It's no coincidence that Stratford, Ontario is named after Shakespeare's home town. Stratford is home to the Stratford Festival, and the heart of the festival is the plays of The Bard. But whether you visit because of the festival, or bring your kids to explore this part of Ontario, there's far more than theater here
- The Stratford Festival has been going strong since 1953, growing until today it runs for 6 months of the year. The heart of the festival are the plays of Shakespeare (well, the town is named after his birthplace) but there's lots of variety here on the festival stages, including musicals like The Sound of Music. For the Festival Web site, click here
Take one of the Festival Costume Warehouse Tours
and see the glorious costumes up close, learn what it takes to make the lords and ladies look regal on stage. Or join in the Backstage Tour
and see what the world looks like from the other side of the proscenium.
In the summer there are open air concerts and art shows in parks, along the river - even on the river! Check with the tourism office for information on free concerts all around the area.
St. Mary's - Take a drive to St. Mary's, "The Stone Town." Many of the buildings here are built of local limestone, some are quite beautiful. This a great place to stroll around (ask at the tourism office for a walking map): visit the town hall, opera house, water tower, churches and antiques shops to see the best of the town's 19th century stonemasonry.
If you've got kids who love baseball, tell them you're going to see the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
, set improbably in a quaint looking building fit for an English vicar. Step inside and learn Canadians have been playing the game since 1838, and 101 other Canadiana baseball facts.
On Fridays (weather permitting) a piper plays the bagpipes
by the waterfall; on Saturdays shop the farmer's market.
Go down on the farm - There are lots of farms in the area around Stratford and many of them offer something special to visitors.
Brickman's Botanical Gardens (Sebringville)
is a 50 acre farm with dozens of animal breeds as well as a big six acre garden filled with thousands of species. There's even a little "tea room" for snacks.
The Birtch Farms and Winery,
about half an hour south of Stratford, has pick-your-own fruit crops
and a little farm market.
is a 120 acre Black Angus farm, but there's also sheep, miniature donkeys and horses. Stop for a tour of the farm on a horse drawn wagon
and a snack of farm-fresh foods and maple sugar candy at the Farm Market.
David Carson Farms (Listowel)
is a 600 acre draft horse, dairy, and beef cattle farm where you can watch livestock auctions and take a hayride.