Waterloo is a charming Canadian city located in the southern part of Ontario. The city may be small, but that does not reflect what it can offer. From shopping, eating and drinking to outdoor activities and festivals – this little city has a lot going on.
Given its tiny size, it is sometimes joined with neighbouring Kitchener and referred to as Kitchener-Waterloo or the Twin Cities. If you are into history or enjoy being in nature, you’ll find it here with these fun things to do in Waterloo Ontario.
Whether taking a day trip from Toronto or spending a few nights in the area, you’re in for a treat. From exploring museums to enjoying theatrical plays, let’s look at what you could get up to in Waterloo.
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Things To Do In Waterloo Ontario | Top Waterloo Attractions & Activities
With no shortage of fun and games on the cards in Waterloo, from roaming the grounds of Universities to enjoying summer campfires. Pick your favourite activities below and get your Waterloo adventure started.
Get Historical at the City of Waterloo Museum
This is a great place to start if you are interested in the history of Waterloo City. The museum showcases different exhibits and collections where you’ll have the opportunity to understand and celebrate the city’s past.
The vibrant cultural hub is open from Monday to Friday and free admission. This is a great way to connect with what Waterloo once was and appreciate how it shaped the city today.
Catch a Play at the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre
The Kitchener-Waterloo theatre is a community-run production house that offers a great way to spend a night out in Waterloo. The small theatre prides itself on being an entry point into theatre and allows open auditions for productions, regardless of experience.
This unique experience means you’ll have access to independent theatre shows in an intimate setting. After the show, why not try a craft cocktail and grab a bite to eat at the quirky White Rabbit just around the corner?
Explore the Earth Sciences Museum
Located at the University of Waterloo, the Earth Sciences Museum will delight visitors of all ages. It’s one of the best things to do in the Waterloo region, with dinosaur fossils and skeletons, mineral samples, and so much more just waiting to be explored.
Admission to the museum is free, providing a fascinating day of family fun without a high price tag. Pack a picnic so you can stroll to Waterloo Park and continue the fun after your museum visit.
Wander Around the University of Waterloo
Waterloo is known for its universities, and wandering around campus is the best way to discover them. The University of Waterloo is sprawled across 404 hectares of land, and a stroll through the grounds is an insightful activity.
The oldest building on campus is the Graduate House, found on the university’s south campus. The building was once a farmhouse and dates back to the 19th century. Today, it is a social hub for grad students and their guests.
If you visit the University on a Saturday morning, you should consider heading to the St Jacobs Farmers Market afterwards. It’s a short 10-minute drive away and is one of the best things to do in St Jacobs.
Discover the Wilfrid Laurier University
Another University campus worth visiting is Wilfrid Laurier University. Located near the University of Waterloo, this campus is slightly smaller but still has beautiful modern buildings and gardens worth exploring.
Wilfrid Laurier was first established in 1911 as the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary of Canada. It has evolved over the years and now offers a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
Join a Summer Campfire at Waterloo Public Square
How does a cozy fire with friends, family and neighbours sound? Well, during the Summer months (June-August), a monthly campfire takes place at the Waterloo Public Square, and you can join in on the fun.
If you are travelling through Canada, this is also a great way to meet locals and get some tips on local secrets and gems for the rest of your trip. So, bring a blanket and enjoy the live music, games, and more on offer.
See Abraham Erb’s Grist Mill in Waterloo Park
This is a mesmerizing replica of Waterloo’s very first mill. The replica was first built in 1997, just a few blocks from the original location on King Street. It’s recently renovated, but with its 2022 reopening, visitors can take the opportunity to view the mill for themselves.
You’ll find the mill along Silver Lake, but you can also see it outside the park, on Caroline Street North. Besides giving a glimpse into Waterloo’s history and heritage, the mill offers stunning photography opportunities.
While in Waterloo Park, take some time to appreciate the other attractions. Say hello to the four-legged residents of the animal farm and take the kids to the playground. Or, use the sports fields to run off some energy after a serene picnic near the lake.
The park is open from 06:00 and only closes at 23:00, so you can easily fit a visit into your day. There is free parking at the Westmount Road North entrance, but you can cycle through the park if you have a bike.
Get Lost in Nature at Laurel Creek
Calling all nature lovers – Laurel Creek can be your playground. You’ll find this green haven with a range of outdoor Waterloo activities just outside and northwest of the city. Immerse yourself in nature with the hiking trails through the forested park. There are also camping facilities for those wanting to spend some more time here.
Laurel Creek also boasts a large lake called ‘the beach’ and is one of many lake beaches in Ontario. Here you can windsurf, canoe and even try your hand at fishing. There are also picnic shelters along the water shore where you can set out a packed meal. This is one of the loveliest places to go in Waterloo for a lazy afternoon.
Take a Drive to Kissing Bridge
For those willing to head slightly out of the city, a trip to West Montrose Covered Bridge (Kissing Bridge) is one of the best things to do in Waterloo’s region. Located in Woolwich, Ontario’s last remaining covered bridge spans 198 feet across the Grand River.
West Montrose Covered Bridge was built in 1881; the picturesque bridge has seen many travellers over more than 100 years. It received its nickname Kissing Bridge because the early horse and buggy drivers would often sneak in a kiss when riding through the covered bridge.
Discovering What to Do in Waterloo, Ontario
So there you have it – so many fun activities in Waterloo are just waiting to be discovered. The region also caters to all types of preferences and interests. Either spend a day on the lake at Laurel Creek or learn about Dinosaurs at the Earth Sciences Museum (or both).
These Waterloo tourist attractions are sure to keep you busy, but why not venture to neighbouring areas? Check out these top things to do in Cambridge.