Are you looking for the perfect staycation for the holiday season? Look no further than this vibrant, and picturesque City of Stratford - a small town that’s big on theatre, art, food, and a spectacular Winter Festival of Lights. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should only visit during the summertime Stratford Festival. There is no shortage of things to do in Stratford, Ontario during the winter season!
GO Transit is your ticket to a fabulous overnight stay in historic Stratford (because one day just isn’t enough). Our new Toronto to London train route means that your getaway can be a stress-free travel experience. Stratford is the perfect destination for a romantic trip, a girls weekend getaway, or a family mini holiday. There's even a local PRESTO Perk in it for you too! Stratford has something for everyone, and we’re here to help you plan so that you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Stratford!
Getting to Stratford by GO Train
Our London pilot route has opened up access to Southwestern Ontario! Getting to Stratford is now easy. Whether you’re coming from London, Kitchener, Guelph, Brampton, or even Toronto - we can get you to Stratford safely and comfortably. Highway driving stress isn’t on anyone’s mini vacay checklist, but a relaxing ride with GO Wi-Fi Plus? Yes, please!
Schedule to Stratford
The GO train to Stratford runs Monday through Friday with two trips, an early morning trip Eastbound from London and an evening trip Westbound from Toronto Union Station. You can plan a perfect mini midweek getaway over the holidays, or spend an extended weekend exploring all the things to do in Stratford!
Be sure to plan your trip and check the schedule ahead of time.
A few tips:
- With your early morning arrival in Stratford, you’ll want to drop off your luggage at your hotel and then head straight to a cafe to fuel up for your first day of sightseeing. Stratford is home to the original Balzac’s Coffee Roasters (open everyday at 7 a.m.), or check out Revel and support “independent coffee for a revolution” (open Wed-Fri at 8 a.m.).
- Leave for a weekend in Stratford after work on Friday and be back in time for work on Monday morning!
Buy Your Tickets to Stratford
GO train tickets to and from Stratford can only be purchased online. Buy your e-tickets ahead of time and be sure to activate your ticket via your smartphone 5 minutes prior to boarding your train. A ticket from Union Station to Stratford is $25. Calculate your fare here and remember that kids aged 12 and under always GO free!
Stratford Lights On Festival
This winter, Stratford is lighting it up throughout the city starting December 17 to January 28, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m. nightly! The Stratford Lights On Festival is a must-visit this winter season, and you’ll definitely want to plan your trip so that you don’t miss out on this awesome event. Stratford Lights On is completely FREE and transforms downtown Stratford into a magical world of innovative light installations.
The theme of this year’s festival is Journey and the installations are all about motion and transportation. Obviously, those are OUR favourite things, and GO Transit is proud to be one of the supporters of this fantastic event! While many of us are still limiting long distance travel and missing our friends and family who live far away, you can experience the power of being transported by art while still staying within Ontario.
The Stratford Lights On Festival includes the Shakespearean Gardens of a Thousand Lights, Journey to the Stars on Tom Patterson Island, a spectacular display at the Avon Theatre, and an amazing sound and light installation at Market Square - Sky Castle. Storefronts and other locations around town will also have unique light installations and experiences. Make this a must-do on your winter bucket list!
Stratford Culinary Trails
Heads up, foodies! Stratford is the destination for you. Take a sweet or a savory self-guided tour and explore beautiful Stratford while sampling delectable treats along the way! The best part is that GO Transit has partnered with Destination Stratford and PRESTO card holders will receive 20% off culinary trails throughout the Lights On Festival period (Dec 17 - Jan 28). Simply show your PRESTO card at the Destination Stratford office (47 Downie Street) when purchasing your culinary trail vouchers.
Are you all about rich and indulgent chocolate? Stratford has so many world-class confectioners and bakers that they’ve created a whole tour around them! Choose 6 stops out of the participating businesses. At each of the 6 stops on your self-guided tour, you’ll receive a different chocolatey treat and you’ll meet the makers of these delicious desserts.
If sweets aren’t your cup of yum, maybe some savoury snacks featuring bacon and a glass of local ale is more to your taste. On this self-guided tour, you’ll choose 5 stops out of the participating businesses, each with a unique bacon or ale item for you to enjoy!
Art Experiences in Stratford
As an arts-focused town, a list of the best things to do in Stratford wouldn’t be complete without mentioning all the opportunities for experiencing art.
The permanent collection of the gallery features over 100 works of art, mostly by Canadian artists. Gallery Stratford is also the starting point for the self-guided Art Walk tour, if you feel like bundling up and admiring outdoor art pieces around town.
As the name suggests, Gallery Indigena is dedicated to Indigenous art. They specialize in Inuit sculpture and prints, Iroquois sculpture, paintings, northwest coast masks and wood art.
Explore Justin Bieber’s Stratford
Did you know that Stratford is the hometown of Justin Bieber? If you’re a “Belieber”, your answer is probably yes, but have you ever experienced the Bieber-iffic walk? Your Bieber-iffic map will take you on a self-guided tour to all of the important places from Justin Bieber’s youth. Your walking tour also includes a stop at the Stratford Perth Museum to check out the Justin Bieber Steps to Stardom exhibit!
Stratford Perth Museum
You’re definitely going to want to make some time for shopping during your stay in Stratford. Stratford is filled with unique shops so it’s the perfect place to buy holiday gifts that you won’t find anywhere else - or just some special souvenirs for yourself. Here are just a few places that you might want to check out.
Make your holiday shopping a uniquely Stratford experience by following The Christmas Trail. Choose 6 shops from the participating locations and you’ll receive a gift at each one along your walk. Give the gifts to your friends or family, or keep one for yourself! This seasonal trail is available until December 20th!
Find your family tartan and buy some authentic Scottish shortbread and Sterling silver jewelry here!
The perfect gift for the tea lover in your life is waiting at this shop, which features over 300 different teas!
Offering a carefully curated selection of Canadian made items, Distill is a great place to find a unique gift.
Theatre season might be over, but you can still have “a theatrical shopping experience” at the Festival Shop. There are two locations in town - across from the Festival Theatre and next to the Avon Theatre.
Dining in Stratford
There is no shortage of world-class restaurants in Stratford. It’s truly a food lover’s paradise. Try one or more of our suggestions during your stay in Stratford, or wander around and see where you end up. With all the culinary talent in this small town, you won’t be disappointed no matter where you eat!
Enjoy eclectic cuisine in this beautiful converted church that evokes a Renaissance atmosphere.
South African inspired food, with a focus on open-fire cooking, awaits you here.
If you love a drink with dinner, head to The Alley, where you’ll find casual fine dining, creative cocktails, and a microbrewery.
For a different experience, consider having dinner at the Stratford Chefs School. They offer a prix fixe menu, prepared by students of the school.
Places to Stay in Stratford
As a tourist town, Stratford has many accommodation options with many different styles including tradioonal B&B’s, modern hotels, lofts, suites and more. Here are a few of the especially unique hotels. Any one of these would make the perfect base for your Stratford getaway!
Since 1871, the Parlour Inn has been welcoming guests to Stratford. This slice of history will make your getaway to Stratford feel like a trip back in time.
The famous American inventor, Thomas Edison, once lived here. No joke! You can even stay in the Edison Room, which features a mural of his inventions. Edison’s Cafe, right downstairs, is one of the best places in town for coffee. If quirky and cool is your style, this is the hotel for you.
Are you looking to make your getaway a truly upscale experience? The Bruce Hotel is an elegant estate where you’ll feel like royalty.
A boutique hotel with a restaurant and beer hall, the Mercer Hotel is the perfect choice for a hip, fun weekend in Stratford.
Plan Your Stratford Trip Now!
Did you think there would be so many cool things to do in Stratford, Ontario? There’s no way you’ll want to miss taking a getaway to this mecca of art, culture, and culinary delights.