If you don’t know me, I’m hoping you’ll get to know me by the end of this blog. I grew up in a small town in southern Ontario, 7 minutes outside of Waterloo, 2 minutes outside of St. Clements in a town called Heidelberg. We had a corner store, a butcher, a gas station, a hotel and in 2006 we got our very first and only stop light. Small town life is my jam. After moving out of my parents house and growing up, moving to various cities across Canada, I found myself in Waterloo, and then Kitchener, basking in all the wonderful city things before going back to the country, living on a farm outside of New Hamburg. I have a love for not only the tri-cities but for the entire region. I love Kitchener Waterloo and every single surrounding small town. With mennonite blood coursing through my veins and years under my belt working in various capacities and events in KW region I feel quite well rounded in the KW realm.
In 2017 I made a tough decision to move across the country to Vancouver, BC. It’s a move I am still so happy I made but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss my roots, the places that formed me and moulded me into who I am today. If anything, my passion and love for KW has grown since being away. I created this list for two reasons.
- I was sick of meeting people, in Vancouver especially, who came from KW and who were so glad to “get out”. People who talked down to my beloved, historical region. I wrote this list to prove that there is SO much to do and that it’s a fantastic place to grow up, to live, to travel to, to transition through. There are so many perks and I needed to make them known! I am coming home this summer for awhile and decided the ultimate bucket list needed to be created and accomplished while my precious days were numbered in the area. Even in the last couple years I’ve met people who have lived in KW their whole lives and taken them to some of the places on my list and they had no idea they existed. This list is for those people, for people who want to explore but don’t know what they’re looking for until it’s right in front of their faces. This list is for you to find the hidden gems of KW.
- I also wrote this list with my greatest goal being to inspire others and to give suggestions on where to create your own personalized version of my beloved and life changing “Alli Days”. For a full description of an “Alli Day” click HERE, or if you want to save some time I’ll give you the run down. Three years ago I started taking personal days once a month I self titled “Alli Days”. I don’t do housework, I don’t run errands, I don’t turn my phone on, I don’t connect to anything or anyone and I DO whatever the heck I want. It’s always during the week so I avoid crowds and I’ve been all over SW Ontario spending one day a month completely dedicated to getting out and exploring what’s around me. Being completely alone has allowed me to see and do so much and I want nothing more than for others to start their own “Alli Days” and to reap the benefits I’ve gained from my experiences.
So there you have it – my two reasons for creating this list. I also want this to be a space where I can add new suggestions. I know there are WAY more things I could’ve added here but either haven’t done myself or didn’t know about. Please feel free to contact me and have your “thing” added to the list. I want this to be a community effort. Also if you take a personal day, I want to hear about it! I want to be your name day partner in crime! I want this to become a movement of people focusing on themselves and self love, even if it’s only one day a month. I want people to get excited for their time alone, I want it to be the first thing you mark off as a new month approaches. I want them to be something you crave. I want people to selfishly practice self love, reflection and care. Life is busy. I get it, trust me, I really get it! I want you to love your life, your one and only precious life and experience what has had an incredible impact on my life and soon to be you!
A girl can dream right?
Enjoy this list. Check as much off as you can. Share it with your friends, your family, your coworkers, your neighbors. Be a proud KWer.
The list is divided into the following categories (click to skip to a section)
- Paddle down the Grand River (canoe, kayak, dingy)
The Grand River has so many access points (see website) and you can rent Canoes, Kayaks and Tubes or go for small hikes around the area. My personal favorite? Grabbing some snacks, a dingy and some friends and just floating down the river! Check them out on social media @GrandXperiences @GrandRafting or online at
Or go to https://grand-experiences.com/ to book and plan trips and excursions! Also check out http://getonthegrand.com
- Hike Dundas/Websters Falls (Dundas, ON)
This is my favorite hike in SW Ontario. It has become quite popular (for obvious reasons) so week days are better but the view (especially in the fall) from the peak is incredible. So many places to hike and big parks surrounding the area. Free street parking can be found by any of the entrances and can be a great family outing or solo, or with friends. Severity of hike is what you make of it!
Social Media handles @conont and @Hamilton_CA
For directions and info:
- Hawkesville Hills (Hawkesville, ON)
Growing up my “cool” aunt would take us over these hills on her motorcycle and it felt like we were on a rollercoaster! For beautiful country views and a good hard bike ride, this is the perfect spot! Once over the hills you can go down to the river and fish, walk around on gravel roads or check out local farms and buy produce and home made goods.
Take Kressler Rd. in Heidelberg out to Ament Line and you’ll know once you’ve found them! *Please be safe on this road!*
- Hydrocut Bike and Hike Trails (Kitchener, ON)
This is hands down my favorite hiking spot in Kitchener-Waterloo and it’s known as a biking trail so you must respect those biking and PAY ATTENTION! Over 25kms of trail in the back 40 of Kitchener and 2 entrances this is a great spot to get lost in the woods. Follow the crew on social media @hydrocut or go to http://thehydrocut.ca/ for more info!
- Snyder’s Flats (Bloomingdale, ON)
Looking for a local spot to take the dogs or get out for a hike? I’ve seen falcons here, huge hawks and lots of other wee things! I am NOT a bird guru I just know I’ve seen lots of critters! I’ve also gone here for our family “full moon hikes” which are a fun hike we do each full moon with no flashlights or headlamps unless absolutely necessary! Great, easy hike spot! For directions and more info visit
6. St. Jacobs Trails (St. Jacobs, ON)
St. Jacobs is home to some smaller, more scenic trails with lots of trees and creeks. My favorite trail starts just off of printery road and goes through farmers fields, right through a cow field where the cows look at you like you’re not one of them and on past the river bank. It’s so serene and quiet and all flat trails, so its perfect for all activity levels! Check out @stjacobscountry on instagram or you can check out the other trails in town https://stjacobs.com/River-Trails.htm
- Horseback adventures (Waterloo, ON)
This is a great farm to visit! They have camps, day rides, sleigh rides in the winter, and a MANTRACKER activity which I haven’t done personally yet but it sounds like so much fun! If you like horses this is the place to go! https://horsebackadventures.ca/ for more info. Also found on facebook here
8. Donkey sanctuary (Guelph, ON)
If you love animals you will love a visit with these guys! You can brush them, ask all the questions your heart desires and meet all the rescued donkeys and the wonderful people who look after them. Check out their instagram @thedonkeysanctuaryofcanada to check out the furry friends. Parking and hours are limited so check out the website before you go! http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ca/
- Visit a Lavender farm (Milton,ON or Dundas, ON)
I love everything lavender, from the beautiful hue, the smell and even the taste. This was a solo adventure I did on one of my monthly “Alli Days”. I got to walk around, learn about the farms and check out all the lavender things in the gift shop. Links below for 2 farms I highly recommend.
https://www.weirslanelavender.ca/ (Dundas) Instagram @weirslane
https://bleulavande.com/en/ (Milton) Instagram @bleulavande
- Pick your own fruit farms
You can’t complain about the fruit you bring home to eat if you’ve picked it yourself! When given the option to pick locally grown fruits and vegetables…you take it! There are some great farms in Waterloo Region where you can do this alone or with friends, with kids, a date activity and it has a sweet reward after working so hard! Check out the following farms that offer self-pick options.
Follow Herrles on instagram to see whats in season (a great recommendation!) or check out the website for other local berry farms specifically
- Crown land (Petersburg, ON)
This wooded area is one of KW’s best kept secrets. I know by posting this it will make it more popular and I’m on the fence about sharing it because it deserves to be shared but also love that not many people know about it. I hope I haven’t ruined this for anyone! This is crown land, meaning you must stay clear during certain hunting seasons (read the posted signage before entering) but it’s a great place to bring you pooch or get some extra steps in. I won’t give exact directions but it’s located just along side the highway (⅞) and there is a small parking lot just off of Queen St. You’re Welcome 🙂
- Pumpkin patch (Various Locations)
There are lots of local pumpkin patches to go to in the Fall. Who doesn’t love a good instagram photo, a place to take the kids in your life, a date, some baked pumpkin treats?! Check out the farms below for events ranging from pick your own pumpkin, corn mazes, haunted houses, horse rides, you name it!
- Bechtel park (Waterloo, ON)
Home of the off leash dog park, forested trails, Kitchener Panthers, Indoor and outdoor soccer fields and tennis courts there is something here for everyone. Bring a picnic, a football, a frisbee, bring clifford the big red dog! Great park on a nice day!
- Huron park (Kitchener, ON)
If you love a long walk that loops around, this trail is NOT for you. These are short trails and some do not loop. For being in city grounds it’s a great spot but if it’s a ton of exercise you’re after you’ll have to go elsewhere. I don’t like to hike anything less than 5k but if you just want a quick jaunt outside this place is perfect! Directions and info below.
- Victoria park (Kitchener, ON)
This is an iconic part of Kitchener, with the clock tower, the ducks, playgrounds, the boathouse restaurant and patio on the water, the host of some of the best festivals in the city and an ice rink in the winter. I have to mention this somewhere even if no one listens to me but ducks can’t digest bread well so if you want to feed the ducks bring them corn, lettuce, seeds. 🙂 See below for more activities and a calendar of all the events. (Also see indoor activities list for pavilion calendar which includes Celtic dancing!) One more thing…theres an instagram account for one of the swans and it’s the greatest thing since roll up the rim. His name is Otis and you can find his account here.
- Waterloo park (Waterloo, ON)
When I was a kid I thought this was the greatest place on earth. Home to donkeys, peacocks, bunnies, ducks, a llama, some pigs, a deer or two and over a hundred Canadian geese. This is a great spot to walk through, especially with children. Again, please feed the birds seeds, corn or torn up pieces of lettuce, not bread (last time I post that I swear!). This park is also home to a splash pad, baseball diamonds, soccer pitches and pavilions throughout for family bbq’s. During the winter they have the festival of lights and thousands of lights create a beautiful glow throughout the park. Great spot close to uptown Waterloo so you can grab a coffee or treat and enjoy it as you meander through the park. So much happens here so for a full detailed list please refer to:
- Conestoga Lake
Located outside of Kitchener Waterloo this is a short drive to summer bliss. With entrance points and a few conservation area’s located on the lake this is a great spot for a day trip. Lots of cottages surround this lake as well as a kids camp so there is always lots of activity on the water. Refer to the website for more details.
- St Jacobs Market (St. Jacobs, ON)
If you don’t like good food, fresh, local produce, home made goods, live entertainment, cute animals, street vendors or culture you won’t have any fun here but if you don’t like any of those things we don’t want you there either! I’m not sure if it’s tradition, nostalgia or my growling stomach that keeps me going back but nothing says Saturday morning in Kitchener Waterloo like a visit to the St. Jacobs Farmers Market. Find out about the Waterloo County Mennonite Heritage and experience it first hand. The apple fritters here are also reason enough to stop by!
- Conservation Drive Hike
This is going to be super vague because I believe it may be private land but I know there are signs during the winter for cross country skiing here. There is a trail (if you can find it) just off of conservation drive. It’s a great trail and I know you have to be careful you are not trespassing but if you want to go on a bit of an adventure and try to find it, you’ll see cars pulled to the side of the road and a random sign or two. Drive on conservation drive from Waterloo towards Kressler Road and fingers crossed you find it and don’t do anything illegal 🙂
- Lime house trails/kilns (Georgetown, ON)
Located closer to Halton Region this is a bit of a drive but worth it! There are these old kilns you can explore here and beautiful landscape.
To read about the history of these kilns click below:
For conservation info click:
For parking, I usually park at the school and walk across a skinny bridge to the trail head. This is a great spot! I went for an Alli day once followed by fishing nearby but if you dont wan’t to go alone, bring the dog, the kids, the family, the friends!
- Doon trails (Kitchener, ON)
Homer Watson Park, Pioneer Tower Natural Area, Schneider Creek, Upper Canada Park and Deer Creek Golf Course collectively have some of the most beautiful trails in Kitchener. I’ll admit I haven’t been to many of them but this is why I am making this list so I can go out and explore them myself! I will update this when I know more but I have heard this area is fantastic! All located in the Doon Area of Kitchener, close to Conestoga College. Bring your bike or go for a hike!
- The Walter Bean Trail (Tri Cities)
I once had an “Alli Day” and decided I would hike from Cambridge to Kitchener on this trail along the grand river and ended up in a swamp surrounded by mosquitoes and a dog that wasn’t very happy with me. I also didn’t have a good map and have a stubborn tendency to go off the trail to explore and wind up in circumstances I’d rather not discuss here 🙂 This is a long trail with several access points and I believe it could be beautiful but I didn’t try it again as I became frustrated but it deserves a second chance! I’d love to hear feedback on this one, and tips!
- Fore the Golfers! – see what I did there?! (Tri Cities, ON)
There are several good golf courses in the area as well as driving ranges. I’ve listed my favorites below:
- To meet the nicest man, get a hell of a deal and to get out and whack some balls in the Kitchener Outback you need to check out Jim’s Driving Range.
Located on New Dundee road, and he has a punch card program and always remembers me as the worst golfer 🙂 He only has a fb page. Click HERE to check it out.
- Whistle Bear (www.whistlebear.ca) plays host to the LPGA tour and the KW Oktoberfest Classic and several other events during the year and is STUNNING! I love this course even if it doesn’t love me. @wbgolfclub on Instagram
- Galt Country Club (www.galtcountryclub.com) is located directly beside the Grand River and is a beautiful course, but it is private so you have to bug someone to let you golf with them. @galtcountryclub on Instagram
- Elmira Golf Club (www.elmiragolfclub.com/) is a great spot to golf in the summer and to toboggan in the winter (also noted on tobogganing hill list) located in the small town of Elmira, ON they have a very friendly, neighborly atmosphere and a great clubhouse. @Elmiragolfclub on Instagram, @elmiragolf on twitter
- Grey Silo Golf Course (https://www.golfnorth.ca/greysilo/) located in Waterloo also runs along the grand river and is hidden amongst the farm land of Waterloo region. Open to the public and home to the rollerblading hotspot and next to RIM park this is a great spot. @greysilogolfcourse on instagram @greysilo on twitter
24. Rollerblading (KW)
It can be difficult to find paved, level ground for rollerblading in the city but there are a few good spots with soft grass on either side to cushion your landings (speaking from experience of course). My fav spots to rollerblade are:
- Grey Silo Golf Course Map Found Here
- Iron Horse Trail Map Found Here
- Any waterfront trails in Toronto, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga are also fun to make a day out of it. A bit of a drive but beautiful views.
- Max’s Sports World (St. Jacobs)
Located just off the highway this has so many fun activities! My personal favorite was playing bubble soccer with my family. Seeing my sisters go flying as I knocked them over (sometimes by accident) was the best feeling! I highly recommend this for a group activity or if you want to try axe throwing, a driving range, batting cages, archery, mini golf and I believe they even have helicopter tours on Saturdays so you can see a birds eye view of your home! Lots to do! http://maxssportsworld.ca/
- Hidden Treasure Trails (Kitchener/Waterloo)
These trails are a little “off the beaten path” or little secret pockets of KW that a lot of people don’t know about. The Record wrote a great article listing them all so I’ve included the link below
One they missed that I like to go to for a quick outdoor jaunt is Lakeside Park tucked away off Stirling and Homer Watson. There is not much parking here but its a great spot to see some ducks and take in some neature (see what I did there?!)
- Iron horse trail (Kitchener to Uptown Waterloo)
This is a wonderful commuter trail for going to and from either city. This paved trail goes from uptown Waterloo all the way out to Fairview Park Mall. It’s great for biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, wagons, strollers, you name it. I love that it’s a way to connect both cities AND get exercise!
- Paradise Lake (St. Clements)
I hope the residents of the beautiful small community don’t hate me for posting this. It’s a private lake town that many people have never heard of, let alone been to, but located just outside of Waterloo this private lake boasts beautiful scenery and the nicest houses. I love just coming here to walk around. There is no public access to the lake, please respect people’s properties. I will not give directions just to keep it low key but if you need a nice evening stroll and you promise to keep it a secret, go here 🙂
- African lion safari (Cambridge, ON)
If you’ve lived in KW for longer than a year I’m SURE you’ve already been here and had the mirrors ripped off of your SUV by a bunch of crazy monkeys but if not…go here! You can drive right through the monkey habitat and see all the lions and tigers your heart desires. I haven’t been here in years but you can check out all the details here: https://lionsafari.com/ @africanlionsafari on instagram @lionsafaripark on twitter
- Fishing (all over)
I love fishing, but always do catch and release, mostly because I can’t keep track of all the rules but also because I have no desire to cut up a fish and eat it. My favorite fishing spots, although I’m sure there are many I’ve missed, are below:
- Conestoga Lake
- Laurel Creek
- Grand River (several different spots)
- Bellwood Lake
- Conestoga River
- Mill Creek (Cambridge)
- Kaufman Flats
- Glen Morris
- Elora Gorge/Town of Elora (Elora, ON)
Just a short country drive outside of KW and home to so many cute shops, rafting down the river, breweries, restaurants, a dam, art galleries, and the beautiful Elora gorge, this is a great half a day getaway. The gorge is pay per visit and it’s not the nicest beach or water but nonetheless it’s swimmable and on a hot day sometimes that’s all you need. I was always intrigued going here as a kid cause my parents told us their friends would jump off the giant cliffs and that there were cars at the bottom. I’m not sure if any of that is true and I don’t recommend doing any of the above but it was enough to keep me interested enough to keep going back! I recommend hiking on the many trails in the surrounding area and going for a dip if it’s too hot to do anything else.
- Beaches (All over)
There are quite a few popular beaches within a 1-3 hour drive from the region and most of them are located on one of the great lakes. The water is cold but it’s so worth it. My favorites are mostly located near Muskoka and quite far outside KW but the more local ones are listed in order below.
- Grand Bend
- Toronto Island
- Amberly Beach (off Hwy 86)
- Turkey Point
- Kiwanis pool (Waterloo, ON)
The trails around here alone are really great but the fact that people fly remote control airplanes here and there’s a giant pool with clear, blue water and big, wide open spaces makes it even better. Hidden behind one of KW’s nicest neighborhoods is this great little oasis to cool down in during the summer months. Check it out at https://www.kitchener.ca/en/things-to-do/kiwanis-park-and-pool.aspx or on instagram and twitter @kiwanis.
I tread carefully here, I know several people are against these and I have to agree with many points, some for, some against, but all opinions aside, I do believe this is quite the site to see! Either up near Kincardine or the Bruce Peninsula you can see hundreds of these giant, white, futuristic looking wind turbines and it’s quite a site. To learn more or find the closest wind farm click here http://www.windontario.ca/
- Stratford (Stratford, ON)
Not only is this quaint little town en route to the beach so you can do two fun things in one day, it’s also home to several swans (be careful they hiss!), the best chocolates you’ll ever eat (shout out to Rheo Thompson and their beloved mint smoothies) but it’s also home to several festivals and plays playing many tributes to Shakespeare but also a large variety of genres. Also what it’s probably most famous for and I’ll fully admit I’m also a fan, is Justin Bieber and is now home to the Justin Bieber Exhibit at the Perth Museum. I haven’t seen it yet but I’m hoping this shout out will land me a front row seat 🙂 See links below for all the things you need in this little town.
- Chicopee Ski Resort (Kitchener, ON)
You can see this beauty right from the highway and what used to be a ski resort has now expanded into so much more. In the winter it boasts one of the best tube parks I’ve ever been to (and I host tours in the Rocky Mountains and tube on MOUNTAINS and this is still better!) It obviously is home to skiing and snowboarding and a great spot to learn each sport. We’re not kidding anyone and calling this a mountain but it’s a great spot especially for kids to learn. They also have obstacle courses, host weddings and private events, play the role of festhallen for KW Oktoberfest, and in the summer is the host of volleyball games, hill sprints (my sprints here resemble zombie walks but nonetheless, a great physical activity) and frisbee golf. They also have the bad ass dash and kids camps…read about it all here:
http://discoverchicopee.com/ @chicopeeresort on instagram or @chicopee_resort on twitter.
- Watch University/College Games (Waterloo, ON)
Check out the schedules for any upcoming games with any of the 3 local schools and go watch some of the action. A really good rivalry game to watch is UofW vs. Laurier in football. Outdoor rugby is also a great game to watch at the Columbia Fields. Conestoga College also has some exciting matches as well. Check out each team/school and sport individually to see times and places. Cheer on some athletes!
- Oakridge farms (Ayr)
This farm has incredible meat, locally raised and free range, antibiotic free and not to mention the most beautiful bison herd of 30 cows and one bull, it’s worth driving out just to see these animals in plain sight. They also feature over 42 local vendors inside their market AND have a chef who cooks fresh food and soups every single day. Website below:
- Moses Springer Public Pool (Waterloo, ON)
I used to come here as a kid, it’s a great outdoor pool with water slides and as a kid it’s the best time ever. As an adult who doesn’t want kids screaming in her ear while she relaxes at the pool, not the best time but if you have kids – let them loose here!
- Train ride (WC Railway)
I haven’t been on this train in years (sadly) but they have so many different events and experiences you have to try it at least once! Also hosting https://communityedition.ca/steelrails/ the greatest party idea I’ve ever heard of, it is a great way to do something less ordinary and more awesome!
- Wishing well sanctuary (Bradford, ON)
This is located a bit outside of the KW area but if you love animals and people that rescue and do amazing things for said animals then you need to come visit this farm. They also have one of my favorite instagram feeds (@wishing_well_sanctuary), posting animal photos and bio’s almost daily. Website below.
42. Tobaggoning Hill List (All Over)
I realize tobaggoning can be quite dangerous, this is not me encouraging dangerous activity this is me listing my favorite places to fly down a hill risking injury but hopeful for a safe thrill!
- McClennan Park (check rules and guidelines on this I don’t want to get you in trouble)
- Elmira Golf Course
- Bolender Park (Elmira)
- Columbia Lake
- Grand Valley Golf Course
- Bechtal Park
- Hill Sprints/Stairs (KW)
I know they are not fun but they’re such a good workout and it’s pretty hard to say no to a free outdoor workout! Here are my favorite gruelling workout spots for running hills and stairs. (Beer after?)
- Hydrocut (glascow parking lot) take the gravel road to just before the bush entrance and there is a great beginner hill for sprints.
- McClennan Park (Kitchener)
- Dundurn Stairs (Hamilton)
- Barry’s Asparagus Farm (Cambridge)
Had the chance to check out this awesome local indoor store/market. They make asparagus chips and the mexican flavor is used in the amazing Borealis nachos so it wasn’t a tough sell for this cat! They have everything you can dream of in the asparagus world including their mascot “gus”. The cutest dog “Millie” will greet you at the door and fresh asparagus season is May-June but the store is open year round.
- Paddleboating at Victoria Park (Kitchener, ON)
I know for awhile the boats weren’t available but I’ve read some things saying they are. I contacted the city who said “Canoeing the Grand” operated the paddleboat rentals now but there is nothing on their website. I would say best bet just show up and you can rent them on site. I wish I had more info but it’s a great activity before going for drinks at the Boathouse restaurant.
46. Mural Hunt
Outdoor Mural’s are becoming very popular in many big cities and Kitchener is no exception. Go on a hunt and find your favorites. Pictured below are mine. They make great instagram backdrops and give you an instant “hipster” vibe, if that’s your jam. I’d tell you where they are but that defeats the “hunt” part of the headline.
47. Plane Watching
YKF (Waterloo Regional Airport) https://www.waterlooairport.ca/
Not as busy as other Airports in the area but if you’re a bit of a plane nerd like myself you can download an app that tells you when each plane is coming in and lots of details about it. Any roads surrounding the airport are good to view planes as it’s fairly open.
YYZ (Toronto Pearson)
I spent an entire “Alli Day” watching planes here once. I got coffee and lunch and set up shop at a couple different spots and got such a rush as planes would tower over top of me before barely clearing the fence and landing on the other side. My favorite spot is near the Wendy’s on Airport Rd. and Orlando Dr. There’s parking here and you can either sit on the grass outside the restaurant or find a different spot nearby. I won’t give away “my” spot cause I’m not sure it’s entirely safe or that I’m actually allowed there so I’ll keep it a secret! Also if you go to the Hooters on Carlingview Rd off of Dixie you have a great view of the planes here as well. There’s also another “establishment” called “The Landing Strip” which is another good spot to park and watch them come in.
YTZ (Billy Bishop, Toronto Island)
I spent an “Alli Day” on Toronto Island once and ended the day by walking along the water as far as I could go towards the airport before a giant “no trespassing” sign stopped me. I walked to the water through the nude beach entrance and continued towards Toronto on foot along the stones and rocks and was able to get awesome views of the planes coming in to Billy Bishop Airport.
48. Watch the Sunrise and Sunset
Best Places to Watch the SUNRISE:
– McLennan Park (Trashmore) on top of the big hill
– Pioneer Tower (near Sportsworld)
– Ottawa and Strasburg in the park
– The South end of Wilson
– Corner of Beke and West River Road (Cambridge)
Best Places to Watch the SUNSET:
– Pilkington Overlook (near Elora)
– Transmission Tower Hill (Baden)
– Blair and Fountain Rd (Cambridge)
– East Columbia Lake Firepit
49. Kissing Bridge Trailway (Guelph to Millbank)
This is an old railway that runs all the way from Guelph to Millbank and is part of the Trans Canada Trail System. It goes over the famous “kissing bridge” in West Montrose and is a safe place to bike and hike without any automobiles allowed on the trail. For a trail map click here, and happy trails to you! Entire trail is 45kms long.
50. Horse Racing (Grand River Raceway)
Located just outside of Elora this is a great thing to do especially with a group! But also makes a great “Alli Day” experience! They always have different events and have shopping, restaurants, a casino and of course the race track. They also have a great group deal for a group of 12 people or greater you can get a meal, a group photo, a race named in your groups honor, a VIP spot to watch the race and I think you also get a picture with the winning horse so it’s really a win win and it’s $25 pp! For more info click HERE to be directed to their website.
51. Waterloo Waste and Recycling Tour
This may just bring added attention to how much of a nerd I am but twice a year the region of Waterloo waste management site hosts public tours where you can see how your recycling gets processed and learn so many environmental things! It is offered in April and October each year. Dates have not been posted yet but you can get all the info HERE
- Playhouse Theatres (Multiple Locations)
Drayton St. Jacobs Cambridge Huron County
Catch a live play at one of the theatre locations. The plays are always rotating and it’s a great all ages activity. To see dates and times and upcoming performances check out the website.
- Indoor Trampoline Parks (Kitchener & Cambridge)
Be prepared to leak in your pants from jumping so much! This was so much fun! I went to an adult birthday party at http://www.airbornetrampoline.ca/locations/cambridge/ and we were so tired after an hour of jumping and screaming! Also check out http://kitchenerstore.skyzone.com/
- Roller Derby (Different Locations)
The tri city Roller Derby team would love to have some extra cheerleaders and it’s a great way to see first hand what exactly goes on during a match. Each “Bout” is played at a different location so check out the website for the schedule and to find out more!
- St. Jacobs Farmers Market (St. Jacobs, ON)
Indoor and Outdoor Concessions, this is by far one of KW’s greatest staples. In 2013 a fire destroyed the one building but it was soon rebuilt and it has some great new additions. A great spot to check out local vendors and to seek out the heritage of Waterloo region. https://stjacobs.com/ Also check out the shops in downtown St. Jacobs for more shopping and local business’. Since you’re already in town, also stop in at https://www.blockthreebrewing.com/ for a quick snack and sip! @stjacobscountry and @blockthree on instagram
- Escape Rooms (Waterloo & Kitchener)
These have become one of my favorite indoor activities. I have yet to escape in the allotted time, but one of these days I will do it! My family went and made it out one time only to find out we actually broke the one lock and didn’t crack the code and were disqualified. The local rooms websites are listed below
- Movie Theatres
KW is home to Princess Cinema’s and Apollo Cinema, both which host really cool showings and events. Apollo Cinema’s has a breakfast club where you get all you can eat cereal and you watch cartoons on Saturday morning! They also have soundtrack singalongs and random events I know you’ll be interested in! Princess Cinema’s offered lowered volume and change tables for mom’s and infants to come watch a movie. Both cinema’s have a classic feel to them and are always on trend when coming up with new events and ideas.
- Board Game Cafe’s (Multiple Locations)
Who doesn’t love a good night of board games and snacks?! Grab a squad and check out one of KW’s greatest additions since the Bear murals went up in downtown Kitchener. They also have candy bowls! Hello!
- VR (Virtual Reality)
I have to admit I have only tried VR once and it was to view a house from a realtor which was pretty cool but my vertigo could not handle it. However if you don’t have severe vertigo like myself I’ve been promised that you will love this. Check out https://www.miragevr.ca/ or https://www.ctrlv.ca/ with your friends for an interesting and new way to spend a night indoors and participate in something more exciting than a house tour 🙂
- Screen Printing – Get Creative!
Make a shirt, or a bunch of shirts, or a bag or a hat. The options are limitless! There are several screen printing places in the region who are all lovely and very helpful in creating what you want so you can wear it around! Check out http://rsscreeninginc.com/ (these are usually my go-to’s) but some other great places are http://traces.com/, http://meanscreens.ca/, http://www.jpsportswear.com/, www.dnascreening.com/ and a real great company employing people with disabilities and making a conscious effort to create change and eliminate stigma’s is https://www.teetalent.com/
- Floral Arrangement Classes
If floral arrangement is something you’d love to get better at or even to get your feet wet then you have to check out these floral studios. It’s a great mother daughter date idea, or a chance to bond with friends OR an “Alli Day” Check out the studios below.
https://livingfresh.ca/product-category/flower-school/ (Kitchener, ON)
http://www.fromthepottingshed.com/workshops/ (Kitchener, ON)
- Battle Axe (Kitchener)
Have you tried the latest “bad ass” activity in the region yet? Not only is it totally awesome but it’s addictive! The night goes by so fast and you leave feeling so accomplished! If you haven’t done it yet or want to go back this is a great indoor activity!
Click the link HERE for their website. On weekends they have a drop in fee of $20 to come check it out! You can also plan parties or events here as well. Just make sure you’re with people who like you 🙂
- Paint night/workshops
Paint nights have become all the rage over the past couple years and KW is not short on classes being offered. Another great indoor activity to do with a group or one other person. Even those who can only draw stick man people can get into this because they help transform you into an artist overnight. Pretty miraculous!
- Brewery Tours
With so many up and coming small, local breweries you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go support and check them out. You can plan your own self guided tour (make sure you check out all times and dates open as many have different schedules) or go on a pre-booked tour with Brew Donkey which is my personal fav! https://www.brewdonkey.ca/collections/kitchener-waterloo-brewery-tours
For a list of breweries in KW check out http://www.explorewaterlooregion.com/directory/breweries-distilleries/
- Thrift shop/Vintage hunt (Kitchener Waterloo)
With so many second hand and vintage shops in uptown and downtown, this activity can go from average shopping day to treasure hunt in no time. Just depends how you look at it 😉 For dolly parton stylings and rare hipster finds check out https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/WhiteTigerVtg, for all your vintage oktoberfest needs check out Erica’s Bavarian Fashions (no website – location on King St. near the KWO office), for a great thrift store hunt featuring everything and anything and proceeds going worldwide to help out various projects with the MCC check out www.thriftonkent.com/, For a more modern second hand store check out http://lusterandoak.ca/ in Waterloo and also http://www.twiceisnicewaterloo.com/ in uptown.
Everyone loves a good old fashioned bowling game! My favorite are the giant lanes at Bingemans for obvious reasons – http://bingemans.com/kingpinbowlounge/, but other lanes throughout the region include www.bowlbrunswick.com/, https://www.townebowl.com/, www.victoriabowl.com/ If you’re bowling with me, please call ahead and reserve the gutter balloons!
- Mermaid Classes
I can’t say I’ve ever done this so I can’t give a review but I can say I would love to try this. You can deny your want to dress up like a mermaid and go swimming but I’m going to leave this link here just in case you change your mind 🙂
- Art Gallery
Check out KW’s art gallery! https://kwag.ca/ There are so many events and features here you have to check them out online before you go. Gallery guided tours and discussions are offered here as well.
- Fitness Classes
This is a very vague tag line. There are so many different classes offered indoors in a fitness capacity. A lot of gyms offer trial passes and it’s cool to check out new classes if you’ve never done them such as crossfit, boxing, hip hop, zumba, bootcamp etc. Googling a class you’re interested in would be your best bet here. This is more or less just a suggestion for a rainy day! Here’s a link to groupon trials for various classes https://www.groupon.com/local/waterloo/fitness-classes
There are several different studio’s in the region to get you limber and connected. My personal fav is the $5.00 class at Moksha Yoga https://waterloo.mokshayoga.ca/ either early Friday morning or Friday evening this is a great chance to try out yoga for awhile and see if you like it. It’s affordable and it’s a real hit so get there early and give yoga a shot! *This is a hot yoga class but there are several types of yoga and studios in the region which you can research further to find what you’re looking for*
- Dance Classes
You can take a stab at learning a new dance, or picking up where you left off as a child. Places in the region like https://bringingtapback.com have punch card options and drop in fees so you don’t have to get super committed and can “get your feet wet” so to speak, before taking routine classes. Other options include http://waterloodance.com/adults which has several group, private and beginner classes and for the real fancy stuff check out www.fredastaire.ca and get those feet moving! Another option is to check out http://www.kynamics.ca/schedule.html you can do a $10.00 drop in class and they offer line dancing which is my personal fav!
- Swimming Pools
KW is home to several indoor pools. You can check them all out on either the https://www.kitchener.ca/en/things-to-do/Pools.aspx website for Kitchener or for Waterloo click here https://www.waterloo.ca/en/gettingactive/pools.asp.
- Walking Tracks
Several arena’s in the area and community centers have indoor walking tracks. This is a perfect way to get exercise when the weather outside isn’t so great and they’re free! Some tracks are a bit chilly so dress accordingly, and always check to make sure you know the correct track direction for the corresponding day. My personal favorites include www.explorewaterlooregion.com/listing/activa-sportsplex-kitchener/, in waterloo https://www.waterloo.ca/en/gettingactive/indoortrack.asp? and in New Hamburg Wilmot Indoor Walking Track
- Waterloo Public Library (WPL) and the Kitchener Public Library (KPL)
I’m always shocked when I meet people who have never taken advantage of either public library. SHOCKED! There is so much information, several events, helpful classes, and it’s all free! A library card is your ticket to a world of indoor fun! There are craft classes, gardening how-to’s, music rentals, dvd, video, audio rentals, some libraries even have creative studio’s dedicated to literally make any creation come to life. With all it’s new renovations and upgrades you HAVE to check out the new branch in Kitchener and also check out my favorite branch in Waterloo, the John Harper Branch. For more info on either library their websites are here. www.kpl.org, www.wpl.ca
- Catch a KW Titans Home Game (Kitchener, ON)
If you haven’t seen a KW Titans game yet at the Kitchener Aud you are missing out! The KW Titans are a new basketball team which plays in the NBLC (National Basketball League of Canada). This team came to Kitchener to promote the sport and to encourage young people to get out on the court, so it only makes sense to go out and cheer them on. The 2018-2019 Season will commence in the fall and seasons tickets are available now for purchase. www.kwtitans.com @kwtitans on instagram and twitter
- Watch a Kitchener Rangers Home Game (Kitchener, ON)
Kitchener’s very own OHL (Ontario Hockey League) team, the Kitchener Rangers, play some fantastic, fast, intense hockey and it’s always fun to go to a home game and support the boys. Make sure you wear red, blue and white and find Tex, the mascot and give him some love! For full roster and schedule head on over to www.kitchenerrangers.com @ohlrangers on twitter and instagram
- Listen to live music
There are two ways to do this. Either go to a bar that features live acts every night or get tickets to a concert at one of KW’s local venues. Concert and live music venues are often interchangeable so I just combined both here.
- The Duke http://dukeofwellingtonpubs.com/duke/ (Uptown, Waterloo)
- The Boathouse http://www.kwboathouse.ca/ (Vic Park, Kitchener)
- Starlight Social Club https://starlightsocialclub.ca/ (Uptown, Waterloo)
- Rhapsody Barrel Bar http://www.rhapsodybarrelbar.com/ (Downtown, Kitchener)
- The Jazz Room http://www.kwjazzroom.com/ (Uptown, Waterloo)
- Maxwells http://maxwellswaterloo.com/ (Waterloo)
- Centre in the Square (Kitchener) (see below for more info)Shout out to www.tothetrees.ca a local band (also my family) who I witnessed winning a local “Battle of the Bands” competition at Maxwell’s. Check them out!
- See a Live Performance at Centre in the Square
https://centreinthesquare.com/ has everything from concerts, comedy shows, plays, symphony, choirs, dances, ballets and anything else you can think of. A night at the square is always a nice way to spend an evening just make sure you park in a good spot, I’ve had my fair share of tickets on city streets during a show!
- Go Rock Climbing
Check out one of Kitchener Waterloo’s indoor climbing facilities and see if you’re ready for a trip to the Canadian Rockies! This is a great form of exercise but also a great way to test your boundaries, push your comfort zone and take part in a really cool sport! http://grandriverrocks.com/
- Uptown Gallery (Waterloo, ON)
When you’re shopping at the shops in Uptown Waterloo, take a break and check out http://www.uptowngallerywaterloo.com/index.php and see art and other creations from local artists. They also hold art demonstrations. Check out the calendar for events.
- Glass Gallery (Waterloo, ON)
If Clay and Glass creations are your thing, check out http://www.theclayandglass.ca/ while you’re in Waterloo. They have a gift shop and a million pretty, shiny, beautiful things! With free admission and so many classes and events you can participate in, it’s a guaranteed must see!
- More Art!
Globe studios in Kitchener “provides a safe and affordable studio space for local artists” and is located downtown Kitchener. While you’re out and about exploring all the art galleries and events in the region make sure you add this one to your list as well. Check out the website for studio hours and info. http://globestudios.org/about-us.html
- Learn how to Ceili Dance (Square Dancing)
There are not too many events like this so you have to check out the website to keep up with dates and times but my family did this once at the Victoria Park Pavilion and we had SO MUCH FUN! This is a great way to get some exercise and learn a new dance. We actually ended up doing this at my sister’s wedding a year later and it was a blast! Check out https://www.irishreallifekw.com/ for more info.
- Play Bingo! (Kitchener, ON)
Everyone loves a good old fashioned game of Bingo! I suggest going with someone who has frequented the halls before as there are many unwritten rules and you do NOT want to break them! Bring your own dabber (buy at the dollar store) and check out one of the halls for your chance at winning the pot! http://www.kwgaming.ca/ or http://www.cambridgebingo.com/
Also if you want to stay home and have some friends over, you can buy bingo game boards from several locations (see link for website) and then play on Rogers TV, you call in once you have BINGO. I did this once with work friends and it was a blast! Most games are played on Thursday but you can check out the schedule and all the other details HERE
Kitchener Waterloo is home to a couple fantastic museums. They all have rotating displays and events and also play host to several private functions throughout the year.
- Heritage and Historic Sites
I used to love going to these places as a kid, but as an adult they’re also a good nostalgic way to enjoy your day! It’s a good reminder to see how things used to be and to see how far we’ve come. My top three favorites are Joseph Schneider Haus http://www.schneiderhaus.ca/en/index.aspx Doon Heritage Village http://www.waterlooregionmuseum.ca/en/doon-heritage-village/doon-heritage-village.aspx and Woodside National Historic Site https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/woodside
There are several places to shop all over Kitchener Waterloo. We have two malls; Fairview Park Mall (Kitchener) https://www.cfshops.com/home.html and Conestoga Mall (Waterloo) https://www.conestogamall.com/ both malls have a mix of department stores and smaller mall “chain” stores (is that even what they’re called?!) Then my personal fav – local boutiques where you will find great pieces and support local shop owners. Uptown Waterloo is home to several shops featuring deli/food, clothing, jewellery, swim wear, eyeglasses, book shops, you name it! I have to shout out to my favorites Erban Corner https://erbancorner.wixsite.com/erbancornerwaterloo Uptown Woods https://www.uptownwoods.ca/ Uni+Koncept https://uni-koncept.com/ and Write Impressions (no website but my favorite store for gifts and stationary things). The shops in St. Jacobs are also worth checking out, shops in Elora, ON and downtown Kitchener. So many to list! Happy Shopping!
- Butterfly Conservatory (Cambridge, ON)
I can’t say I’ve ever been here, the thought of being inside a very humid environment doesn’t make me super excited but I do love butterfly’s so maybe if they let me bring a portable air conditioner I’ll check it out 🙂 My best friend took her two little boys here and they loved it.
- Take a Cooking Class
If you’re as “un-Martha Stewart like” as me, the Culinary Studio is a great place to spend indoor time learning some new skills. They not only offer cooking classes but also have cookie delivery (good long distance idea for birthdays or surprising a friend) and they have a menu online with all the different things they offer every day from their location in Belmont Village – check it out! https://theculinarystudio.ca/ Another good spot is http://www.relishcookingstudio.com/ with a new location on Victoria St. in Kitchener, AND youth classes this is a good activity for every person in your family.
- Visit the Humane Society
The KW Humane Society offers tours, hosts birthday parties (seriously these are epic – https://kwhumane.com/community-programs/birthday/) and you can try to snag one of the volunteer positions, OR if you’re ready for your life to change in the best way you can come adopt a pet and leave with a new friend and a full heart! (and then you can call me to come smother it with additional love!)
- Donate Blood
This counts as an indoor activity! If you know me you know this is very near and dear to my heart and I am the proud team lead of a partners for life group with Canadian Blood Services which means I set a donation goal each year and try to reach that goal by trying to convince everyone I know to come donate with me. It takes approx. 1 hour and there are several requirements to check off before you come donate but the CBS has made it easy to come prepared and even has an app that shows how many times you’ve donated, your next donation time and your blood type. AND the best part is that you get snacks afterwards for FREE! I know, it’s amazing! Not to mention you’re saving people’s lives, literally helping people LIVE! I know I get super excited about this! To join my team and help me reach my goal head on over to https://blood.ca/en/blood/join-your-organization and enter partner ID: BLOO029644 @itsinyoutogive on instagram
40. Wallenstein General Store (Wallenstein, ON)
After a country drive into one of the smallest towns in SW Ontario (5 minutes outside of Elmira) you will find a corner store called the Wallenstein General Store. Most frequent shoppers still use monthly billing to shop here and the store is operated and run by mennonites. Featuring baked goods, the best ice cream, random unique objects and hardware items this is the perfect stop! I love coming here, partly because as kids we would come here and charge candy to our dad’s accounts but also because it’s so special and unique to Waterloo Region. They don’t have a website but the address is 7278 Line 86, Wallenstein, ON N0B 2S0.
41. Watch a live court case (Kitchener, ON)
This might not interest everybody but if you’re a curious cat and fascinated by this stuff this is a pretty cool indoor activity (Guilty!) http://ontariocourtdates.ca/daily-docket.aspx
Enter info you’re interested in and BINGO you get a whole schedule for public cases you can sit in on
Float tanks are becoming more popular. I decided to try out the trend at a brand new spot in Hamilton. I was hesitant to try this as it’s an odd concept, you go into a fully enclosed tub in the dark and float for an hour. Epson salts in the water allow your body to float. I did this on one of my “Alli Days” and found I was unable to relax fully. I did enjoy it but I was unable to fall asleep and was told previous to entering the tub that if you can allow yourself to fall asleep that it would be the best nap you would ever have! I was also told it takes a couple times to get used to. I encourage you guys to at the very least try it! This is where I went https://wonderfloat.com/
Food and Drink
I am no food or drink coneseure. I don’t even write reviews for a living. This is simply my list of the food and drink outlets in the city that I love the most. To be added to the list you are more than welcome to have me come in and sample your menu 🙂 I also have not included any chain restaurants as I don’t consider those local gems and you can find them on your own. Also some of these places can be categorized under 2 or 3 or even all the categories I have listed here. If you can get food somewhere you can almost always get drinks there as well and vice versa, I’m aware. I just placed them under headings where I feel they associate with most. Again, this is not my forte, I’m just a girl that likes to eat and drink and I wanted to share.
- Settlement Co (Kitchener and Waterloo)
In a perfectly instagramable setting at both locations, this is a great spot to work on things alone or to meet up for coffee with a friend. I always order the french pressed coffee and get my very own french press at my table which makes me feel like a million bucks and it tastes great.
Found online at https://settlementco.ca/ or on instagram and twitter @_settlementco
- Smile Tiger (Kitchener)
Perfectly located beside the train station in Kitchener off Victoria St, I can spend hours here reading, writing, chatting, eating, drinking. It’s a problem. I love the decor here and the coffee always goes down quite well and is direct trade which is pretty great!
Found online at https://smiletigercoffee.com/ or Insta @SmileTigerRoast and Twitter @smiletigercoffee
- Balzacs (Kitchener)
Located inside the tannery this is a great spot to meet up with your friend who works at Communitech and they have maple syrup to put in your coffee which is hands down my favorite part! A great spot and a points system for frequent fliers this has become one of my favorite spots.
Found online at http://www.balzacs.com/ or @balzacscoffee on instagram
- Baden Coffee House (Baden, ON)
Located in the small town of Baden, just outside of KW, this became a staple for me when I lived in the sticks. They have the greatest flavors, including a collaboration with Rheo Thompsons in Stratford, a coffee called “mint smoothie” which speaks for itself AND they even have an on site pooch who I absolutely adore named kaffee. It’s the best!
Found online at www.badencoffee.ca or @badencoffee on instagram and twitter.
- Death Valley’s Little Brother (DVLB) (Waterloo, ON)
I’m told this is the best spot to go on a date but since I never seem to go on any of those I can’t speak from experience. I also have never actually been here so this becomes one of the bucket list items I need to see for myself so I’ll be checking this one off the list shortly! Looks cool and the website is great so… Also noted – they don’t just have coffee but a giant selection of whiskey!
Found online at http://dvlb.ca/ or @dvlb_espresso on twitter and instagram
- Timeless Cafe (Waterloo)
Not only is the coffee good here but it’s a great spot for lunch and treats as well AND acts as a venue space for private events. It’s actually in an old hen house of a farm. Located just on the outskirts of Waterloo it sits right in front of timeless materials which is a great spot to check out after having something to eat and drink from the cafe.
Found online at http://www.timelesscafeandbakery.com/ or @timelesscafe on instagram
- Seven Shores (Uptown Waterloo)
This place has a great ambiance to it and they serve all local food which is really nice. Not only great coffee but an awesome lunch menu as well.
Found online at http://www.sevenshores.ca/ or @sevenshores on instagram
- City Cafe (Kitchener)
I think my favorite part about this is the honor system. You pay in a jar and it’s expected that you pay the right price and it’s so nice to see humans still trusting humans and it works! Great coffee and treats you dream about, and fresh, home made bread you can take home by the loaf, this is a great spot!
Found online at https://citycafebakery.ca/
- The CE Food Experience (Kitchener Waterloo Border)
This is tucked away in an old factory and they have fresh baked goods and these amazing cupcakes! And also great coffee. Located next to Len’s Mill Stores on Moore St. this is a great spot to check out if you haven’t already.
Found online at http://www.cefoodexperience.ca/ @cefoodexperience on instagram
- The Bauer Bakery and Cafe (Waterloo)
Brought to you by the always excellent Charcoal Group it’s assumed this place will be a future favorite of mine but it’s called a bucket list for a reason and I have to check it out asap! Looks cool online, the in person visit will be happening soon!
Found online at http://www.bauerbakery.ca/ or @thebauebakery on instagram
- Kara’s Market Cafe (St. Jacobs)
What used to be the “cedar barn” home of the hang over breakfast is now Kara’s cafe, home of local and healthy food and drinks which is a much better addition to the city if you ask me. They serve Baden’s own “Baden Coffee House” coffee and have so many smoothie and treat options. Also lots of room to sit down and enjoy your meal or coffee.
- The Healthy Owl (Waterloo)
This place is great for dietary restrictions as they have so many options to suit your fancy. Also places to sit and enjoy your breakfast and/or coffee. Check out all their healthy alternatives to the baked goods you’re used to seeing in other cafes. https://www.thehealthyowl.ca/
- Ethels Lounge (Uptown Waterloo)
This food though. Pulled pork nachos will always be my go to here but I have strayed from my nacho’s on two different occasions and both times I was almost equally satisfied. The patio is large and you can get a mean old sunburn if you sit out here too long enjoying the specials here and people watching on King St.
2. Heuther (Uptown Waterloo)
This old hotel has several different restaurants inside of it, all of which I highly recommend but the roof top patio is one of the biggest and most popular in the city. On a summer night this place is packed and they have your usual pub fare but also feature some of their own beer brewed right downstairs.
3. Old Marina Restaurant (Puslinch Lake)
This is another one I myself have to check off the bucket list but I’ve seen pictures of the patio views and know it’s only a matter of time before I get to check this out.
4. Moose Winooskis (Kitchener, ON)
I had to put this first and foremost under the patio category because it’s got a killer patio that wraps around the restaurant and features tv screens and a fire place. However inside is just as cool. You feel like you’re at a lodge and if it’s your birthday you get to wear the greatest hat – just go and see for yourself! This is a great place to watch the game or chill after playing a game or to just hang out and catch up with friends. My favs are the lettuce wraps, but everything here is delicious.
5. Bobby O’Briens (Kitchener, ON)
I remember driving by here before I was ever old enough to frequent a patio and thinking it was so cool looking! Turns out that was true! Not only do you get to be outside on one of the biggest patio’s in KW but there is an outdoor bar, tons of seating room and an entire beach volley ball pit! See you on the court 😉
6. Shoeless Joes (Waterloo, ON)
Located at the corner of University and King this patio is a great spot to people watch, see the sun set and be outside with friends. It’s a huge patio with very comfortable chairs but I can’t say your service will be quick (all three times I’ve been here I’ve waited very long times but maybe that’s changed by now). http://www.shoelessjoes.ca/
- Korner Kitchen (Kitchener, ON)
This has quickly become a contender in a 3 way tie as my favorite breakfast place in KW. A very common conversation when speaking with one of my many family members about where to meet for breakfast usually ends in “want to just meet at Korner?”. We love it here! I can’t say much more than that, just come here and eat!
2. Crazy Canuck (St. Jacobs)
The Crazy Canuck has a restaurant location as well as a food truck so you know this food is epic! I love the decor inside the restaurant located across from the St. Jacobs market, the energy from the staff and the food! They are always rotating their specials and I keep coming back!
3. Yeti (Kitchener, ON)
Apparently all it takes is handing me an old “my little pony” figurine to mark my table and I will keep coming back time and time again. But also, the decor, the coffee and THE FOOD! Ordering a “pregnant cowgirl” never gets old. I love it here.
4. Jacks Family Restaurant (Waterloo/St. Jacobs)
If you want big portions, the best bang for your buck, familiarity, home cooked meals and a neighboring farmers market you have to eat here. I have waited close to 45 minutes to eat here because I love it that much and based on the fact that they have a heated waiting room, I’m not alone! Tied for favorite breakfast place.
5. SunnyCrest Home Baking (Hawkesville, ON)
Worth the drive through the hawkesville hills, past the horses fields and the beautiful gravel yard (yep I think it’s beautiful) and past the creek and the cool houses on the hill. There is a small bakery in town that doesn’t even have a website but you can put this address into your GPS for some good old homemade baking. 1080 Geddes St, Hawkesville, ON N0B 1X0
6. Bhimas Warung (Waterloo)
Growing up under a restaurant rock I was hesitant to come here but HOLY CATS this was one of my first “authentic” and “ethnic” experiences with food and I will never forget how full I felt leaving the restaurant but also how quickly I went back only two days later. This is one of KW’s greatest hidden gems. PLEASE EAT HERE! It’ll blow your mind (and maybe a button).
7. Beertown (Waterloo)
Another Charcoal speciality, this is a great spot in a fantastic location with a patio, a beer garden and an entire restaurant. It’s huge and there’s always a game on, you can get your own beer tap at your table and the food is epic. You really can’t go wrong here. I’ve been here a lot and I keep coming back so that should answer any questions you have about whether I like it or not.
8. Red House (Uptown Waterloo)
I am embarrassed to say this and yes, I am ashamed, but I have never actually eaten here but I know it’s all the rage. It’s hard to get a reservation here because it’s so popular. It’s definitely a future Alli eating site. I know, I know, I need to go!
9. Fork and Cork (Kitchener, ON)
If you’ve lived in Kitchener long enough you know what used to be in this location and when I walked inside this restaurant I couldn’t believe it was the same place. Opening in 2015 this place was transformed into a beautiful restaurant with incredible local food. The wine list was enough to get me excited but when my food came I literally went to heaven and back. Highly recommended!
10. McCabes (Waterloo and Kitchener)
Now with 2 locations, one in Kitchener and one in Uptown Waterloo this is a great place to eat or to spend the entire night out. Both locations are big enough to fit your entire family, friends and then some and they offer venue rentals as well as great pub food and a well rounded selection of beer. A staple in KW.
11. State and Main (Kitchener,ON)
I’m a fan of the patio here and the lunch crowd. It is a chain but since there is only one in KW I thought I’d add it to the list.
12. Edelweiss (Kitchener, ON)
If you’ve lived in the region long enough you know this place like the back of your hand. It’s got live music, great venue rentals, lots of tv’s to watch the game, great bar food, dinner food, all the neighborhood feels and it’s a staple in Kitchener.
13. Borealis Grill (Kitchener and Guelph)
Completely fresh and local, and located in an old school house, this is has been at the top of my favorites list for a long time. My family loves it here, my sister got married here, we celebrate birthdays here, it’s amazing. If you’ve been once you know and if you haven’t been you need to go tonight.
14. Concordia Club (Kitchener, ON)
When you’re craving that German food all year round you can thank God that Concordia Club is open and serves the same great food you’re used to during Oktoberfest, year round. You don’t leave here hungry and it’s a great place to bring the family. They also host events, weddings, parties, banquets, you name it.
15. Lancaster Smoke House (Kitchener, ON)
There are not enough descriptive words for food to describe this place as I see it. I love it so much I would probably marry it. It’s that good. Featured on “you gotta eat here” this is one of those places you just have to go check out to see for yourself. It’s local and fresh so just get here already! Wear maternity pants and bring some friends, you’re going to need them.
16. Burrito Boyz (Waterloo, ON)
It may not be a fancy restaurant or somewhere to dine but if you are hungry now and want something so good you’ll be back in the next day, this is your stop. So many toppings, they hand you a burrito the size of a football before you leave and it’s super affordable. Just had to put them in here cause I’ve “gotta lotta” love for burrito’s!
17. Angies Country Kitchen (St. Agatha)
Why is it that restaurants in small towns are always so good? This is just another example of that. You can run into your neighbor, eat your neighbors fruits of their labour, and have dinner with your neighbor all under one roof. This place is great.
18. Bonnie Lou’s (Floradale, ON)
If you’ve never been to Floradale, ON it’s about time you go. This is a great excuse to go for a country drive and get some homemade food at Bonnie Lou’s. Hands down some of the best mennonite baking you can find. You feel like your at a family’s house for dinner rather than a restaurant. It’s one of my families go-to’s and has been for years.
19. Nith River Chop House (Wellesley, ON)
This is another place worth the beautiful country drive. Located in a small town outside of KW called Wellesley, they have daily local specials that make you want to eat your meal all over again as soon as you’re finished eating. Another one of my favs!
20. Schmidstville (Wellesley, ON)
Also located in small town Wellesley this is a great spot and one of my grandma’s favorites. My grandma is one of the best cooks in Ontario so if she says this place is good, I believe her. I need to check this one off my bucket list as well but I promise grandma doesn’t lie.
21. Anna Mae’s (Millbank, ON)
I remember coming here as a kid with my grandparents and eating only mashed potatoes. I thought they had the best mashed potatoes in the world and never wanted anything else. Anna Mae’s has the best authentic mennonite cooking and has these pies you’ll want to write home about. I’m not a pie person but my parents always left with 2 or 3 “for the freezer” when we would leave so I think that speaks for itself.
22. Taco Farm
My love for this place started when I went out for dinner with my pregnant best friend and we came across “Waddle Out Wednesdays”. This pretty much speaks for itself but to say we were full when we left would be an understatement. We literally waddled out. It’s a real thing. Check it out.
23. Four All Ice cream (Multiple Locations)
I got to come here for my first time last week and I have never been so excited about ice cream before. I’ve been back two more times and am not done yet! I tried the goosetracks flavor and campfire and goosetracks again! They have multiple locations, they’re so environmentally conscious and LOCAL! The ice cream tastes so real and refreshing and they are doing everything right! Check out their website HERE
24. Graffiti Market (Waterloo, ON)
When I came back home for a summer holiday and heard about this place I was so proud of Kitchener for being so cool, the owners of this place for being so creative and for everyone who let me know about this place! Graffiti market is the first of it’s kind in all of North America featuring a micro brewery, restaurant, a retail shop, local art, coffee, interactive “ipod” tables and a bakery! Located in the Catalyst 137 building near Belmont this place screams “I”m cool, come here”. Check out the website HERE and find them on instagram @graffiti_market.
25. Harmony Lunch
A staple in uptown Waterloo, Harmony Lunch is one of the longest standing business’ in uptown and after getting a makeover recently it is back and better than ever! Hosting live music, events and continuing some of everyone’s old favorites in the kitchen, Harmony is the Bee’s Knees of Uptown Waterloo! Check them out HERE
- Proof Kitchener and Lounge (Waterloo, ON)
They have great food here too and a pretty great patio so this could really go under any category but the drinks here are some of the best I’ve had in my lifetime. The wait staff is great at suggesting drinks for your personality type (trust me they nailed it!) and I always find myself returning here.
- Gilt (Kitchener, ON)
These drinks not only taste good but look so pretty you feel bad drinking it but once you taste them you don’t feel so bad. I love it here. The ambience, the brunch (yep it’s not just drinks) and the geometric instagram vibes. A great spot to catch up with friends and try some new cocktails.
- Rhapsody Barrel Bar (Kitchener, ON)
I can only rave about drink and cocktail venues so much before people start to judge me. Take my word. This place is hella cool. They host a lot of events and music is always a focus here. Go for the drinks, get bonus live music and food with it. Win. Win.
- Grand Trunk Saloon (Kitchener, ON)
When I first walked into this place I fell in love with the out of tune piano at the door and then to my surprise the “coffee and cigarettes” drink which had me telling all my friends about this place. It has a great drink menu with original drinks you can’t find anywhere else and the decor features lots of local artists and unique pieces. I really like it here!
- Martini’s (Kitchener, ON)
A Charcoal Group favorite, this is a great spot for celebratory drinks, small groups, a date, or any excuse, really, to have a great drink! The ambience is chill and has a very lounge meets social scene feel. A real KW classic.
- White Rabbit (Waterloo, ON)
It’s a tad small but I love being here on a summer night when everyone is out and about and the place is full, the drinks are great and the crowd is excited to be out! Whether it’s the beginning or the end of a night out I always seem to wind up here at some point throughout the night!
- Abe Erb (Kitchener & Waterloo)
I tried to steer away from breweries because there is a great list I posted (see #10 below) which includes all the local breweries but because there are now two in the city and because they have board games and flights and couches and the Waterloo location has a huge garage door window that opens in the summer, I am adding them here. I once went here on my birthday and asked if they could make me a drink that was equivalent to a confetti birthday cake and I don’t know if they could ever recreate it but what they gave me made my entire day! Both locations are in amazing buildings and I’ve never had an experience here that’s been short of amazing! And they have a beer called “buggy whip” which speaks to my heart and makes me love them more!
- Arabella (Waterloo, ON)
This is a “beer bar” not a brewery so I’m allowed to add it to this list as well! I love the feel of this place. The giant menu and signage at the front door hooked me in on my first visit here. There are two floors and rotating taps featuring several local breweries so it’s a must go if you’re in the area!
- TWH Social (Kitchener, ON)
I’ve been to some pretty rad private events here. It’s such a great space! Also a great menu and my favorite is the wine list. It’s downstairs underneath the Walper Hotel but doesn’t feel like you’re in a basement. I love the live music they have here and have the hardest time deciding what to order because ordering an entire page of the menu is usually not socially accepted.
10. Local Breweries
Listed in #13 of the indoor activities lists and also here because they’re THAT GOOD! The link to Explore Waterloo Region’s Amazing List of Local Breweries is HERE
*Events are listed Chronologically (Jan-Dec)*
- Elmira Maple Syrup Festival aka “Sap Fest”
What: Exactly how it sounds! Sweet, savoury food, all the syrup and sappy things you can think of (pun intended) farm tours, pancakes, local vendor booths and a whole lot of sticky hands!
When: April 6, 2019
- Jane’s Walk
What: I don’t even remember how this came to be on my list but when I looked it up I instantly thought it was the coolest idea and wish I was there to attend! I’ll explain this how I understand it. Jane’s walk is a weekend (in May) and people can volunteer to be walking leaders and they take a group of people on a walk in their own community and the leader will point out interesting things, tell cool facts, stories, however they want to conduct it is up to them. There are several all over the city across the course of a weekend and they’re all volunteer led and free! What a great way to know your city better AND your neighbors. I love this!
When: This year was in May, I’m assuming that may always be the case, unsure of the next dates – keep checking the website
- Open Ears Festival
What: “The Open Ears Festival based in Waterloo Region uses unusual venues to present a very eclectic range of musics from new classical music to electroacoustic, musique actuelle and sound installation. Innovative and collaborative, the Festival works closely with other organizations to co-present activities or to include activities within our schedule.”
When: May 31-June 1, 2019
- Grand Porch Party
What: Local bands and talent play on different porches and front yards all over Waterloo and anyone can walk the streets to go listen. Only the greatest idea since Oktoberfest collector pins! It’s such a great way to meet your neighbors and also hear some awesome local talent.
When: Usually in June, 2019 dates not announced yet.
- Baden Fishing Derby
What: A fishing derby in the small town of Baden, ON Over 900 trout are placed into the river and an average 400 are caught during the derby weekend.
When: Annually in June
- Summer Lights Festival
What: Straight from the website cause I couldn’t have described it better myself “One night where art, tech, maker, games, music, theatre, dance, business, and community collide to make the most amazing experience for everyone to enjoy” and its FREE! I went last summer and had the BEST time! I made crafts, saw people doing magic tricks, ate food, shopped for vintage Dolly Parton clothes, drew with sidewalk chalk on the road, it was fantastic!
When: June 8, 2019
- Multicultural Festival
What: Held at Victoria Park every year, this is the 51st year the festival has been happening and it’s a great way to take part in the diverse culture rooted in KW. Not to mention the food here is out of this WORLD! (yes it’s true, I’ve been mentioning food at every single one of these festivals).
When: June 22, 23, 2019
- Grand River Bass Derby
What: A good old fishing derby on the Grand River! Put on by Natural Sports in Kitchener (Victoria St.)
When: July 6 & 7, 2019
- Kitchener Ribfest
What: The biggest, baddest rib and beer show. Throw away your diet cause this is a cheat weekend for the books!
When: Summer; next one July 19-21, 2019
- Blues Fest
What: The most incredible live outdoor music! Food and drink vendors and all the music your ears can handle! So good!
When: Summer, next one August 9-12 2019
- Doors Open WR
What: A really cool event where you can go explore buildings and interesting places in KW which are usually not open to the public and admission is free!
When: The third Sunday of September, next event September 15, 2018
12. Terry Fox Run
What: The Terry Fox Run gets more momentum year after year and is recognized all over Canada. The best part about it is you don’t even have to run, you can walk! It’s a great way to raise money for cancer research, a great physical family activity and a great way to meet your neighbors! Run’s happen all over Canada so find the city you want to participate in and sign up! I want to just mention that the Wilmot Terry Fox Run has gained a lot of popularity over the years and has become an incredible event with amazing organizers who put their hearts and souls into this. So that’s my plug for them 🙂
When: September 17, 2019
13. International Plowing Match
What: I started going to this when I was 3 years old and the country part of me loves this time of year. It’s fall, it’s harvest season, there are tons of animals here, big machines, lots of food. It’s the best! The location is always rotating so that each farm region of southwestern Ontario gets their turn to host.
When: September 17-21, 2019
14. Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival
What: Similar to the maple syrup festival but for Apple butter and Cheese. If you haven’t tried the applesauce from Wellesley (my personal fav) you HAVE to! And yes, with cheese!
When: The last weekend in Sept, next one Sept 28, 2019
15. Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest
What: The 2nd biggest Oktoberfest in the world, KW’s German heritage shines through all area’s of town during this 10 day FANTASTIC festival. I’m a tad biased as I volunteer with the festival (which i highly recommend!) but either way it’s a fantastic time. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year you have to come check it out!
When: Opening weekend is always the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend and runs until the Saturday the weekend after. This year’s festival will take place October 11-19, 2019.
16. Lip Off KW
What: A hilarious one night fundraiser supporting victims of human trafficking. Watch local acts perform their best lip sync renditions of hit songs.
When: November, next one November 15, 2018
What: Contemporary Art in a public space. CAFKA takes place all year round with different events and exhibits but they can be seen all over the city. It’s a really great way to explore the city and see several exhibits while you’re at it. I seriously love this! There are so many different venues ho
sting various exhibits and it’s like an art hop and you can pair it with beer stops in between (yes, that’s what we did) and it was a great day!
When: Best time to go on a little tour would be summer for obvious reasons but check out the website for year round events and exhibitions.
18. Christkindle Market
What: German Traditional Christmas Market. Lots of vendors selling crafts, food, gifts, authentic German traditional music, dancing, festivities. Located at city hall and complete with live donkeys this is a tradition for many living in KW and a great way to get in the Christmas spirit!
When: December 5-8, 2019
Before you go…
This ends my list. I know it’ll forever be changing and growing so please send me your recommendations! I want to also include links here to the Uptown Waterloo BIA (click here) and also the Downtown Kitchener BIA (Click Here) as well as Explore Waterloo Region (Click Here) each of these websites has it’s own WEALTH of information and additional activities, events, updates and all the happenings of KW.
I really do encourage you to get out on your own and see the things you want to see and do the things you want to do in typical “Alli Day” fashion but equally as important I hope this allows you to meet people in your “hood” and that you can try at least one thing you haven’t done yet in your own backyard.
Happy Exploring Uptown, Downtown, Smalltown!