By Sophia Bannon, Staff Writer

Photo credit: Finn Meiklejohn, Graphic Designer

For a lot of students, right now is the first time they’ve lived in Toronto. The vastness of this city can be daunting, and it can be hard to know where to go or what to explore. You think you’ve seen all of Toronto, and then you find another neighbourhood. I’ve lived in this city my whole life, and I’m still finding new places to hang out. Here are some of the best places (in my opinion) to go in Toronto.

BMV Books – 471 Bloor Street W

BMV Books is a treasure I discovered when I was thirteen, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my system since. It’s three stories of affordable, discounted books in great condition. Unlike many secondhand bookstores, the majority of these books have been published semi-recently. They have everything from photography, to children’s lit, to comics and science fiction. It’s easy to get lost in the store for hours. One of the coolest bookstores in Toronto, and it’s right next to U of T!

Lansdowne Value Village – 1319 Bloor St W

If you’re looking to start thrifting, go to the Lansdowne Value Village! It is one of the most iconic thrifting spots in Toronto. This Value Village is absolutely massive, and you’re guaranteed to find something you like. It’s also right on the subway line, which is very convenient. A warning, this Value Village is very well known, so it’s better to go on weekdays when there aren’t any crowds. Another great thing about this location is that there are tons of other thrift and vintage stores in this area! Just walk towards Dufferin, and you’ll find Tara Thrift (a little bit pricier, but still very affordable), the Salvation Army, and other vintage boutiques that have a more curated selection, but higher prices. A word on the boutiques, if you’re looking to save money, always check the sale racks first. I bought a gorgeous Danier leather jacket for $10, all because of a minor pocket tear.

Craig’s Cookies – 483 Church St

I am not the biggest cookie fan, but these are probably the best I have ever tasted. A Toronto favourite, with their original location situated in Parkdale, one of my favourite neighbourhoods. There are four locations around Toronto, the closest one to U of T at Church and Wellesley. These cookies are a must-have, and I highly recommend you check them out.

Pizza and Pasta – 302 College St

One of my favourite pizza joints is Pizza and Pasta, on College and Spadina. The pizza is delicious, oily, and generally an unhealthy time. They slather their garlic oil all over the pizza and it is to die for. I became addicted to this pizza joint in middle school when a slice went for $2, and I haven’t been able to stop going since.

Gus Tacos – 225 Augusta Ave

One of my favourite taco joints is Gus Tacos. There are three locations in Toronto, one in Kensington, one in Parkdale, and one near Bloor and Dufferin. Their tacos are delicious and fresh, and I especially recommend their grilled fish tacos.

Common Sort – 444 Bloor St W

Common Sort is a resale shop in between the very inexpensive thrift stores and the pricier vintage stores that are common in Toronto. Prices range from $12 to $40, and you can usually find something nice. I bought $20 2000s BeBe heels for my prom there, and it was very much a win. They also have a $4 bin, which is definitely worth looking through. I found one of my favourite dresses in that bin. A plus is that one of its locations is right next to U of T!

She Said Boom – 378 College St

She Said Boom has always been one of my favourite Toronto bookstores because of its nostalgic feel. They have a great selection of used and new books, and a great record and CD display. The music playing is always excellent, and you feel comfortable just browsing and chilling for hours. Very quiet, mellow vibes, which is excellent for a rainy Sunday. My favourite store is in Roncesvalles, but there is also a location near U of T!

Mabels -1156 Queen W

Mabels, in my opinion, is the best Toronto bakery. Their mini baguettes are excellent, their bagels taste just like Montreal bagels, and their triple chocolate brownies are fantastic. There is nothing bad at Mabels. Most mornings, there are lines out the door for their baked goods. The closest location is near Trinity Bellwoods, but it is well worth the commute. 

Public Butter – 1290 Queen St W

Public Butter is the sister shop to Black Market. It is slightly more expensive, with prices ranging from $20 to $60, but it has a more curated selection. It still has the same funky vibe as Black Market, but the clothing is generally better and the accessories are more interesting. They have an excellent graphic t-shirt selection, and a pretty decent denim collection, though it is harder to find a good pair of jeans if you are a size small. However, along this part of Queen Street there is excellent thrifting! There is the aforementioned Common Sort, an amazing Salvation Army that I loathe to mention because the prices are so cheap and the finds so good, and a ton of other vintage shops, including People’s Champ Vintage, where I found a $20 Trip NYC skirt. There is also a super cool antique/vintage store at the bottom of Queen and Roncy, which is usually pretty pricey, but if you dig through their clothing or look at their sale rack, you’re sure to find something good.

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