kitchener waterloo

How to spend 36 hours in Kitchener-Waterloo this summer

Kitchener-Waterloo has all the makings of a lovely socially-distanced weekend getaway.

The two cities, often considered one, provide the perfect mix of big-city excitement with a charming small-town feel. While Kitchener-Waterloo might be known as a tech-hub, home to the offices of Google, it's also filled with some great outdoor gems ready for exploring.

From patios to a drive-in movie theatre, adorable farmers' markets, hiking trails and much more, there are a host of reasons to visit Kitchener-Waterloo.

Here’s how to spend 36 hours in Kitchener-Waterloo this summer.

9 a.m. ­– Start your day at Seven Shores Community Café

Whether you took a train or decided to make the drive yourself, you'll want to fuel your adventure-filled day with a delicious breakfast at Seven Shores.

This lovely community cafe is pretty much synonymous with the Waterloo food scene and it's all about using as much local food as possible.

While you’re sure to get full off of their classic egg and old cheddar breakfast sandwich, try and leave some room for their famous homemade baked goods including muffins and sticky buns.

Their rustic outdoor patio is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee and, of course, the most important meal of the day.

11 a.m. – Explore uptown Waterloo

Now that you're caffeinated and stuffed with sticky buns, walk through Waterloo's city centre where you'll find your fair share of local storefronts including Luster & Oak, Loop, Charmed Flowers, and many more. There is no shortage of little shops that are sure to cater to any taste.

Of course, uptown is not just about shopping. Often called the "jewel of the city," you can't miss Waterloo Park.

Whether you want to relax by Silver Lake or walk off that breakfast on the Spurline and Laurel Trail, the park is a peaceful piece of inner-city green space. If you're really feeling active, use the Iron Horse Trail, which connects uptown Waterloo to downtown Kitchener, to get to your next location.

1 p.m. – Check into The Walper Hotel

Known for its historic charm, The Walper Hotel is an iconic landmark in the vibrant and rapidly-growing tech-hub that is downtown Kitchener.

Although built in 1893, the hotel's contemporary flare will provide a unique overnight experience you can’t really find at bigger chains. While this might mean no complimentary breakfast, it does mean one-of-a-kind bedrooms with original art, interior courtyards, a lounge and a basement bar with a patio.

1:30 p.m. – Pack a picnic from Vincenzo’s for your canoe trip on the Grand River

Now that you've done some shopping and checked into a boutique hotel, you might be looking to save some dough on lunch. Head to Vincenzo's to pick up some fresh ingredients and build your own charcuterie board. This Italian grocery store has a cheese bar, olive bar, salad bar, deli counter, and bakery.

If you're not up for making your lunch, check out Vincenzo's to-go counter serving different salads and sandwiches.

Once you've got your goods, head to King Street East in Kitchener to access Canoeing the Grand. Here, you can rent a canoe for an afternoon ride along the region’s beautiful heritage river. Enjoy your picnic in your canoe or visit Kolb Park at Grand River North where you’ll find a nice spot to chow down.

Remember to book your canoe ahead of time!

6 p.m. ­­­­­­– Kick back with a craft beer at Waterloo Brewing

After a day of adventure, sit back with a cold beer at Waterloo Brewing's taphouse patio, open for this first time this summer. This iconic brewery serves all kinds of hand-crafted beer using locally-grown ingredients but they are best known for their award-winning dark lager.

While you're there, you can grab a bite to eat from their special patio grill menu, but don’t miss out on the Twist & Shout soft pretzel served with an incredible beer cheese sauce which you can find on their regular menu.

9 p.m. – Take in a show at the Bingeman's Drive-In Theatre

Known to most as the site of the Ever After Music Festival, Bingeman's outdoor amphitheatre is now open for drive-in movies, concerts and comedy shows.

Pull out your phone to check what fun events are happening under the stars.

9 a.m. – Wake up with some coffee at Death Valley's Little Brother and brunch at The Bauer Kitchen

A staple in KW, Death Valley's Little Brother is a cozy, urban coffee house that's easy to miss if you don't know about it. Stop by for a quality cup of dark roast or try one of their famous espressos for something slightly stronger.

Let the coffee wake you up while lounging on their patio.

Now that you're up and at 'em, make the 15-minute walk down to The Bauer Kitchen for brunch. Set in a Manhattan-esque restored felt-factory with a sprawling outdoor patio, this industrial and modern bistro is a fun spot for a plate of chicken and waffles, pork belly benedict or a refreshing taaza bowl.

11 a.m. ­– Take a stroll in Victoria Park

Downtown Kitchener's Victoria Park is the place to be if you’re looking to take advantage of the warm weather. Here you'll find stunning flower gardens, some local public art and a pond that is home to quite a few swans (while they're pretty to look at, you probably don’t want to get too close… just saying).

While you’re in the area, check out Kitchener market's outdoor vendors for some specialty food, baked goods, and other tasty treats. Be sure to get there quickly because COVID hours mean they close at 2 p.m. and they are closed on Sundays.

1 p.m. – Grab some grub at Graffiti Market

Make your way to one of the area’s most innovative restaurants for a truly contemporary dining experience.

Hidden within Catalyst137, a large manufacturing hub in Kitchener, Graffiti Market houses interactive, smart dining tables. Use these tables to place your order and play some virtual games while you wait for your Detroit-style pizza or homemade pasta.

Since KW has moved into Phase 3 of the province's re-opening plan, you can head inside to make use of these cool tables or, if you're still feeling uneasy about indoor dining, you can head out to the patio.

3 p.m. ­– Become one with nature at the Huron Natural Area…but don’t forget you phone for the perfect photo op

Now that you've spent some time with technology, the Huron Natural Area is the best place to go to feel like you've escaped the city.

From forests to meadows to wetlands and scenic hiking trails, you’re bound to forget that you’re only an hour and a half away from Toronto. Don’t totally disconnect though because this is where you’ll definitely get that Insta-worthy shot.

5 p.m. ­– Eat dinner at Arabella Park Beer Bar in Belmont Village

You've most likely worked up an appetite after that hike. Hit up Arabella Park Beer Bar for a diverse menu from pub classics like a good ol’ fashioned hamburger to more adventurous options like Thai-inspired chicken and tacos with fried Brussel sprouts.

While beer is the name of the game at Arabella, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with another pint. If you’re not up for a beer, take a look at their selection of wine and cider, which you can sip on a quaint outdoor patio.

Since you’re already there, have a look around Belmont Village where you’ll find adorable local storefronts and a to-die-for doughnut and milkshake shop called Lady Glaze, perfect for an after-dinner dessert.

7 p.m. – Let your competitive side loose at the Ace Ping Pong Lounge

As the nightlife in KW starts to bounce back in Phase 3, there are many options for a fun night out on the town.

Get your game on at the Ace Ping Pong Lounge, a modern take on a game room with those upscale vibes that you can only find at a place with “lounge” in the name.

Remember to book your table in advance!

9 p.m. – Quench your thirst with a drink on Princess Street

Whether you lost or won at a game of ping pong, treat yourself to a drink on Princess Street in Waterloo. The city recently announced it would be closing down this colourful street so that restaurants and bars can expand their patios.

Here, you won’t want to pass up a Southeast Asian-inspired cocktail at the Loloan Lobby Bar.

This two-and-a-half-year-old exotic and adventurous bar, which is inspired by lobby bars in luxury hotels in Indonesia, has quickly become the go-to place for elegant drinks in KW. The bill might be a bit pricey, but it’s all about the experience, right?

Lead photo by

Scott Webb

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