rocks: Bustling with action, great eats, and entertainment, the Byward Market is the epicentre of fun in the nation’s capital. Give Ottawa’s city planners a lot of credit for keeping this spot safe from condo development. Byward Market is home to one of the best open-air markets on the planet.
Top Attraction: While this may sound like a bit of a cop-out, the main attraction is Byward Market itself. There are restaurants, diners, coffee shops and pubs to suit all tastes. Within the crowded halls of the market itself there are vendors serving beautiful cultural creations. Looking for a tried and true fast food chain? You’ll find them here along with delightful independent restaurants and bakeries. Coffee shops, bars, fresh fruit – bring the family or your significant other down and just go for a walk. Come back in the evening and enjoy restaurants and nightlife. You’ll enjoy a different experience every time.
Where to Eat and Drink: If you have a sweet tooth, you are at the right place. Ice cream and maple candy can be found in several places in the Byward Market. And so can those famed Obama Cookies. Make your pick of several outstanding restaurants. Choices include: Blue Cactus (2 Byward Market), a choice spot for martinis; Kinki (41 York Street), a trendy Asian-fusion restaurant; the Highlander Pub (115 Rideau Street), which offers traditional pub fare as well as a selection of throat-warming scotch varieties.
Where to Shop: Several bookstores, clothing shops, and specialty stores line the area. Here, you’ll find trinkets of all kinds for your shopping pleasure. Tickled Pink (55 Byward Market) has some really unique clothing and trinkets for kids, including funky hats.
Hidden Gem: Beaver Tails, isn’t that hidden, but it is a gem. You’ll always find a long line filled with satisfied customers with sticky fingers.
Historic Event: When President Obama made his first official stop in Canada in 2009, he stopped into the Byward Market and made his namesake cookie famous.
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor Rod Charles says: “In my mind, what makes this area so special is it suits any visitor. Outing with the kids in the early afternoon, this street has it. Going out for a few beers with the boys in the evening? This street has it. Looking for fruit? Cookies? A steak? Books? Strip club? Theatre? How about a US Embassy? Trust me, this street has it.”
7. Rue Saint-Paul, Montreal, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: The art galleries. There are so many of them and their storefronts are so inviting that Rue Saint-Paul may be the only street in Canada that makes you feel like a museum visitor.
Top Attractions: Bonsecours Market (350 Saint Paul East) dates to 1847 and was the city’s thriving public market for more than century. It remains a shopping hot spot with artisan stores and cafes. Next door is Notre Dame de Bonsecours Chapel (400 Saint Paul East), built in 1771.
Where to Eat: Ibiscus (343 Saint Paul East) is popular for Haitian-influenced cuisine while Mechant Boeuf serves gastropub fare with French culinary panache. Verses (100 Saint Paul West) at Hotel Nelligan (106 Rue Saint Paul Ouest) is excellent, though a bit on the safe side, lacking that adventurousness that many visitors to Montreal covet.
Hidden Gem: Montreal, of course, is known for its annual jazz festival and Stash Cafe (200 Saint Paul West) keeps the vibe of that summer sensation going all year long with outstanding music most nights of the week.
Where to Shop: Art lovers will have their choice of Inuit collections at Elca London (224 Saint Paul West), as well as contemporary flavours at Galiere Saint-Dizier (24 Saint Paul West), Galerie Blanche (218 Saint Paul West) and Quebec artwork at Galerie Le Luxart (66 Saint Paul West).
Historic Event: The founding of this street is one of the most pivotal moments in Montreal’s history. It is the city’s oldest street, dating to the mid-17th century, and was named after Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Montreal’s founder. It remains a cobblestoned thoroughfare, adding to its charm and appeal.
Vacay.ca Columnist Adrian Brijbassi says: On top of everything else it offers, Rue Saint-Paul is also home to some of the best boutique hotels in North America, and best hotel prices, too. Hotel Nelligan and Le Petit Hotel (168 Saint Paul West) are among the finest accommodations in the city.
8. Rue Saint-Joseph, Quebec City, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: It proves that Quebec has just as much contemporary gems to offer as historic ones. The street is the focal point of the Saint-Roch district, known for its boutique shops, fantastic bars, and outstanding restaurants.
Top Attraction: Saint-Roch Church (500 Rue Saint-Joseph) is the largest church in Quebec City.
Where to Eat: L’affaire est Ketchup (46 Rue Saint-Joseph Est) serves inventive and affordable tapas cuisine. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show “Parts Unknown” earlier this year.
Where to Shop: Benjo (550 Boulevard Charest Est) is a children’s store that is popular with residents for its cute displays and fun cafeteria.
Hidden Gem: The attractive murals that occupy the highway underpass to the eastern edge of the street.
Historic Event: In 1845, a devastating fire destroyed 1,630 homes in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood. More than 3,000 shops and shed were lost, and 50 people died.
Vacay.ca Columnist Adrian Brijbassi writes: “The street is lined with Parisian-style lamp posts, flower boxes that are so typical of Quebec City, and a cosmopolitan feel that will surprise visitors who may believe this is a city whose past is all there is to explore.”
9. South Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
10. Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
Why This Street Rocks: The Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington) is one of Canada’s best small music clubs. It has an intimate, folk-rock feel and often features numerous alt-rock bands, particularly during Canadian Music Week each spring.
Where to Eat and Drink: Bellwoods Brewery (124 Ossington) is the hottest new brewpub in Toronto. It features brews produced on site at the brewery as well as a fine rotating selection of national and international beers. Pizzeria Libretto (221 Ossington) draws in the crowds, but the wait is much too long for pizza that doesn’t live up to its reputation. Your foodie dollar is much better spent at Boehmer (93 Ossington), which features terrific cuisine in an elegant but not stuffy room. Crooked Star (202 Ossington) is a cash-only bar that is a favourite of local hip-hop star The Weeknd. Foxley (207 Ossington) is a favourite for Southeast Asian-inspired fare.
Where to Shop: Crywolf (91 Ossington) features a range of one-of-a-kind T-shirts, bags, necklaces, and even pet wear – many with the cool Crywolf brand. Bridge + Bardot at the corner of Dundas Street (1138 Dundas West) features stylish women’s vintage clothing.
Hidden Curiosity: The Ossington strip begins at Wicked (1032 Queen West), a swingers club tucked upstairs in a Victorian mansion.
Historic Event: Just 10 years ago, this section of Toronto was known for its drugs and violence. A double murder in 2003 prompted civic and police action. The turnaround has been quick and dramatic. The Queen West West neighbourhood, of which Ossington Avenue is an artery, is the current focal point of Toronto’s cultural scene.
Vacay.ca Columnist Adrian Brijbassi says: Bellwoods Brewery and the Dakota Tavern save Ossington from being an over-hyped hipster stomping ground. Those two establishments, along with Boehmer and some of the funky clothing stores, show off Toronto’s west-end sensibilities for good-quality, low-cost experiences.
11. Kensington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
Why This Street Rocks: Kensington Avenue shares both its name and eclectic vibe with the Kensington Market neighbourhood renowned as Toronto’s best hood for bohemian culture and forever young lifestyle. Retro hippies, today’s hipsters along with worldly globe trotters all feel right at home here enjoying coffee houses, bars, restos while strolling sidewalks lined with unique shopping experiences.
Top Attraction: Pedestrian Sundays have been an ongoing summertime event for the past 10 years happening on the last Sunday of the month from May through October. The community-wide streets are blocked off to auto traffic, thereby transforming the entire neighborhood into one big street party. Now Magazine in Toronto has voted this the Best Free Community Event in the city.
Where to Eat: Seven Lives (69 Kensington) advertises itself as a provider of SoCal and Tijuana-style seafood and tacos.
Where to Shop: Vintage shops in general are popular throughout Kensington Market. Treasure hunt for trinkets at Courage My Love (14 Kensington). Exile has two locations in the area (22 and 62 Kensington) and is well known for jeans, kitsch and costumes. Another institution to visit is Global Cheese (76 Kensington). All three of these businesses have been operating since the 1970s. Tom’s Place is a popular men’s store at nearby Baldwin Street (190).
Hidden Gem: You must be in the know to find this cool yet divey bar. Cold Tea (60 Kensington) is not really a guarded secret since most likely anyone that you ask in the area will happily direct you to the unmarked entrance inside the Kensington Mall. FYI: The bar doesn’t serve cold tea or even have a drink menu but its bartenders can make just about any type of cocktail you desire. (“Cold tea” is a euphemism for beer and a term Torontonians have long used to get lagers and ales in Chinatown restaurants after the 2 am last call for alcohol.) Food of the awesome variety is available if there is a surprise visiting chef pop-up event happening on site.
Historic Event: In the early 1900s, Eastern European and Russian Jewish immigrants made Kensington Market the home base when they settled in Toronto. Waves of other immigrant groups followed. From Portuguese to Caribbeans, Middle Easterners to Chinese, everyone ventured to this part of town. Each group’s cultural imprint remains on the fabric of Kensington Market. Traditions include the transaction of business out of first-floor storefronts while maintaining second-floor residences. In 2005 Kensington Market was designated a national historic site of Canada.
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor Rod Charles says: If driving, park at the Green P parking lot conveniently located inside the market (20 St. Andrew Street) and from there you can literally shop till you drop. Bring your appetite and your wallet, because there are all kinds of treats and trinkets to be had. Kensington Avenue is alive with the smell of fresh fish and hot bread, buskers and entertaining characters. Several Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and stores line nearby Spadina Avenue.
12. Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
Why This Street Rocks: In Old Strathcona, Whyte Avenue is a popular hangout for anyone looking for a great place to enjoy good food or drink — or just dance the night away. Another reason why this street rocks is because it’s part of the Blue Mile, also known as the Copper Kilomoetre, which earned that name following the Edmonton Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup playoff run. Whyte Avenue is Edmonton’s official party headquarters. But this isn’t just a street for night owls, there’s lots of daytime fun for young people and families.
Top Attraction: The Highlevel Bridge Streetcar will take you from downtown Edmonton to within two blocks of Whyte Avenue ($5).
Where to Eat and Drink: Several great choices on this street depending on your taste. We suggest O’Byrne’s Irish Pub (10616 82 Avenue Northwest) which was featured in the Vacay.ca St. Patrick’s Day in Canada countdown. Vacay.ca writer Karen Evenden wrote: “It comes as no surprise therefore that the average customer at O’Byrne’s is anything but average. With an age range of 19-80, on a typical evening the pub attracts a variety of clientele. Expect to enjoy a pint with firemen who often host fundraisers at the pub. It’s also not uncommon to see one or two players from the Edmonton Oilers, lawyers, doctors, students, the local knitting club, or perhaps even a well-known actor from the TV show ‘Will and Grace’ (Eric McCormack made headlines when he visited the bar two years ago).” Another great stop is DaDeO’s Diner & Bar (10548 Whyte Avenue). You’ll love the jalapeno jelly and the Bananas Foster ($14), featuring bananas flambeed in a dark rum caramel sauce served over vanilla ice cream. Watch out for the flame!
Where to Shop: If you love alternative clothing, then you’ll have lots of choice on Whyte Avenue, from goth style to pinup 50’s girls dresses. One choice is Rowena (10762 – 82 Avenue). Another store known for high fashion boutiques is Loft 82 (8213 104th Street) which just opened recently. And selling vintage clothing is Divine (C-10760 82 Ave NW), where you can also get piercings.
Hidden Gem: Check out the art! You’ll find lots of beautiful murals lining Whyte Avenue.
Historic Event: While most people love a good time and are respectful, it was anything but on Canada Day 2001 when riots exploded on Whyte Avenue. Sadly, violence erupted again in 2006 following an Edmonton Oilers game. On a much happier note, there’s a café called Block 1912 (10361 82 Ave NW) that’s in a building that celebrated it’s centennial birthday last year. Stop in to enjoy great coffee, see the brick architecture and the original hardwood floor.
Sydney McNeill, office manager at Old Strathcona Business Association, says: “The neighbourhood is lively and vibrant and there really is something for everyone. Whether I’m seeking out a quick coffee, fresh ingredients for a home-cooked meal, some live local music accompanied by an obscure beer, an addition to my wardrobe, an afternoon workout or a delicious meal I can and do find it here. As well, there is this positive energy and sense of community present that makes every experience a personal one.”
13. 17th Avenue, Calgary, Alberta
Why It’s Great: The Red Mile is one of Canada’s most eclectic high streets. The concentration of top-notch restaurants, funky bars, and cool coffee shops makes it Cowtown’s leading entertainment district.
Top Attraction: It’s a toss up between The Ship & Anchor (534 17th Ave SW), arguably the city’s most popular pub, and Melrose Cafe & Bar (730 17th Ave SW), fan headquarters during Calgary Flames games.
Where to Eat and Drink: Too many to mention, but standouts include Model Milk (308 17th Ave SW; No. 7 among the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada) and Brava Bistro (723 17th Ave SW) for contemporary cuisine, Una Pizza (618 17th Ave SW) and Borgo (818 16th Ave SW) for Italian, and Tubby Dog (1022 17th Ave SW) for tricked out hotdogs before calling it a night.
Where to Shop: Distinct clothing can be found at Purr (601 17th Ave SW), classic LP vinyl discs at Sloth Records (736 17th Ave SW) and browse amongst hundreds of magazine titles at Daily Globe (1004 17th Ave SW). For the quirky set, vintage toys and retro jewelry await at Steeling Home (1010 17th Ave SW), a modern-day general store.
Hidden Gem: Head to Rubaiyat (722 17th Ave SW) for hard-to-source items. From those kitschy Christmas you haven’t seen since the ’70s to striking pottery and jewelry, you’re sure to find an unusual item that makes a suitable impression.
Historic Event: Truly where the buffalo roam, Mount Royal Village was once bison-hunting territory.
Vacay.ca Family Travel Columnist Jody Robbins says: Nicknamed for the sea of Calgary Flames fans who descend on 17th Avenue before and after NHL games, the Red Mile is busy day and night, whether the team is playing or not.
14. Queen Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Why This Street Rocks: The architecture and views of the lake are the things that will quickly grab you, with the lovely Prince of Wales Hotel (6 Picton Street) book-ending the east end of the street and a scenic view on the west side, just west of Fort Mississauga (223 Queen). A tourist’s dream, Queen Street has everything charming, from horse-drawn carriages to ice cream, fine dining, spas and boutique stores.
Top Attraction: Is Niagara-on-the-Lake really Canada’s most haunted town? You be the judge. Ghost Walks and Dark History Tours (118 Queen) offers several walks that will leave you shaking in your boots and hopefully a little more educated about local history. Learn about the violent ghost of the Angel Inn (224 Regent Street) or walk in the footsteps of the first woman executed in public during the Dark History Tour.
Where to Eat: Great choices. Try Charles Inn (209 Queen), where chef Steve Sperling will treat you to an outstanding menu featuring several culinary treats. For lunch, try the Parmesan & Truffle “Mac & Cheese”, with elbow macaroni, rich parmesan cream, cherry tomatoes and caramelized onions, double-smoked bacon lardoons and baby spinach with white truffle oil ($15). For dinner, take a look at the Atlantic Salmon Mi-cuit ($15) or the Roasted Magret of Duck ($30), with house-made duck sausage and butternut squash tart tatin. Another place to stop is Ristorante Giardino (142 Queen), offering views of the lake and vineyards. Try the Sunday Brunch menu ($29.95), including hearts of romaine caesar salad, roasted herb chicken and a medley of vegetables. Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine (114 Queen) prides itself on its fresh-food approach. For dinner, order the seared Lake Erie Pickerel with “Marc’s” Wild Mushrooms “Pingue’s” Guanciale, Tarragon Cream ($30). Another fine choice is the Prosciutto and Sage Wrapped Cumbrae Farms Pork Tenderloin with Forked Baked Potato Caramelized Onions, Heirloom Vegetables ($32).
Hidden Gem: Check out the Niagara Apothecary Museum (5 Queen). Its website reads: “An authentic museum restoration of a 1869 pharmacy as part of a practice that operated in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, from 1820 to 1964.” Another hidden gem we have to mention, even though it’s not right on Queen Street, is Queen’s Royal Park. On a good day you can see the CN Tower from here. Open daily from noon to 6 pm.
Historic Event: Visit Queen Street on December 7, 2013 for Niagara on Fire!, an outdoor sound and light show, fireworks and film premiere commemorating the 200th anniversary of the burning of Niagara. According to 1812 Niagara-on-the-Lake, during the war a fleet of US warships, supported by guns on the opposite bank, fired on the town and landed troops. The Americans won the fierce battle and occupied the town until December. For the civilian population, it was devastating as the resulting fire consumed homes and shops.
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor Rod Charles says: This is a beautiful street to visit anytime of the year, but it’s especially beautiful in warm weather. Go for a walk and try everything that you can, taste everything you can, see everything you can.
15. College Street, Toronto, Ontario
Why This Street Rocks: Toronto will always be a multicultural capital of the world. One street where you can witness diverse Toronto at its best is College Street, where Little Portugal and Little Italy combine to create a magical — and tasty — path for Canada’s largest city. Mix that with the University of Toronto and the Ontario Legislature and that diversity explodes to include the confidence of the political and business elite with fashionable, adventurous students ready for a good time.
Top Attraction: Named in honour of Queen Victoria, Queen’s Park (University, Toronto at Queens Park Crescent) is the home of the Ontario Legislative Building and can be found at University and College. Here you will find several statues and monuments, including one for George Brown, Sir John A. Macdonald, Queen Elizabeth II, the Ontario Police Memorial, and Jesus Christ. If you’re interested in a tour of Queen’s Park, call 416-325-7500.
Where to Eat and Drink: Acadia (50 Clinton Street, just north of College Street) was rated the city’s top restaurant by Vacay.ca judges this year and it is a departure from the areas Italian fare, serving dishes inspired by the American south and prepared by French chef Patrick Kriss. Sidecar Bar and Grill (577 College Street), open from Sunday to Wednesday, has one of the best Steak Frites ($19) in the city and one of the best dining deals – a three-course meal for $25. Above Sidecar is the Toronto Temperance Society, often cited as one of the city’s best places to grab a cocktail (read about its bartender here). La Carnita (501 College Street) serves up inexpensive Mexican food, including tacos, avocado mango salad and tostada de ceviche. This restaurant originated from the Toronto underground market and has very popular and good food. Frank’s Kitchen (588 college street) is another owner-operated restaurant with an outstanding chef who is constantly getting great reviews. Hey Meatball (719 College Street) serves the famous “I want ______ balls with ________sauce on ________” ($13). For those of you who like variety, fear not … Hey Meatball serves mac and cheese as well ($7). Not to be forgotten is Bar Isabel (797 College Street), which has been receiving rave reviews since it opened earlier in 2013. Last but not least, there’s Bairrada Churrasqueira (1000 College Street). Try the BBQ Chicken (Whole dinner $12, half $6) served with rice and parisienne potatoes. Make sure to visit this restaurant in the summer and enjoy authentic Portuguese food on the spacious patio filled with picnic tables. A great spot to enjoy an evening with friends over a bottle of wine.
Where to Shop: This is a long street and there are lots of choices. So start at the beginning at a department store at Yonge Street called College Park. From there, it’s a question of what grabs your fancy. Just west of Spadina at College you’ll find several stores dealing specifically with computers and electronics, a great area to visit if you’re looking for good deals. For you men hoping to look your best, we suggest Pasqualino Men’s Wear and Designs (654 College Street) as a great place to start.
Hidden Gem: Lilliput Hats (462 College Street) is a legendary millinery located in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Founded in 1990 by designer, Karyn Gingras, celebrities have come to love these hats, including Celine Dion, Whoopi Goldberg and Sandra Oh.
Historic Event: If you’re wondering where College Street gets it’s name, it’s from The University of Toronto, which used to be known as King’s College. One rather sad historic event occurred recently in 2010 during the G20 riots, when vandals and anarchists smashed several windows of several cars and office buildings along Yonge, Queen and College Street.
Foodie’s on Foot co-owner Stephen Hellmann says: “It’s just a vibrant, unique street, lots of history, there’s always a good buzz…it’s always a place where you can go and get the best of everything., all on one stretch.”
16. Denman Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Why This Street Rocks: At the southern end of the street is English Bay and the beauty of Vancouver’s stunning landscape, featuring ocean and mountain views.
Top Attraction: The beach.
Where to Eat: Raincity Grill (1193 Denman Street) is consistently outstanding, with exceptional seafood dishes and one of Vancouver’s most well-known brunch spots. For those with sweet tooths, Cupcakes (1168 Denman Street) has a massive fan base. Also a hit is independently owned Basil’s Subs (1114 Denman Street) for delicious choices that will ensure you never eat at Subway again.
Hidden Gem: Devonian Harbour Park at the foot of Denman Street features a historical marker that covers the key periods of the West End neighbourhood’s history and significance to the city’s growth.
Historic Event: In 1859, British Royal Navy captain George Henry Richards named Coal Harbour, the northern waters off the shore of Vancouver. Denman Street begins at the harbour.
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor Julia Pelish says: Denman Street is delightful from north end to south, thanks in large part to the public spaces that bracket it. To the west is Stanley Park and English Bay is on the south side while Coal Harbour is on the north, with the seawall circling the city. Denman is that rare street that blends urban life with nature.
17. Rue Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal (between Rue Guy and Boulevard Decarie)
Why It’s Great: Montreal’s magnificent and more contemporary architecture is on display on this thoroughfare. Sherbrooke Street, perhaps more than any other spot in the city, reminds us of the great promise Montreal had before the exodus of business in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Top Attraction: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1380 Sherbrooke Street West) is quite likely the best museum in Canada.
Where to Eat: Park Restaurant (378 Victoria Avenue) is at the corner of Sherbrooke and ranked 32nd on the Vacay.ca Top Restaurants in Canada Guide. It’s famed for its sushi. Maison Boulud (ranked 76th) is at the Montreal Ritz-Carlton (1228 Sherbrooke Street West).
Hidden Gem: Fort de la Montagne dates to 1685. It is a 13-metre (43 foot) stone tower that sits at the College de Montreal (1931 Sherbrooke Street West).
Historic Event: In 1821, McGill University (845 Sherbrooke Street West) was founded.
Vacay.ca Adrian Brijbassi writes: “Even before its newest wing, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offered visitors an excellent review of Canadian and international painting. What the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art accomplishes, however, is so tremendous it hoists this attraction to the top, making it the best museum in Canada. Hands-down. The Pavilion, named after its donors, should stoke a stronger interest in Canadian art within this country’s borders because its 600-piece collection gives us all a fantastic gift: It shows that the great art movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries did not happen without us.”
18. Grand Allée, Quebec City, Quebec
Why This Street Rocks: Grand Allée is where everyone goes to let go and have fun. This is where university students go to have a good time, and where couples and friends enjoy a walk before tasty meal. You’ll always find good restaurants and great music on this street. While Grand Allée is always thriving, it’s in summer when things really come alive with patios and a vibrant club scene. With Hôtel Château Laurier Québec (1220 Georges-V Ouest), Hôtel Château Grande-Allée (601 Grande-Allée E) and Loews Hotel Le Concorde (1225 Place Montcalm) lining the street, Grand Allée is a great place to watch the locals mix with international visitors. When visiting Quebec City, this street is a must – especially during Festival d’Ete or Carnival, which celebrates its 60th year in 2014.
Top Attraction: Dagobert Night Club (600, Grande- Grand Allée East) is king on this street, which is fitting because this building looks like a restored medieval castle. Catch emerging musical acts throughout the year, or head for the dance floor. Another great choice is The Maurice Night Club and the ultra Charlotte Lounge (575 Grande- Grand Allée) with a capacity of 1000 and special events held year round.
Where to Eat and Drink: Several choices, from fast food to fine dining. One great spot you can try is L’Atelier (624 Grande Allée Est). You’ll enjoy the Angus Beef and Bacon Cheeseburger ($16). Good dinner choices include the Pad Cod of Iceland ($22) or the Braised Beef Short Rib, potato salad and bacon ($23). Another stop to make is L’Inox Brewery (655 Grande Allée Est), where you can sample their beer over a tasty hot dog. Another choice is a trendy Italian restaurant with a large bar called Savini (680 Grande-Allée E). Feu Sacre (Sacred Fire Steak House at 601 Grande-Allée Est ) is a spot for grilled eats.
Where to Shop: Unless you’re in the market for the club scene or restaurants, there really isn’t much shopping on this street. A good alternative is to head north to Boulevard René-Lévesque.
Hidden Gem: History surrounds this street. Quebec’s National Assembly (1045 rue des Parlementaires) sits at the end of Grand Allée. If you get a chance check out the fountain in front of the building and the artwork on the wall, which tells the story of Quebec through statues lined on the front wall of the building. Here you will see statues of Maisonneuve, Salaberry, Frontenac, Champlain and other provincial heroes.
Historic Event: Grand Allée lies west of the fortifications and North of the Plains of Abraham. While Grand Allée may be a beautiful trendy street today, in 1759 it was the scene of heavy fighting between English and French forces during the Battle on the Plains of Abraham. In fact, the entire area is basically part of the battlefield. The battle was decided when the English under General James Wolfe was able to defeat the French army under General Marquis Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, a victory that delivered the region to the British. Over 260 people were killed – including both generals — with more than 1,000 wounded.
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor Rod Charles says: “Historic landmarks, sparkling nightlife, outstanding restaurants. Don’t allow yourself to be in Quebec City without sitting on a patio on Grand Allée and enjoying the sunset with a tall glass of beer.”
19. Queen Street, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Why This Street Rocks: It won the award for favourite street in 2012 from the Canadian Institute of Urban Planners.
Top Attraction: Officer’s Square (585 Queen Street) is both a public space for gatherings, including free concerts, and home to government buildings that feature the city’s most striking architecture.
Where to Eat: Just around the corner where Queen Street meets Regent is the Blue Door (100 Regent Street), which ranked 46th on the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide.
Hidden Gem: Lord Beaverbrook Art Gallery (703 Queen Street) has a collection that includes Turner, Gainsborough, and Dali, among other surprising finds.
Historic Event: Fredericton is as peaceful as a city can get today, but its early history was one of strife. What is now Queen Street and the surrounding area saw upheaval when the Acadians were expelled from the region in the mid-1800s. Acadian Day celebrations will take place on August 15, 2014, honouring the culture of those settlers and their culture.
Vacay.ca Contributor Jacqueline Swartz writes: “Flanking Officer’s Square, in what was the barracks of British forces, is Fredericton’s historical museum. There you can learn about the peoples who lived in the area: the native groups, the Acadians, the New England Planters (who were invited to come to New Brunswick after to the Acadians were expelled) and the British.”
20. Ragged Ass Road, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Why This Street Rocks: Do you have to ask? The name is fantastic.
Top Attraction: The street signs. They’ve been stolen more times than anyone can count. They’re now souvenirs for sale.
Where to Eat: It’s not on Ragged Ass Road, but if you’ve made it all the way to Yellowknife you’re not likely to stick to one street. So, take the 10-minute walk to the Wildcat Cafe (3904 Wiley Road), which was saved from demolition by residents and remains a local favourite.
Where to Shop: Ragged Ass Road Shoppe is where you’ll find Ragged Ass Road T-shirts, shot glasses, fur hats, and every piece of memorabilia you would like with the name on it.
Hidden Gem: Near the Wildcat Cafe is the Bush Pilot’s Monument, which offers a view of Great Slave Lake and Yellowknife’s surrounding area.
Historic Event: Long before Tom Cochrane dubbed an album after the street, Ragged Ass Road was home to prospectors and miners, who gave the short thoroughfare its name after one luckless season. The term “ragged ass” is synonymous with being poor.
Vacay.ca Contributor Helena Katz writes: “Rumour has it that some miners, fuelled with a few drinks one night in the 1940s, decided to rename their street. They grabbed some paint and put up a sign. The joke was a hit and the town officially renamed the street Ragged Ass Road.”