As you can tell by this blog, I’m a big fan of small towns in Ontario and all they have to offer. When you hear about Stratford what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Stratford Festival of course. Well, this was the one thing I didn’t do as it’s not festival season, but when you are in Stratford next here are some ideas on where to stay, eat and play.
Where to stay- The Stratford Hotel
You won’t find this hotel on any hotel booking sites like Booking or Expedia. This is a quaint hotel located right downtown within walking distance to everything you will need. It’s rare to find a hotel like this, with only 12 rooms total each room has all of the original hardwood flooring and high ceilings with an antique queen bed and a separate living room with gas fireplaces. As much as this hotel “looks old”, that is what gives it its charm and also has been designated as a heritage building by the Government of Ontario. There’s no better place to stay in Stratford than this small family run boutique hotel.
Where to stay- The Bruce Hotel
Easily the fanciest place in town if you’re looking for a weekend of luxury. A newer hotel to the area, only opening in May of 2014, The Bruce property may be six and a half acres but only has 25 rooms available in the hotel. With a focus on details, this hotel also has one of the best restaurants in town and a beautiful event space. When building this hotel, they thought of everything, and it has paid off.
What to do- Black Swan Brewing Co.
Get your growlers ready! And if you don’t have one, don’t worry Black Swan has one for you. Black Swan Brewing is a microbrewery and taproom located right downtown Stratford that retails numerous flavoured beers including their staple beers, English Pale Ale, Porter and India Pale Ale. The best part is you can fill up your growler and take it home, bring it back and refill again for a set price. Talk about recycling! But their taproom isn’t the only place you can get your hands on their beer, their popularity has helped them grow into a majority of Stratford restaurants but also other restaurants and bars throughout the region. And don’t be surprised if you see people wearing their Black Swan gear around town.
What to do- Shopping!
There are so many cute boutique shops downtown Stratford. But one of my favourite shops I went in was Family & Company. This is more than just your regular toy store. This is a toy store like you’ve never seen before, and a place where you will find something for someone of all ages. This store is all about the experience while shopping and there is something fun happening all the time. Have a seat at the bar, the soda bar that is while you wait for your kids who will definitely be playing. Things like the classic toys and games that everyone plays with a mix of new and innovated fun ideas and unique items you won’t find anywhere else. You will never get bored in this store, and it is bound to bring out the kid in you.
Where to eat- Pazzo
You can head upstairs if you’re looking for something a little more fancier and a sit-down atmosphere you will enjoy the taverna area or head downstairs to the pizzeria for a totally different menu! This great downtown spot is always busy, so a reservation or is a good idea, but the food is incredible no matter what floor you choose to dine on.
Where to go for a treat- Rhéo Thompson Candies
Good things come in small packages, and Rhéo Thompson Candies is no exception. Whether you’re looking at the signature specialties or what is currently being made for the season, you can’t leave without at least trying one of their chocolates, even if it is a chocolate frog (in which I highly recommend). So make sure you save some room when you visit because you’re also going to want to take some home.
So when it comes to Stratford, Ontario, there is more to this small town than just the Stratford Festival. And as much as the Festival brings in a lot of people to town, you now have the inside scoop on where to stay, what to do and where to eat while you’re there even if it’s not for festival season.