Queen Street West represents the city's of-the-moment trends, but The Beach neighborhood, 15 minutes east of the Queen subway stop, is old-school bohemian. This pricey area is bounded by Neville Park Road to the east and Woodbine Avenue to the west. The main strip, Queen Street East, has a funky flair and a small-town feel, and it's easy to spend an afternoon strolling the delightful yet crowded (in summer) boardwalk along the shore of Lake Ontario. Musicians often perform at the parks fronting the boardwalk, where you're also likely to see artists selling their wares. You could also do some window-shopping on Queen Street East, which is lined with antiques stores and specialty boutiques and shops. An annual jazz festival in July attracts more than 400 musicians and thousands of listeners to this laid-back community.
This neighborhood's official name has been a source of controversy since the 1980s. It boils down to whether you view the four separate beaches—Woodbine, Balmy, Kew, and Scarboro—as one collective entity or plural. When the area decided to welcome tourists with fancy, emblematic street signs, the long-running debate surfaced. "The Beach" folks won, but not before the dispute was settled fairly with a democratic vote in spring 2006.