Cambridge is a beautiful city situated in southern Ontario, about 100km west of Toronto. This beautiful city is a day trip from Toronto, and there are many places to explore and things to do in Cambridge, Ontario.
Whether you’re alone, with a friend, or with your family, visiting a place like Cambridge in Ontario is the best decision, as it has something for everyone to enjoy.
This stunning city is famous for its visit to downtown Cambridge, historical sites, amazing food, and historic walking areas. Top attractions include Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, Riverside Park, Fashion History Museum, and much more.
1. Spending the Day at The Grand River
The Grand River is best known for spending a day having a picnic or trying local foods. The river flows through the region of Downtown Cambridge. You can enjoy the river by going down the stairs to get a closer look, but the view from above is also exquisite.
2. Famous for Churches
Centrally located in downtown Cambridge, the four churches cannot be missed. The Central Presbyterian Church, a lookalike of Notre Dame Cathedral, transports you in time. Gothic in nature, the visit to this architecture should be a must on your list.
Grace Bible Church is also located right across, with the same architectural style making the visit worthwhile as one can enjoy both churches with little distance to travel.
3. For the Butterfly Lovers
You can see various tropical plants, birds, and animals. There are 40 species of butterflies and moths, most of which belong to the Philippines and Costa Rica.
Seeing these exotic birds while visiting Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is a must. You can also visit the cafe and shop from the gift store to complete the trip.
4. For The Love of Theatre
The experience of the theatres of Cambridge is something I wouldn’t miss during my vacation for sure. Theatres such as Dunfield Theatre, The Hamilton Family Theatre, and The Cambridge Community Players theatre come up with plays and various shows all year round.
4.1. Dunfield Theatre
The 500-seat theatre showcases a variety of shows, from Broadway Musicals to Comedic Plays, with occasional live music shows.
4.2. The Hamilton Family Theatre
The Hamilton Family Theatre is also a 500-seat theatre facility located along the Grand River. It is situated near fantastic dining, a good shopping area, and beautiful architecture to make the visit worthwhile.
5. Spend a Day Hiking
Hiking trails are a must-do activity when visiting Cambridge. Hiking trails in Cambridge include the Grand Trunk trail, Mill Run trail, Linear trail, and many others. However, it is recommended to use hiking shoes in these places to make your hiking safe and comfortable.
This is a different experience especially if you want to get out of that smartphone and enjoy the world a little bit, you can enjoy Cambridge’s outdoors and view many animals, providing for an unforgettable experience.
5.1. Grand Trunk Trail
The Grand Trunk Trail is the best for those whole love biking and hiking trails. You can enjoy nature and the beautiful birds and see beautiful sites while walking the wooded forest trails.
5.2. Mill Run Trail
Famous for trails, Cambridge has another route known as the Mill Run trail, connecting Hespeler and Preston. You can enjoy a nice relaxed walk, run or bike with friends and family; all while enjoying the Cambridge sights of bridges, water dams, and trees from Riverside Park.
5.3. The Linear Trail
Located in the town of Preston, the trail runs along with the Speed and Grand rivers. It is easy to follow and has good access to the rivers with gorgeous views of plant life, birds, and wildlife.
5.4. Paris Rail Trail
The trail is popular among bikers and runners, from the Cambridge trailhead at one end to the Paris trailhead at the other. Paris trailhead starts at 58.2km and continues to end at the Cambridge trailhead at 77km. But the thing to remember is that the trail remains busy during the day, so plan accordingly.
6. Enjoy a Picnic
How can one miss the enjoyment of a picnic when visiting a park? Cambridge has a variety of parks to spend a day having a nice winter walk and enjoying a breeze afterward. The experience of being surrounded by such scenic nature is undoubtedly one of the best things if you ask me.
6.1. Mill Race Park
The Park is a must-visit with family and friends to spend an afternoon. This Park alongside the Grand River is one of the good photo stop points as one can click beautiful pictures of the river with the church in the background.
6.2. Riverside Park
One of the best parks, Riverside Park, has a lot to offer as one can enjoy different outdoor activities here. It is the best place for sports lovers as it has the best public tennis courts and soccer fields. It is widely appreciated by those who love mini trails.
One can enjoy a picnic in the park, which has 4 picnic areas, a large children’s playground, and many walking trails. Riverside Park hosts the annual Cambridge Rib Fest every summer, which should be attended.
6.3. Sheave Tower
Located in the small town of Blair at the edge of Cambridge. The place is famous for its trails and historical structures. The Sheave tower is a little hidden gem that shouldn’t be missed. One can visit the building and can have a family picnic afterward.
7. Have a Nice Walk in The Park
Churchill and Mill Race Park are the ones to take a stroll. You can enjoy the view while taking a walk.
7.1. Churchill Park
The Park features good soccer fields, a large children’s playground, and a good spray pad. It is also known for some of the best sledding hills in the city. It’s a perfect place to visit with kids and family. One can take a nice evening walk to end the day.
7.2. Mill Race Park
Mill Race Park, on the southwest corner of Parkhill Road and Water Street North, hosts a variety of performances in the stone amphitheatre built among the ruins of the ancient C. Turnbull Textile Mill. It has an excavated “raceway” or canal that is used to power the mill.
8. Cambridge Shopping
A trip to a new location would be incomplete without some shopping. Shopping cannot be left out of this list because the Cambridge Smart Center is available for a pleasurable shopping experience.
Farmer’s Markets like Hespeler Village Market and Cambridge Farmer’s Market are well worth a visit.
8.1. Cambridge Farmers Market
All bakery food lovers must visit the Cambridge Farmers market. Famous for its delicious baked goods and fresh meats, it’s a must-visit on Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm as one can experience the European atmosphere on a visit. You can buy delicious cheese, fruits, and vegetables too. All in all, one must visit the Cambridge farmer’s market.
8.2. Hespeler Village Market
You will find local food and artisan crafts in this market, one of Cambridge’s two seasonal markets. It is located in downtown Hespeler, and one must visit and support local businesses.
8.3. Cambridge Smart Centre
Cambridge shopping is incomplete without a visit to the Cambridge smart center. It has a wide variety of stores with Walmart across the mall. It also features an ice rink, and one can take skating lessons.
9. Indulge in Cambridge History
Knowing the history of a place is a must when visiting a new city. Going to the Mcdougall cottage and Fashion History Museum is something you should definitely do.
9.1. Mcdougall Cottage
It is a well-preserved cottage and a part of the area’s museum system. It also hosts various events, and the tiny quilt contest is a must-attend event.
For more than a century, this cottage was home to two families of hardworking Scots, the McDougalls and the Bairds. The Cottage is now an interpretation centre honouring Cambridge’s rich Scottish ancestry.
9.2. Fashion + History
If you love Fashion and want to know its history in Cambridge, you must visit the Fashion History Museum. It is one of the history museums dedicated to fashion which started in 2004.
There are 10,000 garments and accessories in the history museum. The design pieces have a touch of history as well as contemporary essence. Some things even are old as the 1600s.
10. Cambridge Food
Trying the food of a place can tell a lot about its culture. Tasting and having the local cuisine of any business is a must; hence going to famous restaurants and bakeries is a must. Top attractions include L. A Franks for its best hotdogs, Dee’s bakery for its mouth-melting tarts, and many more.
10.1. L.A Franks
Your visit to Downtown Cambridge will be incomplete if you don’t visit the famous L. A Franks. The place sells the best hotdogs, onion rings, burgers, fries, and ice creams. The big greasy burger meal is a must-try.
10.2. Dee’s Bakery
In West Galt, Dee’s Bakery is famous for its mouth-melting butter tarts. Available in a wide variety of flavours such as caramel, raisin, chocolate, and vanilla, the bakery is a must-visit.
10.3. Reid’s Candy & Nut Shop
For the chocolate lovers out there, this candy and nut shop is a must-visit. The place is famous for its delicious chocolates. This family-run store is a gem for the locals and has a wide variety of nuts, candies, and chocolates for all occasions, from birthdays to anniversaries of your loved ones.
10.4. Barnacle Bills
For the Fish and chips lover out there, these are for you. Barnacle bills sell the most delicious fish and chips you can enjoy while taking an evening walk into the downtown core. The Cambridge sculpture garden is nearby, which is a must-visit.
10.5. Fiddle & Firkin
One of the top pubs in the area, Fiddle and Firkin, is known for its food, drink, and live music. Do a visit to enjoy the Cambridge nightlife.
10.6. 4 Fathers Brewing Co.
If you are a beer lover, you must visit 4 Fathers Brewing Co. You can expect a fine dining experience in this brewery cum restaurant with ping pong tables and high bar tables. It is known for its service and food among the locals.
10.7. Rhythm & Brews
Another beer spot, Rhythm & Brews, is popular among locals for its great ambiance, good service, and lovely beers.
11. Visit the Cambridge Museums and Art Galleries
If you love contemporary art and want to see local artists’ work, Queen’s Square Gallery and Preston Gallery are the best galleries for it. They also hold special exhibitions.
Another lookout point is the Riverside Gallery which also has exhibitions based on design and architecture. They showcase beautiful furniture and wall hangings.
12. Enjoy the Stunning Streets
Streets such as Brant Street, Aberdeen Rd, and Lansdowne Rd feature the finest historical properties of Cambridge.
13. Queen’s Square
Surrounded by two beautiful Cathedrals and a library; you must visit Queen’s Square if you want to sit, relax, and enjoy the fountain. One can have a picnic or enjoy the best coffee places, such as the Melville Cafe or Grand Cafe.
14. Langdon Hall
Located in the Town of Blair, Langdon Hall is best for those who love to visit historical sites. The site provides complimentary wine tasting for wine lovers and delivers the famous Cambridge spas.
The hall is also used as a wedding venue with its amazing history hence can be considered for spending a relaxing weekend.
15. Shade Mills Conservation Area
If you love the outdoors, you should visit the Shade Mills Conservation area, where anyone can enjoy a wide range of activities such as swimming, cross-country skiing, and sports fishing.
There are many biking trails to enjoy a bike ride and hiking trails of about 12 kilometres for a good hike. Play areas and beautiful beaches are the few other available amenities to enjoy.
16. Cambridge Sculpture Garden
Located on the banks of the Grand River, the Cambridge Sculpture garden is known for its 130-year-old oak tree. Situated across from Hamilton Family Theatre. It holds art shows and children’s art programs too. The place has four permanent pieces showcased.
17. Galt Collegiate Institute
The beautiful stone building is one of Ontario’s oldest operating high schools with a very rich history. It is characterized by a green copper roof which can be seen from downtown and the river.
It faces Water Street beside the old train bridge. The building has two beautiful towering pillars and is known to be haunted. Do visit and see for yourself.
18. Love a Round of Golf?
Cambridge is also known for its outdoor activities, such as Golf. Galt Country Club and Deer Ridge Golf Club are best for golfing. Galt, the oldest and Ridge, voted the best, are equally famous among golf lovers.
19. Famous Cambridge Festival
Cambridge does not fall behind in terms of hosting festivals every season. Cambridge fun is incomplete without having an experience of Cambridge Festivals. It showcases the rich history and cultural heritage of Cambridge beautifully.
The Christmas in Cambridge series, held throughout December, is very popular. It includes parades, live entertainment, food tastings, and outdoor ice skating.
Cambridge offers Cambridge Fall Fair, a four-day event for fall. Visitors can enjoy Cambridge Tour de Grand and Cambridge Arts Festival. Forbes Park Music Festival and the Cambridge Scottish Festival also entertain during summer with different events.
20. Join an Art Class
The Cambridge Centre of Arts provides pottery, sewing, and even ballroom dancing classes. One can enjoy Cambridge classes and experience various artworks with various exhibits. If you want to enroll in a creative type after classes, you can enjoy the shows in the center.
21. Cambridge Boat Tours
You can experience Canoe camping and backpacking trips in the Algonquin Provincial Park and from Belwood Lake to Lake Erie. Ontario Backwoods Outfitters provides services, offering proper guidance, meals, and equipment, making it an overall package.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Cambridge a Good Area to Live?
Cambridge is a very sought-after destination to live because of its unique fusion of history, education, and technology, its quick access to London, its excellent schooling options, its high standard of living, and the gorgeous properties that are available for purchase.
2. What Is a Good Area to Live in Cambridge Ontario?
The Lang’s Farm neighbourhood and Preston Center provide the easiest access to the 401 on Cambridge’s west side. They are some of the neighbourhoods that are closest to the entrance to Kitchener-Waterloo.
3. Is It Possible to Live in Cambridge without A Car?
Cambridge is flat and compact, with a mix of housing, retail, and other businesses and institutions, making it easy for most people to get around without driving at least some of the time. As roads are rebuilt, we look for ways to make them complete streets—roads that work well for all modes of transportation.
Even though the place is not high on tourism, places like Cambridge need their fair share of appreciation as the site provides a variety of things to do, from hiking to activities such as golfing and canoeing. One can do these activities and enjoy them when visiting Cambridge, Ontario. And enjoy a quiet weekend away from Toronto with family and friends.
Cambridge is less explored and should without a doubt fall onto a traveller’s list of places to visit. From historical sites to parks and amazing food to great farmer’s markets, Cambridge has something to offer everyone.
Want to know about other places in Ontario? Check out 20 things to do in Tobermory, Ontario.