The promotional material that I cite above is the typical in-house flowery description that's often far from the truth, but in this case, it's right on! I've been here many times, and I always find new things to explore. Traditional items like taking in a live play at the world-class Stratford Festival, eating at yummy restaurants, strolling through beautiful parklands and gardens, gazing at lovingly restored historical buildings and browsing through unique shops are still high on my visitor's list. But here are a few new things that I discovered on this latest visit.
When you first arrive in Stratford, head to the Visit Stratford Information Centre at 47 Downie Street, Stratford in the heart of the city's downtown. The city offers seven different themed and guided tours. The tours begin daily at 10:30 am and at 3 pm on Saturday. They last about 90 minutes. The cost is $7.00 (all inclusive). I've taken these in the past, and highly recommend them.
Something new is the
"Savour Stratford Culinary Trails Tours." There are three: the Chocolate, Maple, and Bacon and Ale Trail. You purchase tickets for $28.25 (all inclusive) and you have 3 days to visit various places along the trail.
If you want to get creeped out, try a
"Ghost Walk Tour" offered on Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm. Actors from the Playmakers Theatre School take you through the historic downtown, shady courtyards and narrow alleys, and describe hangings and murders. You might just possibly see a ghost! The cost is $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for children.
If you arrive on a Saturday, don't miss the Perth County Slow Food Market (10 am until 2pm) behind Market Square located across the road from the information centre.
I bet you'll be wowed, like I was, with the City Hall. This High Victorian red brick, 12-sided building with Queen Anne features was built 1898-99.
Other places to have your camera ready to take a picture are when you walk near the Avon River, named after Stratford-Upon-Avon in England. This lazy river whispers through the city. At this time of the year, 24 white swans and one black swan own the place.
The nearby Shakespearean Gardens that opened in 1936 is resplendent with plants mentioned in
The Perth County Court House which opened in 1887 on Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee is a stunner. 1887 was also the year that electricity arrived in Stratford and electric lights highlighted architectural details.
One can't write about Stratford without mentioning the
Stratford Shakespeare Festival which features four theatres.
Stratford Summer Music Festival takes place July 15-25, including the
Vienna Boys Choir.
If you have teenagers, they'll know that this is the hometown of teen idol,
Justin Bieber. In the tourism office, you can see a guitar Bieber signed in 2009.You can also get a free map that outlines 24 of his favourite Stratford spots.
On this visit, my wife Ellen and I renewed a favourite local eatery, Molly Blooms Irish Pub on Brunswick Street. We ate there on a Monday evening and were pleasantly surprised to learn burgers were half-price (as they are every Monday). It features typical pub fare at reasonable prices. The atmosphere is casual and we received good service from Emily.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.