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. For 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.

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 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 >>

Now thru March 1

Watercolour Painting (Virtual)

Royal Botanical Gardens

680 Plains Road West, Burlington, ON, L7T 4H4

Fee: $175 + Service Fee (Members 10% off) 1 to 3:30 p.m

Now thru January 1

Woodland Cultural Centre – Self Guided Museum Tour

Woodland Cultural Centre

184 Mohawk Street, Brantford, ON, N3T 5V6

Now thru March 4

Gohsrehneh (Winter) Explorers

Chiefswood Park Cabins

1037 Highway 54 Ohsweken, ON N0A 1M0

Every Saturday from 12pm - 3pm, Ages 7 - 12, $20 per session or $145...

Now thru June 1

FREE Downtown Hamilton Walking Tour

Tour Guys

36 Hunter St. E., Hamilton, ON L8N 3W8

Now thru March 31

RBC Artist In Residence: Nathan Eugene Carson

Art Gallery of Hamilton

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

February 12

Heritage Workshop: Candle Making

Ireland House Museum

2168 Guelph Line, Burlington, ON, L7P 5A8

Now thru December 31

Hamilton Civic Museums Virtual Tours

28 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R 1A1

April 2

Heritage Workshop: Needle Felting

Ireland House Museum

2168 Guelph Line, Burlington, ON, L7P 5A8

April 1 - 2

Where Are We? An Online Workshop with Larry Brown

Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant

20 Ava Road, Brantford, ON, N3T 5G9

Dates: Saturday and Sunday April 1 & 2 Duration: 2 days Time: 1:30pm to 3:30pm...

Now thru June 1

Brant County Beer Tour

The Beer Tour Company

All patrons must be 19yrs of age or older. By booking you are accepting our...

Now thru December 31

Hamilton Civic Museums Virtual Exhibitions

Hamilton Civic Museums

Throughout the City of Hamilton, Hamilton, ON, L8R 2K1

Now thru March 29

Virtual Chair Yoga with Ageless Arts

Royal Botanical Gardens

680 Plains Road West, Burlington, ON, L7T 4H4

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