15 Best Things to Do in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Cambridge was formed in 1973 through the amalgamation of four separate towns. As a result, it became a city with loads of history and charm.

Cambridge is a culturally rich city with lots to see and do. It is home to historic landmarks, cultural attractions and natural sights, making it appealing to all.

Unfortunately, tourism is not big in the city, though it is a lovely place to visit.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Cambridge:

1. Immerse yourself in fashion

Fashion History MuseumSource: www.youtube.com
Fashion History Museum

You cannot call yourself a fashionista without visiting the Fashion History Museum. This is the place to fully immerse yourself in fashion.

The museum opened its doors in 2004 and today has over 10,000 garments and accessories in its collection. Some of these date back to the 1600s!

As well as displaying historical pieces, the museum also features a Canadian contemporary designer collection. It also holds special exhibitions.

2. Go hiking

HikingSource: spaceamoeba / Flickr

There are over 20 kilometres of hiking trails in Cambridge, all of which are well-maintained. Put on a good pair of shoes and spend a day hiking.

There are woodland trails, riverside trails, parkland trails and pond trails. Chose the scenery you like the best and start walking.

Trails are either stone dust, asphalt or natural, although there is a boardwalk and an urban trail as well. None of these trails are strenuous, but all are scenic.

3. Enjoy the outdoors

Shade's Mills Conservation AreaSource: Grand River Conservation Authority / Flickr
Shade’s Mills Conservation Area

Any outdoor lover, no matter what age, should spend time at the Shade’s Mills Conservation Area. This large park has so many activities to offer that will please anyone.

Swimming, canoeing and sport fishing are the most popular things to do here. The park also has 12 kilometres of trails that are great for both hiking and cycling.

A great thing about the Shade’s Mills Conservation Area is that there are things to do year round. Visit in the winter and go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or ice fishing.

4. Be surrounded by butterflies

 Cambridge Butterfly ConservatorySource: MsRaccoon / shutterstock
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

There are thousands of butterflies from all over the world living at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory. There are also birds, plants and bugs to look at.

Wander around the conservatory and surround yourself with butterflies. There are over 40 species of butterflies and moths living here, most of which come from the Philippines or Costa Rica.

Numerous exotic birds can be seen at the conservatory, like the Gouldian Finch, German Roller Canary and Pintail Whydah. If you like bugs, check out the Vietnamese Walking Stick, Scorpion or Giant African Flower Beetle.

5. Gaze at art

Queen’s Square GallerySource: canadianart.ca
Queen’s Square Gallery

This can be done at three separate galleries within the city; the Queen’s Square Gallery, Design at Riverside Galley and Preston Gallery. All of these have their own focus and collections.

Both the Queen’s Square Gallery and Preston gallery focus on contemporary art, having collections by local artists. They both also have special exhibitions.

The Design at Riverside Galley focuses on architecture and design, displaying tapestries, wall hangings and furniture. There are also special exhibitions here, with the theme being architecture or design.

6. Go on a picnic

Riverside Park, Cambridge, CanadaSource: chasemarch.com
Riverside Park

There are plenty of areas in Cambridge where you can enjoy a lovely picnic. There are even designated picnic shelters, some of which are open air.

One of the most popular places for a picnic is Riverside Park, which has four picnic shelters. It also features hiking trails, playing fields, tennis courts and a splash pad.

The 27 hectare Churchill Park boasts two picnic shelters, as well as having 14 serviced camping sites. There is also a playground, baseball diamond, football fields and a splash pad.

7. Shop at the market

Cambridge Farmers' MarketSource: Explore Waterloo Region / Flickr
Cambridge Farmers’ Market

The Cambridge Farmers’ Market has been going strong since 1837! It is open all year on Saturday mornings, as well as on Wednesday mornings from June to September.

Shop at the market for fresh or prepared foods, both of which are fantastic for a picnic. There are both indoor and outdoor venders, though the outdoor area is of course only open in the summer.

Buy fresh baked goods, delicious cheese, deli meats, or fruits and vegetables. You can also relax and have a coffee or shop for handmade bath products.

8. Look at sculptures

Cambridge Sculpture Garden, CanadaSource: www.explorewaterlooregion.com
Cambridge Sculpture Garden

Do this while walking along the historic Grand River and admiring the magnificent 130 year old oak trees. The Cambridge Sculpture Garden is a must.

It is 100 per cent free to enter the garden and admire the sculptures and the natural setting that they are in. There are four permanent pieces and always a few others that rotate throughout the year.

The Cambridge Sculpture Garden features local artists, as well as national and international ones. It also hosts numerous shows.

9. Take an art class

Cambridge Centre For The Arts, CanadaSource: cambridgecentreforthearts.ca
Cambridge Centre For The Arts, Canada

Learn how to make pottery, draw realistic figures, sew or quilt. The Cambridge Centre for the Arts even offers ballroom dancing classes.

The centre has a number of great classes, all of which are drop-in, which is great for holidaymakers. They also have a baby grand piano that can be hired by the hour, though this must be booked in advance.

When you are finished your class, wander around the Cambridge Centre for the Arts and admire its exhibits. No exhibitions are permanent, so you will have the opportunity to see some great artwork in a variety of art forms.

10. Go to the theatre

Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge, CanadaSource: www.stecho.ca
Dunfield Theatre

Like its namesake in England, this Cambridge also has its fair share of theatres. All theatres are open year-round and offer a variety of shows.

The Dunfield Theatre is the largest with 500 seats, showing everything from Broadway musicals to comedic plays. It even has live music shows.

The Cambridge Community Players is a smaller theatre that focuses on local productions. If you are travelling with the kids, head to the Cookies and Kids Family Theatre.

11. Play a round of golf

Galt Country ClubSource: www.youtube.com
Galt Country Club

This is very easy to do, as there are eight golf courses in and around the city. All are beautifully designed courses that will challenge any golfer.

Of these, the Galt Country Club is the oldest and most prestigious, dating back to 1906. Deer Ridge Golf Club is also very highly rated and was actually voted as one of the top 35 courses in the province.

The Doon Valley Golf Course has both a 9-hole and 18-hole course, while the public River Edge Golf Club is a 9-hole course. The Brookfield Country Club has three 9-hole courses, while the Whistle Bear Golf Club and Puslinch Lake Golf Course feature 18-hole courses.

12. Go back in history

McDougall CottageSource: www.tripadvisor.ca
McDougall Cottage

Right in downtown Cambridge is the historic McDougall Cottage that dates back to 1858. This magnificent granite cottage lets you go back in history and see what it was like to live as a labourer long ago.

Two families lived in the cottage, both of which hailed from Scotland. Walk through the cottage and learn about Scottish heritage and culture.

Admire the fantastic architecture, complete with trompe l’oeil ceilings and hand-painted friezes. McDougall Cottage also features a garden with some magnificent flowers and plants.

13. Visit a heritage site

Former Galt Post OfficeSource: JustSomePics / Wikimedia
Former Galt Post Office

There are only two National Historic Sites of Canada in Cambridge, both of which are not to be missed. One is right in downtown Cambridge (formerly Galt), while the other is in Hespeler.

The Former Galt Post Office is the more impressive of the two, what with its mix of Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival and Second Empire architectural styles. The limestone building dates back to 1887.

The Forbes Textile Mill was built in 1863 by Robert Forbes. In the early twentieth century it was the largest woollen mill in the country.

14. Enjoy a festival

Cambridge Arts FestivalSource: www.cambridgeartsfestival.com
Cambridge Arts Festival

Cambridge is no stranger to annual festivals, hosting at least one event every season. All of the events in the city showcase the cultural diversity and history of Cambridge.

The Christmas in Cambridge series are some of the most popular events in the city, taking place throughout the month of December. They include parades, live entertainment, food tastings and outdoor ice skating.

In the summer there are numerous events, including the Cambridge Arts Festival, Cambridge Tour de Grand, Forbes Park Music Festival and the Cambridge Scottish Festival. If you are visiting in the fall, you can enjoy the four-day Cambridge Fall Fair.

15. Wine, dine and relax

Langdon Hall, CambridgeSource: www.tripadvisor.com
Langdon Hall

All of these things can be done at Langdon Hall, which is a famous restaurant, hotel and spa all in one. People travel from all over the region to enjoy a meal here, with some often making a night of it.

No visit to Cambridge is complete without having a meal at its 5-diamond award-winning restaurant, although prices here are not cheap. They also offer afternoon tea complete with views of the magnificent garden.

Langdon Hall is an old estate that was built in 1898. In 1989 it opened as the Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and has since grown to become what it is today.

15 Best Things to Do in Cambridge (Ontario, Canada):

  • Immerse yourself in fashion
  • Go hiking
  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Be surrounded by butterflies
  • Gaze at art
  • Go on a picnic
  • Shop at the market
  • Look at sculptures
  • Take an art class
  • Go to the theatre
  • Play a round of golf
  • Go back in history
  • Visit a heritage site
  • Enjoy a festival
  • Wine, dine and relax