Almonte Ontario is a charming town filled with history, delicious eats, interesting shops, and picturesque streets. So beautiful, in fact, that it is the backdrop to many cheesy holiday and Christmas movies. I call them cheesy in an attempt to sound cool, knowing very well that when Christmas time rolls around, I always end up wanting a few.
The 19th Century mill town is surrounded by the Canadian Mississippi River (not to be confused with the Mississippi River in the United States) and is only 40 minutes from downtown Ottawa. This spot is a true gem and perfect for a weekend getaway or day trip if you’re nearby.
Exploring this quaint village town is a one-of-a-kind experience and sure to satisfy everyone’s travel needs.
Whether you are looking for a couples retreat, something for the whole family, or travelling solo, you can’t go wrong with Almonte. It’s the perfect weekend escape for locals and should be added to all the itineraries of travellers visiting Canada from afar.
Check out my list of top things to do and where to eat and stay in Almonte. But be prepared, this town will steal your heart, and you may want to extend your trip by a couple of days. And if you do, add a stop in Ottawa to your itinerary.
The History Of Almonte Ontario
- Most notable is James Naismith. For those who don’t know, he is the man who invented basketball in 1891. While most of us know that the sport was invented in Canada, I bet you didn’t know James was born in Almonte, Ontario.
- Almonte went through several name changes, from Shepherd’s Falls to Shipman’s Mills, Ramsayville, Victoriaville and Waterford.
- Almonte is named after a Mexican General, Juan Almonte, purely because he was in the news when the town had to choose a new name. BTW it’s pronounced “AL-mont” instead of the Spanish “al-MON-day.”
- The first European settler to Almont was David Shepherd, and after receiving a grant of land from the Crown in 19819, he began construction of a grist mill and sawmill.
- In the later part of the 19th century, the textiles industry became a very lucrative business with a national market for fine woollen goods.
Where is Almonte Ontario?
Okay, so before we dive into what you will be doing in Almonte, let’s make sure you know where it is and how to get there. Located in the Ontario highlands in Mississippi Mills’ municipality, it’s a 4-hour drive from Toronto, making it an ideal weekend getaway with the option of adding Ottawa in as a day trip.
Plane VS Car
With public transport options to Almonte being limited, it’s best to rent a car. Either a road trip from Toronto or flying into Ottawa International airport and rent a car from there (or get a taxi from the airport into town) could be pricey, though). It’ll be about a 45-minute drive to Almonte from here. Hertz Mobile
Having a car also allows you more freedom when exploring this town of Mississippi Mills, and you’ll easily be able to get around the area, doing and seeing the things you want to.
The other option would be to get a bus from Toronto to Carleton Place and then get a taxi into Almonte town, which is about a 15-minute drive.
Things to do in Almonte, Ontario: Activities & Sights
Almonte Ontario may be small, but it’s jam-packed with awesome activities and incredible scenery to check out!
Almonte Riverwalk on Mississippi River
This boardwalk along the Canadian Mississippi River is exquisite and shouldn’t be missed when visiting Almonte. Start outside the Old Town Hall and mozy along on the riverwalk through the historic downtown area. You’ll pass the old mills that have been renovated for commercial use and the cascading waterfalls of the river. The walk ends at the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, and the geology is worth checking out if you have some time.
Mill of Kintail
This 152-acre conservation area in Almonte is gorgeous. There are several hiking trails to choose from to explore this lush Mill of Kintail area. The scenic paths are open all year round and are always beautiful. So grab those walking shoes and discover the wonder of Almonte beyond the beautiful streets.
Rent a Canoe or Kayak
If you are an adventurous soul and up for trying something different, then be sure to explore the river routes on a canoe or kayak. You can hire kayaks and check out the routes alone, or you can opt to go in a group. This is a fun activity but is only advised if you are confident in the water and have done something similar before.
Good Food Walking Tour
If you’re like me – well, more like my significant other, it’s always challenging with so many dining options to pick just one spot for her, to try out. Well, here is the solution. The Good Food walking tour will take you to all the best places, and you’ll be able to try all the different types of cuisine in the village. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the town and discover new places you wouldn’t otherwise know about. You’ll also get to meet the locals behind the tasty food you are sampling. Learning about each restaurant’s back story adds a personal element to your stay and one you won’t forget during this experience.
Things to do in Almonte: Explore the Shops
Small towns tend to have the quirkiest shops and cafes, which is no different from the Almonte shopping experience. From antiques and bookstores to clothing and decor, wander around Main Street, and you’ll find unique goodies and delicious treats in the Almonte shops.
Be sure to give yourself enough time to explore. You may be shocked at how many unique experiences/ stores you find. Another great way to get around downtown is by bike. The town is cycling friendly with great cyclists’ infrastructure, so why not rent a bike and try it out.
Pêches et Poivre
This gourmet grocer serves up artisan goodies and fine food that you won’t have seen anywhere else. You can choose from both sweet and savoury items as well as pick up some nifty kitchen utensils and accessories.
One of the local brands, Shamrock Gardens, grows and use all of their own ingredients. Creating the most delicious sauces, jams, and pickles. Be sure to stock up on whatever catches your eye as it’ll be hard to find these delicious treats anywhere else.
Almonte Antiques & Collectibles
There are loads of antique shops downtown, but this one on Mill Street’s bottom is filled with everything an antique lover could dream of. With lots of collectibles from jewelry, dining ware, and records, you’re in for a treat.
This colourful and happy store will draw you in with its stunning wall displays. And the gorgeous handmade gifts and clothing will inspire you. This is a great place to buy something to remember your trip or a unique birthday or Christmas gift.
Mill Street Bookstore
This is more than just a bookstore. Filled with wonder and charm, you’ll also be able to find out about any events happening in town during your stay. Be sure to grab some local postcards and head to the post office, sending your loved ones some of Almonte’s magic.
The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning and is a slice of local life in Almonte. The market is situated in front of the local library, and you’ll find fresh produce and other goods as you wander through. Be sure to get there early to grab all the freshest produce.
Things to do in Almonte: Where to Dine
When exploring, you’ll need some coffee and food to refuel. Luckily this town is filled with beautiful cafes, coffee shops, and unique eatery options. It won’t be easy to choose between them, so I have put together some of the best spots and restaurants that are not to be missed.
Heirloom Cafe and Bistro
This cafe uses the finest local ingredients to whip up delicious international flavours. Find it situated next to the river in an old heritage building that used to be one of the mills. You can’t go wrong with their delicious food and great views.
North Market Cafe and Catering
The space is bright and open, and the walls are adorned with beautiful artwork. This is a fantastic place to enjoy a coffee and light meal on Mill Street after a morning of exploring. The local owners of the cafe expanded from a stall at the farmer’s market into a whole restaurant. They serve up delicious food using the freshest ingredients.
Healthy Food Technologies
How about a doughnut with 50 to 70 percent less fat than a regular doughnut. But still just as tasty? This has been made possible with the owners of Healthy Food Technologies. They developed a machine that can create healthier doughnuts, and you can try one on your visit.
While you are there, you’ll be able to learn about this incredible machine and how it’s able to bring you guilt-free doughnuts.
This Italian restaurant is located in the transformed space of the old post office. You’ll be treated to tasty recipes from the south of Italy. It is trendy, so be sure to book a table, as you don’t want to miss out on one of their famous pasta dishes.
Things to do in Almonte: Unique Experiences
There are also some fun one-of-a-kind experiences in Almonte that are worth trying out. These two experiences revolve around food, and you’ll learn all about the different processes of both, having a lot of fun and sampling the tasty goods as well.
This award-winning chocolate shop is a must-see, even if you pop in for a quick sample. You can smell the rich chocolate as you step foot in the shop. If you would like more than just a taste, you can do a chocolate tasting tour and learn all about the chocolate-making process on Saturdays.
Equator Coffee Roasters
If you are looking for the most delicious coffee in town? Then head to Equator Coffee Roasters. They are all about perfecting the coffee-making process and keeping their beans as fresh as possible. Enjoy a coffee cupping (similar to a wine tasting, but with coffee) at their coffee experience lab, a unique thing to do in Almonte.
Things to do in Almonte: Learn about the Culture & History
This old mill town is full of history, and with so many interesting museums and statues, it’s not hard to learn about this town and how it was formed. You don’t need to be a history enthusiast to be intrigued by these museums.
Mississippi Valley Textile Museum
As you know by now, this mill town was known for its textile production and this museum will teach you everything you need to know about this industry. Located within a natural, historic site, Rosamund Woollen Company, you’ll see exhibits showcasing the textile industry’s history.
You can learn about how textiles were made and why this industry was so important for the town of Almonte.
Statue of James Naismith
Almonte is famous for more than just textiles. As I mentioned before, James Naismith is the inventor of basketball, and he was born and raised on a farm just outside of Almonte.
You can find his statue on the corner of Mill Street and Little Bridge Street. Here you’ll be able to read all about the life of Naismith and how he came to invent basketball, a stop well worth it.
This contemporary art gallery shows exhibits from local artists in the area as well as across Canada. It showcases a variety of media, including sculpture, photography, and painting works. This gallery is a fantastic contribution to the cultural art scene of Almonte.
Where to stay in the Town of Almonte
Now that you have an idea of the adventures that await you in Almonte, you’ll need a comfortable place to rest your head. Since Almonte is such a small village town, there aren’t many big hotels to choose from.
That said, it adds to the town’s charm as you can choose from local inns and B&B’s. If you are looking for a hotel, it may be best to head to Carleton Place, a town that is just 15 minutes from Almonte. The Grand Hotel is a popular spot in Carleton Place and just a quick drive into Almonte.
River Breeze Inn
River Breeze inn was originally a (circa 1920 ) farmhouse occupied by one of the well-known local farmers. Purchased in 1999 and fully upgraded to restore its natural beauty while adding valuable living space.
Carlton Place Airbnb
Carleton Place, Bridge Street( Downtown) is a 1 or 2 Bedroom Apartment Flat Freshly Renovated On the Mississippi River. It’s a bright spacious furnished apartment in a quiet, clean, non-smoking building.
This modern, newly built one-bedroom short-term rental apartment is situated on the quiet end of downtown Carleton Place, right next to the Mississippi River and the famous Carleton Place Town Hall.
Final Thoughts on Almonte Ontario, Canada
Almonte may be small, but it has so much to offer. It’s hard not to fall in love with this place, from fascinating history and cute shops to great coffee and scenic walks. You are guaranteed to experience lots of new things here, including dairy distilled spirits and low-fat doughnuts.
You’ll leave this magical small-town feeling enriched and inspired. And if a destination can make you feel this way, then what better reason than to put it right at the top of that travel bucket list. With the town being the perfect road trip distance from Toronto, you don’t have an excuse.