Gift Guide: Shop in Durham Region’s Downtowns

Simple icon of two tall buildings. Downtowns of Durham

Make some holiday memories by grabbing your coat and heading to Durham Region’s downtowns to support local and pick up your holiday gifts this holiday season.

Gifting is an art form, and it’s not always easy to find the perfect gift for that special someone. So, we’re saving you some steps, and put in the leg work, to find the best gifts for everyone on your holiday gifting list. It’s all wrapped up with a tidy bow!

It was a true joy to go shopping in the beautiful downtowns of Durham to compile this list for you. We stopped into so many cute cafés for hot chocolate, enjoyed delectable baked goods from the local bakeries and took in the fresh smell of snow on the breeze as we admired the holiday window displays.

You too, can make some holiday memories by grabbing your coat and heading to Durham Region’s downtowns to support local and pick up your holiday gifts this holiday season. We know that sharing your gifts on social ruins the surprise, so be sure to tag us in your hot chocolate selfies with #ShopInDurham!

Gifts for foodies

Overhead shot of an Indian dish.
9 Spices, Oshawa

Durham Region is a delicious place to live. Foodies flock to experience unique fusion cuisines, dine in our instagrammable restaurants and stock up on imported, specialty and international grocery items.

For interesting gift ideas for the food lovers on your list, your local downtown is a great place to start. If you know a cheese connoisseur, stop by Port Cheese Co. in quaint downtown Port Perry to shop their delectable gift baskets or pick up a gift card so your foodie can choose their own cheese adventure. While in Port Perry, also stop by Old Flame Brewing Co. for a selection of local craft beer at its flagship location. Nestled in the historic downtown, the building housing Old Flame was originally built in 1884 and began as an Ontario Carriage Works factory. While visiting their beautiful tap room, you can purchase a box of their signature craft lager or a mixed pack of their blonde, red, brunette and raven beers; the perfect holiday hostess gift.

If you’re shopping for a sweet tooth, stop by One More Cocoa in downtown Whitby. From beautiful handmade bonbons to unique chocolate bar combinations like gingerbread milk chocolate, there are many sweet treats to try out. If you’re lucky enough to grab one, their hot chocolate box set was featured on the 2023 Oprah’s Favourite Things list. Luxury chocolate is always a winner and DesBarres Chocolate in Uxbridge has something that satisfies both a sweet and savoury craving—spicy hot chocolate. Their new Radiator Spicy Hot Chocolate, in partnership with Drew Jacobson of Hurt Berry Farms, features two types of Drew’s hot peppers and other spices with their 72 per cent dark chocolate blend to produce a winter drink that will warm from the inside out.

For the foodies on your list with allergies or special dietary needs,  check out Choko-Mocko Gluten Free Bakeshop. Offering vegan, grain-free, keto and gluten-free options, Choko-Mocko Gluten Free Bakeshop features baked goods, frozen meals, baking ingredients and gift cards. Check out their website to pre-order items that will satisfy any craving.

Lastly, if your foodie likes spice, gift them a copy or a link to Oshawa’s Culinary Compass—a guide to the best eats in town—with a promise note to try all the restaurants in the World of Flavour or Spice Up Your Life sections. Start your culinary adventures by taking them to 9 Spices Indian Roti Cuisine, where you can enjoy an expansive menu of fresh samosas, slow-cooked curries and authentic desserts like world-famous fried dough balls, gulab jamun.


Gifts for music lovers

Person holding an vinyl record album.
Kops Records, Oshawa

Durham Region is home to significant music industry success stories, including acts such as Shawn Mendes, Daniel Caesar, Lennon Stella, and Juno recognized artists, Dizzy, Meghan Patrick, Crown Lands, and Protest the Hero. And with impressive music industry assets like Durham College’s Music Business Management program, the OMAs which celebrate music in Durham Region, and the School Alliance of Student Songwriters program, you have a pretty good chance of discovering some spectacular shows and new favourite artists.

If you’re looking to enjoy some live music, check out our blog 35 places to experience Durham Region’s vibrant local live music scene, and buy your music lover tickets to an upcoming show. With venues like the beautiful and historic Beaverton Town Hall where you can watch musicals and concerts put on by the Beaverton Town Hall Players, to the Uxbridge Music Hall, which is known for it’s superior acoustics, original opera chairs and balcony, there are always upcoming live music performances across Durham Region to look forward to.

If your music lover likes to dance, catch a show at Drums N Flats in Pickering Nautical Village, where they feature live music every Friday and Saturday night. Or give them a homemade voucher for a night out to enjoy delicious pub fare and live music at the Walsh’s Snug in Newcastle, where they feature open stage every Thursday, a Celtic session every Friday and bluegrass every Sunday.

In addition to our thriving live music scene, there are also unique shops and stores to find classic records, musical instruments or music memorabilia. Visit Durham Region’s (and Toronto’s!) oldest, independent vinyl record store, Kops Records, in Oshawa. With new vinyl, vintage vinyl, collectibles and gift cards, there’s  something for every music lover in your life. Looking for a specific record for your music lover’s wish list? No worries, Kops Records has a team of crate diggers and catalogue scrapers that have your back. Use the special order form on their website to inquire about securing that hard-to-find record for your special someone.

If you’re on the hunt for a killer vintage concert T-shirt, Vintage 905 in downtown Whitby has you covered. With classic shirts from bands like Metallica, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Blink 182, they have a great selection of memorabilia for you to discover.

Lastly, why not give your music lover the gift of music lessons? Whether they’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar, or perhaps they play but would like to refine their skills, the Ajax Guitar Academy offers acoustic and electric guitar lessons, as well as advanced guitar lesson, to help students become the best guitarists they can be. And for music lessons beyond the guitar, check out the Durham School of Music in Ajax. They offer a variety of music lesson types from piano and organ, to voice, violin, drums and even ukulele.


Gifts for gamers

Two teenagers playing arcade games.
8-Bit Beans, Whitby

If you have a gamer on your shopping list, worry not! Durham Region has a growing gaming scene. From trivia nights to gaming cafés, arcades to escape rooms, there are endless opportunities to get your game on. Check out A gamers guide to Durham Region for a list of all things game-related and gifting ideas.

To set off on your game gifting adventure, start your journey at Brew Wizards Board Game Café in Oshawa, where you can sip on a delicious coffee and browse their selection of games. Then, head over to Addictive Hobbies and Games, a one-stop shop for tabletop gaming, offering products like Games Workshop, Paizo, Army Painter and more.

While downtown Oshawa, you should also stop by comic book and games store, Worlds Collide. Featuring a games club, Worlds Collide will take pre-orders for upcoming game releases such as RPG books, boxes of cards, packs of miniatures, etc. They also take special orders for hard-to-find items.

If you’re looking to gift a gaming experience, buy a gift card to 8-Bit Beans, a full-service café and nostalgic arcade in the heart of downtown Whitby. Featuring pinball machines, two TV console areas with gaming systems including Nintendo, Super Nintendo, PlayStation and Sega Genesis, and a full assortment of arcade cabinets, you can enjoy cocktails, specialty coffees and munch on nachos or specialty hotdogs from their delicious menu, while playing arcade games.

Another fun experience for the gamer in your life is pre-purchasing a trivia or games night at the Brock Street Lounge at Brock Street Brewery in downtown Whitby. For $5 per person, prepaid in advance, you can give the gift of a good time. Teams are generally two to eight people, with light fare available for purchase, and nightly and quarterly prizes.

Or perhaps you would like to give the gift of world domination by joining the trivia league at 99 King in downtown Bowmanville. A gift that keeps on giving, you can make gaming a weekly event while enjoying some delicious pub fare at 99 King. Can you make it to the top of the trivia league leaderboard? Time will tell.

Gifts for sport and fitness enthusiasts

Close up of a row of bicycles in-store.

For the sport enthusiast in your life, give the gift of new gear or skills! Durham Region’s downtowns are home to yoga, Pilates and dance studios, specialty bike shops and even archery tag and combat archery. Whether your sporty special someone is looking to try something new, increase their mobility or gear up for a big bike trip, there are lots of stores and shops in Durham Region’s downtowns to find them the perfect gift.

If you’re looking for a sporty experience, pre-purchase specialty yoga classes! Modo Yoga Brooklin caters to everyone. From absolute beginners to more experienced students, they offer not just yoga, but modo jam, Pilates and barre fusion.

Bohemian Bliss Yoga in downtown Whitby also offers yoga in their studio, as well as ticketed seasonal events like yoga in the park and yoga retreats.

For those looking to try something at home, a one-month virtual trial membership from Pure Pilates Whitby will make a wonderful gift. Offering access to all livestreamed classes as well as the on-demand library for a $40 fee, it’s a great introduction to Pilates.

For those who have tried nearly everything, you could purchase archery lessons from Archery 2 You, Durham Region’s only indoor archery range. At introductory archery lessons, participants learn the basics of archery and can practice their skills. Lessons are offered in a flexible manner, with the choice to book weekly sessions during the same day and time, or variable days and times. Once they have mastered archery, they could then try their hand at archery tag or axe throwing.

For the cyclist in your life, stop by Cycle Life which has locations in Pickering and Port Perry. Cycle Life offers fitness gear and accessories, cycling accessories including car racks, electronics, lighting, packs, baskets and trainers, as well as indoor cycling. They also offer a line of clothing, cycling shoes and of course, bicycles.

You can also shop bikes at The Bodyfirm in downtown Beaverton. Offering service and tune ups, they proudly sell many types of bikes, parts and accessories. If they don’t have the bike, part or accessory you are looking for, they’re happy to order it.

You can pair your cycling gift with a link to Durham Region’s Cycle Tours Map.

Gifts for artists or art collectors

Two people shopping handmade goods at Markets Ontario.
Markets Ontario, Bowmanville

Our gift guide wouldn’t be complete without something for the creative person in your life! Whether they like to make art, or just collect it, it can be tricky to find the perfect gift for the art lover in your life.

If this person likes to create art, give the gift of art classes. The Visual Arts Centre of Clarington offers a variety of art classes in different mediums, with both children and adult classes. With studio classes ranging from watercolour painting to acrylics, and even pottery, there are lots of experiences you can gift. Keep an eye out for their workshops as well, which are often shorter sessions for creatives of all skill levels.

Open Studio Art Café in Pickering Nautical Village is also a wonderful place to have a bite while immersing yourself in creating art. Why not give the gift of memories and organize a paint night with your closest friends?

A Gift of Art in Newcastle also offers classes, workshops and has art for sale from local artists. From Zoom art classes to studio classes and workshops, there are a variety of art forms to learn, for all ages. You can choose from a variety of classes such as felt art workshops, CRICUT designing and even encaustic basics. You can pair your gift of an art class or gift card with a beautiful item from the store like handmade jewelry and pottery.

If you’re looking to purchase a gift of art for someone, there are lots of local markets in the downtowns of Durham that feature handmade goods. Markets in downtown Bowmanville features local vendors that craft decor, jewelry, houseware, apparel and food items. While shopping Markets, you can also look into gifting one of their ticketed events and workshops, like wood sign making or paint nights.

If your art lover likes items with a history, visit the Orono Antique Market! This muti-vendor antique market sells collectible, vintage and antique treasures—it’s a real treasure hunting treat. While in Orono, stop by Twisted Pizzeria, where their amazing pizzas are also a form of art.


Looking for things to do after the holidays?

Once gifts have been exchanged, it’s time to relax and spend quality time with the family. Check out this list of indoor family attractions in Durham Region for ideas on making the holiday season even more special.