31 Best Places And Things To Do in Stratford, Canada

Stratford, Canada, is a charming city located in southwestern Ontario, known for its rich cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant arts scene. As the birthplace of the famous playwright William Shakespeare, Stratford has embraced its namesake by hosting one of the most prestigious Shakespearean festivals in the world. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Stratford:

1. Stratford Festival

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A visit to Stratford would not be complete without experiencing the renowned Stratford Festival. Established in 1953, the festival features a variety of theatrical performances, including Shakespearean plays, contemporary dramas, musicals, and more. The festival takes place from April to October and attracts theater enthusiasts from all over the globe.

2. Avon River and Tom Patterson Island

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Take a leisurely stroll along the scenic Avon River, which flows through the heart of the city. You can rent a paddleboat or take a guided boat tour to explore the waterway and enjoy the lush greenery that lines its banks. Tom Patterson Island, located in the middle of the river, is a tranquil spot perfect for picnics and relaxation.

3. Stratford City Hall

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A stunning example of Victorian architecture, Stratford City Hall is a must-visit landmark. It houses the Stratford Art Gallery, where you can view impressive local artwork and exhibitions.

4. Queen’s Park

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This beautiful park provides an excellent place for a relaxing afternoon. You can enjoy a picnic, read a book, or simply take a peaceful stroll amidst the well-maintained gardens and pathways.

5. Gallery Stratford

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Art enthusiasts should head to Gallery Stratford, a contemporary art gallery featuring a diverse range of Canadian artwork. The gallery hosts rotating exhibitions, workshops, and events throughout the year.

6. Stratford Perth Museum

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Delve into the history and culture of the region at the Stratford Perth Museum. Learn about the city’s heritage, including its agricultural roots, and discover intriguing exhibits about prominent local figures like Justin Bieber, a famous Stratford native.

7. Dining and Culinary Experiences

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Stratford boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and bistros offering a range of cuisines to please every palate. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy a pre-show dinner at one of the many restaurants within walking distance of the theaters.

8. Shopping in Downtown Stratford

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The charming downtown area is lined with unique boutiques, gift shops, and artisanal stores. You’ll find everything from handcrafted jewelry to locally made goods, making it a great place to pick up souvenirs or gifts for loved ones.

9. Festival Marketplace Mall

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If you’re in the mood for some indoor shopping, head to the Festival Marketplace Mall. This shopping center offers a mix of stores, including clothing, accessories, home decor, and more.

10. Perth County Farmers’ Market

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If you’re visiting on a Saturday morning (May to October), head to the Perth County Farmers’ Market. Located in the heart of downtown Stratford, this market offers a delightful array of fresh produce, artisanal products, and local crafts. It’s an excellent opportunity to support local farmers and artisans while experiencing the vibrant community spirit.

11. Ghost Walks

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Experience the eerie side of Stratford with a ghost walk tour. Led by knowledgeable guides, these walking tours take you through the city’s historic streets, sharing spine-chilling tales of haunted buildings and paranormal occurrences. It’s a fun and fascinating way to learn about the city’s haunted history.

12. St. Marys

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Just a short drive from Stratford, you’ll find the picturesque town of St. Marys. Known for its limestone architecture and scenic surroundings, St. Marys is an ideal spot for a day trip. Explore the charming downtown, visit the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, or take a leisurely stroll along the Thames River.

13. Chocolate Trail

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Calling all chocolate lovers! Stratford’s Chocolate Trail offers a delectable journey through various chocolatiers and confectionery shops. Indulge in a variety of chocolate treats, including truffles, fudge, and other delights. The trail is available year-round, and you can explore it at your own pace.

14. Springbank Gardens

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This beautiful park provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Featuring walking paths, flower gardens, and a pond, Springbank Gardens is an idyllic spot for a relaxing afternoon surrounded by nature.

15. Distillery Tour

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For those interested in spirits, a visit to a local distillery is a great way to learn about the craft of creating fine liquors. Some distilleries in the area offer guided tours, where you can see the production process up close and even sample their products.

16. Outdoor Theatre

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In addition to the Stratford Festival, you can also catch outdoor theatre performances during the summer months. Various companies and organizations stage productions in parks and open spaces, providing a unique and enchanting theatrical experience under the stars.

17. Winter Activities

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If you’re visiting during the winter, Stratford still has plenty to offer. Enjoy outdoor ice skating at the Rotary Complex, take part in the annual Winterfest celebration, or warm up with a hot drink at one of the cozy cafes.

18. T.J. Dolan Natural Area

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Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to the T.J. Dolan Natural Area, a nature reserve with walking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and serene surroundings. It’s an excellent place for birdwatching and connecting with nature.

19. Stratford Chef School

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For culinary enthusiasts and aspiring chefs, a visit to the Stratford Chef School is a must. This renowned institution has been training top-notch chefs for decades and often hosts public events, such as cooking classes and chef demonstrations. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from professionals and sharpen your cooking skills.

20. Festival Theatre Gardens

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While attending a play at the Festival Theatre, make sure to explore the adjacent Festival Theatre Gardens. These beautifully landscaped gardens provide an excellent setting for pre-show picnics or post-show relaxation.

21. Paddling on the Avon River

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If you enjoy kayaking or canoeing, the Avon River offers a tranquil and scenic waterway for paddling. Several rental services in Stratford can provide the equipment you need for a leisurely paddle along the river.

22. Rotary Riverside Trail

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The Rotary Riverside Trail offers a delightful walking or biking route along the Avon River and through some of Stratford’s most picturesque areas. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy the city’s natural beauty while getting some exercise.

23. Wineries and Breweries

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Stratford and the surrounding region are home to several wineries and craft breweries. Consider taking a wine or beer tour to sample some of the local libations and learn about the art of winemaking and brewing.

24. Stratford Public Library

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If you’re looking for a relaxing indoor activity or need a quiet place to work, head to the Stratford Public Library. This modern facility offers a wide selection of books, magazines, and digital resources, as well as various programs and events for all ages.

25. Antique Shopping

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Stratford is a treasure trove for antique hunters. Wander through the city’s antique shops and specialty stores to discover vintage gems, including furniture, jewelry, art, and collectibles.

26. Day Trip to Grand Bend

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About an hour’s drive from Stratford, Grand Bend is a popular summer destination with its sandy beaches, clear waters, and lively atmosphere. Spend a day by the lake, go swimming, or enjoy water sports for a fun-filled outing.

27. Visit a Maple Syrup Farm

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During the spring, consider visiting a nearby maple syrup farm to experience the time-honored Canadian tradition of maple syrup production. Participate in tours and tastings while learning about the fascinating process of making this sweet treat.

28. Festival of Lights

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If you’re in Stratford during the holiday season, don’t miss the Festival of Lights. The city is beautifully illuminated with festive decorations, creating a magical ambiance perfect for strolling through the downtown streets.

29. Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

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Enjoy a cup of freshly roasted coffee at Balzac’s, a charming cafĂ© located in the heart of Stratford. The cozy atmosphere and artisanal beverages make it an ideal spot to relax and recharge.

30. Stratford Municipal Golf Course

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If you’re an avid golfer, head to the Stratford Municipal Golf Course. This well-maintained 18-hole course offers a challenging game amidst picturesque scenery.

31. Try Local Craft Ciders

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Explore the world of craft ciders by visiting local cideries in the area. Sample a variety of ciders made from Ontario apples, each with its unique flavor profile.