The Wellington County in Southwestern Ontario boasts beautiful scenery, quaint towns, and many beaches, trails, and conservation areas for you to explore. With two towns and five townships and the city of Guelph — there is no shortage of culture and communities to explore. Make the most out of the Guelph-Wellington area this summer by checking out this list of 50 ways to spend your time.
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Have a beach day at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area
1,600 hectares of land make up the Guelph Lake Conservation Area which surrounds a reservoir. This park has two sandy beaches to stretch out on, picnic areas to have a meal, great fishing opportunities, and space for sailing and canoeing. This is a popular summer day trip for locals and tourists alike, so be sure to nab your spot on the beach early — or take a wander through the parkland.
Catch a classic Hollywood film at the Jewel Classic Movie Theatre
Part of the Wellington County Museum, the Jewel Classic Movie Theatre celebrates the popularity of cinema in the area and embraces the classic Hollywood genre as well as films by Canada’s Nation Film Board. Check out what’s playing to get a touch of history and a world of fun. This unique movie-going experience is sure to be a hit among friends and family alike.
Have a meal on the patio at Bread Bar
Bread Baris an earth-to-table restaurant that known for its quality food, friendly service, and for having one of the best patios in Guelph. Sit out in the sunshine and enjoy a delicious, local, and in-season meal as you take in the city. This restaurant even has a manifesto that embraces the local-first attitude that give you a true taste of the area.
Celebrate Scottish Culture at the Highland Games in Fergus
On the second weekend in August head down to Fergus for their famous Scottish Festival and Highland Games.This festival has been running for over 70 years and features Scottish dancing, heavy events, piping, and interactive activities for everyone to enjoy. Experience the sound of bagpipes and meet the featured guest, Graham McTavish, and have an all-around great time in Fergus.
Indulge in simplicity with Butter Tarts and Buggies
“Explore the simpler life,” reads the logo for Butter Tarts and Buggies, who have locations across Ontario, including Wellington North. With buggy rides, homemade butter tarts, artisan products, and heirloom plants, this is pure living in beautiful Ontario, and is sure to warm up your trip. Make sure to buy some extra tarts to snack on later, as you’ll be dreaming of this delicious pastry long after you leave.
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Taste, sip, and wander on the Taps, Tastes, and Trails tour
To get the full taste of Guelph Wellington, head out on the Taps, Tastes, and Trails tour. You’ll get to explore quaint towns, see ancient limestone cliffs, and taste the best restaurants and breweries that the area has to offer. There’s nothing that isn’t offered on this itinerary — but for full details check out the tour’s website.
Walk through the University of Guelph’s Arboretum
At 400 acres, the University of Guelph’s Arboretum is famous for its rich ecosystem and beautiful walking trails. This park is free to visit and features more than 2000 species of woody plants organized in their World of Trees and Trees of Ontario collections. Rising above for splendid views, this is one summertime walk that will blow you away.
Visit Locomotive 6167
Locomotive 6167 was one of 203 of the Northern locomotives used by the Canadian National Railway. With over 70 years of history, this still-standing locomotive carried supplies and troops in World War II before colliding with another locomotive in 1943. Now the most photographed locomotive, this is the perfect dash of history to add to your summer day explorations of the Guelph-Wellington area.
Explore a curated marketplace of contemporary textiles
Visit Elora Centre for the Arts during the Black Sheep Festival of contemporary art to explore a curated marketplace highlighting the works of professional textile artists, makers, and producers. See Artist installations and demonstrations with special guests from The Upper Canada Fibreshed, live music food trucks, beer tents and more!
Splash around at Emerald Lake Trailer Resort and Waterpark
Emerald Lake Trailer Resort and Waterpark is the perfect place to get away on a summer’s day. If you have a trailer, think about booking a spot to get the most time and fun out of this Puslinch attraction. If not — book a cabin, or spend a day at the waterpark, which features inflatable slides and a water trampoline. Whether you’re staying the night or not, you won’t want to go home.
Rise above the city at the Guelph Grotto Climbing Gym
Get your muscles working at the Guelph Grotto Climbing Gym. You can take lessons and learn the ropes (literally!) or buy a day pass and take on the wall yourself. Whatever you do, this high quality facility is ready to fulfill your wall climbing dreams with a classic wall and bouldering area to best suit your skills.
Have a daring adventure with One Axe Pursuits
Put the thrill in your summer with One Axe Pursuits. Here you can set out on a zipline adventure, natural rock climbing, and even caving. You can also use this opportunity to learn how to rescue climb or as a team-building experience with colleagues, friends, or family. No matter what adventure you choose with One Axe Pursuits, you can be sure that it will make the most of your summer day.
Glide down Speed River in a canoe or kayak
Rent a canoe or a kayak at Speed River Paddling in Guelph and hit the river for a day on the water. Open every day except Monday, this rental shop is located at the Boat House and is the perfect place to kick off a paddle session — whether you’re new or a beginner. Remember: Speed River Paddling is a cash only operation, so be sure to plan ahead.
Enjoy food from the source at Thatcher Farms Butcher Shop and Bakery
Experience true local food by visiting the family owned and operated Thatcher Farms. Pick up a cut of meat, a sweet treat, or take in one of the events that the farm holds. You can also stay for a Farm to Table demo and take a cooking class using these fresh ingredients. For the foodie, this is a perfect way to get in touch with the Guelph-Wellington area.
Rent a bike and get moving through the Ontario country
Get some speed and exercise by renting a bike with Speed River Bike Rentalsand exploring the Guelph-Wellington area on wheels. With a variety of rental options to suit your exploration goals, this rental company has an informed staff who will help you make the right call to get the most out of your summer day. If you want to rent a bike fast, you can download the waivers online and bring them in with you for expedited service. Happy riding!
Unwind with a game of golf at Springfield Golf and Country Club
Often compared to a Floridian-style course, this semi-private 18-hole golf club has enough to challenges to fire up an experienced golfer, but is also loved by beginners. Regardless of your experience level, this south-of-Guelph course might be your new favourite way to relax. Spend your day out on the green here and top it off with a meal at the Springfield Restaurant, which is open all summer.
Hang out with donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada
Yes — Donkeys. The Donkey Sanctuary of Canadarescues donkeys and takes care of them just outside of Guelph — and you can come visit these delightful animals on Wednesdays through July and August. Meet the donkeys, help brush their fur, and learn about the mission of the donkey sanctuary and the work that goes into rescuing donkeys who aren’t properly cared for. You’ll be charmed by these sweet, loveable animals.
Celebrate literature at the Eden Mills Writer’s Festival
The Toronto and Guelph literary scene is sparkling, and the Eden Mills Writer’s Festival is one of the most exciting literary events of the year. This festival features some of Canada’s most well-known authors, as well as plenty of smaller events that feature readings and literary contests. Come visit this Guelph festival for a taste of the literary scene — you might be moved by a reading.
Row a boat on a great lake with the Guelph Rowing Club
If you haven’t tried rowing a boat on one of Ontario’s beautiful lakes — now is your opportunity! Check out the Guelph Rowing Cluband the classes offered for your chance to grasp the basics and head out onto the water. Try the Adult Learn to Row classes or the Try Rowing sampler if you’re a beginner, or try competing against other rowers in the area if you have experience! This is the perfect place to get rowing.
Walk, fish, and explore at the Rockwood Conservation Area
Visiting the Rockwood Conservation Area makes for a perfect way to enjoy nice weather. Come for the beautiful natural landscape, the caves and other geological formations, and to explore the ruins of the Rockwood Woolen Mills. Fish along the Eramosa River, hike the cliffs, or stretch out on the sandy beach and take a dip. Get the most out of the sunshine at Rockwood Park.
Find artisan goods at the Aberfoyle Farmer’s Market
Every Saturday between 8am and 1pm from the end of May to the end of August runs the Aberfoyle Farmers’ Market. Spend your morning taking in the live music, the fresh baking, the crafts, and of course the fresh produce. This sheltered pavilion also has dining areas and wide aisles for maximum enjoyment. Relish in the community at the Market.
Explore downtown Guelph
Spend a day wandering through beautiful downtown Guelphfor some charming summer memories. Hop between patios, cafes, and the shops along the street and see what you discover. Head out on a Friday night and catch the Guelph Storm hockey game and feel the atmosphere of camaraderie that this city sparks.
Catch a gorgeous glimpse at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area
Experience the grandness of the Grand River from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area this summer. This river moves through cliffs and along managed trails for your viewing pleasure. You can also fish or hang out in the sports fields that this conservation area has for your pleasure. Listen to the rushing water — or rent tubing gear and experience it firsthand! There is no shortage of summer fun at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area.
Have a taste or a pint at the Wellington BreweryVisit Canada’s oldest independently owned microbrewery by stopping in at the Wellington Brewery in Guelph. The brewery started in 1985 and has since been a staple business of the Guelph community. Visit the Duke House tap room, take a guided tour, or check out what’s in the fridge for you to take home. Whatever you do, it’ll add a refreshing level to your summer day.
Guelph Urban Winery
KJ Urban Winery in Guelph is a unique urban winery that takes pride in sourcing only the finest grape juices and supplies for wine making as well as supplies for the craft brewing enthusiasts. Try crafting your own wine at the winery!
Catch a show at the historic Fergus Grand Theatre
Once an old barn, the now historic Fergus Grand Theatreopened in August 1928 to play movies, plays, and concerts. Now, the Grand Theatre is rented out to individuals to use and bring culture to the community of Fergus. Check out the website to find out what you can take in at this significant Fergus venue.
Get your game on at the Afterlife Video Game Lounge
Just as the name states, the Afterlife Video Game Lounge has both a lounge atmosphere (complete with specialty cocktails) and plenty of video games. If you’re looking for a way to spend time in Guelph, travel back in time to a summertime childhood playing video games and enjoy the great selection that Afterlife has to offer.
Walk or ride down the Elora Cataract Trailway
The Elora Cataract Trailwayfollows 47 kilometres of rail between the towns of Elora and Forks of the Credit. The trail runs events that you can delight in (such as the Rails to Trails exhibit opening in June) and promotes stewardship to keep the area beautiful. Spend a summer day along the upkept trail for a luscious and clear driven day walking through the Wellington area.
Spend a sunny day on the Belwood lake reservoir
Since 1942, the reservoir known as Belwood Lake has been a perfect spot to get out on the water. This lake offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and even water-skiing. The nearby quarry and sandy beach make for an excellent place to lay out a towel and take a dip during the hotter days of the summer. Located above the Grand River with excellent views, Belwood Lake has everything you could want from a sunny day on the lake.
Take in the architecture of The Basilica of Our Lady
The Basilica of Our Lady is a Gothic Revival style building that has become a popular place to stop and take a picture. A utilized Roman Catholic Church, this impressive building has a virtual tour that you can do online, but experiencing this castle-like sight in person is a much more powerful experience. Make the Basilica one of your stops as you explore all that the City of Guelph has to offer.
Take a dip in a quarry at the Elora Quarry
Head down to this limestone quarry for an ideal spot for a summer splash. Take in the cliffs that encircle the area as you listen to the sound of water in the woods and lounge in the sun. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, the Elora Quarry is a must-visit during a summer in the Guelph-Wellington area. Bring a swimsuit, a picnic, and something that floats for a perfect experience.
Head down to the Hillside Music Festival in Guelph
This not-for-profit music festival is one of the most anticipated festivals of the Guelph-Wellington area. With an extensive lineup playing over two beautiful days in July, you’ll want to get your tickets early. This festival includes a children’s stage, a food bazaar, and even an artisan market to keep you entertained as you enjoy the musical performances. This is one summer festivalthat you won’t want to miss.
Check out the splash park in Guelph’s Market Square
Guelph’s Downtown Market Squareis the perfect place to hang out on a summer day. Bring the kids to splash around in the water park while you sit back on one of the stone benches and revel in the heart of the city. If you want to check how busy the square is, just head to their website and check out the live-feed before you go.
Laugh until your sides hurt at The Making-Box
Whether you’re looking for stand-up, improv, or something else to get you laughing, check out The Making-Box for a comedy experience that is “at the centre of Guelph’s thriving comedy scene”. Take a summer camp, hire the company for your own custom experience, or just stop by for a show. Whatever you do, you’re sure to be laughing.
Have an alternative market experience at the Guelph Night MarketVisit the Guelph Night Marketfor an alternative to standard artisan markets. Here you can explore for something vintage, hand-made, local, or simply beautiful. Having started as a space for artists and local vendors to share their work, this night market has become a popular place for community to thrive. This is more than shopping — it’s an experience. Make sure to bring cash as the market is cash only.
Celebrate art outdoors with Art on the Street in Guelph
On the 23rd of June is Guelph’s Art on the Streetevent, which is free and welcomes everyone who loves art to spend some time outdoors appreciating what the Guelph community has to offer. This summertime event is hosted by the Guelph Arts Council and the Downtown Guelph Business Association and is a perfect way to spend a day at any age.
Have an overnight adventure on the Grand River
For a two-day paddling experience of a lifetime, check out Grand River’s two-day adventure. This trip runs along the Grand River under Canada’s oldest wooden covered bridge, where there is an incredible variety of wildlife both big and small for you to see. Spending the night at Bingemans Campground, which offers full amenities, lets you keep the adventure going. Enjoy the true wilderness with this overnight adventure.
Check out a movie with the community at Movies in the Square
If you’re looking for something to do on July 6th, look no further than the Movies in the Square evening happening in downtown Guelph. The show starts at nine and features all the fun of a drive-in without the car. You can bring a lawn chair or a blanket to enjoy your evening of outdoor cinema, just remember that seats are first-come, first-serve, so you might want to be there a little early.
Catch the Canada Day fireworks in Fergus
An arcade for the kids, live entertainment, delicious food — and fireworks to cap it all off. Enjoy your Canada Day in Fergus where the firework show is breathtaking and the community gathers. Spend the day exploring the lovely town of Fergus, then head to the Centre Wellington Sportsplex to finish off the night with a celebration of our beautiful nation.
Celebrate industry day at the Grand River RacewayIt’s a longstanding tradition that on the first Monday of August, the Grand River Raceway has its marquee event of the race season. There are two major events that you can enjoy: the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of the Belles, with a combined winning pot of around $330,000. But there’s more than just racing! There is also a petting zoo, pony rides, and face painting for a day that the whole family will remember.
Take the kids out to Goderich Children’s Festival
For a special summer day out with the kids, head to the town of Goderich for their Children’s Festival on June 24th. This free and full day of activities will have you and your kids spending time outdoors, making crafts, and being active — the perfect way to tire yourselves out. This celebration of childhood is tailored for kids from infancy to age 12.
Get your fill of ribs and antique cars at Guelph’s Rib Fest
If you love classic cars, or you love ribs — or best yet — you love both, you’ll have to check out Guelph’s Rib Fest, which features a classic car show. Running the weekend of August 25th, you can check out the full range of cars on display between bites of delicious ribs. This festival also has a midway and live music, making it an event to put Guelph’s summer on the map.
See what’s behind closed door at Doors Open Fergus and Elora
Doors Open in Fergus and Elora is a truly special event that allows you to explore the city in ways that were previously off-limits. Woodworking shops, art studios — a net zero home! — all of this can be seen when the doors open on June 16th. There are ten sites, each with their own story and place in history, for you to explore. Don’t forget to take this chance to ring the church bell!
Breathe in the art scene with Art in the Yard
Art in the Yard celebrates Guelph’s boisterous art community with a festival and showcase featuring original art by local artists. Peruse the art and grab a bit of local food — and bring the kids to explore the Kids’ Creative Area. This free event runs on July 7th and 8th this year, so be sure to mark it on your calendars.
Enjoy three weeks of music at the Elora Festival
What sounds better than three weeks of musical celebration in beautiful Elora? The Elora Festival runs through July and celebrates classical music, folk, and jazz. Some of Canada’s most well-known musicians have played this festival, so you know that you’re in for a treat. A bonus opportunity is that the festival’s spread-out nature give you an opportunity to get to know Elora. A perfect mix.
Spend a weekend camping
Camping is the best way to spend as much time as you can enjoying the outdoors in gorgeous weather, and the Guelph-Wellington area has plenty of places where you can go. Check out Rockwood Park for a camping experience with water, forest, and the mill to explore. Here, you will have a little bit of everything. One night may not be enough!
Get ice cream at The Boathouse
Summetime means ice cream time and the place for ice cream is The Boathouse Tea Room, which is right on the riverside in Guelph. This premium-scooped ice cream will have you in a summertime heaven — the river views are the cherry on top. If you want to spend a little extra time here, check out the Boathouse’s high tea or rent a kayak or canoe to enjoy your treat from the water.
Relax in the Templin Gardens in Fergus
Built in the late 1920s, the Fergus Templin Gardens have a history rooted in geography. This centrepiece in Downtown Fergus has a beautiful river view as well as luscious green space for you to enjoy the natural world around you. This is a favourite relaxing spot for locals, and adds a nice touch of serenity to any time spent exploring the town of Fergus.
Take a dip in the largest kettle lake in North America
Puslinch Lake is the largest kettle lake in North America and is a prime location for spending time on the water. Here you can swim, fish, sail, and even water ski across the picturesque water. Take in the scenery for a day and then refuel at the Old Marina Restaurant. It’s easy to work up an appetite at Puslinch Lake.
Wander the Sculpture Park outside the Art Gallery of GuelphSculpture Park is the Art Gallery of Guelph’s outdoor grounds for permanent and temporary art installations alike. This forest of art makes for a lovely walk as it has been enhanced by expert landscaping. Pick up a clipboard at the front desk of the museum to partake in the Search and Sketch scavenger hunt and take in the sculptures as the natural light casts a variety of shadows.
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