Top Things to Do in Elora, Ontario [Tips + Our Experience]

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Our Favourite Things to Do in Elora (& A Few Other Tips!)

Want to explore one of Ontario’s most beautiful towns? Well, Elora fits the bill pretty well! Founded back in 1832, the town of Elora is perhaps most famous for the nearby Elora Gorge and the early limestone architecture (similar to Kingston). 

Elora is located in Wellington County (specifically Centre Wellington close to Fergus and Guelph) which makes it a great day trip from Toronto. With lots of historic points of interest to explore, food to try, and activities to do, it’s no surprise that it’s a great place to visit.

We took a trip to Elora in the fall and it was a great few days. We wanted to enjoy the autumn colors, relax a little, but also do some hiking – and we accomplished exactly those things. During our time there, we stayed at Elora Mill Hotel & Spa and it was a great experience.

So, in this guide, we’ll walk you through what to do in Elora – including things to do but also places to eat, hike, shop, and more!

Elora Quick Guide

Best Time to Visit: Summer for hot weather and river tubing (but busy), fall for fantastic colours and Monster Month, & winter for outdoor activities and cozy cafe visits!

Getting Around: The town is small and very walkable. Pedestrian-only bridges offer nice views of the Grand River. Trails in the area are good for feet and rental bikes.

Top Things to Do: River tubing in Elora Gorge Conservation Area, shop the historic town centre, explore Victoria Park w/ Gorge Lookout, visit Elora Brewing Company

Where to Stay: The Village Inn (Elora) for budget-friendly, The Ayrshire House for a boutique inn, Etherington Suites for an apartment right in town, Elora Mill Hotel & Spa for a luxurious stay with spa & restaurant.

Top Things to Do in Elora

Let’s begin with the top things to do in Elora, Ontario based on our experience. You’ll find a good mix of historical sites, action-packed activities, things to eat and drink, places to explore nature, and much more!

Do keep in mind that some places or activities are only open/available in the warmer months. We will mention winter alternatives where they are applicable!

Land Acknowledgement: Elora sits on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee. We’re grateful for the opportunity to explore Elora and share its beauty.

Explore the Downtown Elora

Navigation Address of Main Intersection: 12 Mill St W, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

street going downhill with small colourful shops lining it in elora ontario.
Looking down the hill on Metcalfe Street towards the Grand River.

If you’re visiting Elora, you should start with a wander through the historic town centre. It may be small, but there is plenty to see, eat, and do!

historic sign with stone cenotaph behind with colourful autumn trees around in elora ontario.
Top of the hill on Metcalfe – the historical plaque and more.

The main street – Metcalfe Street – that runs up the hill from the Grand River is lined with places to explore. At the top of the street, you’ll find a historical plaque about the history of Elora and a small Cenotaph.

orange muffin on wrapper sitting on patio table with coffee in takeaway cup behind.
Our muffin and coffee from Wreckless Eric Cafe (not sure why he’s “wreckless”).

There are a number of shops to check out along the hill of Metcalfe Street including:

It’s helpful to know that there is free, temporary (3hr) parking on this street.

Of course, there are numerous other little businesses or sights that aren’t right on this main street. Be sure to check out Blown Away Glass Studio or The Elora Pottery as two of the top “art stops” close by. 

As for architecture, the area has lots of historic buildings to photograph. Seen from downtown, Knox Presbyterian Church comes to mind!

red brick building seen from sidewalk with blue sky above.
The Tourism Centre is close to the heart of Elora.

Closer to the River near the intersection of Metcalfe and Mill Street West, you’ll find both a small garden area with red Muskoka chairs on one corner (we had a nice sit) and the Elora & Fergus Tourism Centre on the other corner.

It’s a good place to stop if you have any questions about the area.

Shop Mill Street West & The Elora Mews

Navigation Address: 45 West Mill Street, Elora

limestone shops lining paved street with trees in distance in elora.
Some of the small shop fronts are on Mill Street West.

Once you are done with Metcalfe Street, turn the corner near the river and you’ll be heading down Mill Street West. 

This small section of street is lined with some of the prettiest limestone buildings in the area – all of which lead up to the gate of Elora Mill Hotel & Spa

You’ll also find lots of places to eat (like Scoop Ice Cream) and shops here (like Jammed Lovely), as well. 

black fence on footbridge with grand river water below with historic inn in distance.
The footbridge from Mill Street West offers pretty nice views of the Grand River.

In addition, you can get access to a footbridge (officially the Jack R. MacDonald Bridge) that crosses the Grand River and offers nice viewpoints of the river, Elora Mill, and other buildings that line the river bank.

This stretch of the street also includes a small set of shops known as the Elora Mews. These shops are nestled into some old limestone ruins and form a bit of an outdoor shopping mall.

There’s a cafe – Lost and Found Cafe – and a few other boutique shops you can explore. We wandered into Seasons Home & Gift which had a little bit of everything from boutique kitchen and home decor to toys and games for kids!

Wander through Victoria Park

Navigation Address: 98 James St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

After you’re done exploring the heart of the town, the next spot you should check out is Victoria Park for views of the famous Elora Gorge. 

Located just a short walk from downtown, Victoria Park is a small park area that runs along some of the steepest parts of the gorge.

Once you enter the park, you can find the fence that runs along the gorge edge to take in the views. 

woman standing under metal entrance sign for green park space with trees behind.
The main entrance to Victoria Park close to the parking area.

There’s a main parking area with an entrance arch but you can also enter the park from Church Street West. The street ends and turns into the path (part of the Upper Grand Gorge Trail) which runs through the park.

This is actually where you get some of the best photos of the “Tooth of Time”. This iconic rock formation has a long history to the point where it is used as the emblem for the town!

There’s a historic plaque to read all about the history which we’d recommend.

woman with bag sitting on edge of rocky barrier with gorge and trees in the distance behind.
Lisa enjoyed the views from the “Lover’s Leap” lookout.

If you keep going along the fence line, you’ll eventually come to a man-made platform with some stairs known as the “Lover’s Leap”.

From here, you get the best, unimpeded views of the gorge with the Grand River meeting Irvine Creek below. Just make sure you stay within the barriers because it’s quite the drop over the edge. 

man with backpack walking down some forest stairs into gorge with rocks and trees beside.
Eric descending the Gorge Stairs in Victoria Park.

The other main feature of Victoria Park is the stairs that lead down into Irvine Gorge. These concrete steps should be taken with caution.

Once you are down into the gorge, there are large boulders and loose rocks so definitely watch your footing.

Down in the creek bed, you get really beautiful shots of the water, the David Street Bridge, and the high sides of the gorge above you.

man standing on large rock in dry river bed in large gorge with bridge in distance.
Down in the creek bed in Irvine Gorge.

We visited when the water was low and cold so we just explored a bit and then headed out but we have seen photos of people splashing in the water here in the sunshine.

Victoria Park also has a few amenities like washrooms and a few picnic tables. If we wanted to have a picnic lunch, this is one spot we would definitely consider. Just remember to clean up after yourself!

Hike the Local Hiking Trails/Paths

iron trestle bridge with concrete piers seen from underneath with trees around.
Under the famous Trestle, there’s a lookout and lots of interesting info!

If you’re heading to Elora to do some hiking (like we were), you’re going to be in luck – there are plenty of great trails around the town and the surrounding area.

A good thing about the trails in Elora is that there are short loops that start and finish right in town and there are longer, more moderate-level walks/hikes that take you much further from town.

You get to choose how long and how far you wish to go.

large outdoor sign post of trails in elora and fergus.
This sign is in Victoria Park – take a photo, it’s useful!

The sign above is posted in Victoria Park. We took a photo and we are so glad we did because it helped us plan our whole experience.

We didn’t walk every trail in the area, but – using the numbers above – we did tackle some of 1, 5, 3, and 2. We also accidentally accessed the Aboyne Trail and used it to get to the Trestle Bridge. More on that is below.

Our favourite was definitely walking the #5 “Trails Loop” which includes some of the Trestle Bridge Trail. We liked it because the views from the famous Trestle Bridge are lovely but also the quiet nature time you get while you hike is perfect.

Here is a brief breakdown of the trails we did and some of the others you can explore in the area. You can find each of them in the above photo, for reference:

River Loop

The River Loop – indicated by 1 – basically follows the Grand River towards Fergus one on side of the river and comes back to Elora on the other side. It’s 11.3 kilometres if you were to walk the whole thing. 

We used part of the trail to head out of Elora towards the Museum Trail at the Wellington Museum & Archives. 

We’d say don’t do this. 

The trail (1) is just the shoulder of the main road (Wellington Rd 18) and the paved shoulder with cars whizzing by isn’t very relaxing.

Instead, we’d suggest taking (5) out of Elora – this path is much more calm and situated in the fields for a nicer experience.

Trails Loop

Speaking of 5, the Trails Loop is also a longer hike but it does not take you all the way to Fergus from Elora. This whole loop is about 9.3 kilometres.

The trail is an extension of Church Street in town. It becomes more rural heading away from Elora towards Fergus.

man with backpack walking across large trestle bridge path with railings ob both sides.
Crossing the Trestle – over 100 metres long and 25 metres off the river below.

The Trails Loop technically includes the Trestle Bridge Trail – which crosses the famous Trestle Bridge – and it is absolutely worth the effort.

The views from the bridge are lovely and there is so much to learn about from the historic plaques near the bridge.

woman walking on trail with trail sign and rocks in foreground.
Lisa walking the Trestle Bridge Trail after we crossed the bridge.

After the bridge, you cross a roadway and then the trail continues (seen above in the photo) heading back towards Elora.

This part of the trail is straight as an arrow. It’s made of loosely packed gravel and actually situated in some treed areas. We really enjoyed this stretch of the path since it was quiet and peaceful.

straight gravel path seen with green trees on both sides into the distance.
The path is pretty straight heading back toward Elora.

There were a number of walkers, bikes, and strollers on the path as we got closer to town which was great to see.

There were also lots of dogs on the trail – all of which were on leashes – which is always a highlight of ours.

Bissell Loop

woman walking on wooden boardwalk over green grass wit trees around in park space.
The Bissell Park boardwalk is worth checking out.

The Bissell Loop is a short 1.8km loop right in Elora. Part of the trail snakes along the boardwalk in Bissell Park, hence the name.

You cross the footbridge near Bissell Park and walk back on the other side of the Grand River back into the heart of Elora. 

Upper Grand Gorge Trail

purple trail sign standing on leaf covered trail with black fence on one side and trees around.
The trail here in Victoria Park follows the gorge.

For views of the Gorge without heading too far from Elora, the Upper Grand Gorge Trail is for you. 

Only about 1.3 kilometres, this trail works its way from Victoria Park, follows the gorge, and crossed the historic David Street Bridge before hugging the gorge on the other side of the river (near the Elora Community Centre). You then return the same way you came (no loop).

A highlight of this trail is seeing the Tooth of Time at a distance as it sits with the rushing water around it. Another highlight is easy access to the steps into the Gorge from Victoria Park.

The Aboyne Trail

woman on hiking path through green field with large stone and trail sign in foreground.
The start of the Aboyne Trail after crossing the street from the Wellington Museum & Archives.

While it’s not one of the numbered trails in the photo above, the Aboyne Trail was also worth walking. 

It’s located closer to the Wellington County Museum and Archives – it’s across the street from the main Museum Building/property.

This smaller, closed trail loop is in a wooded area between the road and the river. It also has a small parking area.

We ended up here accidentally looking to jump onto the Trestle Bridge Trail (we thought that was how it connected). Turns out, the Aboyne Trail was different from the (1) we had been on.

However, it was a nice hike away from the road with a bench for riverside sit in the woods which we liked.

woman with sweater wrapped around waist climbing stairs to another trail.
The stairs from the Aboyne Trail Parking Lot connect to the Trestle Bridge Trail over the roadway!

Once back at the parking lot for this trail Aboyne area, we then found the short trail and some stairs which lead up to the Trestle Bridge Trail.

From there, we used the trail (5) to get back to Elora so it all worked out perfectly!

Elora Cataract Trailway

This is actually a much longer trail that runs through the area (Fergus and Elora). If you are up for a longer hike or have bikes, this might be the trail for you since you could get in some mileage and do an out-and-back from Elora.

The whole Elora Cataract Trailway is 47 kilometres long and actually connects the Grand River and Credit River watersheds. 

It’s situated on the old rail bed for the Canadian Pacific Railway and heads east from Elora, through Fergus, and past Belwood Lake Conservation Area towards Forks of Credit Provincial Park near Caledon. 

That’s quite the journey!

We haven’t done it but we really liked exploring Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and other hikes in and around Caledon so it’s always fascinating to see how these trail systems are all connected!

Relax at Elora Brewing Company

Navigation Address: 107 Geddes St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

outside shot of elora brewing company with front patio umbrellas and road in front.
It’s easy to find Elora Brewing Company!

If you want to quench your thirst after all that hiking, Elora Brewing Company works well for that! 

Located at the top of the hill from downtown (where Geddes Street meets Metcalfe Street), Elora Brewing Company is a popular place to visit for a drink, a bite to eat, or even to hear some live music. 

We had heard so much about the brewery from friends and family who had visited Elora previously. Their flagship “Elora Borealis” is quite the hit in our circle of friends – so we were really happy to go to the source and see what they are all about. EBC did not disappoint. 

There’s a front patio that faces the street but we opted to sit inside because the fall evening was a little chillier (we went for dinner).

Inside the brewery which is tucked away in an old limestone building, they have wooden tables, a nice big bar/tap area, and seats up near the large front windows which they open in the summer. 

four sampler beer glasses in wooden holder sitting on wooden table at brewery in elora.
Our sampler flight at EBC- we liked everything, honestly.

In the back of the place, you can actually see all the massive brewing vats where they make their beer. You might even catch a brewer doing their thing!

We ended up with a sampler flight of four beers and then Eric got an additional beer (Borealis) because he really enjoys beer.

They have a few beers available year-round like their Borealis or their Ladyfriend IPA but they also do a ton of seasonal beers. We liked the Autumn Logger and a sour (which we can’t remember the name of, but it was nice, too).

For dinner, we both had the EBC Burger with their fries. Honestly, we’ve had lots of brewery food, pub food, and burgers both here and abroad. 

hamburger on plate with fries with sampler beers behind on table at elora brewing co.
The EBC burger was tasty. Very tasty.

The EBC burger at Elora Brewing was – in Eric’s opinion – one of the best he has ever had. It’s fancy with garlic aioli but it’s also super simple. The shoestring fries also have a seasoning salt on them making them extra tasty. 

That said, other people’s food also looked really good. We’re not sure if you can go wrong there.

Overall, our visit was really nice. There’s a healthy mix of tourists and locals – and the staff was awesome. They pride themselves on being a very inclusive environment and it’s reflected in the vibe when you visit. Our server even gave us tips on things to do and see in town!

Oh, and in case you don’t have a chance to stop and sit, they have a bottle shop as soon as you walk in the door with fridges ready to load you up with takeaway beers!

Enjoy the Grand River 

Navigation Location of Bridge: 43°40’49.8″N 80°25’49.4″W

If you haven’t already noticed, the famous Elora Gorge wouldn’t be possible without the Grand River that runs through it. 

Luckily for visitors, there are plenty of ways to experience and appreciate the river when you visit. 

For example, you can get views of the Elora Gorge Falls from the inner parking lot area of Elora Mill Hotel & Spa. You can also get great views if you book a table at their restaurant. 

tooth of time rock formation with waterfall flowing around it seen from far away through cedar trees.
The “Tooth of Time” as seen from the paths in Victoria Park.

The other way to really enjoy the falls (as they cascade around the Tooth of Time) is to see them from one of the walking paths in Victoria Park.

Aside from the waterfall, other parts of the Grand River can be enjoyed – and you can do so safely by paddling on it, tubing in it, or hiking above it!

We’ve outlined a handful of these ways below:

canoes floating in a group beside grassy shoreline of grand river in elora.
The canoes are all tied together waiting to be taken out!

If you want to try your hand at some easy canoeing or kayaking, you can check out Elora Paddle Company.

Launching just steps from the heart of town, you can paddle the calm part of the river between the safety buoys near the falls all the way up to the waterfall near Bissell Park.

yellow boat floating in water at dock beside stone houses that line the river bank in elora ontario.
This flat-bottom boat is also ready for a spin on the Grand!

If you want a scenic ride without work, the Elora Raft Rides are a good option. They have many options for taking out a “punt” – a flat-bottomed boat for shallow waters (just like in Cambridge, UK).

You can either rent a boat yourself to try punting – propelling the boat along by pushing off the bottom with a large pole – or book a punting tour with a guide to take you!

view of river from high bridge above with green trees lining both banks and blue sky above in elora ontario.
The views of the Grand from the Trestle Bridge are worth the hike out there.

To get views above the river, there are numerous bridges that cross the river in different places.

Close to downtown Elora, the “Downtown Bridge” (officially the Jack R. MacDonald Bridge) is great for views of Elora Mill.

There’s also a high bridge on Wellington Rd 7 close to where Elora Gorge Conservation Area begins (more below) with stunning views of the gorge and river below.

Upriver closer to Bissell Park, there is a Walking Bridge by the Bissell Dam which you can cross (it’s part of the Trails Loop Trail).

If you hike a little farther away from town, the famous Trestle Bridge is an old rail bridge that crosses the river at quite a height – it’s definitely worth the experience!

Experience Elora Gorge Conservation Area

Navigation Address: 7400 Wellington County Rd 21, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

Speaking of the famous Gorge and Grand River, a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area is to take advantage of Elora Gorge Conservation Area.

Established in 2006, the Conservation Area is run by the Grand River Conservation Authority (also runs Elora Quarry).

FYI: Elora Gorge Conservation Area is different from Elora Quarry Conservation Area. Admission to one does not get you paid admission to the other as they are separate entities.

Elora Gorge Conservation Area is a multi-use area situated around some of the steepest parts of the Gorge and some of the wildest water on the river (in this area).

As such, the conservation area is a very popular spot for camping, river tubing, fishing, and hiking/walking trails.

In fact, camping is very popular with many bookable campsites (serviced or unserviced) throughout the area. These sites book up quickly in advance of the season so if you know you want to camp there this summer, be sure to book!

That said, you can also pay for day use in the conservation area. You can make use of the hiking trails that run (safely) along parts of the gorge and use other facilities in the area like the splash pad.

There are a few points of interest like the “Hole in the Rock” where you can actually walk through a large hole in the limestone.

Of course, one of the major activities Elora Gorge Conservation Area is known for is river tubing. The combination of the rushing water and high cliffs towering above you make for a memorable experience that spans about two kilometres through the conservation area.

If you want to go to Elora Gorge CA for tubing, all tickets must be purchased online and in advance. There is no walk-up available. You can also bring your own equipment or rent equipment from the Conservation Authority onsite. 

The conservation area only operates seasonally – from May 1 to the middle of October – so you can only enjoy it in the warmer months. That said, it’s a very popular summertime activity in Ontario.

However, that’s still plenty of months to get out there and enjoy the unique natural setting of the area.

Discover the Wellington County Museum and Archives

Navigation Address: 0536 Wellington County Rd 18, Fergus, ON N1M 2W3

large ornate stone building with spire and trees and grass surrounding it.
The historic building is beautiful to photograph.

If you want to dive into the rich history of the area, the Wellington County Museum and Archives have you covered. 

Originally built back in 1877 as a “poor house”, the institution was an early example of the social security system in place.

Those staying there did so in exchange for labour (mostly agricultural), given the priorities of the area. 

large signs for entrance to wellington archives and museum with green grass below and trees above and behind.
The Museum and Archives are easy to find!

Today, the historic building and grounds are a Museum and the County archives. You can visit the main building – the Museum – which has several permanent exhibits and a few rotating/seasonal exhibits, as well!

From seeing what a 1920s kitchen looked like to learning about the early inhabitants of the area (known as the “Attawandaron” or Neutrals), there is a lot to be explored. Admission is by donation so keep that in mind when you visit. 

Aside from the Museum, their grounds have a number of connections to the areas walking trails. From the County Archives, we picked up the Aboyne Trail path when we did our big hike towards the Trestle Bridge.

If you visit Elora in the winter, the County Museum and Archives offers snowshoe rentals for both adults and kids to use on their large property.

Rentals are 5 dollars (so pretty affordable) and it’s a great way to get out, get the blood moving, and enjoy the snow! 

Relax at Elora Hotel and Spa

Navigation Address: 77 Mill St W, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

view of historic inn hotel reflective off the river in front in elora ontario.
Elora Mill Hotel and Spa – seen from the closest footbridge over the river.

You can make your trip to Elora a peaceful and relaxing getaway. How? By heading to Elora Mill Hotel & Spa to enjoy their facilities! 

Located just steps from the most historic, limestone-laden areas of Elora, there has been some form of mill (grist mill, sawmill, flour mill) in this location since the mid-1800s.

Due to fires, the building has been rebuilt numerous times and was recently renovated and reopened in 2018 as the upscale accommodation known as Elora Mill Hotel & Spa.

large limestone elora mill building seen from the parking lot with rocks and shrubs around.
The main entrance for Elora Mill – the spa building is behind these centre rocks!

Now, it’s a popular place to stay overnight but you can also make use of their spa facilities through day-use packages.

From massages and indoor plush loungers to the outdoor rooftop pool with a patio that overlooks the river below, it’s quite the place for relaxing and pampering yourself.

We stayed at Elora Mill when we visited Elora so we had access to the heated pool and hot tub. We had warm weather in October so it was the perfect time to be outside to enjoy the fresh air.

However, there were lots of people stopping in for a day visit to use the facilities. Everyone gets a plush robe to lounge in – and it’s awesome.

It can be a bit pricey but some of their day or weekend packages are worth it for the experience.

Aside from the spa area, you can also pop into Elora Mill for a nice meal. Their restaurant overlooks the river/gorge and some tables overlook the Tooth of Time as the waterfall cascades around it.

We had breakfast and dinner at the Restaurant and the whole experience was excellent. 

Have an Adventure with One Axe Pursuits

Navigation Address: 24 Henderson St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

If you’re in Elora and looking to take advantage of the unique topography, then checking out One Axe Pursuits is a must!

As the area’s experts in adventure sports like rappelling, ziplining, ice climbing, and rock climbing, these guys do a little bit of everything in all different seasons. 

With headquarters located right in town a short walk from the heart of downtown, they are easy to find and coordinate with. In fact, you can even try urban rappelling right out of the old church tower at their office!

Do keep in mind that some of the activities are seasonal – ziplining is summer only and ice climbing required frozen waterfalls. The good news is there is an adventure activity awaiting you whenever you plan to visit Elora.

Explore the Elora Centre For The Arts

Navigation Address: 75 Melville St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

large limestone building with painted mural on the outside and blue sky above.
You can’t miss the Elora Centre for the Arts building!

If you’re feeling a little creative – or want to dive into the local art scene – Elora Centre for the Arts is for you! 

Located in an old limestone school building, a very short walk from the heart of town, The Centre for the Arts is home to a number of exhibits, organizations, events, and much more. 

You might in interested in visiting their onsite artisan shop where you can check out and shop lots of different artisan goods made by local artists. 

They also have an onsite gallery space (the Minarovich Gallery) which hosts rotating exhibits featuring local artists and different themes. 

If you catch the Centre at the right time, you might even be able to join in on a class or workshop. From painting to wood burning, working with ceramics, and even sketching portraits, there’s a medium for everyone!

outdoor sign of drawn map of elora town with trees standing around.
The signboard for the Outdoor Art Pathways Project.

Outside, their green property is home to the Outdoor Pathways Project which is an accessible pathway with art installations.

You can wander through and even stop for a picnic lunch on the grounds if you plan it right.

Swim at Elora Quarry Conservation Area

Navigation Address: 319 Wellington County Rd 18, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

sign for conservation area with closed gate and busy road in front.
The entrance to the Elora Quarry is just off the main road (Wellington Rd 18).

If you want to swim when you visit Elora, the Elora Quarry Conservation Area is the place to go.

Also run by the Grand River Conservation Authority, this old flooded limestone quarry pit is – quite literally – the local swimming hole.

The quarry is located just off the main road into/out of town from Fergus and backs onto the picturesque Grand River.

While some of the rocky cliffs in the quarry are up to 12 metres high (jumping is not allowed), there’s a nice sandy beach area and some shallower edges from which you can enter the water safely. 

The area also has a few picnic tables and washrooms in terms of facilities. If you want to visit, you must book your tickets and parking permits online and in advance – this approach helps to manage summer crowds.

Also, keep in mind that The Quarry is only open in the warmer months – between early June and Labour Day! Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there so we will have to come back.

Explore Bissell Park

Navigation Address: 127 E Mill St, Centre Wellington, ON N0B 1S0

tree turning orange in autumn standing in green park space with blue sky above.
Bissell Park isn’t huge but is a pretty green space to see.

If you’re still looking for a bit of green space and water views, Bissell Park shouldn’t be overlooked.

Just a very short walk from the heart of Elora’s downtown, Bissell Park isn’t a massive park – but it has enough going on to call for a visit!

A highlight of the park is the wooden boardwalk that runs along the edge of the Grand River.

As you walk along heading away from downtown, you’ll be greeted by views of a small waterfall/spillway that looks very pretty with a footbridge crossing overtop of it. 

view of grand river with small waterfall and bridge above surrounded by green trees on each side.
The view from the Bissell Park boardwalk of the dam/waterfall/footbridge.

If you walk a bit more, you can actually get up on the footbridge – it’s part of the Bissell Loop (3) and the Trails Loop (5).

As for facilities, there’s a public washroom, a large pavilion that hosts events, and a small parking lot with a few spots. 

Bissell Park is also the proud home of Riverfest Elora – an annual music festival that draws some pretty big music acts and pretty large crowds each year. We’ll talk more about festivals and events below.

Mix & Sip at Elora Distilling Company

Navigation Address: 102 Metcalfe St Unit 4, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

old red brick building with front entrance facing street with blue sky above.
You cannot miss the beautiful Distillery building just off Metcalfe!

If you’re into the booze but beer isn’t for you, why not stop at Elora Distilling Company?

Located just off the main street downtown in a beautiful old red brick building, Elora Distilling is known for its small-batch, high-quality spirits that are made with locally-sourced ingredients. 

The founders are passionate about their craft and their attention to detail shows in everything they do.

There are actually a few ways that you can experience the Distillery. You can book a tour, take a cocktail class, or just sip a cocktail in their Royal Room. 

We didn’t get a chance to visit this time around but we were considering their cocktail-making class as a neat thing to do!

Visit Gerrie’s Garden Centre and Farm Market

Navigation Address: 7646 Colborne St, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

Another great way to support local businesses and growers in the region is to shop locally. One great place you can do this is at Gerrie’s Garden Centre and Farm Market.

Located just a very short drive – or 30-minute hike along the trail (5) – away from town in the direction of the Wellington County Museum and Archives, this year-round farmers market has a little something for everyone.

The Gerrie family has been farming in/around Elora since the 1940s. 

These days, you can visit their store to buy local, seasonal produce, as well as loads of other things like meat and dairy products from local producers, honey, jams/preserves, maple syrup, and even soup stock and baked goods like bread or butter tarts!

Attend an Elora Event or Festival

man in denim walking path through small garden with monster sculptures around.
Eric brought his Canadian tuxedo to Monster Month.

No matter the time you visit Elora, there is bound to be something going on! Elora might be small but it has a strong sense of community – and these Elora events and festivals showcase this!

Here is just a snapshot of the most notable things that bring people together – and bring people to Elora – throughout the year:

  • Riverfest Elora – The annual music festival in August that draws over 5000 visitors. Located in Bissel Park, past music acts have been Alessia Cara, Mother Mother, and more.
  • Monster Month – Celebrated the whole month of October, you’ll find many interesting creatures around town – especially in the little park at the corner of Metcalfe Street and Mill Street West. Many events take place – including the “Monster March” which is a costumed community walk/parade!
  • The Elora Festival – One of Canada’s leading choral festivals occurs in Elora in July.
  • The Elora Farmers’ Market – A weekly market (Saturday) that runs in Bissell Park in the warm months and moves indoors for most of the winter (Fergus).

You can find more local events on our curated Ontario Events Page – with searchable table!

Go to The Gorge Cinema

Navigation Address: 43 Mill St W, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

small sign for cinema on side of building with green leaves around.
The Gorge Cinema isn’t going anywhere!

Established back in the 1970s, the Gorge Cinema is one of those classic places that seems to keep on kicking. 

This Elora staple has been showing films ever since. It’s a good independent cinema – much like The Bookshelf in nearby Guelph – with nice owners that provide an intimate movie-watching experience. 

They are closed for renovations right now (in 2023) but will be back and better than ever real soon!

Grand River Raceway & Casino

Navigation Address: 7445 Wellington County Rd 21, Elora, ON N0B 1S0

If you’re seeking out a bit of adult fun, you could always hit up the race track and casino. Located on the edge of town, the Grand River Raceway and Elements Casino are in/on the same complex. 

There are slot machines, onsite dining, and the race track – but they also host a few events like comedy shows throughout the year. 

If you’re travelling with kids, the race track actually does a thorough job of making it family-friendly with horse meet-and-greets trackside, barn tours, and other events for kids. 

Visit Fergus

Navigation Location: 43°42’12.9″N 80°22’46.4″W (for the Historic Post Office Building)

If you’re in Elora, you can definitely also explore the nearby town of Fergus. With deep Scottish roots, it’s no surprise that the town hosts the Scottish Festival & Highland Games annually. 

Similar to Elora, the historic downtown is packed with shops, cafes, and other interesting places to explore. 

The Grand River runs through the heart of downtown Fergus, and you can check it out via some of the pedestrian bridges that cross the gorge throughout the town centre (like the one near the Templin Gardens).

Things to Consider When Visiting Elora, Ontario

When planning your visit to Elora, there are some other details like the best time to visit, how to get around, and where to stay that you should consider!

Best Time to Visit Elora

trees with bright red and green leaves lining paved driveway with sky above.
The fall colours were just incredible when we visited!

The best time to visit Elora really depends on what you want to do and when you are free since you can really visit Elora any time of year. 

Summer brings with it the hottest temperatures which is great for river tubing on the Grand River – but it can also be very crowded. The summer festivals can also make the town busy.

We visited in the fall and the colours were amazing. It was also nice for hiking/walking in the cooler temperatures.

You can find Elora less busy if you visit during the week – otherwise, the weekend crowds can definitely swell –  but not as much as in summer. 

That said, winter is also beautiful with ice forming around the river and the shops/buildings looking festive in the snow and lights. Not to mention sipping a hot drink is just so cozy in the winter. 

There are even winter-specific activities like snowshoeing or ice climbing which can only be done in the cold months!

That said, some businesses downtown close due to seasonality, and some activities (like canoeing) obviously aren’t happening in the winter. Just something to keep in mind.

Getting Around Elora

If you’re coming from Toronto, the drive to Elora is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once you arrive in Elora, park the car and explore on foot. There is parking near the river at Bissell Park and there’s also a parking lot located here.

There’s also parking up near the Cenotaph as well as just south of the centre of town on the south side of the Grand River (near the Riverside Chapel).

The town isn’t huge and you can find everything you’d want to see and explore within walking distance from the main intersection of Metcalfe Mill Street West.

Of course, if you have bikes, you could use them to get around. If you do not have bikes, you could always rent bikes from Elora Ski & Cycle.

You’d be able to venture a little further from the town centre on the road or the nicely packed trails that snake through the area. The Trails Loop (5 on the trail photo in this post) would be great for bikes!

Where to Stay in Elora

large stone wall for old mill building entrance with cars parked in front.
The main entrance for Elora Mill Hotel & Spa.

Elora is a popular day trip destination but you can definitely stay the night if you’re looking to explore the surrounding area, enjoy the nightlife, or attend a festival. It also makes for a great weekend getaway destination.

Luckily, there is a nice mix of smaller accommodations and one very large and luxurious accommodation in Elora. 

The Village Inn (Elora) is a more budget-friendly option located just on the outskirts of town a short walk to the heart of the action.

The Ayrshire House is also a lovely option. It’s a boutique inn/guesthouse very walkable back to the heart of town.

If you’re looking for an apartment to spend the weekend in, Etherington Suites is the place for you. Located right downtown and with Grand River views, these self-catered apartments are the perfect mix of location and space.

Of course, if you’re looking for hotels in Elora with the intention of getting pampered, Elora Mill Hotel & Spa is the place to book.

Featuring upscale rooms, an outdoor pool and spa services, and fine dining in their restaurant that overlooks the Grand River into the gorge, Elora Mill Hotel & Spa doesn’t shortcut any part of your stay. 

upscale room interior with big beg couch and wooden beam at elora inn hotel and spa.
Our room at Elora Mill was opulent, to say the least!

We stayed at Elora Mill on our getaway (not sponsored) and it was honestly perfect. Upscale in price, but a great experience.

If you don’t mind staying in the area (or if places are booked up) you might consider St Andrew Suites in Fergus. This bright, cozy inn right on the main street in town is just a very short drive back to Elora.

Related Articles

If you find yourself in this area of Ontario, here are some other articles that might be helpful to you!

And there you have it – our complete guide on what to do in Elora, Ontario. In the end, there is lots to see and do to suit all interests.

Plan ahead a little bit but also remember to just wander and let the town show you around. You never know what you might find!

As always, Keep Exploring, eh?
– E&L

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Author
Eric Wychopen is a Canadian content writer who loves to share his passion for Ontario. Originally from a small town in Simcoe County, he has almost 50 countries under his belt - but Ontario will always be home. Having travelled thousands of kilometres across the province for work and play, Eric has a wealth of knowledge about the province and is always looking for new experiences in Ontario.