Toronto is known for its vibrant nightlife in comparison to other major cities in Canada and throughout the U.S.
The variety in nightlife makes Toronto vibrant and unique. There are different venues that offer something for everyone.
The following are different atmospheres or categories of nightlife in the city that Toronto has demand for and that can be found for someone eager to hit the streets.
- Singles ready to mingle
- Lively gay scenes
- Cocktail and martini socialites
- Upscale rock clubs
- Grunge rock clubs
- Great little hole-in-the-wall bars and pubs
- Flashy dance clubs
- Live music (rock, jazz, piano, open mike nights)
- Hookah bars
- Irish taverns
- Sports bars
- Pool halls
- Comedy clubs
- Karaoke bars
The above list of entertainment venues can be found across the downtown core of Toronto and beyond into the Greater Toronto Area
. Many venues often have something different or unique experiences to offer clientele visting these establishments.
The most general and basic guide to Toronto nightlife would be to break it down into regions of the city. Specific areas of Toronto attract specific demographics and types of entertainment venues when the sun goes down.
The following consists of 4 major downtown regions of Toronto that offer different nightlife experiences.
- The Clubbing District of Toronto is roughly in and around Richmond Street, running both east and west of Toronto's main artery of Yonge Street. Richmond Street is not much to look at during the day, but on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, it is transformed as the streets become filled with eager club-goers.
This is the main area of downtown Toronto where one can find nightlife enthusiasts in high-heels, short skirts, slicked back hair, and open dress shirts. Richmond Street is Toronto's Mecca for flashy large dance clubs.
Many of these buildings are large warehouses turned into clubs, with names and ownerships changing faster than the blink of an eye. For those who enjoy loud dance, techno, or top 40 beats, strobe lights, and atmosphere fog, than Richmond Street is for you.
Most places in this district require a cover charge for entry, although typically less for ladies, and drinks are often on the pricey side depending on the establishment. Those who frequent this area the most however are not downtown dwellers, but people from the suburbs of Toronto enjoying a night out.
The clientele is also often on the younger side, the majority being 19 to their early twenties, although there are places that require the miniumum age of 21 or even older. A point to follow if you are coming from outside the downtown area with a large group, take a limo. Arriving in a limo almost always guarantees line cuts outside your desired club.
- King Street West is another district in Toronto worth visiting for the nightlife. A lot less dance oriented clubs are located here with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 establishments. It is exciting all the same and caters to a slightly older and more mature crowd compared to the larger clubs of Richmond Street.
There are a variety of different and interesting night establishments to find here, from martini bars to places specializing in imported beers. King Street is overall a very classy nightlife area of Toronto where people can enjoy good music, drinks, and conversation. It's ideal for couples, large groups of friends, and the slightly older crowd who wants to dress upscale casual.
- The next area to mention are the bars along Ossington Avenue in downtown Toronto. People who frequent this area are typically the city dwellers themselves, and those who want the opposite of what the clubbing district offers.
The nightlife establishments along Ossington are arguably less classy than what you might find on King Street West, yet has experienced improvements over recent years as it once was a run-down street to avoid.
Many different people find themselves partying on Ossington as there are now artsy alternative bars, dance venues, lounges, and profitable hole-in-the-wall pubs and bars. There is a reputation for the majority of night-lifers being "hipsters with trust funds"; simply meaning, people who like the "street creed" of Ossington, but have the money to party.
One will not see the same attire worn in the clubbing district on Ossington Avenue. People out for the night here will be more dressed down, with the grunge, or casual attire being very trendy.
- Church Street and Wellesley Street or known as Church and Wellesley is home to Toronto's Gay Village and are some lively places to visit at night for people of all sexual orientation. This is obviously the place to find your local gay and/or lesbian bar.
Venturing to the Gay Village is a must if one has never visited for both residents and tourists alike of Toronto. Most likely because it is where everyone can fit in regardless of one's partying preference, financial situation, style, gender, or sexuality. Church and Wellesley also offers variety from your regular sit-down bar, lounges, and dance clubs.