What to do in Ontario??
April 17, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

We have recently moved to Waterloo Ontario from Vancouver BC and friends are coming to visit. What should we do with them??? Help! I really want them (and us) to have fun!!

My husband and I have recently moved to Waterloo, Ontario from Vancouver, BC and our friends (a couple) who have never been East of Alberta are coming to visit us for a week in June. We are familiar with South-Western Ontario enough to know that we will take them to Niagara Falls and Toronto (suggestions welcome) but what else should we do? I am prepared to take a road trip for 3-4 days during this period. Guide us!
posted by saradarlin to Travel & Transportation around Ontario (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about what to do as a whole, but I went to school at Laurier so I can speak to what's available in town. There's some really neat things in Kitchener-Waterloo itself. If you like beer at all, the Brick Brewery tour is actually all kinds of fun and entertaining AND you get a ton of beer on top of it.

During the summer there's usually stuff happening at Waterloo Park. Depending on when it is in June, there's this festival. The Butterfly Conservatory in Cambridge can be a good time too. Other than that, a lot of the little stores, bars and restaurants along King St. uptown are fantastic. I recommend Symposium-- there's a cheesecake bar! Finally, if you're looking for a fun night out, going to The Duke of Wellington on a Wednesday night is guaranteed to be memorable.
posted by riane at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2008

A few quick suggestions:

Take them to St. Jacobs (the town and the Farmers' Market): http://www.stjacobs.com/html/shopping-farmersmarkets.html

Take them to a show at the Stratford Festival:

Take them to Canada's Wonderland, if you like amusement parks.

Head up to Tobermory for camping:

Go to Ottawa! There are a million things to do there.
posted by cider at 12:51 PM on April 17, 2008

If you are planning on heading to Niagara Falls I would recommend Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is a beautiful drive along the Niagara Parkway and the town is very pretty in a quaint Victorian window-shoppy non-commercial way. Some great restaurants and shopping and then a night of theatre at the Shaw Festival which can hold its own with any theatre company in the world.
posted by pixlboi at 12:53 PM on April 17, 2008


go to Toronto ?
posted by dawdle at 12:55 PM on April 17, 2008

oops my bad. didnt' read closely enough.

go to Kleinburg. McMichael Gallery is worth a visit.

Stop off at Mr. McGregor's Tea House for tea snd scones in the garden...
posted by dawdle at 1:00 PM on April 17, 2008

Stratford is a great little city, about 30 minutes away. You could go see a play at the Stratford Festival.
posted by jazzman at 1:04 PM on April 17, 2008

Doh! already mentioned. Sorry!
posted by jazzman at 1:05 PM on April 17, 2008

If you are prepared to do a 3-4 day road trip, you can visit Ottawa, Montreal, and possibly Quebec City in the same stretch. All three cities are beautiful in the summer with lots to do. And they each have a very different vibe in case you are worried about simply hopping from one city to another.
posted by kitkatcathy at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2008

The Elora gorge isn't too far away from Waterloo. You can go tubing, hiking or swimming in the quarry.

As has been mentioned previously, the Stratford Festival is worth going to.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:49 PM on April 17, 2008

If you're driving to Niagara Falls, there are dozens of wineries along the highway and in Niagara-On-the-Lake that are easy (and fun!) to stop at along the way. Google "Niagara wineries" to find a list.
posted by Gortuk at 2:08 PM on April 17, 2008

In town, if you haven't, and if anyone in the party is a fan of microbrews, the castle on king has a great selection, and some germanesque food to boot.

Depending on when in June they come, you could head up to Lake Huron, Pinery is always nice, great beaches all along that part of the lake, except grand bend (IMO). Sauble is a bit more of a drive but it's nice too, and there is a bit of a town there too. I'd also second the suggestion of Tobermory, there is a nice national park up there, some great hiking, and diving too.

Anyway, if you want more specific types of things to do, I might be able to think up some more.
posted by glip at 2:10 PM on April 17, 2008

What do you guys like to do? Are you museam people? Campers or hikers? Do you like historical things? Do you like zoos? Are you shoppers? Sports fiends?

It might help to narrow things down.

As for things I would find fun, being a history and museam/gallery buff:

There is Doors Open - a free tour of historical buildings. You can search by month to find out what communities are participating at the time your friends are coming. Its a great way to learn about Ontario history.

Doon Heritage Crossroads in the south end of Kitchener is interesting and inexpensive and gives you a bit of history of the area you now live in. Black Creek Pioneer Village , in Toronto, is larger and probably more of an 'experience', but its definately going to cost more.

There are quite a few art galleries in town - Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, and the MacDonald-Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, to name a few I thought of at the top of my head. Might not have anything so impressive as the Vancouver Art Gallery, but they're close and tend to showcase more local talent. Or you could go to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto or the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa if you want something with a greater scope.

There is a local museam in almost every town, but you might want to think about the Royal Ontario Museam in Toronto, or the Museam of Civilization in Hull.

And of course, if you don't mind zoos, there is the Toronto Zoo.

My family has hosted guests from Europe a several times in the past, for various lengths of time, and I find a mix of local colour and 'big attractions' works well. Putting in a day of 'downtime' where you just hang out with your friends and relax is also good. Maybe go for a walk along the Grand River or in the Laurel Creek Conservation Area, nothing too hectic, so you can really visit with your friends instead of the next attraction on the list. Being as your guests are Canadian already, the length of time to get anyplace down here won't be quite so daunting, though, so that's in your favour.

Have fun!
posted by sandraregina at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2008

Oh, and welcome to Waterloo!
posted by sandraregina at 2:36 PM on April 17, 2008

They might enjoy a hike on the Bruce Trail, or maybe go to Point Pelee National Park.
posted by Dasein at 2:37 PM on April 17, 2008

Best answer: Welcome to Waterloo. I am a student at the University of Waterloo and I have lived here for almost 5 years. Before that I lived in Mississauga, a suburb west of Toronto with "Toronto's" Lester B. Pearson International airport. I'm telling you this because I've played tourist-host to family and friends a few dozen times.

Niagara falls is fun, and a tourist pre-requisite. I did a winery tour the last time I went I had a blast.

Waterloo itself is a nice place to live but not really a tourist destination per se. I will second the recommendations for Stratford and St. Jacobs as local attractions. The Brick Brewery tour is fun too. However, Montreal and Ottawa are each about 5-6 hours from here and 3-4 days is enough to spend a few days between Montreal and Ottawa (it's between two and two and a half hours between Montreal and Ottawa) with a day in Toronto on the way there or back.

Personally I could spend 3-4 days in just Ottawa or just Montreal. My girlfriend did an internship in Ottawa last summer so I spent a few weekends there. It's a great city. I've been to Montreal probably 8 times for grand prix races, weekends away and the jazz festival. Montreal is probably the most European-feeling city in Canada. I think Quebec City is really nice too, but I've only been there once.

I don't think I could stay 4 days in Toronto. Maybe I'm biased, e.g. I can say that because I lived a bus and subway hop away from the CN Tower for close to 20 years. That being said, a friend from France came to visit last year and we couldn't find more than a day and a half worth of attractions in Toronto.

One more thing that might be fun for your guests... There are flying clubs in the airports in Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and Niagara Falls. All 3 of them have a $50-$75 "exploration flight" type opportunity. It might be a unique way to see the area. One word of caution. I am a private pilot myself (I have flown out of Brampton, another western suburb of Toronto, and currently fly out out Hamilton) and the haze in summer due to pollution and humidity is simply atrocious. This would be a lot of fun in the early morning before the haze really sets up.

MeFi mail me if you want any more information. I'd be happy to share more over email or coffee after I'm done with finals next week.
posted by KevCed at 3:44 PM on April 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help guys! I am sure that we have fun. :)
posted by saradarlin at 5:50 PM on April 20, 2008

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