Destination Stratford

By Kurt Evans   Trail Canada

Stratford, Ontario is more than just a theatre town. Much of Stratford’s tourist charm comes from its excellent selection of shopping centres, Mom and Pop stores and restaurants, and beautiful parks which are perfect for spending a relaxing afternoon in.

Stratford offers a variety of options for visitors. The first thing a tourist would notice driving into the city are the mini-malls, chain restaurants, and super-stores that litter the outer areas. Keep driving. Further into the city, Stratford also offers services with a more personal touch such as the Alexandra Spa located in a beautiful brick home on Erie Street. The central streets also host specialty stores such as the Amulet run by a mother-daughter jewellery-making duo, located at 71 Brunswick.

If relaxing to a cup of tea is your vice, then Stratford also offers the services of the excellent Distinctly Tea Inc.. Located at 18 York Street, this tea house offers more than 300 fine-quality loose traditional and herbal teas. Stratford also boasts a wide variety of restaurants including Madelyn's Diner, located at 377 Huron Street. Madelyn's is a local restaurant which was noted as the best family restaurant in 2005 and serves the best fish n' chips in the area. Dinner entrées cost from $6.95 to $13.95.

Animal lovers can pick-up souvenirs and tasty treats for pets at the Bakery. Located at 6 George Street West, this unique bakery specializes in all natural, healthy, homemade dog treats. Golf enthusiasts can take advantage of the 18 hole golf course at the Stratford Country Club. Tee times are recommended, and a dress code is in effect. Prices are reasonable with 9 hole green fees only $30, and 18 hole green fees $50.

Stratford also has a variety of museums, such as the Stratford-Perth Museum, which admits by donation. The Stratford-Perth Museum, located on 270 Water Street, is a community museum which celebrates the cultural heritage of Stratford and Perth County. Another must-see is the Castle Kilbride National Historical Site, which is the fully restored 19th-century lavish Victorian home of James Livingston, located near Stratford at 60 Snyder's Road West in Baden, Ontario.

If you're planning on staying overnight, Stratford offers a variety of accommodations. Visitors can stay in hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns, cottages, and campgrounds, which range in price from $16 a night for a campsite to $270 a night for a room for three at the Stone Maiden Inn at 123 Church Street.

All that said, an article about Stratford tourism would be incomplete without mention of the Stratford Theatre Festival. The Stratford Festival Theatre is located just outside of Stratford's downtown core, surrounded by parks and gardens which contain a variety of ducks, geese, swans, and comfortable benches on which one can sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the area. One could spend an entire afternoon picnicking outside the Festival Theatre just watching the Avon River flow by.

The Stratford Theatre Festival offers fifteen plays and musicals starring some of the most recognizable names in Canada. This year's Festival, which runs until November 12th, features Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, and Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, starring Canadian actress Cynthia Dale, best known for her role on the series Street Legal. Other well-received plays this season include Shakespeare's Coriolanus, starring Colm Feore and the legendary Martha Henry, Oliver!, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, London Assurance, Don Juan, Henry IV Part 1, the Duchess of Malfi, Ghosts, Harlem Duet, The Blonde, the Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, Fanny Kemble, and The Liar. Tickets are cheapest for people under the age of 30, who can participate in the Play On program for $20 a ticket - but theatregoers aged 30- 34 can take advantage of the Play On Encore discount. Regular tickets are cheapest if booked more than 60 days prior to your visit and range in price from $25 to $116. Tickets can be purchased through the festival website (www.stratfordfestival.ca).

Stratford is a beautiful Ontario city with a lot to offer both serious and recreational travellers. One could easily visit for a day and end up spending a week exploring the streets that make up the heart of the city. There are dozens of small stores, restaurants, pubs, and services to occupy one's time while waiting for the next play to start.

If you want to see great plays starring recognizable actors while enjoying fine dining and excellent accommodations, then Stratford is an excellent Ontario choice. The sheer variety of experiences should be enough for anybody to organize at least a day trip, and to gain the full experience one should try to stay for a week. Stratford is a jewel of a city in the heart of Ontario. It is worth the time and effort to visit.

Stratford Features

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