Ontario has so many adorable towns with unique architecture that offer incredible restaurants, coffee shops, and stores with local goods. Galt is one of those charming spots, located in Cambridge. Obviously, it’s not the same as being in Europe, but it will make you feel close enough. It’s a super rustic town unlike any other I’ve been to in Ontario. The downtown core of Galt is picturesque and filled with things to do. Make this a day trip from home and spend time exploring the area. Also, a fun fact: Handmaid’s Tale was filmed here.
Okay, so now you’re in Galt – here’s what you should do:
Pick Up Local Goodies From The Farmer’s Market
Founded in 1830, the historic Cambridge Farmers’ Market is actually one of the oldest markets in Canada! Pick up fresh local produce, unique items, and homemade crafts from this incredible market that’s open year-round. In the colder months, it is held inside, while in the summer they extend it to the outdoors. Parking is located behind Cambridge City Hall. There are also two additional local outdoor markets in the summertime.
Admire The Unique Architecture
Located on the Grand River, the old bridge on Main Street boasts beautiful views of the gorgeous ‘European-style’ architecture. It gives you a great focal point for grand views of historic churches and shops along the river’s edge. The building above is the former Galt Post Office.
Check Out The Cozy Coffee Shops
Make sure to stop at one of the many cute coffee shops located in Galt. Some noteworthy spots are Monigram Coffee Roasters, Grand Cafe, and Melville Café. Most of these places boast superb views over the Grand River and have delicious food options for breakfast, lunch, or a snack.
View The Ruins At Mill Race Park
With a gorgeous view of the Grand River, this park is pretty small but really gives you a fantastic view of the town of Galt. The remnants of the old mill have been reconstructed with steps, benches and even becomes a stage in the summer months. There are picnic tables with umbrellas that are perfect in the warmer weather.
Splurge On An Exquisite Meal At Cambridge Mill
One of the oldest buildings in the area, the 19th century Cambridge Mill has been entirely restored to its former glory. This upscale restaurant, wedding venue, and corporate event space has romantic views over the Grand River. They serve delicious Canadian classics with a twist, focusing on seasonal quality ingredients. Don’t miss out on their killer Sunday Brunch!
See What’s On Tap At Grand River Brewing
Visit the Tap Room at Grand River Brewing and sample some unique flavours of beer. They have everything from IPAs to stouts, sours, ales, and lagers. I highly recommend getting a flight of beer to sample a variety. The brewery is spacious and there is lots of room in case you plan to come with a larger party.
Sample Gourmet Cheeses At C’est Cheese Please
If you love cheese as much as I do, stop by this gourmet cheese boutique for a variety of amazing picks that are both local and international. C’est Cheese Please also has gourmet gifts, like charcuterie boards, fresh bread and bagels to go with the delicious cheeses. There is also an assortment of spreads, dips, and oils to buy. If that photo doesn’t entice you to go, I don’t know what possibly could.
Take A Walk At Shades Mill Conservation
A hidden gem, Shades Mill Conservation is a stunning day park that is ideal for swimming, canoeing, and taking hikes in the warmer months. There are around 12km of hiking trails through the forest that wind along Mill Creek. Dogs are also able to use these trails but must be kept on a leash. In the winter, it is open for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing.
Cambridge to Paris Rail-Trail (Glen Morris Trailhead)
If you’re looking for a hike that’s a little longer and will test your endurance, this is a great trail for you. It will take you the entire 18.7km from Cambridge to Paris, with photo-worthy views over the river. Once you arrive, spend some exploring the town of Paris, which has great vintage shopping and an amazing indoor market. The trail is also a great one for hikers and cyclists of all skill levels since it’s pretty flat. There is also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Dogs are also able to use this trail, but again, must be kept on leash.
If you’re willing to drive a little extra…
Get Cultured At The Waterloo Region Museum
The Waterloo Region Museum will teach you all about its history and the great individuals who left a mark in the Waterloo area. It also features the 24-acre Doon Heritage Village, a recreation of 1914, with more than 20 historic buildings, costumed interpreters, and farm animals. Exhibits explore the people and immigration, settlement, industries, and special-interest elements. The Waterloo Region Museum and the Waterloo Region Hall of Fame are open year-round, while the Doon Village is open seasonally.
Visit The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
Only a 20-minute drive from Galt and definitely worth it if you’re looking for a peaceful and warm place. Walk through the conservatory and admire thousands of varieties of butterflies flying all around you. It feels like you’re in the jungle, completely surrounded by birds, plants and waterfalls (okay, they might be man-made but they still do the trick!) It’s not a huge place but it’s cozy inside and also has a decent coffee shop.
Valens Conservation Area
In the winter, the lake at Valens Conservation Area gets completely frozen over, which makes it a beautiful snowscape prime for ice-fishing. Camping is open all year-round. In the summer, go for a swim in the lake, sunbathe on the beach, or spend the day fishing.
The Donkey Sanctuary Of Canada
The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is a charity that is dedicated to the well-being of donkeys, mules and hinnies who have been neglected or abused. For these animals, it has become a home where they can live in peace. Visit the new Donkey Gallery for a profile of each animal, so you can get to know each one better. If you want to help care for them, you can fill out a sponsorship form and help support them for a full year. There are volunteer options as well! Learn everything you need to know about these adorable creatures, from food to habitat. You are even able to interact with the donkeys, who enjoy scratches behind the ears or need an extra brush. Finish your time here with a lovely walk on their trails through woodlands and wetlands. The organization is only open for visitors in the warmer months.
Do Outdoor Activities At Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort
If you love outdoor activities, then you will definitely want to check out Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort. There is snow tubing, snowboarding, and skiing in the winter, but also zip-lining in the spring until fall. In the winter months, you will be more than ready to warm up after spending a few hours in the snow. Head over to the Chalet Café for a coffee or to the Ranger Lounge to order something hot and boozy to top off the day.
I will continue to search for and explore the cutest small towns in Ontario that still hold on to their own special beauty. If you know of any good ones I haven’t been to, please send me a direct message and fill a girl in.
Disclaimer: All information and prices are accurate as of the time of the posting. All opinions expressed are completely my own. This post is not sponsored.
*All images are copyrighted by Julia Melcher (@adventureontario) or credited to their owners. Please do not use or re-post without written consent and provide credit where applicable