With its art crawls, lovingly restored historic buildings turned boutiques and bakeshops, and recent celebrity endorsements (film director Guillermo del Toro raved about the bookstores), Hamilton’s quiet cool is a refreshing detour.

If you’d like to spend your urban getaway like a local, hitting the top eat streets and shopping districts, here is your guide to the highlights of Hamilton’s most interesting ‘hoods:


Ottawa Street North

Known as the Design District, this is a neighbourhood best described as eclectic – where else could you combine antique hunting with noshing on locally famous waffles? Those celebrated waffles are found at Cannon Coffee Co., a recommended brunch pick where you can indulge in waffle sandwiches that are the perfect fuel for treasure hunting in the antique shops that dot the street. Down a flight of steps at Antique Avenue you’ll find a treasure trove of Eames chairs, mid-century modern furniture, and 70s signage. Add to your finds at Millionaire’s Daughter or Stardust Records, all great choices if you’re looking to indulge your love of secondhand. End your day with some sustenance at Hambugr or Canada’s first vegan-focused Boon Burger. If your tastes tend to Italian fare, you won’t go wrong at Café Limoncello.

Cannon Coffee Co.

James Street North

As this neighbourhood has evolved over the last few years it has truly come to embody the slogan “Art is the new Steel.” For many, the James Street North Art Crawl on the second Friday of every month is one of the best times to visit, and the chance to purchase a one-of-a-kind handmade item in a gallery, studio or store, or as you stroll the sidewalks filled with artisans and visual artists. But any time is a good time to explore the many artists’ galleries and co-operatives and the various independent retailers along this stretch.

This seven block district extends from Wilson to Murray Street. With its diversity of buildings, activities and people, the area is a real hub for shopping, galleries, and restaurants. One of the most unique spaces is Home of the Makers, a 3,000 square foot “micro mini mall” that shows off local visual art, crafting, clothing design, and home goods. For more clothing, seek out unisex boutique O’s Clothes with labels like Fjallraven, Brixton and Penfield, and Pomp & Ceremony, or White Elephant, a clothing and lifestyle store focused on handmade and small-batch jewelry, accessories and gifts. Browse the eclectic mix of giftables, statement pieces and housewares at Pretty Grit, and don’t miss local favourite The Pale Blue Dot for antique and sustainable wares running the gamut of old and new. If you’re starting to feel the love for Hamilton after all of this exploring, The Hamilton Store is lovingly curated with all Hamilton-based, locally made products.

Foodies will find their mecca here at The Hamilton Farmers’ Market, one of the largest and oldest in Canada and home of Canada’s first poke bar, Pokeh. Take a coffee break at Saint James Espresso Bar & Eatery or Mulberry Coffee House, where you can enjoy a gluten-free donut while sitting amongst local artwork. If you have a sweet tooth, drop in to Chocolat on James for treats like chocolate-covered gummy bears and truffles. Two great restaurant choices are The Burnt Tongue, a soup shop that has evolved to offering what is, to many, the best craft burger in Hamilton; and Saltlick Smokehouse, where the table decides together what meats will be served and can choose from unique menu items like Korean beef ribs and crispy pork belly nuggets.

The Burnt Tongue

Locke Street South

Another Hamilton neighbourhood that has seen a recent evolution, this street in the southwest of the city has turned from a quiet strip into a bustling area dotted with bars, cafes and on-trend home retailers.

Lulu & Lavigne Home Studio offers an inspirational mix of new and vintage home décor and lifestyle accessories, while The Local Life is a permanent place for local makers to display their products and home to Small Batch Soap’s first retail location. Take a shopping break at Brown Dog Coffee, known for apple fritters from a family recipe, or Democracy Coffee House, an industrial-chic vegan café where a deliberate lack of wi-fi contributes to great conversation.

If you’re looking for a meal, established local favourites include NaRoma Pizzeria with its Roman style pies, Mattson & Co. for elegant surroundings, and Brux House for craft beer and cider along with great starters and mains. Perhaps the neighbourhood’s busiest homegrown restaurant is well-loved Earth to Table Bread Bar, serving up pizzas and burgers with an upmarket, slow-food sensibility and commitment to eating local.

Earth to Table Bread Bar

Westdale Village

Best known for its proximity to McMaster University, this area is also home to 80+ shops and restaurants including a number of not-to-be-missed spots. This vibrant, historic neighbourhood village is best explored by a trip down King Street West. Highlights in this ‘hood are eats at Delirious Burger Company, treats at Walker’s Chocolates, and desserts and live music at The Bean Bar. Shoppers will want to check out Mixed Media for art supplies and reading materials, Casual Gourmet for kitchenware, Take Note for stationery, and Dakota Mae for womenswear. Head to the outskirts of Westdale and you’ll find Fairweather Brewing with its taproom and bottle shop, as well the nature trails of Cootes Paradise.

Fairweather Brewing

In addition to amazing shopping, art and food, Hamilton is home to the world’s largest collection of waterfalls, one of Canada’s most beloved football teams, amazing museums and heritage sites, and a happening live music scene. When you’re ready to discover why everyone is buzzing about “The Hammer”, make sure to check out the city’s experiences, tours and travel deals.

Travel Deals View All >>

Experiences & Tours View All >>

April 24 - October 26

Grand River – Rafting Adventure

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

A Great Canadian Adventure!

April 2

Learn About Cannabis Cultivation

Steel Wheel Brewery

105 Powerline Rd, Brantford, ON N3T 5L8

7-9 PM - Dr. Youbin Zheng, University of Guelph - $25+tax/person

April 10 - 12

Easter Egg-Stravaganza

Brantwood Farms

251 Powerline Road Brantford, ON N3T 5L8

Admission range from $6.50 - $10.50

May 13

Curator Site Tours of Griffin House & Fieldcote Memorial Park

Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum

64 Sulphur Springs Rd. Ancaster

10:00 AM – 1:00 PM $35 per person. Pre-registration is required

Now thru October 30

Friends & Family Float on the Grand (Rafting)

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

Daily departures, check for availability.

May 1 - October 18

Tandem Yak Trip on the Grand River

Grand River Rafting Company

31 Mechanic Street, Paris, ON, N3L 1L1

Launch times are 10am-1pm, 7 days a week. Reservations are a must (phone, email or...

May 4 - May 1

The Collection: A Hands-On Experience

Art Gallery of Hamilton

123 King Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8P 4S8

Duration of Experience: 3.5 hours Availability: Year-Round, Afternoons Only Minimum Person: 12

Now thru December 27

Nickel Brook Brewery Tour

Nickel Brook Brewery

864 Drury Lane, Burlington, ON, L7R 2Y4

Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance to ensure your spot on...

April 11 - October 15

Grand Overnight Adventure One Night Hotel Package Experience

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

Guided Canoe or Kayak Adventure

April 6 - November 15

Glen Morris to Paris – Grand River Day Trip

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

Daily departures.

Now thru December 31

Indigenous Edible Medicinal Hike

Grand River Rafting Company

31 Mechanic Street, Paris, ON, N3L 1L1

Available 7 days a week. . Reservations are a must (phone or email)

May 16 - September 20

The Beast… the 8 Person Super Board Trip

Grand River Rafting Company

31 Mechanic Street, Paris, ON, N3L 1L1

Launch times are 10am-1pm, 7 days a week. Reservations are a must (phone, email or...

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