You might think Stratford is all Shakespeare and theatre fans – and you’re not far off, it is a wonderfully arts-driven town with high calibre productions – but its appeal goes far beyond that, even. Stratford has so much more to offer than just the theatre. It’s worth at least a day trip with kids to explore, even if you’re not taking in a show at the renowned Stratford Festival. We recently took our family of five for a day of exploration, and it was one of our favourite summer adventures so far.
Pick a Trail
The Stratford Tourism Alliance has created a number of themed trails to help visitors explore. For kids, the Chocolate Trail was a no-brainer for us! We used the map and all the stops offering chocolate treats (some, like ice cream or cupcakes, we could enjoy on the spot, and others, like Rheo Thompson’s famous Mint Smoothie, to take home and enjoy later) to guide us around different streets as we walked. It was a great starting point.
Justin Bieber’s Stratford map would likely also have appealed to some older kids than ours. It marks all of Justin’s favourite spots around his hometown. And if your kids are big Bieber fans, the Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum is worth a stop. And don’t worry – the museum has plenty to explore for non-Bieber fans, too!
For lunch, we headed to the York Street Kitchen take-out window. It’s the perfect option for a nice lunch with kids – you can grab your food and head across the street to find a shady spot for a picnic by the Avon River. During the summer, the sounds of Stratford Summer Music carry across the water, creating a charming atmosphere.
If you didn’t know Stratford was home to a chef’s school, you will after you visit! The number and quality of dining options are astounding. You’ll want to make a few more trips back to be able to try all the food!
After lunch by the water, it’s easy to hop over to Avon Boat Rentals and get yourself on the water in whatever type of vessel suits your family best. They have canoes, paddle boats, kayaks and a cruise boat offering a more guided tour. You can also rent bikes there.
While you’re on the water, wave hello to Stratford’s famous swans, who are such a big deal, they even get their own parade when they’re released back on the river every spring.
After so much walking, you might require a cool down. Stratford has a few great options. We went to Market Square and flipped on the water feature and let our kids splash around while we sat down and relaxed with fantastic coffee from Revel café right across the street.
Alternatively, there is an even bigger splash pad and park located at the corners of Downie Street and Bruce Street, or visit the Lion’s Pool for a proper swim.
We thoroughly enjoyed wandering the streets of Stratford and will be heading back soon!
By Adrienne Brown
Adrienne Brown is a freelance writer based in Ontario. She hopes to pass her love of learning and for travelling to new places to her three sons, one adventure at a time. She has a particular interest in exploring Canadian destinations and is willing to try almost anything once.
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