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The 14 best Toronto nightlife spots to visit

The best Toronto nightlife covers vintage barcades, packed clubs and storied music venues. Get the dancing shoes out.

Written by
Laura Maize
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Torontonians know how to have fun. A lack of excitement isn’t a charge that has ever been levied at the hardy folk of The Six, and the city’s nightlife is a testament to that. This is true no matter the weather, as these popular spots tend to be busy come rain or shine (or snow). The queues in winter are every bit as long as they are in summer, showing that people here are seriously keen for a good night out. Party lovers are in for a treat in Toronto.

The dance floors fill up early but don’t make the mistake of thinking that the best nightlife in Toronto is all about the clubs. This town loves a pub and a bar, with plenty of beer to go around. Toronto has a tremendous roster of attractions that will enrapture visitors of all interests, and the same can be said for its nightlife.

Best Toronto nightlife

What is it: This dark basement bar at Dundas and Dovercourt is a hotspot for underground dance parties and electronic beats. It fills up quickly with patrons that tend to care more about dancing to their favourite tune or DJ than picking up a date.

Why go: This is the place to hit if you’re itching for an alternative night out. Arrive early to grab a cocktail at the upstairs neighbour bar Mr. Flamingo.

What is it: Yearning for the tunes of yesteryear? The events roster at the Piston spans the decades with disco parties, ’90s video dance nights and ’60s mod vinyl DJs. There’s plenty of space to dance and a separate bar at the front makes it easy to take breaks from the action.

Why go: An inclusive environment and easygoing attitude make nights at the Piston friendlier and more approachable than your average venue.

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What is it: This bar on Dundas West pours an impressive list of craft beers on tap along with fancier bottled options that you won’t find everywhere else. With a North of Brooklyn Pizzeria in the bar – along with a decent selection of vintage arcade games– you can happily set up shop for the whole night.

Why go: Do you like beer? Do you like pizza? How about Galaga, Gauntlet and the original vector Star Wars? What are you waiting for?

What is it: Formerly the Wreck Room and Footwork, CODA is a popular underground music venue on Bathurst St. Amazing parties make for a packed spot every weekend, so arrive before midnight if you want to get in.

Why go: If Toronto’s 2 am last call isn’t working for you, you don’t have to pack it in and go home. CODA will keep you going all night long, or at least until the sun comes up.

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What is it: Now in a new location not far from its old College St. location, Track and Field boasts shuffleboard and bocce lanes along with the Ontario-invented table game of crokinole. A great selection of beers, cocktails on tap (including the hangover-free, non-alcoholic variety) and a super-friendly staff create a homey, welcoming atmosphere.

Why go: Explore your inner retiree with a round of shuffleboard. Playing isn’t required but it gets more fun the more you drink. We promise.

What is it: The latest execution of the activities-plus-alcohol formula is Lob, an East End joint that combines bocce with mini-golf and, of course, booze. Nine courses feature astroturf lanes and uneven terrain lined with gutters that’ll challenge seasoned (and sober) bocce players.

Why go: Perfect for nights out with a competitive edge, Lob has become a popular spot for birthday parties and office nights out.

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What is it: This indie comedy bar is the place to catch local talent and touring pros with over 150 shows a month between two stages. Regular acts include the improv group Catch23 and comedy troupe the Sketchersons.

Why go: There’s a welcoming vibe here with an emphasis on inclusive, homegrown comedy. You’ll often catch comedians and patrons lingering over beverages long after the show is over.

What is it: Prefer your clubs in the company of diamonds, spades and hearts? Then head to one of Snakes and Lattes’ three locations for a night out among thousands of games. A mere $8 per person gets you unlimited playtime, making it worthwhile to tuck in for an extended session of Catan or Exploding Kittens.

Why go: Spend an evening exploring new games or playing old classics. A full food menu and licensed bar make this a worthy destination for an evening out.

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What is it: While not associated with the Toronto-born rapper of the same name, the Drake Hotel’s nightlife offerings are no less hip or happening. This boutique hotel is a hub for local events including concerts, DJs and multimedia art.

Why go: The Drake’s basement venue, the Underground, hosts a rotating roster of dance parties, touring acts and cultural happenings like slam poetry nights. A separate lounge and rooftop bar are suitable spots for a breather when you need it.

What is it: Dance with dinosaurs at this weekly bash that brings booze, pop-up food vendors and live music into the country’s largest museum. Nights are often themed around the ROM’s latest special exhibit or a seasonal holiday.

Why go: We can all agree that booze and snacks make museums infinitely more fun to explore. Stay late to catch a lively dance party that often breaks out on the main floor.

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What is it: Don’t let the religious name fool you. All manner of gender-bending revelry breaks down at this Little Italy club in the form of a lively drag show on weekend evenings. In between, dance it out to live DJs spinning tunes with a Latin flair.

Why go: The love for Latin tunes and drag culture brings all walks of life, and an impressive span of ages, to this lively club. You aren’t likely to feel out of place here.

What is it: Geary Lane is a live music spot on the up-and-coming industrial strip of Geary Ave. Nestled between galleries, cafés and bars, the venue hosts events ranging from book launches to concerts and theatre projects.

Why go: A real community hub, Geary Lane is a meeting place for creative minds and those looking to expand their typical club-going lifestyle into more artsy experiences.

Want to check out more of the drinking scene?

  • Bars and pubs

Sitting on a sun-drenched patio at one of the best bars in Toronto with a crisp glass of rosé might sound a bit cliché. But, for sun-hungry Torontonians, patio hunting is a coveted summer pastime. Come winter, these watering holes are your place to seek refuge from this Canadian city’s blustery weather: escape winter’s worst in a transportive tiki lounge or curl up to a basement bar’s fireplace with a craft pint in hand.

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