elora ontario

This small town is the perfect getaway one hour from Toronto

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway from Toronto or even just a day trip, there are many quaint small towns that feel like an entirely different world than the big city.

A perfect example is Elora. Located just north of Guelph, this small town is known for its natural beauty and local charm.

The Elora Mill, which will reopen as a hotel and spa in the spring. Photo by alljengi.

One place you probably already know in Elora is the famous Elora Gorge.

Located on the western side of the city, this conservation area covers over 350 acres of natural land. The Grand River flows right through it, and provides countless opportunities for a great photograph or picnic lunch. A campground is also available if you want to stay the weekend.

elora gorge

Sections of the Gorge are stunningly beautiful. Photo by Grand River Conservation.

If you like hiking or spending time on the water, the Gorge is an ideal destination. The limestone cliffs can reach up to 25 metres, and this particular section of the Grand River is perfect for tubing, swimming, and fishing.

Nearby is the former Elora limestone quarry, which is home to one of the province's best watering holes. The spot has become progressively more crowded during summer, but it's also a picturesque place to visit in the fall when it's not overrun by people.

elora quarry

The Elora Quarry is a very popular swimming spot. Photo by Grand River Conservation.

Towering on top of the tall cliffs of the area is the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa. This historic spot reopened as a hotel at the beginning of 2018, and has a lot to offer visitors.

The Elora Mill is placed on top of the huge cliffs by the Grand River. Photo by Mike Hewitt.

Located inside an old, restored grist on the river’s edge, this full package allows visitors to experience a ton of things in the city and the Gorge.

You can zipline over the river and go rock climbing up the cliffs. Or, stay in at the spa and try some of the cuisine options available.

When winter comes again, you can also try your hand at snowshoeing or dog-sledding, both of which would be a ton of fun in the area.

The Grand River provides for picturesque spots all over the city. Photo by the Grand River Conservation Authority.

If you’re looking for something different, the Grand River Raceway is also a popular spot. The horse racing track and slots are popular destinations for those who like to gamble a little (or a lot).

And when you get hungry, Elora has a ton of options. The Elora Brewing Company is extremely popular. Try the Elora Borealis, Ladyfriend IPA, or one of their several other options. The Shepherd's Pub, Box Social and The Cellar are also good options.

The Bradley Bridge reaches over the Grand River. Photo by cmh2315fl.

Downtown, you can spot the seriously beautiful 19th century architecture that still dominates the town. Galleries, shops, and restaurants now call these historic buildings home.

Many of the buildings still retain their historic roots from the 1800s. Photo by Bastian Sander.

If you’re looking for a getaway idea from Toronto, Elora should be on your list. It offers a great mix of natural attractions and quaint architecture. It's just over an hour from Toronto, but it feels like a different world.

Lead photo by

Mike Hewitt


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