BY MEGAN HONAN | AUGUST 2022
With gas prices at an all-time high, you may be wondering how best to explore Waterloo Region this summer. In the picturesque city of Cambridge, it’s easy to park your car and hit the pavement on two feet (or two wheels) and take in the sights and sounds of summer.
When exploring, there are three areas of Cambridge that offer easy, walkable activities––Galt, Preston and Hespeler. For those who particularly enjoy nature, you can follow the Grand River Trail, which conveniently weaves throughout all three areas (and further into Kitchener if you’re up for a real challenge!).
For a luxurious weekend getaway, park your car at the distinguished Relais & Châteaux Langdon Hall, then set out for a local adventure (don’t forget to take advantage of the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit which provides up to 20% of your eligible 2022 Ontario accommodation expenses!) .
Between gorgeous city parks, bustling downtown life and hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurants, you’ll be spoiled for choice when deciding where to venture next in Cambridge.
Explore Downtown Galt
If you’re visiting Cambridge, you can’t miss a stroll through Downtown Galt. Walk along the riverside, as you follow the path that curves alongside the Grand River waterway. For a local experience, you must walk across the newly built pedestrian bridge that connects West Galt to the rest of the city. Downtown is bustling with cute boutiques like Juniper Artisan Collective, or The Art of Home for an afternoon of shopping. For those that love a good antique find, the historic Southworks Antiques is full of hidden gems that make it hard to leave empty handed. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the famous L.A. Franks stand just down the street, known for their juicy hotdogs and classic milkshakes.
Enjoy a Picnic in Mill Race Park
Feel free to pack a picnic and head to downtown Mill Race Park for unparalleled river views. The park also features the remains of an 1847 mill, a special point of interest for history buffs. For those that consider themselves more TV obsessed, many scenes from the show The Handmaid’s Tale were shot right in Mill Race Park, most notably the river scenes. If you forgot your picnic blanket, not to fret! There are plenty of picturesque spots that offer picnic benches, perfect for a sunset dinner overlooking the downtown core.
Tube the Grand
As the days get hotter, you can easily cool off with a dip in the Grand River! The river is a great option for a quick swim, or a full day out tubing. Starting off in Cambridge, travel 8km down the river’s gentle rapids. Not just a lazy river tour, you’ll also pass by protected eagle habitats, osprey nesting homes and 1,000 plus acres of nature reserves. If you don’t want to grab your own tube and float, join the organized tour operator, Tubing the Grand, for a full day of fun in the sun. They have insider know-how on the perfect launch spots, taxi pick-up and fun turbo tubes.
Enjoy a Fresh Meal from a Farmers’ Market
While nearby St. Jacobs may overshadow most other farmers’ markets, the Cambridge Farmers’ Market brings European charm to downtown Galt! Stroll past stands of colourful, farm fresh produce perfect for a homemade lunch. Open every Saturday in the summer between 7 a.m.- 1 p.m., there are plenty of options for warm baked goods, to-go freshly made soups and locally farmed meats. Best of all, you’ll be supporting local farmers who rely on their community to help their small businesses continue to thrive––a win, win for everyone.
Don’t forget to check out Cambridge’s summer markets too: the Preston Towne Market happens Thursday evenings June thru October, and the Hespeler Village Market takes place Friday evenings June thru September.
Visit the Town Square of Hespeler Village
Another historic area of town, Hespeler Village oozes with charm and is especially dazzling during summer nights when all lit up. Stop by the recently renovated library for an afternoon of reading, or just a quiet moment of solitude. Next, head down the street for a latte at Creme Cafe for a caffeine top-up, or if you’re in the mood for something a little stronger, head to Four Fathers Brewing Co. for a unique brew (or two). Tucked along the river, there are many options for wining and dining, though the Aging Oak has a little bit of everything and has long been a local favourite. And, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from June to October, a section of Queen Street in Hespeler is closed for #WalkQueen. In addition to closing down the street, local businesses, community groups and volunteers are collaborating by hosting festivals, events, performances and activities that are open, inclusive and free for everyone, providing the perfect way to explore by foot!
Megan Honan is a seasoned travel, food and lifestyle writer based in Waterloo Region. Megan currently holds bylines for Suitcase Magazine, NUVO, S/Magazine, Canadian Traveller, Days to Come, Swanky Retreats and more. She’s worked with some of the top travel companies across the globe to create content and help with overall brand strategy, including G Adventures and Cosmopolitan Hotels. To connect, please visit https://meganhonan.com.