things to do in Stratford Ontario

21 Best Things to Do in Stratford Ontario

Last Updated: September 27, 2023By

Welcome to Stratford, Ontario, a Canadian gem filled with amazing things to do and explore. This charming city offers a variety of attractions and activities that are sure to captivate visitors.

Whether you’re a fan of theater, a lover of art and culture, a food enthusiast, or an outdoor adventurer, Stratford has something for everyone. So join us as we look at the 21 of the best things to do in Stratford, Ontario.

Key Takeaways:

  • Stratford, Ontario is a Canadian gem with a wealth of attractions and activities.
  • Visiting cafes, taking self-guided audio tours, and indulging in the Chocolate Trail are must-try experiences in Stratford.
  • Shopping for unique items at local stores and attending shows at the renowned Stratford Festival are popular activities.
  • Exploring street art, visiting art galleries, and enjoying the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens offer opportunities for relaxation and appreciation of nature.
  • Dining at a variety of restaurants, including local favorites, is a highlight for food enthusiasts in Stratford.

1. Visit the Stratford Festival for Premier Theater Performances

Immerse yourself in the world of theater at the Stratford Festival, where you can experience extraordinary performances by the largest classical repertory theatre company in North America. Situated in Stratford, Ontario, this renowned festival showcases a wide range of theater productions, delighting audiences with its impressive repertoire.

At the Stratford Festival, you’ll have the opportunity to witness professional actors bring classic plays to life on stage. From Shakespearean tragedies and comedies to contemporary works, the festival offers a diverse selection of performances that cater to all theatrical tastes.

One of the highlights of the Stratford Festival is its commitment to excellence in theatrical production. With its state-of-the-art facilities and talented cast, the festival consistently delivers exceptional performances that captivate audiences.

Whether you’re a theater enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, a visit to the Stratford Festival is a must. Immerse yourself in the world of theater, witness the magic of live performances, and discover why the Stratford Festival is renowned as a premier theater destination.

2. Indulge in the Delicious Chocolate Trail

Calling all chocolate lovers! Embark on a mouthwatering adventure along the Chocolate Trail, where you’ll indulge in the finest creations from world-renowned confectioners and bakers. Stratford, Ontario offers a delectable experience for those with a sweet tooth, with a trail that showcases the best of the city’s chocolate delights.

As you wander through the charming streets of Stratford, you’ll encounter a variety of artisanal chocolate shops and bakeries that are sure to satisfy your cravings. From rich truffles to decadent cakes, each stop on the Chocolate Trail offers a unique treat that will tantalize your taste buds.

To enhance your chocolate experience, consider taking part in a guided tour that provides insights into the craft and history of chocolate-making. Immerse yourself in the world of chocolate as knowledgeable guides share fascinating stories and demonstrate the artistry behind each delectable creation.

Chocolate trail shops in Stratford

Indulging in the Chocolate Trail is not just about satisfying your sweet cravings; it’s also an opportunity to support local businesses and artisans. Each chocolate shop and bakery along the trail takes pride in using high-quality ingredients and crafting their delicacies with care and passion.

So, gather your chocolate-loving friends and embark on this delectable journey through Stratford’s Chocolate Trail. Treat yourself to the finest chocolates and desserts, and discover why Stratford is known as a haven for chocolate enthusiasts.

Stroll Along the Avon River and Explore Downtown Stratford

Take a leisurely stroll along the enchanting Avon River and immerse yourself in the historic charm of downtown Stratford. The Avon River flows through the heart of the city, offering a picturesque setting for a relaxing walk. As you meander along the riverbank, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of the surrounding nature and the tranquility of the flowing water.

Downtown Stratford is a vibrant and culturally rich area, where history blends seamlessly with modernity. The streets are lined with beautifully preserved historical buildings, each with its own story to tell.

From architectural gems to charming boutiques, there’s something to catch your eye at every corner. Explore the unique stores, art galleries, and local businesses, and experience the warm hospitality of the community.

To truly immerse yourself in the local culture, I recommend stopping by the Stratford Perth Museum. This fascinating museum provides a glimpse into the area’s rich history, including its railway heritage. Learn about the city’s past through engaging exhibits and interactive displays. It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into the heritage and traditions that have shaped Stratford into the charming city it is today.

Recommended Activities Address Contact
Stratford Perth Museum 4275 Huron Road, Stratford, ON N5A 6S6 519-393-5311
Avon River Downtown Stratford N/A

After exploring downtown Stratford, take a moment to relax and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many charming restaurants and cafes in the area. From cozy diners to elegant eateries, you’ll find a wide range of culinary delights to satisfy your appetite. Whether you’re in the mood for local cuisine, international flavors, or a cozy cup of coffee, downtown Stratford offers a diverse dining scene that is sure to please.

Top Restaurants in Downtown Stratford

  • Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant – 99 Ontario St, Stratford, ON N5A 3H1
  • BraaiBar – 80 Wellington St, Stratford, ON N5A 2L3
  • BRÜ Garden – 32 Erie St, Stratford, ON N5A 2M4

So, why wait? Plan your visit to downtown Stratford, and experience the perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that this charming city has to offer.

Take a leisurely stroll along the Avon River, explore the historic buildings, and indulge in the local cuisine. It’s time to create unforgettable memories in the heart of Stratford, Ontario.

Discover Art and Culture at Galleries and Museums

Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture at Gallery Stratford and the Stratford Perth Museum, where you can admire captivating artworks and learn about the fascinating history of Stratford, Ontario.

Gallery Stratford showcases a diverse collection of contemporary Canadian art, providing a platform for local and national artists to showcase their talent. The museum offers a deeper understanding of the area’s heritage, with exhibits exploring the city’s railway history and its impact on the community.

Gallery Stratford: A Celebration of Canadian Art

Step into Gallery Stratford and be greeted by a vibrant display of Canadian art. With ever-changing exhibitions, the gallery showcases works by both emerging and established artists, ensuring there’s always something new to discover. From paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media installations, the gallery presents a wide range of artistic styles and themes.

Stratford Perth Museum: Where History Comes to Life

At the Stratford Perth Museum, history comes alive through interactive exhibits and engaging displays. Discover the city’s strong connection to the railway industry, which played a significant role in its development. Explore the museum’s collection of artifacts, photographs, and stories that offer a glimpse into Stratford’s past. From the fascinating history of the Festival Theatre to the stories of early settlers, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the city’s rich heritage.

An Enriching Cultural Experience

Visiting Gallery Stratford and the Stratford Perth Museum offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the cultural fabric of Stratford, Ontario. Marvel at the creativity of Canadian artists at the gallery, and gain insights into the city’s history and identity at the museum. Whether you appreciate contemporary art or have a passion for history, these cultural institutions provide a enriching experience that celebrates the vibrant essence of Stratford.

Gallery Stratford Stratford Perth Museum
Location: 54 Romeo St S, Stratford, ON N5A 4S9 Location: 4275 Huron Rd, Stratford, ON N5A 6S6
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm
Admission: FREE (Donations are appreciated) Admission: Adult – $7, Senior (65+) – $6, Student (13-18) – $5, Child (6-12) – $4, Children under 6 – FREE

Enjoy Outdoor Beauty at the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens

Escape to the tranquility of the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens, where you can relax and rejuvenate in the embrace of nature. These stunning outdoor spaces in Stratford, Ontario offer a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With their meticulously manicured gardens, vibrant flowers, and serene pathways, the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens are a feast for the senses.

At the Shakespearean Gardens, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the same flora and fauna that inspired William Shakespeare’s plays. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and discover a variety of plant species carefully selected to mimic the gardens of Shakespeare’s time. Listen to the sweet melodies of birds as you wander along the winding paths, and find solace in the beautiful blooms that decorate the landscape.

Adjacent to the Shakespearean Gardens, the Festival Gardens offer a different but equally enchanting experience. Here, you’ll encounter a variety of themed gardens that showcase different garden design styles and horticultural techniques. From serene Japanese-inspired gardens to vibrant contemporary flowerbeds, there’s something for every nature lover to appreciate.

Embrace the Beauty of Nature

As you explore these outdoor spaces, take a moment to sit on one of the many benches scattered throughout the gardens. Observe the graceful movements of butterflies and the gentle sway of leaves in the breeze. Breathe in the fresh air and let the peaceful ambiance wash over you.

For a truly immersive experience, consider joining a guided tour or participating in a garden-inspired workshop. Learn about the history and significance of the gardens, or try your hand at floral arrangement or plein air painting. These activities offer a unique opportunity to connect with nature and unleash your creativity.

Shakespearean Gardens Festival Gardens
Location: 1000 Islands Pkwy, Stratford, Ontario Location: 1000 Islands Pkwy, Stratford, Ontario
Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Admission: Free Admission: Free
Notes: Wheelchair accessible Notes: Wheelchair accessible

Whether you’re seeking a peaceful moment of solitude, a scenic backdrop for a picnic, or a tranquil spot to read a book, the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens are the perfect place to escape and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. So, take a break from the hustle of everyday life and find serenity in these enchanting outdoor spaces in Stratford, Ontario.

Explore Stratford’s Unique Stores and Shopping Experiences

Uncover hidden treasures and indulge in retail therapy at Stratford’s unique stores, where you’ll discover a wealth of distinctive items and support local artisans. From charming boutiques to specialty shops, the city offers a delightful shopping experience for visitors.

One of the standout stores in Stratford is Bradshaws, a beloved family-owned shop that has been serving the community for over 125 years. Known for its exquisite home decor, kitchenware, and gift items, Bradshaws is a must-visit destination for those seeking elegant and timeless pieces.

For those interested in contemporary art and design, Distill Gallery showcases a curated selection of Canadian-made jewelry, ceramics, and home decor. With its focus on craftsmanship and originality, Distill Gallery is an excellent place to find unique and one-of-a-kind pieces.

If you’re looking for a harmonious mix of fashion, home decor, and wellness products, Harmony is the store for you. This trendy boutique offers a carefully curated selection of clothing, accessories, and beauty products, all designed to enhance your personal style and well-being.

Store Location Contact
Bradshaws 129 Ontario St, Stratford, ON 519-271-6283
Distill Gallery 96 Downie St, Stratford, ON 519-508-2990
Harmony 90 Downie St, Stratford, ON 519-273-7700

Another gem in Stratford’s shopping scene is Treasures, a boutique that offers a carefully curated selection of unique gifts, jewelry, and home decor. Treasures prides itself on supporting local artists and artisans, making it the perfect place to find that special memento or gift.

Whether you’re on the hunt for fashionable clothing, exquisite home decor, or handcrafted jewelry, Stratford’s unique stores are sure to delight and inspire. So take your time, explore the city’s streets, and uncover the hidden treasures that await you.

Savor Culinary Delights at Stratford’s Best Restaurants

Treat your taste buds to a culinary adventure in Stratford, where you’ll find an array of top-notch restaurants serving delicious dishes to satisfy any craving. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining or casual eats, Stratford has something for everyone. Let me guide you through some of the best restaurants in Stratford, Ontario, that are sure to leave you craving for more.

Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant

Indulge in a memorable dining experience at Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant. This local favorite offers a cozy and charming atmosphere, complemented by an extensive menu featuring a fusion of Canadian and European cuisine. From succulent steaks to fresh seafood, Bentley’s promises a delightful feast that will tantalize your taste buds.


For a taste of South Africa right in Stratford, head to BraaiBar. This vibrant eatery specializes in authentic African barbecue, known as braai. The menu boasts a variety of flame-grilled dishes, including mouthwatering meats, seafood, and vegetarian options. Don’t forget to try their signature biltong, a traditional dried meat snack that’s perfect for munching on while enjoying their outdoor seating.

BRÜ Garden

Step into the open-air beer garden at BRÜ Garden and immerse yourself in a lively and welcoming atmosphere. This outdoor oasis offers a wide selection of craft beers, local wines, and refreshing cocktails. Pair your drink of choice with their delicious shareable plates, such as loaded nachos or gourmet pretzels, as you take in the vibrant energy and live entertainment.

Restaurant Cuisine Location
Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant Canadian/European Downtown Stratford
BraaiBar South African Downtown Stratford
BRÜ Garden Pub Food Waterloo St

So, whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply looking for a memorable dining experience, Stratford’s best restaurants won’t disappoint. From the cozy ambiance of Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant to the exotic flavors of BraaiBar and the vibrant atmosphere of BRÜ Garden, you’re bound to discover a culinary gem that suits your taste. Bon appétit!

Immerse Yourself in Stratford’s History at the Stratford Perth Museum

Delve into the intriguing history of Stratford, Ontario, at the Stratford Perth Museum, where you can uncover captivating stories and discover the city’s railway heritage. The museum offers an immersive experience, taking visitors on a journey through time to learn about the rich and vibrant past of Stratford.

One of the highlights of the museum is its extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the railway heritage of Stratford. Explore the history of the Grand Trunk Railway and the impact it had on the development of the city. From vintage locomotives and railway cars to interactive displays, the museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the golden age of rail travel.

Stratford Perth Museum Highlights Opening Hours Admission
Exhibits on Stratford’s railway heritage Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Adults: $8
Seniors: $7
Students: $7
Children (5-12): $4
Children (under 5): Free
Interactive displays and artifacts Closed on statutory holidays Parking: Free
Gift shop with unique souvenirs

In addition to its railway heritage, the Stratford Perth Museum also showcases other aspects of the city’s history. Explore exhibits on agriculture, industry, and the arts, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of Stratford. The museum’s knowledgeable staff are always ready to answer questions and provide further insights into the exhibits.

With its fascinating displays, engaging exhibits, and immersive experience, the Stratford Perth Museum is a must-visit destination for history buffs and curious travelers alike. Uncover the stories that shaped Stratford and gain a newfound appreciation for the city’s unique heritage.

Experience the Annual Lights on Stratford Festival

Step into a winter wonderland and witness the magic of the Lights on Stratford Festival, where you’ll be dazzled by the spectacular light displays along the picturesque Avon River. This enchanting festival transforms the city into a glowing spectacle, creating a truly unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

As you stroll along the Avon River, you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors and mesmerizing light installations. From twinkling trees to illuminated sculptures, every corner of the festival is adorned with stunning displays that evoke a sense of wonder and joy.

Whether you’re visiting with family, friends, or on a romantic getaway, the Lights on Stratford Festival offers something for everyone. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the illuminated streets, sip hot cocoa while admiring the lights, or simply explore the festival at your own pace, immersing yourself in the magical atmosphere.

Highlights of the Lights on Stratford Festival:

  • Over 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the Avon River
  • Themed light displays that capture the spirit of the winter season
  • Live performances and entertainment throughout the festival
  • Delicious food and beverage vendors offering seasonal treats
  • Interactive activities for children, including crafts and games

Don’t miss this incredible winter festival of lights in Stratford, Ontario. It’s a magical celebration that will leave you with cherished memories and a sense of awe at the beauty of the season.

Date: Location: Time:
December 1 – January 1 Avon River, Stratford 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Outdoor Activities and Nature Exploration in Stratford

Lace up your hiking boots and embark on an adventure along the T.J. Dolan Trail, where you can immerse yourself in the refreshing green spaces and scenic landscapes of Stratford. This picturesque trail stretches for miles, offering hikers the chance to explore the natural beauty of the area.

As you traverse the T.J. Dolan Trail, you’ll encounter a variety of ecosystems, from dense forests to open meadows. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that call this trail home, including birds, deer, and even the occasional fox. The trail offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city, allowing you to reconnect with nature and find peace in the great outdoors.

Along the trail, you’ll find designated spots for picnics and rest, allowing you to take in the breathtaking views and recharge before continuing your journey. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll, the T.J. Dolan Trail offers options for all skill levels.

Trail Name Trail Difficulty Trail Length
T.J. Dolan Trail Easy to Moderate Various lengths, up to 11 miles

Trail Safety Tips

  • Be prepared: Bring enough water, snacks, and appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.
  • Stay on the trail: To protect the natural habitat and wildlife, it’s important to stick to designated paths.
  • Leave no trace: Pack out any trash or waste and respect the environment.
  • Check the weather: Before heading out, make sure to check the forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Tell someone your plans: Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

So, whether you’re seeking a peaceful escape or looking to reconnect with nature, the T.J. Dolan Trail in Stratford, Ontario, is the perfect destination. Lace up your hiking boots, breathe in the fresh air, and let the beauty of the trail unfold before you.

Final Thoughts – Things to Do in Stratford Ontario

Stratford, Ontario offers a rich blend of history, arts, cuisine, and natural beauty.

  • Start your visit at charming cafes like Revel or Edison’s for a great cup of coffee.
  • Take an audio tour to learn about the fascinating history.
  • Indulge your sweet tooth on the Chocolate Trail, sampling treats from world-class confectioners and bakers.
  • Shop for one-of-a-kind items at unique stores like Bradshaws, Distill Gallery, Harmony, and Treasures.
  • Don’t miss the renowned Stratford Festival, the largest classical repertory theater in North America.
  • Wander downtown to admire the historical buildings and vibrant street art at galleries like Gallery Stratford and Gallery Indigena.
  • Escape to serene gardens like the Shakespearean and Festival Gardens. Hike the scenic T.J. Dolan Trail and explore green spaces.
  • Learn about railway heritage at the Stratford Perth Museum.
  • Satisfy your taste buds at trendy cafes like Balzac’s or local favorites like Bentley’s and BraaiBar.
  • Relax at the open-air BRÜ Garden beer garden.

With its blend of history, culture, arts, and natural beauty, Stratford is a Canadian gem worth exploring. Plan your trip today and discover the many attractions this vibrant city has to offer.


Commonly Asked Questions

Q: Where can I get a good cup of coffee or tea in Stratford?

A: Some popular cafes in Stratford include Revel Cafe and Edison’s Cafe, where you can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or tea.

Q: What are some self-guided tours I can take in Stratford?

A: There are several self-guided tours available in Stratford, such as the Stratford Garden Tour and the Bronze Stars of Stratford tour, which showcase the city’s beautiful gardens and historical bronze statues.

Q: Where can I satisfy my sweet tooth in Stratford?

A: Indulge in the delicious Chocolate Trail in Stratford, featuring world-renowned confectioners and bakers who offer delectable treats that will satisfy any sweet craving.

Q: Where can I go shopping for unique items in Stratford?

A: Stratford is home to stores like Bradshaws, Distill Gallery, Harmony, and Treasures, where you can find unique and one-of-a-kind items to take home as souvenirs.

Q: What is the Stratford Festival and why is it famous?

A: The Stratford Festival is the largest classical repertory theatre company in North America and is renowned for its premier theater performances. It offers a wide range of shows and attracts theater lovers from around the world.

Q: Are there any street art and historical buildings to explore in Stratford?

A: Yes, in Stratford you can enjoy exploring the city’s street art and admire its historical buildings, which add charm and character to the urban landscape.

Q: Where can I appreciate art in Stratford?

A: Visit art galleries like Gallery Stratford and Gallery Indigena to appreciate Canadian and Indigenous art, showcasing the diverse and vibrant art scene in Stratford.

Q: Are there any outdoor spaces in Stratford where I can relax?

A: Yes, you can relax and enjoy nature at the Shakespearean Gardens and Festival Gardens, which provide beautiful outdoor spaces to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Q: Are there any hiking trails in Stratford?

A: The T.J. Dolan Trail is a popular hiking trail in Stratford, offering the opportunity to explore the city’s green side and immerse yourself in its natural beauty.

Q: Where can I learn about the history of Stratford?

A: The Stratford Perth Museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of Stratford, including its railway heritage, and gain insight into the area’s past.

Q: What are some dining options in Stratford?

A: Stratford offers a range of dining options, from local favorites like Bentley’s Bar Inn & Restaurant and BraaiBar to chain cafes like Balzac’s. BRÜ Garden is also a popular spot, featuring an open-air beer garden.

Q: Is there an annual festival in Stratford?

A: Yes, the Lights on Stratford Festival is an annual winter festival of lights that showcases stunning light displays along the Avon River, creating a magical and enchanting atmosphere.

Q: What can I expect to find in Stratford, Ontario?

A: Stratford, Ontario offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors, including theaters, delicious food, art galleries, historical buildings, and beautiful outdoor spaces. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this Canadian gem.

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