At the heart of the music and arts scene sits Queen West, a seedy strip of low-rent apartments until a few years back. Walking east from Gladstone Street—where art galleries will soon outnumber repair shops—stop into Camera, a cinephile's sanctuary owned by director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter). The bar hosts free Saturday screenings of art-house flicks and docs.
A brisk five minutes down Queen West, the recently opened Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art has become a permanent home for exhibits and installations of everyone from local performance artists to the late national icon Emily Carr. The mammoth, mind-bending sculptures of Walter Redinger are on display from February 2 to March 18.
Elsewhere on the avenue, grab some retro swag at 69 Vintage, and a "road pop" (Canadian slang for quick drink) at the hipster HQ, the Social (1100 Queen St. W.; 416-532-4474). For a more genteel break, sip tea from vintage china and snack on Dr. Seuss–inspired cakes at the Red Tea Box (696 Queen St. W.; 416-203-8882).
On frosty nights, settle in at the Horseshoe Tavern, the legendary musical anchor of Queen West. The venue has been rocking for 60 years and will be packed with explosive young bands during March's Canadian Music Week, an industry conference and blizzard of gigs.