What is There to Do in Paris Ontario with Kids?
If you love exploring small towns as much as we do, then we have the perfect suggestion for your next road trip: Paris, Ontario. Full of charm and natural beauty, there are so many fun things to do in Paris Ontario with kids.
At just under a two-hour drive from Toronto, Paris is an ideal choice for a day trip. Known as the “Prettiest Little Town in Ontario”, Paris is small enough to explore in a single day, and would even make the perfect jumping-off point to a longer road trip.
Dive into history at the Paris Museum and Historical Society, explore cobblestone houses, go kayaking on the Grand River, or let your kids unleash their energy at Lions Park. No matter what you decide to do, Paris has something for everyone.
Since Paris Ontario is under an hour’s drive for us, we enjoy heading there for an easy day trip during the summer.
With annual events and festivals adding excitement to the mix, this charming little town is the perfect destination for an unforgettable family adventure.
About Paris Ontario
Located in Brant County and along the scenic Grand River, Paris is a charming town known for its historic architecture, natural beauty, and friendly community.
It’s often referred to as the “Cobblestone Capital of Canada” due to its collection of well-preserved cobblestone buildings.
You’ll find quaint shops, cozy cafes, and delicious dining options as you wander through the downtown area.
If you love the outdoors, Paris has an abundance of parks, trails, and riverside areas perfect for biking, hiking, or simply enjoying a picnic.
The town hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing its vibrant arts and cultural scene.
Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in history, explore nature, or simply relax and enjoy the small-town charm, Paris, Ontario has something for everyone.
Fun Things to Do in Paris – Outdoor Activities & Parks
Paris, Ontario is a wonderful place to visit all year long, but in the summer, it truly comes alive. From the Grand River to Lions Park and the Nith River Sensory Trail, Paris is filled with a ton of outdoor activities guaranteed to keep the kids entertained.
1. Float on the Grand River
Get ready to make a splash and dive into an unforgettable water adventure on the Grand River in Paris, Ontario! Whether you’re into tubing, canoeing, or rafting, this scenic river offers endless opportunities for family fun.
Grab your paddles, hop on a tube, paddleboard, or canoe, and let the gentle currents guide you through breathtaking landscapes. Navigating the river’s twists and turns is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat during a visit to Paris.
Don’t have a kayak or canoe? No problem! The Grand River Rafting Company is a great outfitter right in town where you can rent a variety of equipment. They even include shuttle rides back to your car.
And don’t worry if you are just a beginner. Not only will get a full briefing with your equipment rental, but the Grand River is pretty gentle and the perfect place to learn.
2. Play in Paris Lions Park
One of the best things to do in Paris Ontario with kids is to spend some time in Lions Park. This is the ultimate destination for a day filled with laughter, play, and endless fun.
Your kids will happily run off some energy as they explore the colourful playgrounds, climb, swing, and slide to their heart’s content. I kid you not, this park has some of the BEST playground equipment anywhere!
Not only are there several areas to play, but you will also find a covered area with picnic tables, public restrooms, and even an outdoor amphitheatre for events and concerts in the park.
Best of all, the park is fully accessible. Play equipment is built for kids of varying abilities, including ramps, a variety of swings, and even play equipment with braille.
The excitement doesn’t end there—cool off in the splash pad on hot summer days, enjoy a leisurely picnic in the shade, or take a family stroll along the park’s scenic trails.
Our kids (who are not that little anymore) spent a good amount of time in the park. They even requested time in the park during subsequent trips to Paris. So, with something for kids of all ages, Paris Lions Park really is a haven of joy and adventure.
3. Experience the Nith River Sensory Trail
The Nith River Sensory Trail in Lions Park, Paris is an interactive recreational trail. It is designed with inclusivity in mind and caters to people of all abilities.
As you stroll the 270-metre trail, you will come across everything from musical instruments to a sensory garden and vibrant sculptures. The trail is colourful, creative and engaging.
What’s more, the trail ensures accessibility for everyone, with features such as a guided rope, braille signs, a paved path, and even an accessible picnic table.
We spent over an hour exploring the trail, reading the plaques, and enjoying all the interactive aspects of the trail.
4. Go for a Walk Along Penman’s Dam
Going for a walk along Penman’s Dam is a must-do when visiting Paris Ontario with kids.
Paris, Ontario is where the Grand and Nith Rivers converge. Penman’s Dam, built in 1918 to harness the power of the Grand River for the Penman Clothing Company, offers a picturesque setting for a peaceful stroll.
There is a boardwalk located along the riverbank, making it easy to walk along, even with a stroller. During the summer, you will pass several people fishing along the banks or using the portage point to cross the dam with their kayaks or canoes.
We walked along the river during the fall, and the foliage was pretty nice to see. The trail is not too long, but it’s pretty scenic and was perfect for an after-dinner stroll.
5. Bike Ride on the Trails in Paris
If you enjoy bike riding, then another one of the fun things to do in Paris Ontario with kids is to hit the trails.
Pedal your way to adventure on the scenic bike trails, stop for a picnic in the park, or just explore the town’s picturesque landscapes at your own pace.
The well-maintained trails offer a perfect blend of nature and urban charm. Bike along trails lined with lush greenery, along the riverbanks, and past charming neighbourhoods.
And don’t worry if you didn’t bring along your bike! Grand Experiences, located in the heart of Paris, has got you covered. Not only will you find a variety of bicycles to rent, but they also have kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft available as well.
6. Enjoy a Hike on the Trans Canada Trail
If your family enjoys hiking, then you will be happy to know that Paris is home to several hiking trails. In fact, many of the trails that are popular with cyclists, also serve as fantastic hiking routes.
If you start in Lions Park, like we did, you can hike along the Nith River and Distillery Trail. The route is scenic and easy.
There is also another family-friendly trail that is easy to get to from downtown Paris. From near the Grand River Bridge, you can access the Grand River Trail and the Paris Rail Trail, which stretches for 18 km, all the way to Cambridge.
And while you may not necessarily want to hike that far, the trail is scenic and easy enough that you could do a short out and back with the kids.
7. Hunt for the Cobblestone Houses
Paris, Ontario has earned the reputation of being the Cobblestone Capital of Canada.
Constructed in the mid-1800s, the collection of unique buildings, including 12 homes and 2 churches, showcase the town’s distinct architectural charm.
Made from small, rounded stones taken from the nearby Grand River, these cobblestone buildings were meticulously crafted by layering the stones with cement.
The craftsmanship is absolutely incredible to see! Each cobblestone house has its own charm and unique architectural style.
While you can take a guided tour, we chose to map out the homes ourselves and just enjoy the stroll through town.
8. Admire the View Over the Grand River
If you are looking for the perfect spot to take in the views of the Grand River, look no further than the William Street Bridge.
Located in the heart of town, the bridge provides awesome views of the water, as well as some of the town’s iconic patios.
If you want to sit and watch people paddling or floating along the river, there is also a lookout point at the intersection of Mechanic Street and Grand River Street North. There, you will find benches and pergolas providing some shade.
The Grand River offers a picturesque backdrop for people watching, as you take a break from shopping or antiquing in town. We enjoyed a short break before heading out on our next Paris adventure.
9. Look for Street Art and Murals
While we were a little disappointed that the main Paris mural has been under scaffolding for a year now, we did enjoy looking for other street art, murals and sculptures in town.
We still enjoyed wandering through the town where the kids kept their eyes peeled for colourful creations that adorned building walls and public spaces.
From some smaller murals on the buildings in town to the giant red lip bench outside What’s The Scoop? ice cream shop, the kids had a blast looking for these unique works of art.
Downtown Paris Shopping and More
Downtown Paris is a vibrant hub of shopping and entertainment. Explore the charming streets lined with unique boutiques, local shops, and cozy cafes, where you’ll find a treasure trove of delights for all ages.
10. Look for Treasures in Paris Wincey Mills Co.
One of our absolute favourite places to go in Paris, is the Paris Wincey Mills Co. This historic landmark turned vibrant shopping hub is the perfect place to find a unique treasure.
Inside, you will find some cute little eateries, as well as several shops offering a unique collection of handmade crafts, artisanal goods, and one-of-a-kind finds.
From locally sourced products to vintage treasures, there’s something for every treasure hunter. Discover handmade jewelry, stylish clothing, antique furniture, and much more as you navigate the charming corridors of this bustling marketplace.
Our younger daughter, Miss Somersault, enjoys looking for unique pins in the Bird & Bee Vintage Shop. On our last trip, she found a silver skull pin, as well as an anatomically correct kidney and heart pin. Weird right? Teenagers!
So, whether you’re looking for a special souvenir or just love the thrill of browsing through eclectic offerings, Paris Wincey Mills Co. is definitely a treasure trove waiting to be explored.
11. Scream for Ice Cream at Chocolate Sensations
It doesn’t matter where we go, Hubby and the kids always enjoy trying new ice cream places. And that was the case when we visited Paris.
Although you will find several ice cream shops scattered throughout town, Chocolate Sensations initially drew us in with their mountains of hand-crafted chocolates.
From chocolate bars to truffles, and any number of chocolate-dipped treats, it’s definitely heaven for any chocoholic! 🙋♀️
Chocolate Sensations offers 24 flavours of Kawartha Dairy ice cream, which if you haven’t tried it before, is completely awesome!
Hubby, who believes ice cream should be its own food group, was very happy to learn that they had his fave flavour “Blue Buried Treasure.” Mr. Bump, our youngest, meanwhile went with mint chocolate chip.
I was a little disappointed that, aside from a sorbet, there weren’t any dairy-free flavours available. Oh well… just meant I had to “settle” for chocolate-covered cherries instead!
12. Visit the Paris Museum and Historical Society
Step back in time and uncover the fascinating history of Paris, Ontario at the Paris Museum and Historical Society.
This fascinating little museum is a treasure trove of artifacts, exhibits, and stories that bring the town’s past to life. Explore the carefully curated displays that showcase the rich heritage and cultural significance of the area.
The Communications Exhibit showcases artifacts from telephones to typewriters and is pretty interesting to read about. Maybe have the kids guess what the “old stuff” is for! 🤣
You can find the museum at the Syl Apps Community Centre, located across the Grand River from downtown Paris.
The museum is only open from Wednesday to Saturday from 1 pm until 4 pm, so it may take a little advanced planning to visit if you are only in Paris for the day.
13. Enjoy Hot Chocolate (or Coffee!) with a View at the Dog-Eared Café
Another favourite spot of mine in Paris Ontario, is the Dog-Eared Café. This quaint little shop located on the main strip is both a cafe and a used bookstore.
The Dog-Eared Café has a really great seating area located towards the back of the shop. Not only is it tucked amongst shelves of used books, but it also has a fabulous view of the Grand River.
Hubby and I like to grab a coffee and a treat there when we arrive in town. It’s nice to sit while the kids browse the shelves for an interesting book to add to their collections.
The Café not only serves hot drinks and treats, but also soups, sandwiches and even alcoholic beverages. You will even find a good selection of vegan and gluten-free menu items.
14. Grab Some Cheesecake to Go
Satisfy your sweet tooth and treat yourself to some yummy cheesecake to go from Cheesecake on the Go in Paris, Ontario.
This quaint little shop is a haven for cheesecake enthusiasts, offering a delectable assortment of flavours to tantalize your taste buds.
All of their no-bake cheesecake varieties are served in single-portion mason jars, making them the perfect on-the-go treat. From blueberry to Skor, lemon, strawberry, Oreo, brownie, and more, you may have a problem deciding which one to try!
Cheesecake on the Go also offers cannoli, as well as cheesecake waffles on the weekends.
15. Find the Perfect Book in Green Heron Books
I can’t explain it, but I have always loved the scent of books. And trust me, stepping into Green Heron Books, a cozy little bookstore along the main strip in Paris, will make any bookworm happy!
Filled with shelves of captivating reads waiting to be explored, you could definitely lose yourself in the aisles. Definitely spend some time browsing through the diverse collection of genres, from bestsellers to hidden gems, fiction to non-fiction, and everything in between.
The knowledgeable and friendly staff are always ready to offer recommendations and will help you find your next I-can’t-put-it-down book.
We usually spend quite a bit of time in Green Heron Books, as Miss Somersault tends to digest books in record time. Hubby actually laughed when I found and purchased a child’s book that was missing from one of my collections, on our last visit!
Unique Places to Stay in Paris Ontario
If you are planning to spend the night in Paris, Ontario, there really aren’t too many options available in town aside from the Arlington Hotel. That said, you can easily find some awesome accommodations in Brantford, just a short 15-minute drive away.
16. Spend the Night at the Historic Arlington Hotel
If you want to spend the night in downtown Paris, then head over to the historic Arlington Hotel. This elegant hotel, with its rich heritage and classic architecture, offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern comfort.
The Arlington Hotel offers a collection of 23 beautifully appointed rooms, from standard to junior or executive suites.
🇨🇦 Fun Fact: Built in 1851, The Arlington Hotel is actually older than Canada!
Each room has been completely updated with unique decor and furnishings and is named after a famous author or creative mind.
And don’t forget to visit the attached Library Bar. This cozy eatery serves up some delicious paninis, sliders, salads, and cocktails.
From luxurious suites to cozy accommodations, the Arlington Hotel caters to every traveller’s needs. And with its convenient location in the heart of Paris, you’ll have easy access to the town’s attractions, shops, and dining options.
Amazing Places to Eat in Paris Ontario
Paris, Ontario is home to a diverse range of amazing dining options. From cozy cafes serving up yummy treats to restaurants showcasing local flavours and international cuisines, Paris offers a gastronomic journey that will satisfy every palate.
17. Dine with a View of the Grand at Stillwaters
One of our favourite things to do in Paris Ontario with kids is to enjoy a meal with a view at Stillwaters Plate & Pour. Located in the heart of town, this restaurant offers a large dining room, as well as an awesome rooftop patio and open-air bar overlooking the Grand River.
The food at Stillwaters is pretty great too! With an extensive menu that focuses on market fresh quality ingredients sourced as locally as possible, you are sure to find something that will tempt your tastebuds.
The menu offers everything from seafood to pasta, salads, chicken, steak, and more. There is a decent kids’ menu, as well as vegan and gluten-free menu options available. Even the dessert menu is awesome!
We would definitely recommend making a reservation in advance online, however. This restaurant does get pretty busy, especially on summer weekends.
18. Enjoy the Best Pizza at Capeesh
If it’s pizza you’re after, then head to Capeesh to satisfy your craving and indulge in the best pizza in town. This beloved restaurant is a haven for pizza enthusiasts, serving up mouthwatering pies that are sure to delight your taste buds.
With a wide range of toppings and delicious sauce options, you can customize your pizza to perfection. From classic Margherita to creative specialty pizzas with an Indian or Greek flare, every bite at Capeesh is a flavour explosion.
Trust us, once you’ve had a slice, you’ll keep coming back for more!
Of course, you can find more than just pizza at Capeesh. They have a menu that includes a variety of pasta options, as well as salads, burgers, and more.
There are also plenty of vegan and gluten-free options, as well as a small kid’s menu available.
19. Sample a Beer Flight at The Paris Beer Company
Hubby’s favourite stop while in Paris (aside from ice cream!) is the Paris Beer Company. He loves trying unique craft beers when we are out exploring new places.
This local brewery is a haven for beer enthusiasts, offering a wide selection of handcrafted brews that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.
You can choose from a variety of beer styles, from refreshing lagers to hoppy IPAs and rich stouts, each with its own unique flavour profile.
Hubby opted for a beer flight during our visit, so that he could try a curated selection of different brews. Once you have explored the diverse range of flavours and aromas, you can always head into their shop to purchase some beer to take home.
The friendly and knowledgeable staff are always eager to share their passion for beer and guide you through the tasting experience.
While Hubby sat in the cozy tasting room for his beer flight only, you can also order a variety of pub-style food off their menu which all looked quite delicious.
Exciting Things to Do Just Outside of Paris
While you are visiting Paris, Ontario, you can also head just outside of town for some fun things to do. From farm markets to festivals, the region promises a ton of family-friendly activities.
20. Stock Up on Goodies at Elberta Farms Country Market
Located just 10 minutes outside of town, Elberta Farms is the perfect place to stock up on some delicious goodies.
This charming family-run farm market is a paradise for food lovers, offering an abundance of fresh and locally sourced products.
From crisp seasonal fruits and vibrant vegetables to homemade preserves, baked goods, and more, you’ll find a wide array of delectable treats to tantalize your taste buds.
Explore the aisles filled with artisanal cheeses, flavorful sauces, and specialty products that showcase the best of the region.
Whether you’re planning a picnic, a family gathering, or simply want to enjoy the flavours of the season, Elberta Farms has something for everyone.
21. Have a Blast at the Paris Fair
Every September, the town of Paris, Ontario comes alive with excitement as it hosts the annual Paris Agricultural Fair.
This highly anticipated event brings together the community for a fun-filled long weekend of entertainment, attractions, and agricultural displays.
From thrilling amusement rides and games to monster trucks, live music performances, and awesome fair food, the Paris Fair offers something for everyone in the family.
Visitors can also explore the exhibits showcasing local crafts, produce, and livestock, truly embracing the agricultural heritage of the region.
With delicious food vendors, captivating shows, and a vibrant atmosphere, the Paris Fair is a highlight of the year that captures the spirit and charm of this amazing little town in rural Ontario.
22. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at the Great Canadian Buttertart Festival in Paris
One of the best things to do in Paris Ontario with kids is to satisfy your sweet tooth at the Great Canadian Buttertart Festival! This incredible annual festival celebrates one of Canada’s most beloved desserts—the buttertart—in all its gooey, sweet glory.
As one of the largest buttertart festivals in Ontario, you can indulge in a wide variety of buttertarts from talented bakers and vendors. Let me tell you, trying to decide which ones to try was no easy task.
From traditional buttertarts with flaky crusts and gooey fillings to innovative twists and flavours like raspberry cheesecake or salted caramel, there’s a buttertart to suit every preference.
As buttertarts are easily my favourite sweet treat, we made sure to indulge! However, there were a ton of other vendors there as well.
Apart from the food trucks, there were local food stalls and vendors selling everything from cannoli to cutting boards, and honey to handbags.
We also loved all the photo ops that were spread out across the venue. From a Buttertart sign to the Friends couch, we had a blast taking some totally Instagram-worthy photos.
With live music, entertainment, and a vibrant atmosphere, the Great Canadian Buttertart Festival promises a day filled with delicious indulgence and delightful experiences.
Take your time strolling through the festival, sample some mouthwatering treats, and have fun discovering new flavours that will leave you craving more.
We left the festival with some incredible local honey, and an OBSCENE amount of buttertarts (which apparently freeze very well, but ours never lasted that long)!
So, mark your calendar, come hungry, and join the festivities at the Great Canadian Buttertart Festival in Paris, Ontario. It’s a sweet celebration you won’t want to miss!
23. Learn About the Telephone at the Bell Homestead National Historic Site
Located just 20 minutes outside of downtown Paris, you can learn about the invention of the telephone at the Bell Homestead National Historic Site.
Step into the home where Alexander Graham Bell himself resided and see the birthplace of one of the most groundbreaking inventions in human history.
The Bell Homestead is where you will find several awesome exhibits that showcase the evolution of telecommunications and the impact of Bell’s revolutionary invention.
Inside, you can explore the interactive displays and examine a variety of artifacts and historical documents that show the early days of the telephone.
The Bell Homestead National Historic Site offers a unique opportunity to delve into the world-changing invention that transformed the way we connect and communicate.
How to Get to Paris Ontario
Getting to Paris, Ontario is pretty easy. Whether you’re travelling by car or public transportation, here are a few options to consider:
🚗💨 By Car
Paris is easily accessible by car as it is located along Highway 403, approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Toronto.
If you’re coming from Toronto, you can take the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) westbound, then connect to Highway 403 towards Hamilton and Brantford.
Take Exit 27 for Rest Acres Road, which leads directly into Paris.
🚌💨 By Public Transportation
If you prefer to travel by public transportation, there are a few options available.
VIA Rail operates train services to nearby Brantford, and from there, you can take a taxi or a local bus to reach Paris.
GO Transit also provides bus services from Toronto to Brantford, where you can connect to local transportation or arrange for a taxi to take you into Paris.
Paris Ontario Things to Do – FAQs
Absolutely! Paris, Ontario is definitely worth visiting. With its picturesque setting, family-friendly attractions, outdoor activities, charming downtown area, and welcoming atmosphere, it offers a unique and delightful experience for visitors of all ages.
Paris, Ontario is most known for being the Cobblestone Capital of Ontario. With their gorgeous architecture and incredible craftsmanship, these cobblestone buildings truly are a work of art and something to see!
Paris, Ontario got its name from the nearby gypsum deposits, which were used to make plaster of Paris. Plaster of Paris was discovered in 1793 while the area was being surveyed for the British Home Department.
Yes, it is possible to explore the main attractions and downtown area of Paris, Ontario in a day. The town is relatively compact, allowing visitors to stroll around, visit key landmarks, enjoy local shops and eateries, and experience the charm of Paris within a day’s time.
No, Paris, Ontario does not have an Eiffel Tower. While the town shares its name with the capital of France, it does not have a replica or a similar structure like the iconic Eiffel Tower.
Situated at 13 Burwell Street in Paris, Ontario, the Bawcutt Centre, previously known as the Paris Old Town Hall, stands as one of Canada’s oldest civic Gothic buildings. Dating back to 1854, this remarkable structure features a charming bell tower that adds to its architectural appeal.
Yes, you can rent bicycles from local bike rental shops or inquire at the tourist information center for rental options.
Yes, you can rent canoes or kayaks from local outfitters near the Grand River and enjoy a fun-filled paddling experience with your family.
Yes, there are various festivals and events held in Paris, such as the Paris Fair, Christmas parades, and seasonal celebrations that offer family-friendly activities and entertainment.
Yes, there are guided tours available in Paris, Ontario. The Paris Museum and Historical Society offers guided tours that provide insights into the town’s history and heritage.
Yes, there are several wineries and vineyards in the surrounding area, such as the Bonnieheath Estate Winery.
Yes, Paris, Ontario is generally considered a safe place to visit. The town has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and the local authorities work diligently to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors.
Things to Do in Paris Ontario with Kids – Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are so many fun things to do in Paris Ontario with kids. From outdoor adventures along the Grand River and scenic hikes to interactive trails and cultural experiences, this charming town offers something for everyone.
So if road-tripping to small scenic towns in Ontario is something that you and your family enjoy, we would definitely suggest adding Paris to your list.
Whether you’re exploring historic landmarks, immersing yourselves in nature, or indulging in local treats, Paris will leave you with wonderful memories and a desire to come back for more.
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