Canada offers up unique experiences that you won’t find in any guidebook — you just have to know where to find them. To help you explore like a local, we’ve asked friends from across the country to share their top spots and experiences from the cities they call home. Bundled by interest or passion, consider this your local’s guide to traveling through the country’s vibrant cities and boundless wilderness.
Thanks to Tamara Elliott, Julia Weber, and Callum Snape for their local tips.
Road Trip and Trust Fund - Ottawa
Capital fashion at the market
Coal Miner’s Daughter - Toronto
Loretta Lynn would be proud
The best dresses in Toronto, according to our insider, can be found at Coal Miner’s Daughter, a high-quality women’s boutique. The collections are simple and sophisticated, and lean heavily on local designers. Most items you can’t find anywhere else. The shop’s jewelry, too, is sure to turn heads.
Rowan Sky - Vancouver
A trendy footwear hub
The Black Market Boutique - Halifax
Colorful clothing from around the world
Walking into The Black Market Boutique is an eye-opening experience. The colorful shop features items handpicked by the owners from their travels in Southeast Asia and South America. It’s a uniquely curated shopping experience for clothing, jewelry, and gifts — stock up before heading home to impress friends and colleagues.
RYU - Vancouver
Adventure gear that rules
Respect Your Universe or “RYU” designs and produces high-quality athletic gear perfect for home, gym, or outdoor treks. The Long Sleeve Tech Tee is the perfect adventure shirt that you’ll never want to take off.
La Gaillarde - Montreal
Look good, do good
Head to Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighborhood to La Gaillarde for eco-friendly fashion. With a focus on recycled, organic, and vintage pieces, this shop is the place to go for unique finds. Carrying items for both men and women, you’ll feel good about your purchase here as La Gaillarde is also a non-profit. You can even get involved in your fashion by checking out their monthly events, which often include sewing lessons.
Start your day off with a coffee before hitting the shops. Here are some top cafes across the country to explore.
Biscuit General Store - Halifax
Quirky local fashion
Biscuit General Store features fashion, cosmetics, and accessories from local designers that are both whimsical and cutting-edge. The store is independently and locally-owned so everything is totally unique and a can’t-miss for fashion lovers. They even launched their own women’s line, Bonanza, which features colorful ready-to-wear dresses and blouses.
Oak + Fort - Vancouver
Minimalist Canadian couture
Our local expert claims half their closet is from Oak & Fort. And it’s no wonder: the Vancouver original’s minimalist Scandinavian men’s and women’s clothing is fashionably simple and well-made for every season. Their accessories are also reasonably priced to really top off that sleek look.
Shopgirls - Toronto
Locally-designed body positivity
Shopgirls is a super rad women’s boutique for every shape and style. From petite to curvy, Shopgirls is passionate about fashion, supporting local designers, and body positivity. Everything in the store is Canadian-made and beautifully designed.
One of a Few - Vancouver
Distinct women’s fashion
Hydrostone Market - Halifax
Open-air fashion and food
The Hydrostone Market in Halifax offers a historic European shopping experience with boutique shops, eateries, and cafés. The market was constructed in 1917 with Hydro-Stone, a rare granite block technique designed to prevent fire, giving the market its name. Our tipster’s favorite shops in the market include Made in the Maritimes Artisan Boutique, Lady Luck Boutique, and olive oil dispensary Liquid Gold Tasting Bar.
Fresh Collective - Toronto
Fresh Collective is another Toronto boutique dedicated to featuring local designer clothing. The casual styles are original, the prices reasonable, and the staff exceedingly helpful. Owner Laura-Jean Bernhardson started her own fashion line in 1994 before starting Fresh Collective and dedicating the shop to creating versatile wardrobes for individualists.
Foe and Dear - Vancouver
Sophisticated local jewelry
Vancouver jewelry shop Foe and Dear designs delicate, one-of-a-kind pieces. The selection from local designer Katherine Huie is impressive and every ring, necklace, earring, and bracelet adds a modern accent to any outfit.
Canada’s boutiques offer an array of unique locally-designed and made clothing. Good luck finding these styles anywhere else!