North of London and west of Kitchener, you’ll find the savoury delights of Perth County and the towns of Stratford, Perth, St. Mary’s and Listowel. This area beckons with its fresh farm produce, bakery delights and Chocolate Trail, amid natural areas and wonderful facilities to cool off or enjoy the arts.
Admire the swans
Stop and enjoy the graceful movement of the mute swans along Stratford’s waterfront as these large birds paddle around and make ripples among the crowd of their watching fans. Watch for ducks, herons, geese and gulls too but please do not plan to feed any of the birds.
Treat yourself to a show
The Stratford Festival is back with a mix of Shakespeare, cabaret, Indigenous and children’s shows to appeal to every taste in drama. As usual, shows sell out quickly so make a play part of your escape here.
Walk along the Thames River
The West Perth Thames Nature Trail takes you through 10 kilometres of terrain of varying difficulty, from stroller-friendly pavement to rugged paths in the south portion. Along the way, you will see Centennial and Kinsmen parks. Bring your camera to take home images of the beautiful birds you see.
Take a boat tour or rent a pedal boat
Explore Avon River on a guided tour or rent a pedal boat or a kayak from Boathouse Riverside Patio. After your trip, replenish with light lunches, ice cream and other treats.
Get farm-fresh food
Taste the locally grown food from close to 50 different food vendors as you wind your way through the county. Pick your own produce or grab some flavourful cheese to enjoy. Download the full map to spend a day or treat yourself to part of the route over different days this summer.
Shop at a local legend
If you don’t have time to tour the local farms, pick up fresh local goodies at Zehr’s Market. It carries a range of products fresh from the farms around it so you can get started on your salsas, jams and salsas with the best ingredients available.
Address: 6979 Millbank Main Street, Millbank
Taste the Chocolate Trail
Treat yourself to a self-guided tour of Stratford’s greatest chocolate destinations. Collect one amazing delicacy at Rheo Thompson Candies, Black Swan Brewing Co. and Rocky Mountain Chocolate and other stops along the route. A $30 pass gets you treats at six locations.
Go wild on these trails
Hike or bike amidst the beauty of Wildwood Conservation Area. Wildwood Conservation Area invites visitors to its network of trails that range from 1,200 metres to 25 kilometres along the Lake Trail.
Stroll through Stratford
T.J. Dolan Trail offers a beautiful setting for an exploration of a natural area so close to town that it blends the best of both worlds. Nearby, discover the Avon River Trail as you traipse around Lake Victoria and the Festival Theatre. Follow the walking bridge to Tom Patterson Island before finding a place to dine.
Get explosive flavour at TNT Blueberries
Get your hands a little colour as you pick blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, depending on whatever is in season. Any option is delicious!
Address: 1904 Line 34, Perth East
Get in a round of golf
Six courses offer levels of difficulty from a championship level to “generous holes to boost your confidence.” Bring along a novice or up your game to the next level, depending on what you need today.
Follow the Dessert Trail
Discover ten decadent destinations that reward you with tasty treats, from cheesecake to macaroons, apple fritters and fry pie (come find out what it is!). The trail runs from Millbank to Listowel, Shakespeare, Gowanstown, Milverton and Mitchell. Prepare for a sugar high!
Trace Bieber’s roots
For another cultural journey, visit the Stratford Perth Museum and trace Justin Bieber’s steps to stardom. Additional exhibits take you on the road to Woodstock, through the railway century and more colourful local history.
Address: 4275 Huron St, Stratford
Feed the animals
After treating yourself, swing by the West Perth animal park in the Mitchell Lions Park to hand out carrots and corn to the resident donkey, deer, goats, llama, and birds, ranging from ducks, geese, turkeys to peacock and pheasant. You’ll also see lions in human form since the farm is operated by the West Perth Lions Club.
Address: 158 Blanchard St, Mitchell
Dive into the sand
Come play a game of beach volleyball on one of the four sand volleyball courts. The kids can play at the nearby playground if they lose interest in your setting and spiking. Or you can lower the net and invite them to play.
Address: Matilda Street and Oakdale Avenue, Stratford
Walk in the woodlot
Discover 34 different species of trees as you explore the Sawyer Preservation Woodlot. You can hike on its 2.4-kilometre walking loop any time of the day.
Take a short hike
Fullarton Conservation Trail offers two trails – one for 600 metres and one for 900 metres. Or you can cover them both for a 1.5-kilometre hike. Bring your dog and your binoculars so you can watch the birds. Park at the Fullarton baseball diamonds and walk in.
Jump off a cliff
St Marys is home to Canada’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool that started out as a limestone quarry. Cliff jump into the quarry (water level permitting), swim, jump into 25-foot water trampoline, explore the quarry on a Stand-up paddleboard, at this unique swimming hole.
Address: 425 Water Street South, St. Marys
Explore St. Marys on two legs
Walk the 13 km Loop Trail that runs past many historic sites and natural areas including the home of former Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, the historic Junction Station, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum, and St. Marys Quarry.
Lions Loop Trail
This stretch of the West Perth Thames Nature Trail meanders along the west side of the millpond in Mitchell and takes you through the park Lions Park. If you cross the dam, you can carry on the rest of the longer trail.
Hike with your hound
The Listowel to Atwood Rail Trail runs for almost 18 kilometres back and forth between the two towns amid a gorgeous forest setting. The level trail welcomes dogs, but they must remain on a leash.
Meander around Memorial Park
The Rotary Walkway in Listowel Memorial Park completes a loop around the Maitland River. It is easy to navigate and can be toured day or night, thanks to the lights in the park.
See the G2G
The Perth Harvest Pathway is part of the Guelph to Goderich (G2G) Rail Trail, cutting through the Village of Monkton. It links you to 127 kilometres of a straight multi-use green trail that shows you the natural, historical and culturally significant assets of the area as you explore.
Splash it up in Stratford
Cool off the whole family at any of the great parks with water sprays across the city. Catch a splash at Harmony Square from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Bridle Path Park from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tutela Park from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Anne Hathaway Park from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Mohawk Park Sprinklemania from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Stay cool at the Atwood pool
Nestled in Atwood Lions Park, you can enjoy a quiet reprieve in the water. It’s a great spot for those learning to swim or natural water lovers.
Address: 269 Main Street, Atwood
Walk among the artists
Stroll along the shores of Victoria Lake to see artists participating in Art in the Park. They showcase the talents behind sculpture, jewelry, glass, wood and painted creations, plus much more. (2021 event cancelled, to return in 2022.)