10 Things To Do In Stratford, Ontario
Updated: Aug 25
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What better way to start my first blog post than with my hometown - Stratford, Ontario. It's nowhere near the size of Toronto, but it's only a short drive from the provincial capital and in my opinion, definitely worth at least a day trip. Despite its size, there are actually quite a lot of things to do in Stratford.
It's probably most famous for the performances put on by the Stratford Festival, which draws huge crowds, even from outside of Canada. The downtown area is dotted with Victorian era buildings, and the city is considered to be one of the best places to live in Canada. Whether you're visiting for a day trip or plan on staying in Stratford a little bit longer, there's plenty to keep you busy, especially in the summer months. Before you visit, head over to Stratford Tourism for more information on what's on in the city. Here is a short list of the best things to do in Stratford:
1. Visit the Avon River
The Avon River is named after the River Avon in England, and it’s especially beautiful to walk around during the summer. Just beware of the resident swans who get a little touchy if you go near them! During the warmer months, you can either relax on the Avon River cruise, or try out one of the boat rentals. This is just one of the many free things to do in Stratford.
2. Explore Upper Queen's Park
Sitting atop a hill overlooking the Avon River, Upper Queen's Park is home to the Stratford Festival, a bandshell where concerts are often performed, and is always bustling with people strolling through the shade or having picnics. The tennis courts are also situated in the park, as is Gallery Stratford. And there is a lovely waterfall feature that’s great for taking photos at.
3. The Stratford Festival
The pride and joy of the city is the Stratford Festival. From April - October, thousands of people flock to Stratford to attend performances in one of the many theatres across the city. It's one of the most prominent arts festival in Canada and is recognized worldwide. It hosts a variety of plays, and is most notable for its Shakespearean adaptations. It's definitely a must if you’re visiting the city. You never know what famous actor may be gracing the stage!
4. City Hall & Market Square
Sitting in the centre of the Market Square is Stratford City Hall, which is very hard to miss. The square has recently been renovated as well, making it more pedestrian friendly. If you're looking for restaurants in Stratford, there are plenty to choose from in this area.
5. Shop on Ontario Street
Take a stroll along one of Stratford's main streets - Ontario Street. It’s full of quirky shops and places to eat, and is home to MacLeods Scottish Shop which is a personal favourite of mine. If you're looking to do some shopping in Stratford, this is the place to be.
6. Design Your Own Pizza at Pazzo
Pazzo is by far my favourite restaurant in Stratford. There's fine dining upstairs, or you can opt for the pizzeria downstairs where you can design your own stone baked pizza. You won't find better pizza in Stratford than here.
7. York Street
It may only be small, but York Street definitely has some hidden gems. York Street Kitchen has some of the best sandwiches I've ever had, and if you fancy something sweet after you can pop next door to Jenn & Larry's for some ice cream. It sits just behind Ontario Street, right in front of an easily accessible car park.
8. Ice Cream & Poutine
Scooper's is very popular in Stratford for its large selection of ice cream flavours. Next door is Boomers, whose fantastic twists on the classic poutine has put them on the hit television show You Gotta Eat Here! You can't visit Stratford without coming here.
9. Rheo Thompson
Rheo Thompson is Stratford's famous chocolate shop. They have an incredible display of chocolates, all made on site. It's a hot spot for festival goers in the summer time, but is open all year round so don't worry. The mint smoothies (small chocolates) are what they're best known for so don't leave the city without trying them! It's a unique thing to do in Stratford, but can get very pricey if you add too many things to your order.
10. Go On a Chocolate Trail
More chocolate? Why not! The Chocolate Trail is a self-guided tour that takes you to various confectioneries around town, where you get to indulge in chocolate and see how it's made. I personally haven't gone on this one yet, but it ranks very highly among the best things to do in Stratford, and I've only heard positive reviews of it.
Stratford is a lovely city to visit in Southwestern Ontario, right in the heart of Perth County. It's perfectly positioned to explore all that this area of the province has to offer, and is great to visit on a day trip. There are lots of things to do in Stratford, and these ten examples were just the start of a very long list.
Thinking of spending more than a day in Stratford? Check out my guide to 48 hours in Stratford for some helpful tips. You can also follow me on Instagram and stay up to date with my latest adventures!