By Natalia Kvitek

Cross The Border To Canada For Shopping Getaways

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Thanks to the sinking Canadian dollar, Americans are well-advised to take a trip up North and cross the border into our friendly neighboring country for some budget shopping adventures. With many premiere shopping locations merely across the border, now is the time to head to Canada and hit the city pavements armed with cash and credit cards. Check out our suggestions for Canadian Shopping Getaways that will leave your closet feeling refreshed.

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto Shopping Destinations Canada

Toronto is one of the best shopping destinations in Canada. Photo by Scarleth Marie CC BY

Currently considered one of the coolest destinations in North America, the Queen West neighborhood in Toronto almost tops Vogue’s list of Coolest Neighborhoods so you know Toronto style has got to be on point. Whether you’re looking for high-end skirts or a great bargain on shoes, Toronto has got absolutely everything, in 10 colors.

If you’re a fashion blogger wannabe, head to Toronto’s Bloor/Yorkville area for a chance to impress with your #OOTD photos. Be sure to check out Canada’s uber trendy Aritzia, Club Monaco (also originally born in Canada) and Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to high-end department stores like Barney’s and Bergdorf’s.

Book your stay at the Hazelton Hotel Toronto and snap a granite bathroom selfie.

Eaton Center Toronto Shopping Canada

The Eaton Center is a hugely popular tourist destination. Photo by S. Rae CC BY

Looking to escape the weather? Head to the climate controlled Toronto Eaton Center is 230 stores, including Canadian shoe giant Aldo, Sephora and H&M spread over several floors and is one of T.O’s most popular tourist destinations as well as a local shopping staple. Located at the corner of Yonge and Dundas, the mall puts you in perfect proximity to many other busy shopping streets like Queen Street West.

Stay at the Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre  for easy access to this shopping hub.

Kensington Market Toronto Shopping Canada

From comics, to vintage wedding dresses and Asian grocery stores. Photo by Freaktography CC BY

More of an eclectic vintage fiend? Kensington Market will bring you to a treasure trove of some of the best vintage shopping Canada can offer you. You’ll spend hours pulling through the racks and it’s practically guaranteed you’ll come out with more than you planned to buy. Check out Courage My Love , a vintage staple since it opened in the seventies.  Kensington Market is the place to go if you’re looking for something unique– you’ll also uncover hand-made jewelry and products from local designers within these colorful and funky couple of blocks.

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Shopping Getaway Canada

The Vancouver skyline. Photo by Nick Harris CC BY

The Pacific Ocean meets the mountains in Vancouver but the plethora of outdoor activities isn’t the only thing bringing visitors to the city. Vancouver has lots to offer shopaholics looking for their latest fix–independent boutiques, haute-couture and stores filled with wares from local designers are abundant, as well as a couple of bargains. Stay at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver for its proximity to most of the major shopping areas.

Gastown District Shopping Vancouver Canada

The quaint, cute and stylish Gastown district. Photo by Joe Mabel CC BY

The Gastown district is the historic center of Vancouver and is rife with boutiques offering the best in local and independent design and fashion.  For vintage scores, head to either location of Community Thrift & Vintage for a curated take on the latest fashion. For the man of style, check out Haven, a Canadian retailer who stocks Japanese denim and a diverse selection of streetwear and accessories that will surely turn heads. In the market for some art? Visit Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery for some stunning First Nations artwork. Check out a full list of Gastown retailers here.

Downtown Vancouver Canada Shopping Getaways

Hudson Bay Company on Robson illuminated. Photo by Alejandro Mejía Greene CC BY

Robson Street and Downtown Vancouver is where the majority of big-name clothing retailers are located. That’s not to say there aren’t a couple of surprises in the mix! Head to the ultimate pillar of Canadian fashion, The Bay department store and pick some of their iconic striped souvenirs in form of tote bags, blankets, mugs and even dog-tees. In the market for stylish yet low-priced leather jackets? Canadian leather retailer Danier Leather on Robson Street caters to all sorts of tastes with their buttery soft leather jackets and accessories for some very fair prices.

Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa Canada Shopping Getaways

Sunset on the beautiful Rideau Canal. Photo by poissantfamily CC BY

Ottawa is just across the Canadian border, straddling the French speaking province of Quebec and the English Ontario. The town is the political heart of Canada and local scenery includes their beautiful parliament buildings, and during winter, the longest ice skating rink in the world, the Rideau Canal. Ottawa is full of the little shops and boutiques that frequently give a city its character.

Stay at the Delta Ottawa City Centre to remain in close proximity to all the best shopping and major sites of Canada’s capital.

Byward Market Ottawa Canada Shopping

A busy morning unpacking wares at the Byward Market. Photo by J.Michel CC BY

ByWard Market in Ottawa is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets; roughly four blocks filled to the brim with cafes, specialty food store and clothing shops. While you’re there, check out Victoire Boutique. The collection is mostly made by Canadian designers at a very reasonable price point. This cute boutique is just the place to pick up a dress that all your friends will want to borrow. The market also has lots of artisanal food vendors including a Polish Delicatessen at Continental Delicatessen, an Italian grocer at La Bottega Nicastro and plenty of places to pick up teas, coffees, chocolates and cupcakes.

Downtown Ottawa Canada Shopping

At the tail end of Wellington Street on the Ottawa River Photo by Viola Ng CC BY

Located alongside the Ottawa River in the West end of Ottawa is the Westboro neighborhood. This thriving community houses many unique shops and a solid mix of nation-wide retailers that keep the feel of this neighborhood young, lively and athletic. Here you’ll find Vancouver-based lululemon athletica. The company has created a veritable fashion revolution in Canada with legions of lululemon lovers embracing their stretchy active-wear as part of everyday apparel. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), also located along the same Westboro strip, is a Canadian cooperative that sells outdoor oriented clothing exclusively to members. Membership only costs $5 for life and you’ll be supporting MEC’s commitment to environmental protection while enjoying some sensational deals on top-of-the-line clothing and outdoor sporting goods. 

Rideau Center Ottawa Canada Shopping Getaways

You don’t need to step foot outside all day at the Rideau Center. Photo by Charles Crosbie CC BY

The Rideau Center is the perfect place to head during a rainy day, a hot day, or a cold day. This self-contained shopping haven has over 160 stores including the uber-trendy Canadian shoe store Little Burgundy, Michael Kors, and Toronto-founded MAC Cosmetics. Swing by Canadian Tea connoisseurs David’s Tea for a sample of the day and we guarantee you’ll be hooked on their vast and delicious selection of teas as well as adorable tea accessories.

Montreal, Quebec

Montreal Canada Old Port Shopping

Evening in Montreal. Photo by ilirjan rrumbullaku CC BY

Montreal boutique shopping rivals that of Toronto and Vancouver. Quirky and unique, this city has a beat all its own reflected in its myriad of shopping possibilities. Whether priceless art, old-world department stores of stores specializing in denim, you can be sure you can find anything and everything in this mainly French speaking city. A trip here feels like you’ve crossed the pond and what better souvenirs than a couple new outfits? Head to the Old Port Montreal for fine art galleries and high-end boutiques which cater to a mostly tourist crowd. Nonetheless, this is Montreal at its most charming and worth an afternoon of browsing.

Rue Saint Catherine West is packed, morning till night with shoppers. This is the hub of Montreal’s shopping scene and the area where you can find the majority of stores you’re familiar with. Home to two massive Canadian Department stores, you’ll find La Maison Ogilvy at one end and Hudson Bay at the other. There’s a massive Browns Shoes, a huge Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and an outpost of Canadian leather designer Rudsak, among all the others you can imagine. Any large scale retailer you can imagine likely has a location on Rue Saint Catherine.

Stay at the Omni Mont-Royal on  Rue Sherbrook so you don’t have to carry those shopping bags far.

St.Laurent Street Montreal Canada Shopping

The busy stretch of St. Laurent in Montreal. Photo by Philippe Du Berger CC BY

Boulevard St.Laurent takes a slightly edgier turn with stylish boutiques lining the path up to the Plateau and Mile-End, Montreal’s too hippest neighborhoods. If you’re looking for something different, take a stroll up the street. Check out IBIKI  if you’re in favor of simple cuts, minimal pattern and a large variety of brands (and prices!) to suit every palate. In the market for a new pair of glasses?  T’as Vu? Optique has an incredibly diverse selection of both new and vintage frames- you’ll never catch someone with the same pair as you again.You’ll also find vintage stores like KILOfripe who mash second hand thrift shop scores with up-cycled and re-styled pieces that don’t exist anywhere else. Don’t be surprised to come across a performance or art show happening while you shop. For more vintage stores, head around the corner to Rue Mont-Royal for a veritable vintage avenue. 

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax Canada Waterfront Shopping

The sparkling Halifax Waterfront. Photo by Glenn Euloth CC BY

Halifax loves its buy-local scene. Tons of little shops owned by young Haligonians litter the downtown core of this port city making for attractive window shopping and long strolls. Expect super-friendly, welcoming service with tons of questions about where you’re from as well as suggestions for other stores and businesses you should visit during your stay.

Roots Store Halifax Canada

Leather to the left, cotton to the right at Roots in Halifax. Photo courtesy of the Roots Facebook page.

Known for their classic Canadian wear, Roots on Spring Garden Road is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs your friends and fam will actually want. Iconic sweatpants and sweatshirts featuring soft cottons and the unmistakable beaver logo will have you picking up more than you bargained for. Their leather section is also to-die-for with beautiful boots and bags for any and all occasions.  From Spring Garden, walk down to the recently revitalized Barrington Street and Argyle street area. An Urban Outfitters just popped up, as well as a Canadian brand Frank & Oak with their pristine selection of menswear for a sharply dressed man. Also along this stretch is locally owned Attica Furnishings who can ship their incredible selection of mostly Canadian-made furniture internationally.

Book a room at the Lord Nelson on Spring Garden with views of the beautiful Public Gardens.

North End Halifax Shopping Gottingen Street

Window shopping along Gottingen Street. Photo courtesy of the Big Pony Facebook page.

Stay at the Atlantica Halifax hotel for sweeping views of the Halifax Commons and walking distance to the trendy North End of Halifax. This hip area has some great shopping along Gottingen Street, a consistent shopping hotspot for decades. Check out the new digs of locally-owned Big Pony, selling a hand-picked selection of bold and bright vintage clothing that is just as fashionable today as ever. The Independent Mercantile Co., another locally owned store,  has a beautiful selection of little tchotchkes, things to fill up your home with a warm, cozy feel and gifts that will fit inside your suitcase.

Calgary, Alberta

Calgary Alberta Canada Skyline

Calgary has an unexpected abundance of amazing shopping. Photo by Michael Gil CC BY

Alberta has made it big in the oil industry, greatly benefiting big cities like Edmonton and of course Calgary who have welcomed shopping malls and high-end boutiques galore within the past few decades. While you might not think of Calgary as a shopping destination, this fine city rivals the selection of giants like Toronto for luxury shopping.

CORE Calgary Shopping Center

The CORE Calgary shopping center. Photo by Lambert Rellosa CC BY

Some of finest shopping here is in downtown Calgary–we’re not talking cowboy boots and spurs, but moreso along the lines of exclusive designer stores and the newly-renovated CORE shopping mall. Stop into Birks, Canada’s answer to Tiffany’s, shoe fanatic mecca Browns Shoes, and Holt Renfrew. Bargain hunters take note: a couple of blocks away you’ll find Winners, Canada’s TJ Maxx. They’ve got top quality brand name and designer clothing and shoes, as well as jewelry and stuff for the house. Set aside a couple of hours to really dig for the best Winner’s finds. 

Book a stay at the Fairmont Palliser in downtown Calgary for a sumptuous return to historic Calgary.

Inglewood Calgary Canada Shopping Getaways

Antique camera piles in Inglewood. Photo by davebloggs007 CC BY

Calgary’s oldest neighborhood, Inglewood, occupies the whole stretch of 9th Avenue and is teeming with antique stores, contemporary boutiques selling all sorts of wares and art galleries. Head one road up to 10th avenue to check out North American Quality Purveyors which stocks men’s clothing hailing from North America. Timeless craftsmanship in a masculine environment is the order of the day and these pieces manage to remain functional and stylish. Bibliophiles will want to check out Frosst Books. What might look like an abandoned building is actually full of hard to find titles, art books and self-published novels and stationary.

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Natalia Kvitek
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Natalia is a list-maker, international adventurer, professional bon-vivant and a lover of art, fashion, ponies and pizza. She aspires to swim in every sea, expand her global snacking repertoire and be reincarnated as an otter. Her favorite trips see her veering off-piste and her favorite hotels must have a bathtub big enough for swimming.