Take a GO Train Staycation | Things To Do in Stratford, Ontario
Published: Dec 1, 2022
Updated: Oct 14, 2023
Friendly reminder that October 13, 2023 was the last day of GO Train service to London, Stratford, and St. Marys. Customers can take the VIA Rail service to London, Stratford, or St. Marys. VIA Rail trips depart daily. Check the schedules at viarail.ca. Megabus and FlixBus currently operate daily trips between London and Toronto.
Are you planning a staycation this summer? With so many great places to visit here in Southern Ontario, you don’t need to budget for flights to make your summer vacation spectacular. Amazing destinations that are waiting to be explored are closer than you might think!
Visit Stratford, Ontario for a perfect summer staycation. There are so many interesting things to do in Stratford. Savour unique culinary experiences, enjoy fantastic outdoor activities, check out the incredible arts and culture scene and, of course, you can’t miss the Stratford Festival.
A staycation should be all about relaxation, and that includes your travel time. Start your staycation with a relaxing GO train ride to Stratford, instead of bumper to bumper highway traffic.
From restaurants to hotels to activities, and how to get there with GO — we’ve got everything you need to know to plan your amazing summer staycation in Stratford, Ontario!
Getting to Stratford
With so many things to do in Stratford, you don’t want to miss any of your staycation time stuck in traffic or worrying about navigation and parking. Luckily, it’s easy to get to Stratford with GO!
Whether you’re coming from London, Kitchener, Guelph, Brampton, or even Toronto - we can get you to Stratford safely and comfortably. Stressful driving isn’t on anyone’s staycation 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 midweek getaway, or spend an extended weekend exploring all the things to do in Stratford!
Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time!
GO with Turo!
Discover the perfect combination of convenience and adventure by completing your GO Transit trip with Turo, Canada’s favourite car-sharing marketplace and our official carsharing partner.
We’ve teamed up with Turo to provide customers with new possibilities to extend their trips beyond GO’s network. As of July 17, 2023, you can seamlessly complement your GO journey with a convenient travel option with Turo by requesting vehicles to be delivered to GO stations across the network. This makes it easy for you to connect to your next destination after your train or bus trip.
Are you ready to discover more of Ontario? There are unlimited possibilities with GO and Turo from visiting Hamilton, Barrie, Stratford, Niagara Falls, a myriad of exciting events across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and so much more!
Accomodations in Stratford
There is no shortage of great places to stay in Stratford. From traditional B&B’s to modern hotels, lofts, suites and more. Stratford is in high demand, especially during summer weekends, so as you are planning your visit, consider a mid-week escape! Depending on the type of style and atmosphere you’re looking for, you might want to consider one of these unique Stratford hotels as the base for your staycation.
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 Café Bar right downstairs, is one of the best places in town for coffee and offers a variety of Whole Foods. 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. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s a great place to eat!
A Stratford staple hotel offering full amenities including an on-site restaurant, pool, and suites. It’s perfectly situated near culinary and cultural experiences.
Dining and Food Experiences
If eating great food is on your list of things to do in Stratford, you’re in luck! Stratford’s culinary scene is outstanding. As home to the Stratford Chefs School, it’s no surprise that Stratford restaurants are some of the best for high quality, inspired dining experiences. You’ll be in foodie paradise! Channel your inner foodie and book a cooking class at the Stratford Chefs School this summer. Click HERE to find out more about their unique Open Kitchen classes.
Cafes in Stratford
If you need to fulfill your caffeine fix, there are some great cafes in Stratford where you can grab your morning coffee and maybe a pastry to nibble before you start your day of sightseeing.
Stratford is home to the original Balzac’s Coffee Roasters (open everyday 7 am - 6 pm), or check out revel and support “independent coffee for a revolution” (open Wed-Fri 8 am - 4 pm, Sat 9 am - 4 pm, Sun 9 am - 3 pm).
Stratford Al Fresco
You’re sure of outstanding eats anytime of year in Stratford, but when you visit in the warmer weather, you can enjoy one of the best things to do in Stratford during the summer — outdoor dining.
Stratford Al Fresco allows you to get takeout from participating Stratford restaurants and dine outdoors at Market Square, Memorial Gardens, Tom Patterson Island and approved parkland. Tables, umbrellas, hand sanitizer stations, and waste and recycling bins will be available.
There will be a variety of cuisines to choose from, including wine pairings, craft beers, and drinks. Alcohol that is supplied by the restaurants can be enjoyed in the al fresco dining areas. Look for the Stratford Al Fresco window stickers to find participating restaurants or explore online
Stratford Culinary Trails
Have you heard of Stratford’s famous Culinary Trails? Did you know you can take a self-guided food experience tour and explore beautiful Stratford while sampling delectable treats along the way?
Check out the Destination Stratford YouTube channel to get a taste of what to expect on the Stratford Culinary Trails. Don’t be surprised if your mouth starts watering though!
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. Bacon and Ale Trail
If sweets aren’t your cup of yum, maybe some savoury snacks featuring bacon and a glass of stout 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!
Try out the all-new Savour & Sip Trail to discover locally made products available in Stratford and the surrounding areas. You’ll choose 6 stops to make on your self-guided tour. This is the perfect trail if you’d like a sampling of sweets, savoury bites, and beverages. Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic with all your treats! Available until October 31, 2023
Some of the Best Restaurants in Stratford
It’s hard to have a bad meal in Stratford, but these are a few of the restaurants that you should try if your staycation is focused on food.
South African inspired food, with a focus on open-fire cooking, awaits you at Braai House.
For stone-oven baked pizza made with locally sourced ingredients, head to Pazzo Pizzeria.
If you’re looking for tasty comfort food and a pint, Bentley’s Bar, Inn & Restaurant is a popular spot.
Bijou offers a locally inspired farm-to-table menu in an intimate setting.
The Planet Diner is the place “where herbivores can bring their carnivores.” Their menu is predominantly plant-based, with a few meat-eater options thrown in, so it’s a great choice to please everyone.
Activities 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.
This summer, Stratford is “where all roads lead to music”! The Stratford Summer Music festival is on from July 20 - August 13 so if you’re a music lover, be sure to plan your Stratford staycation during that time. A variety of musical genres will be represented at both indoor and outdoor venues.
Stratford is a great city to explore on foot. Take advantage of the warm weather and sunshine and follow one of the many self-guided audio tours to discover Gardens of Stratford, Justin Bieber, Bronze Stars of Stratford, Instagram-worthy spots and more. Choose a theme, turn up your volume and let the captivating audio clips deepen your discoveries.
If you’re interested in local history, head to the Stratford Perth Museum. Their permanent collection tells the story of the region and the museum also hosts touring special exhibits including the Justin Bieber exhibit, Steps to Stardom.
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, which is perfect for 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.
Does your ideal staycation include lots of outdoor adventures? Stratford has many cycling opportunities and a great Country Club for golf lovers. At The Boathouse you can rent paddle boats, canoes, and bicycles, or book a 30-minute scenic river tour.
Day Trips and Excursions
While you could easily spend your entire getaway in Stratford, if you want to go and explore further, you could catch the morning GO train to Kitchener and check out TheMuseum, or take a ride share to one of Stratford’s neighbouring towns and villages.
Admire beautiful limestone buildings and enjoy a peaceful stroll along the Riverview Walkway in St. Mary’s.
Discover authentic Mennonite cooking and shop for locally made wood furniture in Millbank.
Visit the West Perth animal park in Mitchell to see fallow deer, a llama, donkeys, goats and a variety of birds.
Stratford for Families
Bring your kids on your staycation to Stratford! Stratford is a great summer destination for families. With lots of parks and green spaces, it’s perfect for active little ones. Older kids will enjoy renting bikes and boats, or taking the river tour.
Al Fresco dining is a good option with kids. They can run around when they’re done eating while the adults finish enjoying the meal. Bring a picnic blanket to add to the fun experience! Families will love visiting the World’s Smallest Movie Theatre, exploring the Chocolate Trail and stopping into the Kitty Lounge at Alley Cat Café. Looking for a kid-friendly place to grab a bite – check out the Bru Garden this summer season.
Stratford on a Budget
A staycation in Stratford doesn’t have to be expensive. Stratford is such a beautiful and quaint city that you’ll love just walking around. If you want to focus on certain types of sights, the self-guided audio tours are free. But you can also just choose to wander and see what you discover!
Art, music, theatre, outdoor adventures, delicious dining, and an easy way to get there — what more could you want in a staycation?
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