Spring in Ontario is a wonderful time of year. There are outdoor adventures, cultural events, festivals, markets, and flowers are starting to bloom. Ontario, Canada’s second largest province covering more than 415,000 square miles, is home to many picture-perfect small towns just packed with Canadian charm. This east-central Canadian province has rich varied landscapes, vibrant multiculturalism, and borders the United States and the Great Lakes. Ontario’s bustling capital city, Toronto, is a great home base if you want to check out these adorable small towns on a spring or summer road trip adventure.
Likely not the first “Paris” that comes to mind, but Canada has a Paris too! Paris in Ontario is often referred to as “Canada’s prettiest little town” and after your visit you will see why. Paris, a town incorporated in 1850, is located in the County of Brant where the Grand and Nith Rivers meet. From Toronto a road trip takes about an hour and a half, so stay overnight in Paris or make it a day trip. Regarded as the Cobblestone Capital of Canada there is stunning architecture in Paris dating back to Victorian, Edwardian, Gothic and Post-Modern styles. Shop along historic streets in charming boutiques and enjoy a meal with views of the pretty Grand River. There are also wonderful bike trails and you can cycle along the Grand River stopping for a picnic when you get hungry. Or if you prefer to hike there are several options to explore nature by foot such as the Distillery Lane Trail along the Nith River, or for something a bit more challenging there is an 11 mile trail along the Grand River through the stunning Carolinian forest called the Cambridge to Paris Trail.
Another Ontario town known as one of Canada’s prettiest is Goderich. This charming port town is located on the bluffs with stunning views of Lake Huron. It’s about a two and a half hour road trip from Toronto or Detroit, if you are driving across the border. The history of Goderich dates back to the Victorian era and it’s an architecturally-rich town to explore. Admire the old stained glass windows of local churches, walk along the bluffs admiring historic homes, or visit Courthouse Square at the center of the downtown core. The Goderich Lighthouse is the oldest light station on the Canadian Shores of Lake Huron and dates back to 1847. There are also museums and art galleries if you want to immerse yourself in Canadian heritage. In the summer check out the weekly farmer’s market and outdoor concerts. If you love the outdoors head to the main beach, hike the Tiger Dunlop Trail, walk along the pier or get out on the water. Make sure you stay long enough to check out a stunning Lake Huron sunset.
Head into fairytale land with a weekend visit to Stratford. Take a Go Train from Toronto or drive in about an hour and a half. Stratford City Hall is a National Historic Site of Canada and has been the location of the city’s municipal buildings since 1857. It’s worth seeing the late-Victorian features of this impressive red brick building and pretty clock tower, complete with Canadian flag waving on top. Stratford is known for celebrating the arts and is home to galleries, museums such as the Stratford Perth Museum, and the famous Stratford Festival for theater lovers. This world-class theater and musical experience combines contemporary drama with Shakespeare as well as an Indigenous play and a Nigerian performance. The season runs April to November and iconic King Lear performances begin this month. When you get hungry there are lots of tempting dining options in Stratford including Grounded Vegan Café, a delicious plant-based restaurant with mouth-watering desserts such as squares, cakes, and healthy raw vegan treats.