Guelph is a small city that is less than an hour west of Toronto. It is on the banks of the Speed River. It is a beautiful city known for its buildings made of limestone, its lively culture, and its high standard of living. In fact, it has been named one of the best places to live in the country.
There is a lot to see and do in Guelph, which is a small but busy city. But for some reason, it is not one of the most popular places in Ontario to visit.
People who like history, art, adventure, and going to festivals will all find things to do in the city.
Let’s look at Guelph’s best things to do:
1. Walk on the water’s surface
In 1992, about 400 people helped build a bridge over the Speed River that only people could walk on. The bridge is made of wood and looks like it was built in the 1800s. It is part of the Royal Recreational Trail.
The bridge is about 36.5 meters long, and if you walk across it, you’ll see some beautiful sights. You can see what’s on both sides of the river.
The bridge is covered, so you can walk across it no matter what the weather is like. It can also be reached by bike and wheelchair.
2. Go to an old house
A small cottage made of limestone, McCrae House was built in 1858. But what makes it so famous is that John McCrae, who wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” lived there as a child.
Through the cottage’s displays, you can learn about the doctor, soldier, and poet’s life. John McCrae’s medals, his officer’s cap badge, and a Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps button are some of the most important things on display.
During the summer, you can visit and take part in special events like the Teddy Bear Picnic, the Poppy Push, and tea in the garden. This National Historic Site of Canada has a garden that has won awards.
3. Look around the city’s center
Downtown Guelph is a beautiful part of the city with many buildings from the Victorian era. Learn about the city’s history by going to the city’s center.
Downtown Guelph is made up of four streets: Woolwich St. to the east, Dublin St. to the west, and Wellington St. E. to the south. There are limestone buildings, historic buildings, and small shops in this area.
The Guelph Armoury, Guelph City Hall, St. Georges Square, and Douglas Street are all well-known places in the area. Newer buildings like the River Run Centre and the Sleeman Centre are also there.
4. Attend church.
The beautiful Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate is right in the old part of Downton Guelph. This Roman Catholic basilica is known as one of Joseph Connolly’s best buildings.
The church was built in the Gothic Revival style between 1875 and 1883. It is a beautiful building with stained glass and carvings that were made by skilled craftsmen.
The building made of limestone is a National Historic Site that people can visit any day of the week. The inside is just as beautiful as the outside, but make sure you know when mass is before you go in.
5. Find out about the city’s way of life
At the Guelph Civic Museum, people of all ages can learn about the history of the city. The museum is mostly about culture and natural history, and it also has a museum for kids.
Over 40,000 artifacts from the city’s past are on display at the museum. Explore the museum and learn about its history as you go.
Most of the photos, furniture, decorative arts, and toys in the collection were given by people who live in Guelph. The interactive exhibits in the children’s museum help kids learn while they play.
6. Put yourself in the middle of nature
The Eramosa River runs through the Rockwood Conservation Area, which is surrounded by tall limestone cliffs and caves. The 32-hectare conservation area is open all year and has many things to do.
One of the most interesting things about the conservation area is the huge glacial potholes, one of which is the largest in the world. It also has a lot of interesting geological features, like a large cave system and bluffs that were made by glaciers thousands of years ago.
There are 105 campsites in the Rockwood Conservation Area, and you can camp there from May to October. People can also fish, canoe, hike, and go swimming.
7. Look at art from Canada
The Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG) has a lot of Canadian art, including some Inuit art, in its large collection. Walk through the two floors of the gallery and look at its great art.
The 9,000 pieces in the gallery’s collection are not all by Canadian artists. Some are by international artists who are working now. There are also exhibitions that happen throughout the year.
A sculpture park is a part of the Art Gallery of Guelph that should not be missed. Go to the gallery’s shop if you want to buy a unique gift to take home.
8. Buy things at a market
Since 1827, the Guelph Farmers Market has been open. It has grown and moved since then, and now it is a busy market with 60 to over 120 vendors.
The summer is the best time to go because the market is bigger and there are more vendors. Still, it’s open all year, so you can walk around and buy souvenirs and gifts at any time.
Make sure to try some of the great food while you’re at the market. People set up stands to sell homemade pies and bread, authentic Turkish desserts, fresh juice, Taiwanese dumplings, and Ethiopian food.
9. Walk around a garden of trees
The Guelph Arboretum was based on the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. The University of Guelph is home to this arboretum, which is run by the agricultural department.
The 165-hectare arboretum has 1,700 different kinds of trees and shrubs that you can look at as you walk around. It is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year and gets over 73,000 visitors.
The beautiful Frances Ball Rose Collection, the 400 species of trees in the World of Trees area, and the G. Porter Memorial Japanese Garden are some of the most important parts of the Guelph Arboretum. Also on site is an English garden.
10. Have fun at a festival
Guelph is known for its many festivals, which come from the fact that it has a lot of culture. Festivals can be about anything, from music to different kinds of food. Even a Pride week exists!
If you like art, you won’t want to miss the Fab 5: the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Eden Mills Writers Festival, Hillside, and the Guelph Film Festival. These are also the city’s top 5 festivals.
There are also many others, like the Guelph Multicultural Festival and the Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games. There is always a festival going on in Guelph, no matter what time of year you go.