Independent-minded and still pretty cool despite its increasing commercial appeal, Queen Street West is Toronto’s proud artistic retreat.

A poster child for all the complex sides of gentrification, the neighbourhood that served as a haven for immigrants in the past and a focal point for artists and trendsetters today has plenty of real cultural cred to draw upon.

The east towards Bathurst Street is crammed with fashion boutiques, music stores and wondrously varied restaurants while the west towards Dufferin Street sees art galleries and design boutiques dominate the storefronts.

At the centre of it all is the gorgeous and practical Trinity Bellwoods Park, drawing in picnickers and other city dwellers who long for a touch of greenery and a chance to sit and enjoy a laid-back moment in the centre of a large urban city.

Average property value: $357,183

Rent: $1,006

Homes you’ll see: A majority of multi-storey Victorian semi-detached and detached homes mingle with rowhouses and townhomes built in various times during the last century, making the area’s real estate just as eclectic as its character.

Recent condominium developments have added to the mix even further.

Bargain spot: Slightly cheaper as you move west towards Dufferin and just south of Queen Street.

Hot spots: Terroni (720 Queen St. W.) is still one of the hippest and tastiest Southern Italian restaurants in the city and the renovated Drake Hotel (1150 Queen St. W.) is a real landmark of entertainment and nightlife. The nearby Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St. W.) also has a legendary bar and is a well-known hub for the LGBT community.

Education: Niagara Street Junior PS (222 Niagara St.), Charles G. Fraser Junior PS (79 Manning Ave.), Givins-Shaw PS (49 Givins St.), St. Mary Catholic School (20 Portugal Sq.), Senhor Santo Cristo Catholic School (30 Humbert St.)

Condos & developments: Bohemian Embassy (Queen St. W. & Dovercourt Rd), Westside Gallery Lofts (Queen St. W. & Ossington Ave.), Glas Condominiums & Lofts (King & Spadina), Bridge King-Queen Condos (1100 King St. W.), Minto King West (755 King St. W.), Fashion House (550 King St. W.)

Getting around:
Streetcar service along Queen, King, Dundas and Bathurst, bus route along Dufferin and Ossington.

Final word: It’s hardly a secret but Queen West is still a place filled with great shops, excellent restaurants and is a mecca for the arts.

• 1: The Gladstone Hotel
• 2: Bohemian Embassy
• 3: Westside Gallery Lofts
• 4: Senhor Santo Cristo
• 5: Givins-Shaw Junior Public
• 7: Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art
• 8: Trinity Bellwoods Park
• 9: Trinity Bellwoods Tennis Courts
• 10: Capsule Music
• 11: Bridge King-Queen condos
• 12: Niagara Street Junior Public School
• 13: Theatre Passe Muraille
• 14: Factory Theatre
• 15: Fashion House (condo)
• 16: Minto King West (condo)

Latest From ...