Toronto is a great city for both the casual and the dedicated shopper, and the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood
is one of the most popular areas to check out.
While typically known for its fashionable higher-end stores, in reality there are hundreds of shops in the area that range from discount to viscount.
The main retail zones are found along Bloor Street and Yonge Street, as well as the numerous blocks that make up Yorkville. There are several shopping centres here, including Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville off Avenue Road, and Manulife Centre at the corner of Yonge and Bay streets.
The shopping scene is certainly not limited as the entire neighbourhood, both above and below ground, is packed with stores.
Bloor Street, from Yonge Street westward to Avenue Road, is a high-profile stretch of flagship retailers that happens to be one of the most expensive retail spaces in North America.
It is known by some as the "Fashion Mile," and others by the more playful "Mink Mile," as a result of the high-end fashion and jewellery stores that line the street.
Bloor has recently undergone a significant renovation, putting in trees and planters while broadening the sidewalks, in an effort to increase the area's appeal.
Despite being known as a hot-spot for luxury fashion, in recent years Bloor Street has branched out with a wider range of stores. Some of the most popular retailers include Chapters-Indigo, Hudson's Bay Company, Roots, Winners, The Gap and H&M.
They mingle together with the traditionally higher-end stores like William Ashley China, Gucci, Williams-Sonoma and Holt Renfrew.
North of this stretch is where shoppers will find Yorkville, which is more-or-less a continuation of the upscale shopping found along Bloor.
The bars, restaurants, hotels and designer boutiques that are the area's tenants also tend to attract a lot of visiting celebrities, particularly during the Toronto International Film Festival
A lot of speciality stores also common here, selling anything from watches, purses and shoes to kitchen supplies and fine foods.
Yonge Street is also a busy spot for retail, with more mid-priced shops found there, particularly south of Bloor Street. Here shoppers can find clothing, shoe, and music stores, as well as more eclectic and tourist-oriented fare as one continues to move south.
While the streets of Yorkville and the Bloor-Yonge neighbourhood are lined with shops and restaurants, a parallel shopping world exists underground.
The shopping centres here - Hazelton Lanes, Hudson's Bay Centre (at Yonge and Bloor), Holt Renfrew Centre and Cumberland Terrace -- all have above ground stores that only hint at what's below.
In fact, most of the neighbourhood is criss-crossed with an inter-connecting underground network of passageways and tunnels not unlike the PATH network that links the Eaton Centre with the downtown financial district.
There are almost as many stores here underneath Bloor-Yorkville than there are above (and frankly, an unbelievable number of coffee shops).
Getting off the subway at Yonge/Bloor Station, one could walk the whole neighbourhood without ever seeing daylight (or cold weather for that matter).
A fair number of clothing stores are found there, introducing an even wider range of choices than up on the street. Specialty shops and boutiques are common here as well, including chocolatiers, bookstores, beauty suppliers, newsstands, hobby shops and electronics. You can also access many of the larger above-ground stores from these tunnels as well.
In terms of getting around, make sure to keep an eye out for the maps posted at regular intervals. Moving from one building to the next can often be quite seamless, so keep your senses sharp if you're looking for somewhere in particular.
Getting to Bloor-Yorkville is easy, as it is located steps away from both of the city's main subway lines. Yonge/Bloor Station is where the east-west Bloor-Danforth subway line meets the north-south Yonge-University line.
Bay Station, the next stop west on the Bloor-Danforth line, is also located in the heart of Yorkville. These stations provide easy access to anyone travelling in from outside the city, including those arriving by VIA or GO trains at Union Station.
Meanwhile, those travelling by car will find roads in the area to be slow-moving, particularly during rush hour. If coming from outside downtown, the Don Valley Parkway is the best bet, which can be accessed from the Bloor Street exit.
The good news is that if travelling by car there is generally a good supply of parking scattered liberally throughout the neighbourhood, but just be prepared to pay a premium. "Green P" municipal parking lots charge rates of about $1.75 to $2.00 per half-hour and $12.00 to $15.00 per day, but other lots may cost a bit more.
Shopping in Bloor-Yorkville is a must if you are a fashionista! Check out the great neighbourhood and shops and see for yourself.