Explore Stratford’s nearby wonders
If you’re keen on adding some iconic day trips during your stay in Stratford, we’ve got you covered. We’ve rounded up ten amazing day trips below. Take your pick from one or a handful; all locations are within a sixty-minute drive from Stratford.
Want to be transported a half a world away to a little village in England? You’ll save on airfare and jet lag as Shakespeare is only a five-minute drive east of Stratford.
Shakespeare may be a small hamlet, but it makes up for it with quaint shops.
Known as the Antiques Capital of Ontario, there are treasures ranging from statement furniture pieces with a story to tell, to shabby chic projects just waiting to happen, to industrial antiques all from the tightly clustered antique shops. Be sure to pop into The British Touch to browse their assortment of tasty and wacky treats.
If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy spot, pop into Harry Ten Shilling Tearoom . Enjoy a spot of tea and a tower of irresistible desserts. Or, head over to Shakespeare Brewing Company to enjoy their Shakespearian-inspired beers, like The Grumpy Goat and The Heavy Horse.
Before you head back to Stratford for the night, stop at Shakespeare Conservation Area . Take a wander along its trails and soak in the colours and smells of nature. You’ll swoon over this off-the-radar gem of a park.
Nicknamed the Stone Town for its incredible limestone buildings, St. Marys is great for the day tripper who loves history and picture-perfect small towns. Only a 20-minute drive from Stratford, St. Marys is home to museums–like the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame –and fun shops with one-of-a-kind items.
When it comes to nature, St. Marys won’t disappoint you. The Riverview Walkway trail runs through town and along the Thames River, making for a peaceful stroll. Another great trail is the Grand Trunk Trail , which follows the old Grand Trunk Railway line with panoramic views over town.
Between hikes and museum visits, pop into one of the many fun and eclectic coffee shops, or stop for a bite to eat at one of the many cultural restaurants around the town.
For a small town, Mitchell has a lot to offer. In fact, their Fall Fair is tagged as the “Biggest Little Fair in Ontario”. Full of fun to be had with a midway, demolition derby, live music and more, the Mitchell Fall Fair is a great way to get in the fall spirit.
Aside from the Fall Fair, you can take a stroll and grab a bite to eat at The Sugar Maple Restaurant , a cozy spot full of character and run by a pair that are committed to good food. Afterward, head on down to the Thames River for a walk along the river and over the dam.
If you’re looking to spend more time outdoors, the West Perth Wetlands are home to ten kilometers of hiking trails, three large ponds, and 200 rare species of birds that live and migrate through the wetlands every year.
It’s all about the food in Millbank!
Known for its authentic Mennonite cooking, Anna Mae’s Bakery & Restaurant has people coming back again and again for her homemade pies and broasted chicken. You won’t leave without a clean plate and full belly.
Another staple is the Millbank Cheese Factory , serving up artisan cheeses for over 100 years. Don’t forget to bring a cooler with you so you can stock up at the Zehr’s Country Market . This family-run business has been feeding locals and visitors for over 30 years.
Millbank is also the end of the Kissing Bridge Trailway , a rural trail linking a handful of small towns. The highlight of the trail is the West Montrose Covered Bridge ; painted red and stretching over a river filled with waterfowl, it’s one of the oldest wooden-covered bridges in Canada.
Located in the small town of Baden , a half hour east of Stratford, this grand estate is dripping with Victorian charm, stunning art and interesting artifacts.
One of the most mesmerizing features of Castle Kilbride is the Trompe l’oeil wall and ceiling murals. French for “deceive the eye,” these 3D-like murals have hidden images within and are part of the reason Castle Kilbride was named a National Historic Site. Test your skills and look deep into the flower bouquet in the grand hallway. Can you spot the serpent or the face leering back?
If its charm, history and art doesn’t entice you, then how about a good old-fashioned ghost tour? New this fall, experience the eerie side of Castle Kilbride. You can learn about the resident spirit that lurks the hallways, wander over haunted antiques and dare to enter the Widow’s Walk.
It doesn’t get more proudly Canadian than the small village of Blyth .
This town is home to the Blyth Festival , where plays focus on themes of rural Ontario, are full of wit and heart, and also written by Canadians. The season spans from May to the end of September.
Don’t forget to stop by Cowbell Brewing Company . You can take a tour of their state-of-the-art facility that focuses on great beer and a green process.
Running right through town is the Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail . If you’ve rented bikes to tackle part of the G2G Trail, then Blyth is a great place to stop along the trail for a bite to eat or to browse the shops.
Just under an hour from Stratford is Bayfield , the prettiest little village in Ontario.
Set on the shores of Lake Huron, Pioneer Park is the one of the best spots to catch the sunset in Ontario. Take a moment to soak in the sunset and breathe crisp, clean air–it’s a feeling like no other.
Bayfield also has a Heritage Trail . This self-guided walking trail takes you around the village and by eight historical storyboards. It’s only a two-kilometre walk and is the perfect way to get to know this beautiful town.
The main street is lined with colourful shops, many of which are rich in history. Enjoy a late lunch while stepping back in time at The Little Inn of Bayfield , an 1830’s inn that offers fine-dining. Need a sweet treat? Stop into The Pink Flamingo Bakery and be sure to grab one of their signature Pink Lemonade cupcakes.
Dark Horse Estate Winery
Looking for a relaxing day trip from Stratford that pairs fine wine, brilliant views and all on a magnificent estate? Then a visit to Dark Horse Estate Winery is in line. This 85-acre winery and vineyard in Grand Bend is the first of its kind in the area.
You’ll revel in a guided tour of their sweeping vineyards and get a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process. Afterward, relax and unwind with a wine tasting; how else are you going to choose which bottle to take home?
While you’re indulging in wine, order the charcuterie board or one of their incredible wood-fired pizzas.
Wildwood Conservation Area
Between Stratford and St. Marys is a sprawling park that will keep you busy all day. Wildwood Conservation Area covers over 3,000 acres and is home to 30 kilometres of trails. You can rent canoes and kayaks to cruise along the Wildwood Reservoir, or try your hand at geocaching with GPS units available for free at the gatehouse.
If you’re visiting Stratford at the end of September, head over to Wildwood Conservation Area for their Autumn Open House. You can enjoy free admission to the park and take part in all the fun fall activities: cider, wagon rides, campfires and, of course, fabulous fall hiking.
If shopping with a side of adventure is what you’re seeking, St. Jacobs is where you should head on a day trip.
The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is Canada’s largest year-round farmers market. Home to over 300 local vendors, you’ll find meats, cheeses, local crafters and even antiques. Browsing the food stands you’ll work up quite the appetite, so head on over to the food court to refuel. If you leave with only one thing, make sure it’s the famous apple fritters.
A trip to St. Jacobs isn’t complete without a scenic train ride aboard the Waterloo Central Railway . The historic train, one of the last steam trains in Canada, travels from Waterloo , with stops in St. Jacobs and Elmira .