"The beautiful buildings and architecture give the downtown core a charm that you simply can’t find in modern-day shopping centres."
If you live in the Durham Region, you might think you know what downtown Whitby has to offer, but have you ever truly experienced it? There are so many hidden gems, often hiding in plain sight, that make this historic downtown a must-see destination. Here are five fabulous reasons to head to downtown Whitby today.
Downtown Whitby has many delicious delights that will leave you coming back for more.
Your Coffee Fix
Brock St Espresso is a great morning destination. Featuring every type of coffee beverage you can imagine, from lattes to their famous espressos, Brock St. is a beautiful place to sit with your laptop and work the morning away.
Across the road is 8-Bit Beans, catering to gamers at their café-cade on the corner of Brock and Dundas. This unique new spot features fun coffee flavours like Taste Invaders and Overclocked, and is the perfect spot for your end of the day java jolt.
If you want the most fantastic breakfast in Durham, you need to visit FoodArt Café or better known as FART Café. The family-owned restaurant has a line up of delectable breakfasts that are out of this world. Banana French toast with chocolate drizzle anyone? Plus, while you are eating, you can check out the array of local artists featured at the restaurant.
The Vault Gastropub is a delightful way to spend your lunch hour. The atmosphere is terrific with the big vaults in the back and what can only be described as a cool vibe. Their Big Vault burger with special sauce will keep you going, and their signature hand held’s are AH-MAZING. Kids will love their mac and cheese balls, and there is something for the whole family.
For a dinner that is delicious and sustainable, you must dine at KB. Named after owner and culinary expert Kevin Brown. Their local, seasonal, sustainable cuisine is to die for, and their pasta and slow-roasted pork loin are scrumptious. Enjoy a nice glass of wine or cocktail with dinner and soak in the colorful and friendly atmosphere.
There’s no better place to buy dessert in downtown Whitby than M&R Cakes and Café and Cupcake Junkie Bakery & Café. Each location has its unique take on sweet treats. M&R has a fabulous high tea service along with beautiful cakes. As for Cupcake Junkie, well you can guess what they specialize in, but all their mix and match cupcake size desserts are just as delectable as their cupcakes.
Other fantastic restaurants and bakeries you have to try are Caldense Bakery, making their excellent baked bread, pastries, and treats since 1968. Nice-Bistro, which has fabulous French cuisine and menu options such as quiche and coq a vin as well as 12welve Bistro & Tapwerks, which arguably makes some of the best food in the downtown core.
You can’t talk about downtown Whitby without mentioning Brock Street Brewery. The craft beers they make come in a variety of flavours for every person’s taste. Their beers are also available at many of the downtown restaurants.
During COVID-19, you can’t go inside all these locations, but you can still experience them by ordering takeout or curbside pickup from their site. Ordering takeout is a great way to try a variety of foods and limit the amount of cooking you need to do at home.
Most restaurants offer free delivery in Durham, and they all provide family-friendly options. Follow them on social media for the takeout options of the week. 12welve Bistro has also opened a market where you can order groceries, produce, and spirits.
Brock Street Brewery is expanding its delivery to include Durham, Markham, and Scarborough. If you require a hand sanitizer, you can also order it from the brewery. They have created a liquid-based hand sanitizer named ProtectENOL to help frontline workers and residents at this time.
Food isn’t the only thing downtown Whitby can rave about; it’s also a great place to experience arts and culture. From theatre shows to local art showcases and music performances, the downtown has it all.
The Whitby Courthouse Theatre
You can’t talk about culture without first mentioning the Whitby Courthouse Theatre. The converted courthouse has been entertaining audiences for more than sixty-five years. It has won numerous awards throughout that time, and the quality of their performances is outstanding. It’s a perfect night out without heading to downtown Toronto and also helps support local actors and actresses.
Art & Music in The Square
During the summer months, you will find musical performances and art in celebration square, outside downtown Whitby’s majestic library. There is always something great happening in the square. From the farmers market to the tree lighting at Christmas, it’s worth a visit to downtown Whitby no matter the season.
During COVID-19, you can’t take in a play at the Courthouse Theatre as all shows are postponed. But you can sign up for their newsletter to stay updated as to when the next performances will take place. You can also go for a walk to check out the beautiful courthouse building located at 416 Centre St. South as well as stroll through the celebration square beside the Whitby Library. Fingers crossed that the farmers market, music, art, and other celebrations will continue once the weather warms up.
Even if you live in the area, you might not know the history of downtown Whitby. Whitby’s downtown was first created in 1836 by founder Peter Perry. Where Brock Street and Dundas Street intersect is what is known as historic downtown Whitby’s four corners. The beautiful buildings and architecture give the downtown core a charm that you simply can’t find in modern-day shopping centres.
You might be surprised to learn about the great fire of 1877, where an entire block was reduced to rubble after a lamp burst in one of the stores, causing 150,000 dollars in damage. You might also not know about the Dominion Bank building, which was the only building to escape the fire of 1877.
During COVID-19, you can go for a stroll through downtown Whitby, take in all the beautiful historic buildings, and follow a self-guided tour. A great way to learn about local history. Read the various historical plaques you come across, and before you leave, be sure to visit Cenotaph Park at 109 Dundas Street E to view the memorial and tribute to Whitby veterans.
4. ENTERTAINMENT & FITNESS
There is no shortage of entertainment to be found in downtown Whitby. From books and crafts to games and fitness classes.
You can spend hours in downtown Whitby’s stunning downtown library. The library offers tons of free family activities year-round that are available to residents and visitors to the library.
For fitness buffs, downtown Whitby has many workout options. It offers several yoga studios where you can center your body and mind, such as Veda Yoga and Wellness Studio, Ahimsa Yoga Whitby as well as pilates studio, Pure Pilates.
If you are the crafty type, crafters will love Artisanthropy for knitting and crochet, and for something different, you can participate in a wooden sign workshop at Words on Wood or partake in some of their other fun events.
For gamers, 8-Bit Beans is a gamers paradise with popular arcade and pinball games. Various entertainment also takes place throughout the year at the bars and restaurants that line the downtown core.
During COVID-19, the Whitby library is offering read-along videos on their Facebook page, and you can still borrow books by accessing the digital content lab with your library card.
All the fitness locations are offering online classes, and you can order yarn and as well as participate in stitch socials online with Artisanthropy. If you are bored and want a gaming fix, you can join 8-Bit Beans online gaming here.
Words on Wood is selling décor packages to help brighten your day or as a gift for a loved one. All locations are also offering gift cards that can be purchased to support businesses during this time. Check their social media sites for more information.
5. SHOPPING & PAMPERING
Shoppers will delight in the picturesque shops in downtown Whitby. Clothing, furniture, décor, baby supplies, gifts, and other knick-knacks are all up for grabs downtown.
If you want to get pampered, look no further. Whether it’s a new hairstyle, nail update, or a relaxing massage or facial, you don’t need to go anywhere else.
Since there are so many fantastic stores, it’s hard to choose only a few to share with you. You can view a list of all the clothing shops here, a list of all the beauty salons and spas here and here and the full list of downtown shops here.
During COVID-19, as many of the clothing stores are not open, you can support shops by purchasing clothing, décor, and beauty supplies online. Or by buying gift certificates to be used at a later date.
If your hair is desperately in need of some love, why not support Valentinos Salon by purchasing their semi-permanent professional hair dyes that you can do at home.
Need to take off your shellac nails? Maison Blanc Day Spa has you covered with at home nail removal kit. They also have face masks available and offer complimentary drop-offs in the Durham Region.
If it’s clothing you desire, we dare you to shop Vintage 905’s collection and not find a piece of vintage wear that you must-have. For kids, La Petite Boutique is offering activity kits to keep the wee ones busy while you try to get some work done.
For all these reasons and more, downtown Whitby is a place you must explore.