In an effort to promote local small towns in Ontario,  we handpick a different location each month and showcase the best that particular town has to offer. 
Ontario is full of many charming towns , and we hope our monthly pick inspires your next visit : After all, why limit your travels to the city of Toronto or larger hubs when there’s so much to discover a little outside of town within a short drive?
Whether you’re a solo traveler or wanting to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle , or a family wanting to experience something different for a day , small towns in Ontario have a lot to offer.  This month, the spotlight is on the magical eclectic town of Elora. Here are a few recommendations on what to see and do while visiting Elora.



Getting to Elora from Toronto 

Getting to Elora is easy! The town is located only 30 minutes away from several major centres including Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo. Downtown Toronto is just 90 minutes away down the 401 and through Guelph. 

If you’re driving simply take the 401 West all the way to the town of Elora. Having a vehicle to get there yourself is highly recommended because there’s no public transit within the town of Elora , so you can easily hop from one place to another while you’re visiting the area.



If you like music, you’ve probably heard of the massive Riverfest  music festival being held every year there : Check out the line up here. 

The festival is held along the banks of the Grand River and has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a backyard festival over 11 years ago, evolving into a full weekend affair with three days of art, food trucks, arts and craft vendors.



If you’re wanting to spend the day in Elora, below is a proposed itinerary that’ll allow to see the best the town has to offer.  The town is surprisingly full of unique shops throughout the downtown core.

Start off the day with a nice coffee and pastry at The Wild Tart. After taking a bite at one of those spectacular desserts you’ll understand while they were nominated by Opentable as one of the top southern Ontario cafés. This coffee shop takes pastry baking to the next level rivalring with downtown Toronto standard.

There are a slew of things to do in the Elora area. The town is famous for its rivers (the Grand and the Irvine) and massive limestone cliffs running through the centre of town. You can camp, tube and fish at the famous Elora Gorge Conservation Area and swim amongst 40 foot cliffs at the Elora Quarry Conservation Area.

On your way to the Elora Gorge , grab a book from Twice loved books , an adorable little blue bookstore home to almost 20,000 previously-loved books! Their collection of books is carefully curated and you’ll be impressed by the  variety of unique greeting cards designed and published by small businesses.


After you’re done experiencing the thrill of jumping into the Elora Quarry from the 40 foot cliff, there’s still a slew of activities left.


Head to Karger life  to shop unique home accents to take back home as a souvenir for your day trip: if you’re tired of always getting the same decoration from the usual the big box store, you’ll find great one off unique pieces at this shop, quickly becoming the Mecca for interior designers in the area.



Another great option is LemonTree Interiors: the owner’s work was featured in Style at Home magazine. This already tells you how chic the place is.  Another amazing option is Mermaid in Elora.


If you’re wanting to impress your significant other with custom made jewelery, check out Macadi 


Ready to have lunch? Try  The Friendly Society : since its opening in July 2019 , this place is quickly becoming a local hot spot. As soon as you step in , you’ll love the trendy open concept decor with wood accents and beams making it feel cozy overall: Staff is polite and attentive and the head chef uses local ingredients only while taking a spin on usual Canadian comfort food. The menu is seasonal which makes it ever changing and a nice selection of local craft beers is available.



Another option to have lunch is La Fontana  serving authentic Italian cuisine.  You’ll love the pizza and the super fresh basil on the classic margarita pizza. The pasta is made in house and you can taste the freshness as soon as you take a bite. For the quality of food you get here ,  you could easily pay two or three times if the same restaurant was located in Toronto.


Have a beer at the Elora Brewing company  where you can buy locally made themed craft beverages . Shepperd’s Pub is another great option while overlooking the river and iconic bridge.


After a long day of exploring , if you still have time to stick around, have dinner at the Evelyn and experience French cuisine with a colonial flare: staff is polite it is attentive and you’ll love the wide selection of wines if you’re a wine aficionado.



Can’t get enough of the town and want to stay even longer ? The Elora Mill is the number one choice. After going through extensive renovations a couple of years, this boutique hotel offers incredible amenities with breathtaking backdrops making it popular for weddings. You’ll understand why as soon as you step in and see the overall decor. If you think you can afford the price tag for the overnight stay,  you’re welcome to experience staying at the hotel. Otherwise,  you can enjoy dinner at the restaurant. We recommend heading there during Eloralicious , A similar concept to Winterlicious and Summerlicious in Toronto, held every year and allowing visitors to experience multiple local cuisines  at an affordable price.



There are also plenty of Airbnbs in town including a super cute bed and breakfast , a romantic suite backing directly onto the Grand River and a lovely studio within a place resembling a gingerbread house.

No matter what you decide, you’ll fall in love with Elora’s charm and understand why local adore living there. Make Elora your next bucket list destination in Ontario.


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