by Bri Mitchell | November 2023
After the hustle and bustle of a busy year, it’s time to relax and enjoy the company of good friends.
So why not channel your inner Griswald and start planning a friend’s holiday vacation to Waterloo Region! We’ve put together a festive road trip itinerary that will ensure everyone has the hap-hap-happiest holiday ever!
Day 1 – Sipping, Shopping and Selfies
Start off your weekend road trip by heading to the Sip ’n Shop Night Market at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market. This is a great way to shop for unique local gifts, and spend time together with your friends at the start of your weekend away. There are plenty of vendors selling warm snacks and tasty treats too, so you’ll have endless options for dining throughout the night. You can also sip on an assortment of festive beverages specially crafted to add a touch of warmth. Check the website for select Fridays and get your Sip ‘n Shop ticket in advance to make sure you can attend this fun activity!
Later in the evening, keep the holiday spirit going by heading to Bingemans Jingle Bell Rock. This beautiful walk through light experience is filled with bright, twinkling holiday lights, and lots of fun photo opportunities that will leave you and your crew with some wonderful memories to look back on!
Day 2 – The Best of Both Worlds
Waterloo Region is not only home to three vibrant urban centres (Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo), it also has four beautiful rural townships where there are quaint villages and lots of wide-open spaces. So why not plan a day where you can explore the best of both worlds?
A great cup of java is the way to start your day, and Matter of Taste Coffee Bar in downtown Kitchener is a great place for a quick breakfast and a coffee that’s specially prepared by their skillful baristas.
Now that you’re properly caffeinated it’s time to head to the latest Eye Pool exhibit at THEMUSEUM. This permanent digital immersive gallery projects all kinds of experiences and worlds for you to walk through, enjoy, and find peaceful moments of reflection during your visit.
Insider Tip: THEMUSEUM also currently has an off-site exhibit called Hockey: Faster than Ever. This 8,000 square foot exhibit located at The Glove Box in Kitchener takes you behind the scenes of Canada’s favourite game and offers numerous hands-on experiences and artifacts. It also showcases the intersection of sport, technology, and the science of hockey.
After an exciting morning at THEMUSEUM, head to Lancaster Smokehouse for some good and hearty Southern-style soul food. Their menu is filled with exciting dishes like fried chicken sandwiches and BBQ shared platters, which are perfect for sharing with a group of friends.
With full bellies and hearts happy, it’s time to head to the farm! Snyder’s Farm welcomes you to a Country Christmas where you can shop in the Gift Barn, pick up fresh baked treats at the Bakery and take a selfie in front of their 40′ fully decorated Christmas tree! They also offer Winter Campfires so you can sit and enjoy great company in the beautiful countryside. The staff at Snyder’s will have the fire ready for you when you arrive, so all of you can just sit back and relax. You’ll even receive a smores kit to share. Make sure you book your fire pit in advance from their website before you head off on your weekend adventure!
Insider Tip: Winter Campfires also offer the option to order additional dinner and menu items including hot dog roasting kits, gourmet pizzas, nachos and bakery desserts. And, the Sweets & Spirits Bar will be open during your Campfire Experience for the purchase of beer, cider, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks – cheers!
After a cozy afternoon outside by the fire, head to the magical Village of St. Jacobs for St. Jacobs Sparkles. The entire village truly does become a magical, sparkling destination once the sun sets. Sparkles takes place over 2 weekends in November (although the lights stay up throughout the holidays, and there’s great shopping all year long!) It’s sure to be a fun event for everyone with musical performances, holiday shopping events, and gluhwein!
While you’re in the village, plan to head to The Village Biergarten for dinner. They have a delicious assortment of indulgent dishes and tasty treats for you to enjoy. Better yet, if you’re looking for a memorable addition to your festive road trip, you can reserve one of their popular domes at the Village Biergarten for any time of the day – it’s like dining in a snow globe!
Day 3 – Festive Markets and Munchies
Sunday on this festive holiday road trip brings you to the beautiful city of Cambridge. Head to Monigram Coffee Roasters for a late breakfast and a delicious cup of coffee. They also sell an incredible selection of beans and roasting products that would make the perfect gift for that special coffee lover in your life.
Depending on which weekend you’re visiting Cambridge, check to to see what’s happening at Cambridge Winterfest. Their award-winning annual Cambridge Christmas Market lets you shop for one-of-a-kind gifts, while Winter Ice and Lights features beautiful light displays and installations. You can also take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful parks and charming decorated town squares throughout Cambridge.
The new Gaslight District in Cambridge provides a fun and festive vibe over the holidays! Their outdoor Christmas Market takes place each weekend until Christmas so your group can cross a few names off their lists as they shop a selection of curated vendors. And, there are fun holiday activities to take part in throughout the square including festive photo ops!
Finish up this road trip weekend with a delicious meal at Four Fathers Brewing Co. They have incredible sandwiches, burgers, dips and salads to choose from as you recount all of the fun you had on this festive holiday road trip through Waterloo Region.
About Bri Mitchell
Bri was born and raised in Ontario. She spent many years living abroad, but returned to the province with a curiosity to keep travelling closer to home.
You can find her canoeing and swimming across Ontario with a craft brew in her hand in the summer, and snowshoeing or curling up with a good book and an Ontarian Pinot Noir in the winter.