Things To Do In London, Ontario – A Blend of History, Culture, and Nature

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London Ontario

London, Ontario, is a unique destination that combines over two centuries of cultural history and development with lush natural areas to produce an adventurous blend of historic landmarks, thriving modern culture, and breathtaking natural scenery.

While London is the largest and most populated city in Southwestern Ontario, it also boasts over 200 parks, a feat that has earned it the nickname “The Forest City.” Whether visiting for the nature walks, museums, or the international food scene, London promises plenty of unique adventures for a weekend getaway.

This London, Ontario travel guide will explore everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to the city, from the best places to stay to must-see attractions.

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10 Exciting Things To Do In London, Ontario

Covent Garden Market

Browse Around The Covent Garden Market

The Covent Garden Market in downtown London is a must-visit when you are in the city. First opened in 1845, the market has been a staple of the community for nearly two centuries and continues to be London’s cultural hub. Located within the historic building are several local shops and vendors that are open seven days a week. These shops include everything from local farmer stalls and boutique stores to a great selection of food vendors.

With a little foresight, you can even plan to visit the market during one of the many events held throughout the year. During the summer months, the market hosts an expanded outdoor farmers market every Saturday. Meanwhile, the venue is also known to host frequent cultural festivals and food fairs, with something always going on throughout the year.

Take a Stroll Along the Thames River

London didn’t get the nickname “The Forest City” without having its fair share of breathtaking nature trails, and they start right here in the downtown area with the Thames Valley Parkway system. This 40 km trail follows the banks of the Thames River as it weaves its way through downtown London, highlighting numerous riverside vistas and landmarks.

While you can easily spend a day trekking the entire trail, you should at least plan on doing the stretch from Oxford Street to King Street Bridge if you are short on time. This is my favorite stretch of the walking trail and features some of the route’s top sights, including Harris Park, the Fork of the Thames River, and Blackfriar Bridge, an iconic landmark first built in 1875.

Budweiser Gardens

Catch a Show at Budweiser Gardens

Home to the London Knights, Budweiser Gardens is the largest sports entertainment complex in Southwestern Ontario, and there are few experiences in London that are more quintessentially local than watching the city’s junior hockey team battle it out with one of their league rivals.

However, if you are visiting during the off-season, or even if hockey simply isn’t your thing, you are still bound to find a show that interests you. The ice rink at Budweiser Gardens converts to a full entertainment complex capable of seating over 10,000 people and is the heart of London’s entertainment scene, hosting several big-name performers, including mainstream musicians and comedians. Check out the venue’s calendar of upcoming performers to book your tickets to upcoming shows.

Visit the Fanshawe Conservation Area & Pioneer Village

If you are looking for an immersive escape to nature within the city, you have to head over to the Fanshawe Conservation Area. Covering an expansive 3,000 acres, the conservation area is the spot for outdoor adventures, including hiking, fishing, and camping. You can trek through the park’s lush Carolinian forest along the 21 km loop trail that weaves its way around Fanshawe Lake or take to the water itself on a kayak or canoe.

Also found in the conservation area is the Fanshawe Pioneer Village. This open-air living history museum recreates the rural lifestyles of London and Middlesex throughout much of the 19th century, with over 30 historic buildings brought to life through the work of the museum’s actors and demonstrations.

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Explore Local Art & Culture at the Museum of London

Located in the heart of Downtown London near the Fork in the Thames River, Museum London is a combination of art and history museums and is a great stop for exploring the cultural evolution of the community. The museum contains over 5,000 works of art and 45,000 artifacts that explore themes of local history and culture. The best part is that the museum is entirely free to access, making it a great activity for exploring the city on a budget.

While Museum London is a personal favorite and the most accessible from the downtown area, it is far from the only museum in town. The Museum of Ontario Archaeology, the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, and the Jet Aircraft Museum are also found in the city.

See What’s Happening at Victoria Park

Regardless of when you are visiting London, you should always check to see what is going on at Victoria Park. Set within the downtown core, this charming park is home to many of the city’s popular festivals and fairs. Nearly every weekend throughout the summer months is accompanied by new food trucks and thematic pavilions for some form of exciting event, with some of the most popular being the London International Food & Drink Festival, the Sunfest Festival, and the London Ribfest.

Meanwhile, those visiting during the winter months will find Victoria Park illuminated by its annual Winter Wonderland. This annual festival features three months of holiday light displays, a mailbox for delivering letters to Santa, and a free outdoor skating rink.

St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica

St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica

Go On a Self-Guided Tour to Historic Landmarks

Another fun free activity you can do when visiting London is to take some time to simply walk the downtown area. We’ve already mentioned the Blackfriars Bridge, but there are also several other historic landmarks, all within walking distance of the downtown area.

You can start your sightseeing tour at the St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica, one of the most impressive historic buildings in Ontario. From there, you can head toward the river to the 19th-century Eldon House Heritage Site, the oldest remaining residence in London today, before venturing back into town to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Other historic sites found within the downtown area include the Woodland Cemetery, the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate, and the Banting House National Historic Site of Canada.

Have an Outdoor Adventure at Boler Mountain

Located just ten kilometers from the city center, Boler Mountain is a year-round playground for outdoor activities. In the winter, it is the premier ski and snowboarding spot in southwestern Ontario, with six kilometers of slopes covering 63 meters of elevation.

While the winter is by far the most popular time to visit the ski resort, the warm summer months bring with them a different kind of outdoor paradise. Swapping the ski slopes for hiking trails, Boler Mountain promises plenty of natural beauty and is covered in lush Carolinian forests between May and October. Along with hiking, the Treetop Adventure Park promises plenty of thrills, including rope swings, ziplines, and rope courses.

Catch a Show at the Grand Theatre

If you are looking for a more cultural experience when visiting London, you should check to see what is playing at the Grand Theatre. London’s premier theatrical venue, the Grand Theatre, hosts several shows throughout the year, including concerts and live theatre performances. Just be sure to book your tickets in advance.

Enjoy a Day Trip to a Nearby Town

One of the best things about London is its location. Set at the center of the Ontario Peninsula, London makes for a fantastic base for exploring the many smaller towns of Southwestern Ontario on a day trip. If you are in the mood for a beach day, London is about 45 minutes from both Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Enjoy the party town atmosphere in Grand Bend or a more laid-back beach community in Port Stanley. Meanwhile, Stratford, one of Ontario’s most striking cultural destinations, is only an hour’s drive away and promises a more intimate day trip away from the city.

London Ontario

Where To Stay In London, Ontario

One of the coolest things about visiting London, Ontario, is that the city is full of accommodation options with unique character. Sure, you can book a room at a budget motel just outside the downtown area, but the best way to experience the city is by staying at one of these monumental accommodations that promise adventure right upon check-in.

Delta Hotels London Armouries

I first stayed at the Delta Hotels London Armouries as a kid, and to this day, it remains one of my favorite hotels anywhere. Blending the upscale lavishness of the Marriott brand and the historic setting of operating out of the city’s original armory, the London Armouries is a truly one-of-a-kind stay. Maintaining much of its original construction from 1905, the exterior of the hotel looks like a castle with a chic modern tower reaching out from its center. Meanwhile, the inside features fully modernized amenities, including an onsite restaurant, an indoor pool, and luxury guest rooms. What’s even better is that the hotel is located directly downtown, providing convenient access to many nearby restaurants, shops, and attractions.

Idlewyld Inn & Spa

Boasting a more intimate setting just outside the city center, the Idlewyld Inn & Spa is another historic hotel that promises unparalleled comforts within London’s “Old South” neighborhood. First built in 1878, the Idlewyld mansion served as the private home of a local businessman and former Mayor of London, Charles Smith Hyman, before being converted into a luxury apartment, nursing home, and finally a luxury inn in 1985. Modern guests still enjoy the same elevated comforts of the inn’s original occupants, with the mansion boasting much of its original Victorian features combined with many modern additions, including an onsite spa, restaurant, and 21 beautifully appointed guest rooms.

Hotel Metro

For those who prefer a modern hotel to a more historic stay, Hotel Metro is a masterclass of contemporary accommodation. Located next to Budweiser Garden and Covent Garden Market, Hotel Metro places guests in the heart of Downtown London, nestled between the Entertainment and Business districts. Despite being within one of the oldest parts of the city, the hotel promises chic modern comforts within its selection of private rooms, including rainfall showers, welcoming decor, and a comfortable work desk. Additional facilities include an onsite restaurant and spa services, making it a great option for a weekend getaway or an extended work trip.


Where To Eat In London, Ontario

London is a vibrant multicultural city that is best represented by its varied food scene of international restaurants. While you can find all of your favorite national chains along Richmond Street, these are the best local restaurants you have to try while staying in the city.

Garlic’s of London

Garlic’s of London is easily one of the best dinner options in the city. As you may have guessed, the key ingredient at this downtown staple is garlic. However, it is more than just seasoning that spices up this fabulous dining experience. Along with promising an elegant dining room for enjoying a variety of elevated plates that include a delectable beef tenderloin and pecorino chicken breast, Garlic’s of London also promises a premium downtown setting next to the Grand Theatre on Richmond Street, making it the perfect choice for enjoying a dinner and a show on date night.

Los Lobos

Located on the outskirts of the downtown core, Los Lobos is the spot to go if you are looking to enjoy a mouthwatering take on modern Mexican cuisine. The menu here is all about tacos, margaritas, and sangria, although they do offer a wide selection of all of your Mexican favorites, including burritos and a nacho plate that can feed a family of six. While open year-round, Los Lobos is best enjoyed during the summer months, when it opens its outdoor patio with spacious seating and a refreshing Mexican ambiance.

Winks Eatery

Good food and great deals have made Winks Eatery a household name among London locals. You aren’t going to find any extravagant surprises on the menu here. Winks Eatery sticks to traditional bar foods, but they do it better than almost anywhere else

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Kurt Norris

by Kurt Norris

Kurt is a freelance travel writer, blogger, and content marketer. As the creator of the Kurt From Canada Travel Blog, he shares his passion for exploring Canada and destinations around the world, offering readers insights and inspiration for their own adventures.

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