Off the Beaten Path in Ontario’s South West
Explore Local Flavours & Cultures
Suggested Days: 6
Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.
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Heart of Ontario
Head west from Toronto to Hamilton and start with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens, a year-round paradise featuring more than 2,700 acres of gorgeous gardens and spectacular nature sanctuaries. Fly into the past at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which houses a fleet of aircraft that spans World War II to the jet age – including one of two remaining Avro Lancaster bombers in flying condition. Marvel at Dundurn Castle – a 19th-century Italianate villa with 40 rooms restored to their former splendour. Explore Indigenous traditions with a variety of experiences.
Glide through the Carolinian forest on a zipline and canopy tour adventure at Long Point Eco- Adventures near Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes. Star-gaze from the on-site observatory at night, then retire to wilderness suites – it’s not camping, it’s glamping! Sample local vintages at the Burning Kiln Winery, just across the road– or one of the other area wineries.
Where Old Meets New
Step back in time to experience a simpler life in quaint St. Jacobs, a village steeped in Mennonite heritage. Start your day at the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, where hundreds of vendors display their wares. It’s a bustling place with Old Order Mennonite farmers, artisans, furniture makers, buskers…you get the idea! Be sure to try an apple fritter!
Catch the horse-drawn trolley tour that provides the rare opportunity to visit a Mennonite farm. Or explore the countryside by bike with Grand Experiences. Browse antique, craft and furniture shops in the Village’s downtown, and purchase some of the finest quilt work in the world. Visit the Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario. Stay overnight in a charming inn and enjoy cuisine that showcases the bounty of regional growers.
Take Centre Stage
Take your seat at the globally acclaimed Stratford Festival, featuring the plays of Shakespeare and other masterworks from classical to contemporary to musicals. It’s North America’s largest classical repertory theatre.
Browse boutiques downtown for everything from fashion to fine art. See why Stratford has a national reputation for culinary creativity. From haute cuisine to country comfort food, fresh and inventive seasonal flavours await. When the day is done, retire to a welcoming B&B or inn, the Arden Park, or the luxurious Bruce Hotel.
Welcome to Ontario’s ‘west coast’ – the towns and beaches along Lake Huron. Begin your coastal tour in Goderich, which Queen Victoria called “the prettiest town in Canada,” famous for its spectacular sunsets. In Bayfield you’ll discover a quaint village.
that attracts musicians, authors and artists. After a morning at galleries and boutiques, relax on the sandy beaches of Grand Bend and explore Pinery Provincial Park, renowned for its sand dunes and one of the largest oak savannah woodlands remaining in North America.
A Change of Pace
Travel south to Point Pelee, Canada’s most southerly point, found at the same latitude as Northern California and Rome. It’s a world-renowned stopover for migratory birds, as well as the monarch butterfly. Birdwatchers – bring your binoculars! Take a short ferry ride to tranquil Pelee Island and experience this oasis of nature trails, pristine beaches, charming B&Bs and restaurants – and Pelee Island Winery.
Yes, the region also has the soil and microclimate to grow great grapes! Tour the wineries of Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) Wine Country. In nearby Windsor, visit the JP Wiser Experience for a Canadian Club whisky tasting or take the “Drinks of Walkersville” walking tour. Try your luck at Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino!