There are so many awesome things to do in Elora Ontario. Whether you are looking for the perfect day trip or a weekend getaway for the family, Elora has it all!
And when both of our teenage kids ask to go to Elora, you just know that it has to be somewhere special! In fact, it’s been a family-favourite destination for more years than I can count.
With a wonderful small-town charm, a full array of outdoor activities, and enough shopping, festivals, and foodie spots to satisfy every taste and budget, you just need to experience it for yourself.
Where is Elora Located?
Located in Wellington County, Elora is about an hour and a half drive from Toronto. Nestled along the gorgeous Grand River in Southern Ontario, travelling to the area for an Elora day trip is quite easy.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Elora?
With such a variety of fun things to do in Elora Ontario, you can spend the day, or even a few days, in this quaint little town. We often visit Elora just for the day.
But if this is your first time, we would definitely recommend spending at least one night in town to make the most of your time there.
Things to Do in Elora
Depending on what you like, there are a ton of different things to do and places to visit in Elora.
1. Shop for Some Cool Stuff at the Elora Mews
The Elora Mews shopping center is known for its picturesque stone buildings along the Grand River.
Once you enter the lantern-lit courtyard, you will find unique shops and eateries, giftware, vintage wares, and fashions, as well as a lively art and music scene.
The café tables in the Mews provide a relaxing place to take a break while shopping at the wonderful little boutiques.
It’s also an awesome place to enjoy a coffee or ice cream, while either planning your shopping strategy or just people-watching!
Address: 45 W Mill St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm | Sat-Sun: 11am-5pm
2. Go for a Swim in the Elora Quarry
The Elora Quarry dates back to the 1900s. At the time, a company called the Whitestone Lime Company began its limestone operations.
However in 1930, the lime became impure, and the quarry was abandoned by Whitestone.
Nowadays, the quarry is operated by the Grand River Conservation Authority.
The tree-covered park sports 12 metre (40 feet) high cliff walls, and has places to picnic, swim, hike a short 1km loop trail, or just relax and enjoy nature.
The Elora Quarry Conservation Area is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.
Make sure to arrive early, as the Conservation Authority actually limits guests to a maximum of 1,300 people. This helps to lessen the environmental impact.
Address: 319 Wellington County Rd 18, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
Mon-Sun: 10am-2pm, 3pm-7pm
Admission fee: $10.50
3. Do Some Hiking at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area
The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is a great place to experience the Grand River Gorge, with its 22-meter-high cliffs. Just a note, there is a safety fence along the entire edge of the trail.
Although you won’t be able to get too close to the gorge and the river, the fence makes it pretty safe for kids to run around.
The conservation area not only has some pretty awesome riverside trails, but it also offers camping, kayaking, and tubing on the rapids.
There’s even a splash pad that is perfect for the kids to cool off in, during the summer months.
If you are not planning to do any camping, entry into the conservation area only costs $7.00 for the day.
Address: 7400 Wellington County Rd 21, Elora, ON N0B 1S0
Mon-Sun: 8 am-9 pm from May to October
4. Enjoy Some Camping with the Family
Surrounded by all this natural beauty, it’s easy to see why Elora Gorge camping should be on your bucket list.
And with many different types of sites to choose from, you should have no problem finding a campsite that suits your family’s needs.
The Elora Gorge is open for camping and day use from May 1 to October 15. Check-in time is anytime after 2 pm, and check-out is at noon.
The campground offers a total of 460 sites:
- 250 unserviced sites
- 130 serviced sites with water and 15/30 amp electrical
- 20 serviced sites with 15 amp electrical
- 60 fully serviced sites with water, 15/30 amp electrical and sewer
5. Push Your Limits with One Axe Pursuits
Experience historic Elora Ontario from a different perspective!
Step out of your comfort zone and have a go at ziplining, rappelling, caving, or ice climbing!
One Axe Pursuits offers a variety of programs for the beginner to the intermediate adventurer.
Leap off their 200-foot zipline or rappel 25 meters down the gorge in Elora Ontario!
No matter which adrenaline-charged activity you choose, it’s sure to be a memorable family experience!
Address: 24 Henderson St, Elora, ON N0B1S0
Mon-Sat: 9 am – 5 pm
6. Catch a Movie at the Gorge Cinema
In the mood to catch a movie? The Gorge Cinema is a pillar of the Elora Community!
Dating back to 1974, it is Canada’s longest-running repertory cinema.
The building originates back in 1848 when it was home to the Historic Commercial Hotel.
Today, the theatre showcases a variety of films, both old and new, in every genre from Hollywood blockbusters, to Canadian cinema, documentaries, and even an occasional indie movie.
Address: 43 Mill St W, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
7. Create Your Own Ornament at Kitras Art Glass
Head into Kitras Art Glass if you want to see some extraordinary pieces of art!
From gorgeous Christmas ornaments to glassware, garden chimes, candle holders, and amazing tabletop sculptures, you will have a tough time deciding your favourites!
And if you don’t find the perfect ornament, Kitras Art Glass now offers a Make Your Own Experience.
This virtual experience, allows you to use your imagination and design a true one-of-a-kind Kitras glass piece.
All you have to do is head over to their website, go through the step-by-step process to enter your exact preferences, and Kitras brings your vision to life!
They will even ship your creation right to your front door!
Address: 175 Geddes St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
Mon-Sat: 11am-7pm | Sun: 11am-5pm
8. Treat Yourself to a Spa Day at Elora Mill
If you are in need of a little pampering, then the luxurious Elora Mill and Spa is the perfect place to unwind.
Although it was originally built in 1843 as a flour mill and distillery, today, it’s one of the main attractions in Elora.
This newly renovated and gorgeous hotel, spa, and restaurant sit on the edge of the Grand River.
Not only will you be able to enjoy your favourite spa treatments at the Mill, but they also offer a state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga classes, sauna and steam rooms, and an outdoor infinity pool overlooking the river.
And when you are done being pampered in the spa, head down to the onsite restaurant.
Your tastebuds will be tantalized by a variety of dishes highlighting locally-sourced ingredients.
After a nice dinner overlooking the Grand River, complete your visit with a stay in one of their 27 well-appointed and luxurious rooms.
Most rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces and king-sized beds, with rustic, modern, and French designs.
Address: 77 Mill Street West, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario N0B 1S0 Canada
9. Go for a paddle on the Grand River
If you need a break from walking around town, how about going for a kayak or canoe ride along a small portion of the Grand River?
If this sounds appealing, and it should, Elora Paddle Company has got you covered!
You can find the Elora Paddle Co. launch area tucked behind The Cellar restaurant and the Elora Doggy Daycare, near the corner of Metcalfe St. and Mill St.
They have several canoes as well as two single-person kayaks, which can be rented for 45-minute time slots.
Reservations can be made ahead online, and are definitely recommended.
However, we were able to walk up and reserve for the next time slot, then continue strolling through Elora until it was our time to head out.
While the area you have to paddle along is not huge, it is pretty scenic.
You can paddle up to the falls in Bissell Park, see the limestone cliffs with some pretty amazing homes perched on top, and maybe have the company of a couple of swans who make this area home.
The cost is $28.00 per canoe rental and $20.00 per kayak rental, which is a pretty reasonable price for a family of 4 to have a quick adventure!
And I will definitely say, this was one of our favourite family friendly activities for a summer visit to Elora.
PFDs are included in the price, and no experience is necessary.
Address: 11 E Mill St, Elora, Ontario, Canada
Mon-Thurs: 3 pm – 9 pm | Fri: 11 am – 8 pm | Sat: 10 am – 8 pm | Sun: 11 am – 8 pm
Free Things to Do in Elora
Although one of our favourite Elora activities is to shop and support small local businesses, there are plenty of free things to do in Elora as well.
10. Take the Perfect Instagram Photo at the Mermaid
The Mermaid in Elora is one of the largest and most eclectic retail stores in town. And the shop is definitely bigger on the inside than it appears!
Inside, you will find three themed rooms, full of treasures that the owners have curated from around the world!
From jewelry to metal trinkets like compasses and globes, to heritage hardware, leather goods, books, posters, and door knockers, you are sure to find something that catches your eye!
🧜♀️ Insider Tip: When you visit the Mermaid in Elora, make sure to head around the corner on Church Street. You will find some brightly painted doors covered in vines and greenery. This is one of the most Instagrammable spots in town, but it’s so easy to miss!
Address: 105 Metcalfe Street, Elora, ON N0B1S0, Canada
Mon-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm
11. Take a Stroll Along the Boardwalk in Bissel Park
Bissell Park is a small park and green space in Elora Ontario.
A hub of activity, it plays host to the Elora Farmer’s Market on the weekend, as well as being the site of Riverfest every August.
The park is located along the river’s edge and has an awesome boardwalk that extends from one end of the park to the other.
Stroll on the boardwalk or bring along a blanket and grab some food from one of the many restaurants in Elora for a summer picnic.
We found Bissel Park to be a great place to sit, relax and take a break.
Even though it’s only a short distance away from downtown Elora Ontario it feels like you are far away from the hustle and bustle in the village.
Address: 127 E Mill St, Centre Wellington, ON N0B 1S0
12. Enjoy Views of the Elora Gorge From the Lookout in Victoria Park
Just a short walk from the downtown area, Victoria Park is where you will find awesome views of the Elora Gorge. The entrance of the park is located on James Crescent.
Here, you can walk along the trails that follow the cliffside. And the best part, the trails are a free way to explore the gorge.
As you walk along the trails, you will find the Lovers Leap. This is a platform that is perfect for viewing the gorge.
The Lovers Leap commemorates the legend of an Indian princess, who is said to have leaped to her death after her lover was killed in battle.
A little further along on the trails, you will come across a set of stairs. During the summer, you can use the stairs to walk down into the gorge.
The stairs are a little on the steep side, but definitely manageable.
Down by the river, you can easily see the famous David Street Bridge, as well as have great views of the cliff walls that make up the gorge.
13. Relax in the Green Space
This little sanctuary in the middle of the village is the perfect place to take a break from shopping, enjoy an ice cream cone, or just people-watch.
Located at the intersection of Metcalfe and West Mill Street, this bustling corner used to be home to a gas station!
Today, it’s much more serene, with big shady trees, red Muskoka chairs, and several interesting sculptures.
Of course, The Tall Man sculpture in the center of the park is always a big attraction. Created by artist Scott McNichol, it’s actually named, “Who’s in Charge”.
14. Admire the Churches of Elora
Elora, like many other small towns in Ontario, is home to several old and charming churches.
Take a walk around town and admire the wonderful old architecture. Our favourite is the Knox-Elora Presbyterian Church.
Located in the middle of the roundabout on Church Street, it seems to be the most well-known place of worship in town,
Knox-Elora Presbyterian Church dates back to 1837 when it was originally an old log cabin.
The beautiful structure that stands there now, was built in 1873. Inside the church, you will find some incredible stained glass windows and a massive organ.
St. John’s Anglican Church is another gorgeous church to look at. The red-roofed, red-bricked building, is located just outside the main town center.
The church’s beautiful architecture and altar are only eclipsed by its world-renowned choir.
St. Mary Immaculate Church was built in 1871. The red-brick Catholic church is modelled after the classic Gothic style.
Lastly, the Elora United Church is an unassuming red-bricked church. But the detail on the brickwork is awesome to look at.
Built in 1863, the church was originally called the Elora Methodist Church.
One of the most interesting parts of the United Church’s history is that its bell tower was struck by lightning, and had to be removed. The tower was never replaced.
15. Curl Up with a Novel at Cordial Clove Books
Cordial Clove Books is a cute little second-hand bookstore in the middle of Elora.
For such a small store, they have an amazingly large selection of books covering all genres.
One of their most unique offerings is their Blind Date with a Book section. The staff have chosen amazing books and wrapped them in brown paper.
Descriptions of the books are on the wrappers, but you don’t know what the book is called or who wrote it until you buy it.
The idea is that you can go on a “blind date” with the book, rather than base your selection on the cover art or name of the author.
Cordial Clove Books will even buy your gently used books for store credit or cash.
Their hope is to help reduce waste by recycling and reusing already printed books.
Address: 62 Metcalfe St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
Mon: 10 am – 5 pm | Tues: Closed | Wed-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
16. Bike Along the Elora Cataract Trail
The scenic Elora Cataract Trailway is a 2-3 metre wide gravel bicycle path that is perfect for a family bike ride.
The grade is very gentle, and the path has intermittent tree cover. The Cataract Trail is also wheelchair and stroller friendly if you are looking to stroll instead of ride.
At 45.5 kilometres long, most people will only cover small portions of the trail at a time, as it would take you the better part of the day to explore it fully.
The trail is very popular as a backpacking route, as well as for jogging or even cross-country skiing in the winter.
17. Chase Waterfalls in Elora
While the waterfalls found in Elora may not be of the same calibre as Kakabeka Falls in Thunder Bay, they are easy to find and are still nice to see and hear.
Known as the Elora Gorge Falls, they are easily located alongside the Old Mill. The best way to see them is from the trail in Victoria Park.
Of course, if you are staying at the Old Mill, or having dinner there, you may have a front-row seat from your room or even your dinner table.
Where to Eat in Elora Ontario
18. Sample Some Local Beer at the Elora Brewing Company
If you are looking for a great place to grab a local beer, while enjoying an awesome burger, look no further than the Elora Brewing Company.
With several beers and ciders that are made at their on-site craft brewery, you are sure to find something that pleases your pallet.
Aside from the delicious lagers, stout, sour ale, and classic comfort food offerings, we found the Elora Brewing Company to be a family-friendly option that you need to add to your list of things to do in Elora!
We absolutely love the ambiance of the Elora Brewing Company’s stone façade and interiors.
The building has beautiful exposed beams and stone, as well as a garage door that opens up at the front of the restaurant, allowing in a nice breeze in the summer.
And let’s not forget the cool glass wall that allows you to see the brewery, and also acts as a backdrop to the stage during their live music nights.
Address: 107 Geddes St, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario N0B 1S0 Canada
Sun: 11 am-9 pm | Mon-Thu: 11 am-11 pm | Fri-Sat: 11 am-1 am
19. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Sweet Distractions
If you are visiting with kids – BEWARE! You will never get them out of this incredible little candy boutique! We could have spent an hour checking out the walls of candy!
Instead, we headed straight to the rear of the shop to browse the gelato counter!
There were some pretty great flavours to choose from, including some delicious and unique non-dairy options. Hello lemon-basil!
The amazing shop owners definitely make you feel welcome. We would definitely recommend a visit to Sweet Distractions when compiling your list of things to do in Elora!
Address: 16 West Mill Street, Elora, Ontario N0B 1S0, Canada
Mon-Thu: 12 pm-5 pm | Fri: 12 pm-7 pm | Sat: 11 am-7 pm | Sun: 11 am-6 pm
20. Have Afternoon Tea at The Wild Tart
The Wild Tart is a small European-style patisserie located in the heart of downtown Elora.
When we found out that they served an exquisite English afternoon tea, our younger daughter, Miss Somersault, and I were immediately drawn in!
Although we dined inside the café, there is a really cute back patio garden that is also available for seating.
Either way, be sure to make reservations in advance, as this popular spot fills up fast!
While Hubby and our youngest, Mr. Bump, ordered from the regular menu, Miss Somersault and I decided to share a Classic Afternoon Tea.
We each had our own pot of tea (one comes with the service, so we ordered a second).
Miss Somersault tried a chocolate tea, while I decided on a cranberry chai. Both were quite nice.
The afternoon tea experience comes with a variety of little sandwiches, scones (served with clotted cream and jam), finger sandwiches, and bite-sized cakes and pastries. Everything was absolutely delicious!
The Wild Tart not only offers a vegan or gluten-free formal afternoon tea, but it also offers a children’s tea service.
Mr. Bump actually considered it but was won over by the prospect of house-made French toast, made with brioche and served with crispy bacon, chantilly cream, and maple syrup.
Hubby had the open-faced hot roast beef sandwich with a pot of apple tea. The sandwich was quite tasty!
My only regret was not ordering a tea service for each of us. The Classic Afternoon Tea was not enough food for two people.
We may have left hungry, but we totally enjoyed the experience.
Miss Somersault loved her ‘big girl’ tea party and has been looking forward to the next time we can experience one.
Address: 61 Metcalfe St, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario N0B 1S0 Canada
Contact Number: (226) 384-8278
Sun: 10 am-5 pm | Mon-Tue: Closed | Wed-Thu: 12 pm-5 pm | Fri-Sat: 10 am-8 pm
21. Enjoy Some Coffee at the Lost and Found Café
Located in the Elora Mews, The Lost and Found Café is the perfect place to grab a coffee.
Not only do they offer incredible, mouth-watering sandwiches and delicious treats, but they even have organic, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.
You can enjoy some of the best coffee around on their outdoor patio, inside the main café, or head up to their cute loft with a shelf full of books.
The Lost and Found Café sources many of its baked goods locally, so you know they are going to be fresh as well as delicious.
And since their featured hand-crafted lattes change every month, you may want to visit often to give them all a try!
Address: 45 West Mill St, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario Canada
Mon: 9 am-4 pm | Wed-Fri: 9 am-4 pm | Sat-Sun: 10 pm-5 pm
22. Try a Gourmet Hot Dog at The Evelyn
The Evelyn is one of Elora’s best restaurants.
With a French-inspired menu that includes vegetarian options, an amazing private patio, and an incredible ambiance, even their signature hot dogs will taste like haute cuisine!
The Evelyn is a little on the pricey side, but well worth the experience.
And while there wasn’t a kid’s menu, our teens were more than happy to choose off the regular menu.
Address: 130 Metcalfe St, Elora, Centre Wellington, Ontario N0B 1S0 Canada
Daily: 12 pm-8 pm
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Elora Ontario?
Elora is absolutely beautiful no matter what time of the year you choose to visit.
However, the summer months are considered peak season, so you will find a lot more activity, as well as longer opening hours for most of the shops.
Of course, if you are interested in certain seasonal events, you won’t be disappointed either! The festivals are definitely a reason to visit Elora again and again!
Events in Elora Ontario
23. Visit the Elora Farmers Market
The Elora Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. The market operates from May to December, in Bissell Park.
Once October arrives, the market moves to an indoor facility at the Paddock Building (Grand River Raceway).
If you are looking to purchase locally, this is the place to go!
Everything from farm-fresh produce and sheep’s milk cheese to wine, free-range eggs, fresh flowers, and essential oils, you can find in the market!
We actually found the most delicious farm-raised buffalo burgers at one of the vendor’s stands. Yup… we love trying new foods, and these burgers did not disappoint.
Address: Bissell Park, 127 E Mill St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
Price: Free Admission
Sat: 9 am-1 pm.
24. Listen to Some Awesome Music at the Elora Festival
The Elora Festival is an annual music festival that takes place in July for a three-week period.
The festival showcases all genres of music, including classical, folk, jazz, and international.
Canadian and international choirs make up a large portion of the festival lineup.
This includes the Elora Singers, who are not only the in-residence performers but also one of the top chamber choirs in the country.
The Elora Music Festival has, thus far, enjoyed a run of over 40 years.
Throughout this time, it has seen many notable Canadian performers like Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Randy Bachman, and Chantal Kreviazuk.
25. Attend Riverfest Elora Ontario
If you have never been to Riverfest, then you need to add this to your list of things to do in Elora!
This annual three-day festival takes place in Bissell Park, and features live bands, art, vendors, food trucks, and more.
Riverfest Elora features three stages that continuously play music, each hosting numerous acts from indie to major labels, across a variety of genres.
Some of the festival’s past artists include The Flaming Lips, City & Colour, Tokyo Police Club, Wintersleep, Men Without Hats, and so many more.
What could be better than sitting on a blanket in the park, alongside the Grand River, and enjoying a nice summer evening listening to live music!
Address: 84 E Mill St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0, Canada
26. Take Part in the Monster March During Elora’s Monster Month
If your family loves Halloween, then taking part in Monster Month should be at the top of your list of things to do in Elora with kids!
Occurring in October, Elora’s Monster Month is a spooky celebration like no other!
The first thing you can expect when visiting Elora during Monster Month is the Twilight Zoo.
Brought to life over 20 years ago by local resident, Tim Murton, his tradition of decorating the streets of Elora with his own collection of lanterns and sculptures, brings tourists in from all over the province!
Take a walk through town during twilight, to experience the full effect of the magical and spooky creatures that lurk around every corner.
You can also stop in at the Elora Mill to enjoy some cauldron cocktails!
And you definitely won’t want to miss the Monster March!
This non-motorized parade encourages families (and their pets!) to dress up and march through the city streets.
Lastly, check out the Scare Fair at the Elora Center for the Arts, where you will find a ton of spooky exhibits.
27. Enjoy the Festivities of Christmas in Elora Ontario
Even though Elora Ontario is the picture-perfect place to visit in the summer, there are also awesome festivities and events that happen in the winter.
The holiday season is also a pretty popular time to visit Elora. We caught the Santa Claus parade, which was pretty awesome.
Not only did it seem like the whole town came out, but the kids were thrilled with the free cookies and hot chocolate to stay warm!
Between the decorated downtown shops, a winter concert series by the Elora Festival Singers, a Christmas festival at the Wellington County Museum & Archives, and a Christmas show and sale at the Elora Centre for the Arts, there are plenty of things to do in Elora at Christmas.
Where Do I park in Elora?
It is free to park on all of the streets in Elora. However, new this year, there is a 3-hour time limit for on-street parking.
And keep in mind, that it can be a little more difficult to find prime parking spots on summer weekends.
Parking is enforced, so make sure you are not in a no-parking zone.
On our last visit, we noticed parking enforcement chalking tires, so definitely be mindful of how much time you have!
Places to Stay in Elora
There are several different places to stay in Elora, or within a short drive.
Depending on your budget, you can find everything from Boutique Hotels to a variety of small Inns, AirBnBs, and chain hotels (located outside of town).
Things to Do in Elora – FAQs
Absolutely! Elora is definitely worth visiting for its charming small-town atmosphere, stunning natural beauty, and rich cultural heritage. From exploring the breathtaking Elora Gorge to strolling along the historic streets lined with boutique shops and art galleries, you’ll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with this picturesque destination.
Elora is known for its picturesque landscapes, particularly the stunning Elora Gorge, which attracts visitors with its towering cliffs, rushing waters, and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and tubing. Elora is also famous for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and the annual Elora Centre for the Arts festival, showcasing the town’s rich artistic and cultural heritage.
Elora was founded by Captain William Gilkison in 1832. He purchased the land on the banks of the Grand River and began developing the village, which eventually grew into the charming town that we know today.
You can take a bus or train to Guelph, which is the closest major city to Elora, and then take a taxi or a local bus from Guelph to Elora. Another option is to take a GO Transit bus or train from Toronto to Kitchener, and then transfer to a local bus or taxi to reach Elora. You can also consider joining guided tours or arranging a private shuttle service that offers transportation from Toronto to Elora.
Elora is a fantastic place to live, offering a perfect blend of small-town charm, natural beauty, and a close-knit community. With its picturesque landscapes, vibrant arts scene, and welcoming atmosphere, Elora provides residents with a peaceful and idyllic setting to enjoy a high quality of life.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Elora
With so many family-friendly things to do in Elora Ontario, we know you will want to visit again and again!
Hopefully, we have given you some ideas on how to plan out your itinerary, in order to maximize your time.
Our goal is to visit during every season, to make the most out of everything the town has to offer.
Pin This Post for Later!
- The Best Elora Gorge Hiking Trails for Families
- Elora Gorge vs Elora Quarry – Which is Better for Families?
- Elora Gorge Camping – Why Elora Should Be on Your Camping Bucketlist!
- The Best Restaurants in Elora That You Really Need to Try
- The Ultimate Guide to Monster Month in Elora Ontario
- 25 Awesome Things to Do in Elora Ontario