small town ontario

5 small towns to visit two hours from Toronto

There are small towns all over Ontario worth exploring, but a select few are destinations unto themselves. Be it on account of an exciting culinary scene, historical architecture, or natural beauty, these are places where you can escape city life and soak up the quaint culture of this province.

Here are my picks for 5 small towns worth visiting within a two hour drive of Toronto.

Fergus/Elora

Technically two different towns, Fergus and Elora are so closely linked that one must make sure to visit both when in the area (it's less than a 10 minute drive between them). Elora tends to get more tourists for its vibrant arts scene and well-known gorge, but Fergus has some great pubs on the Grand River and is home to the Highland Games in August.

Paris

My pick for the prettiest downtown area in Southern Ontario, Paris is defined by 19th century structures that hug the Grand River. The town has been remarkably well preserved, and many of its best restaurants and shops are housed in buildings over a century old.

Stratford

Niagara-on-the-Lake might get the lion's share of attention as a festival town, but Stratford is more down to earth and accessible. Once a railway junction, the town is now known as an arts and culture hub, around which has grown a decent and affordable culinary scene.

Port Hope/Cobourg

Similar to the relationship shared by Fergus and Elora, Port Hope and Cobourg are so close that visiting both is the best bet. Port Hope has a more charming downtown strip, used bookstores and vintage shops, while Cobourg boasts one of the nicest beaches on Lake Ontario. If you have a bike, you can ride between the two towns in about 20 minutes.

Creemore

Aside from being the home of the eponymous craft beer brand, this town is a culinary treasure of delights, from Creemore Kitchen to the nearby and much raved about Eigensinn Farm. Yes, food is a big deal around these parts, but Creemore is also a good alternative for cyclists wanting to head to Grey County and the hills around Collingwood.

Lead photo by

Ryan (in Paris)


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