Home | 5 ways to enjoy the (really!) Great Outdoors in Waterloo Region

Cycling, paddling, fishing, golfing, horseback riding: there’s fun to be had on water and on land

If there’s one thing we’ve got plenty of in Waterloo Region, it’s space!

(DYK: You could fit two Toronto’s (630 km²) inside of Waterloo Region (1369 km²)? Now that’s big!)

The region’s outdoor spaces provide plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore – either by land or on our waterways.
Looking for some inspiration to get started? Here are 5 suggestions for enjoying Waterloo Region’s really great outdoors!

A Grand Day on the Water

The Grand River winds its way throughout the entire region, connecting our cities and townships, and providing many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Canoeing the Grand offers 3 ways to enjoy a day on this iconic heritage river. Paddlers can choose from any number of canoe and kayak excursions, while those looking for a more relaxed trip down the river can experience the Grand and its beautiful shoreline views while floating with the current in a tube. A day on the water will probably work up an appetite: both Moose Winoski’s and Borealis Grille & Bar are close-by and provide lots of tasty options to fill the food void!

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company also offers paddling experiences that start off at the private river launch at Bingemans. These 1- and 2-hour adventures are perfect for all experience levels. Choose from canoes, kayaks and Turbo Tubes; and when your river trek is done, the water fun continues at Bingemans’ Big Splash water park! When you’re ready for something to eat you’re just minutes away from Canada’s largest Boston Pizza that also boasts the region’s largest patio. Or, if you’d prefer to cool off with a beverage, head over to the taphouse at Waterloo Brewing to ‘Pour the Boar’ and try one of their iconic Radlers.

Photo: Ashley Rae

Where the Fish Are

Walleye, trout, pike, smallmouth bass – there’s a wide variety of world-class recreational fishing waiting for you in Waterloo Region. The Grand River is a great place to fish from a small boat, canoe, or from the shore. The Bridgeport to Cambridge stretch of the Grand is particularly popular for casual fishing: once you’re ready to pull up your fishing line, you’re just minutes for amenities like restaurants, attractions and hotels – making it a perfect location for a weekend fishing getaway.

Shade’s Mills Conservation Area in Cambridge offers boat ramps and easy access to Mill Creek for non-motorized boats. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, northern pike and yellow perch are the fish you’ll find here. You can fish here year-round; when the water freezes it’s time to grab your auger and hut and get ready for a fun day of ice fishing!

Fishing at the Woolwich Reservoir

Exploring on 4 Legs

Conestogo River Horseback Adventures lets you enjoy the region’s rural side while seated atop one of their many beautiful horses. Choose from a 1- or 2-hour trail ride: there’s even a 4-hour trail ride that takes you to along trails to the beautiful village of St. Jacobs. Thrill seekers can sign up for Mantracker – a 2-hour adventure that starts off in St. Jacobs and has you trying to make your way back to the Conestoga River Horseback Adventure barns by following trails and collecting “lives” (did we mention you’re also being chased by 2 staff members on horseback at the same time??)

You’ll definitely be ready for a meal following your adventure, and there are lots of great options close-by. Jack’s Family Restaurant and The Crazy Canuck are just a short drive away (both are located by the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market). The new Crowsfoot Smokehaus in nearby Conestogo offers southern smokehouse barbeque and traditional German comfort foods. Guten Appetit!

Conestogo River Horseback Adventures

Hit the Trails on Two Wheels

There are plenty of options for cycling in Waterloo Region. The Hydrocut Trail system is ranked as one of the top mountain bike riding destinations in Ontario and is recognized across Canada for its 30km of “flowing” trails. Its technical features will challenge the most skilled riders.

At Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort you’ll discover a single track trail network that winds its way through the entire 165-acre property. The geography at Chicopee provides climbs, descents, and technical challenges.

For recreational cyclists there are plenty of trails that wind through and connect the region’s cities and townships, allowing you to take in many different landscapes. The 2021 Region of Waterloo Bike Maps highlight the beautiful public art, scenic historic bridges and many Bike Friendly Businesses you’ll find along the way.

Cyclists at the West Montrose Covered Bridge
Cycling at the West Montrose Covered Bridge

Time FORE Golf

Waterloo Region’s public golf courses offer picturesque settings, professionally designed courses, and greens that will challenge players of all levels. There are 15 public courses to choose from, each with its own scenic layout and challenging design. From golfing in the middle of Mennonite country, to playing a course in the heart of the city – no matter where you choose to play, enjoying a great game of golf in Waterloo Region is par for the course!

two golfers on the course at Foxwood Golf and Country Club in Baden, Ontario on a sunny summer's day
Foxwood Golf & Country Club
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