Best Day Trips In Toronto – Elora

Best Day Trips in Toronto - Elora Mill

If you live in or are visiting Toronto, you may want to head out of the city for a weekend getaway and experience something different.  One of the best day trips in Toronto is a 1.5-hour drive to the “Ontario’s most beautiful village” of Elora, and the town of Fergus.

In a previous post on some of the best road trip ideas, we shared our thoughts on European road trips that are perfect for anyone who loves to drive, enjoy scenic routes, and get immersed in the local culture.  While travel outside of Canada at this time of pandemic is constrained, there are tons of options for day trips.  One of these options is a day trip to the enchanting village of Elora and the town of Fergus.

The Village of Elora 

The two primary communities of The Township of Centre Wellington are the village of Elora and the Town of Fergus.   After their amalgamation in 1999, the area is now a thriving tourist destination bursting with natural wonder, stunning scenery, and adventure.

Elora sits on the edge of a spectacular gorge and nestled along the banks of the Grand & Irvine River. It is famed for its 19th-century limestone architecture and the geographically significant Elora Gorge, the most popular attraction in the area.  The Gorge is truly a beautiful and spectacular natural area with excellent photo spots.

Best Day Trips in Toronto - Elora

The growing town of Fergus is the largest community in Centre Wellington, a township within Wellington County in Ontario, Canada.

How to get there

Elora is situated along the gorgeous Grand River in Southern Ontario. It is one of many small towns that make up rural Ontario and lies on the Grand River about 18 km NNW of Guelph

If you are driving from the Greater Toronto Area, the easiest and quickest route will be to go west via Highway 401 until you reach Morriston.  From there, you take Ontario 6 to Elora, passing through the city of Guelph.  Fergus is only around 8 minutes’ drive from Elora via Wellington Country Road 18.


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What to see and do

Our small group (3 families) arrived in Elora around 10 am.  It gave us sufficient time to have a quick stroll along W Mill Street (although most shops were still closed at that time) and then register for our first activity (a Piloted Safari), which we pre-booked online with Elora Raft Rides.  The leisurely and relaxing ride was on a punt, a flat-bottomed boat for use in small rivers or other shallow waters.

While we sat back and relaxed, our  Punt Boat Captain took us up the Grand River.  He skillfully navigated around river islands and past shaded beaches to the base of the 12 foot Bissell Park dam and its cascading waterfall, while avoiding the rocks at shallowest points.

As he navigated the river, our Punt Boat Captain related to us Elora’s past, present & future, introduced us to the wildlife we see on the river and showed us fossils on the limestone cliffs lining up the riverside. It was indeed a relaxing and educational time well spent with family and friends and an excellent introduction to this beautiful village.

Our next stop was the Elora Gorge Lookout at Victoria Park, which was just a short walk from downtown.  Victoria Park provided much-needed shade and covered us from the scorching noon sun at that time.  The Lookout is a perfect place to have a good view of the stunning 22-meter limestone cliff river walls and the river rushing through the Gorge.  At the park, we walked along the trails that followed the cliffside and enjoyed the view.

After resting at the park, we headed back to the downtown core and grabbed lunch in one of the dining spots at the riverside. We were lucky to get a perfect place at the restaurant’s patio by the river, providing us the opportunity to watch the various activities on the river while enjoying our lunch.

What to bring along

Your day trip will likely give you great memories, which you would want to capture through travel photos. These photos will be handy when telling your experience back home and reminisce about a great time during your trip.  To have quality and vivid shots, it is always good to have a quality camera on top of your smartphones.  Check out our previous post, comparing the camera to smartphones.

In addition to a good camera, you should also plan to bring with you several essential-for-travel items that can make your trip not only memorable but also attach colors and drama to each experience.  Stunning landscapes, wildlife sightings, spectacular architecture, good food, and exciting adventures may greet you during your trip.  You can ensure that you will not miss any of these by bringing essential gadgets.  Check out our post on the items we brought during one of our trips involving similar travel experiences.

Dining options

We had a relaxing lunch at the Cellar Pub and Grill.  We were seated at the back patio which allowed us to enjoy the view of the river. Most of us ordered the special lunch mussels, the fish and chips, and salad with grilled chicken.  We waited for about 30 minutes before got our table.  But the wait was well worth it.

Best Day Trips in Toronto - Mussels in Elora

Other dining options in the area included the following:

  • La Fontana – An Italian restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious selection of homemade fresh pasta tossed in the most fragrant sauces, or wood oven baked pizza made the authentic Neapolitan way, and more.
  • The Evelyn – A French-inspired restaurant at 130 Metcalfe Street at the heart of Elora downtown.
  • Elora Brewing Co. –  Surrounded by century-old heritage, the building provides a real craft beer experience and an excellent ‘farm-to-table’ food in the region.

Where to stay in Elora

As you can tell by now, there are so many things to do in Paris and nearby areas.  Chances are you will want to be back or even decide to extend your stay!  Either way, here are some accommodations you might want to consider.

  • Romantic Riverside Suite – Great for couples vacation – has a 10 rating for a two-person trip.  Guests can enjoy hiking and skiing nearby, or make the most of the garden.
  • Cellar Restaurant and Suite – Couples also like this location – has a 9.8 rating for a two-person trip.  The apartment has river views.

The above are just some of the accommodation options you have.  Check out these as well as other options through the button below.

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Other places to explore in the area

Our group had a great day during our visit to Elora.  We did not have time to explore other areas and attractions.  However, if you have more time, particularly if you decide to extend your stay for a day or so, you can explore and enjoy more of Elora and Fergus offering, with some of the more popular ones being:

  • Elora Gorge Conservation Area – This is a nature lover’s playground.  It is perfect for walks on the trails, camping, as well as tubing and kayaking.
  • Bissel Park – Located along the river’s edge, it hosts a farmers’ market on summer weekends.  The boardwalk is perfect for a nice stroll and a secret path along the abandoned millrace leads you to a nice view of the river.
  • Elora Quarry Conservation Area – Located on the western part of Elora, what used to be a limestone quarry is now a popular summer destination with its turquoise waters and limestone cliffs.

Best Day Trips in Toronto - Elora Landmark

Elora and Fergus are also known for the music festivals that they host, i.e., the Elora Festival and the Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games.

The growing town of Fergus is the largest community in Centre Wellington, a township within Wellington County in Ontario, Canada.

Heading back to Toronto

After our late lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown exploring the beauty of this enchanting village, appreciating some of the unique architecture, boutiques, galleries, and artists’ studios in the area.

Our group had a good day exploring this enchanting village of Elora.  We wanted to swing by Fergus, but it was getting late, and we did not want to drive back at night.  We decided to drive back to Toronto at around 5 pm.  The drive was comfortable, relaxed, and enjoyable while listening to our summer hits playlist.

Parting thoughts

If you wish to escape Toronto’s hustle and bustle, hop on your car and have one of the best day trips in Toronto by heading out to the village of Elora and the town of Fergus (if you have the time) to have a memorable experience of history, nature, and architecture.

Following the day trip out and you would like to plan other activities in the Greater Toronto Area, click the banner below.


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You may like to share with us and our other readers your thoughts and experience with this enchanting village by leaving your comments below.

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(4) Comments

  1. Suz

    Wow, you’ve shared everything there is to know on how one can take a day trip down to Toronto. I personally like the idea of this because I have been at home way too long not to want to have a good time in a place like this. Seems the village is rich in good beauty and lush plants too. Definetely have to give it a try one of this days.

    1. JRandZen

      Hello Suz,

      Thank you for your comments.  Glad you share the idea of a day trip and more so to a village such as Elora.  It was indeed a rich experience for us and do hope that you can give it a try.  Would be glad to hear about your experience when that time comes.  All the best.

  2. Beesean

    Thanks for sharing this informative article on the town of elora in Toronto. In earnestness, it does sound like an ideal tourism spot and vacation destination for people who prefer idyll, quiet places where they can also engage in a lot of fun activities that will be a great way to spend their time but also an ideal spot for relaxation and recuperation. 

    1. JRandZen

      Hi Beesean,

      Yes, Elora is indeed a great destination for an idyllic visit.  No wonder it is dubbed “Ontario’s most beautiful village”.  And it is only about 1.5 hours from Toronto – very convenient.  After several months of lockdown, it was a refreshing opportunity for us.  What about you?  Did you get the chance to get out this summer?

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