Stratford was settled in 1832, and much of its historic heart has been preserved. Wandering down its pristine residential street—lined with historic homes decorated with turrets, wraparound verandas, and stained-glass windows—is a little like stepping back in time.
Paddleboat, kayak, rowboat, and canoe rentals are available at Avon Boat Rentals (30 York St.; tel. 519/271-7739). Despite the name, Avon does more than let boats, it also rent bicycles and runs a charming little restaurant called Riverside Patio that serves burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and fruit bowls. They also offer scenic half-hour tours on Juliet III, a pontoon boat.
The Shakespearean Gardens—a pretty, formal English garden at 5 Huron Street—is a great place to relax, contemplate the flowerbeds and tranquil river lagoon, and muse on a bust of Shakespeare by Toronto sculptor Cleeve Horne. It's open 24 hours daily. For a picnic-friendly patch of green, visit Queen’s Park, a stone’s throw from the Festival Theatre.
And speaking of picnics, Stratford is in the heart of an agricultural belt, and the abundant food options reflect the city’s pride in its regional culinary riches. There are loads of restaurants and farm and dairy tours. The Stratford Farmers Market, 353 McCarthy Rd., is an indoor year-round market open every Saturday, selling baked goods, cheeses, meats, vegetables and fruit, crafts, and flowers.
Stratford also has a good art museum, the Gallery Stratford (54 Romeo St. S.; tel. 519/271-5271). Located in a historic building on the fringes of Confederation Park, the museum exhibits contemporary and historical works by Canadian artists. Admission is by donation.
Plein Air Art Gallery—Museums are grand, but who wants to spend a glorious summer day indoors? Thanks to Stratford's Art in the Park, you can have both. On Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from late May to October, regional artists gather at Lakeside Drive and Front Street, and put on a show from 10am to 5pm, weather permitting. The artists and artisans work in various media, so you’ll find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, and glass, among other things. While many of the works are for sale, this isn’t just a market: The artists are selected through a juried process.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.