Kitchener is a lovely city with a small-town vibe in the St. Lawrence Lowlands of southwestern Ontario. The former German Mennonite town is now a thriving city with many European heritage, most of which can be seen today.
Kitchener is a city rich in culture and offers a rich experience for any visitor. Still, it’s often missed by many, and despite its proximity to Toronto, it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking to explore a different type of city. If you find yourself thinking about visiting, here are the best things to do in Kitchener:
1. Have fun at the museum
Some people may not think museums are “fun,” but THEMUSEUM is all about having fun. The museum is an interactive museum, mainly aimed at children.
Kids of all ages can practice graffiti skills on the walls, make animated films, build a fort, lie on a bed of nails or dance on a giant piano. There is also a 125-gallon fish tank, an indoor garden and some art installations.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, there are also temporary exhibitions that provide more fun for museum visitors. The museum also hosts special events during the holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween.
2. Drink like in Germany
Yes, that’s right, drinking is Kitchener’s favorite pastime, especially given its German heritage. But more importantly, the city has the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Berlin.
Bavarian Festival is held every October for 9 days, starting on the Friday before Thanksgiving in Canada. About 700,000 people attend the festival every year.
Drinking lots of beer is the theme of Oktoberfest, although there are also some cultural events going on. The most famous non-drinking event is the Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Parade.
3. Go Back in Time
Learn about life in the area in Doon Heritage Village in 1914. This 24-hectare living history village is filled with homes from that era that were demolished, restored and rebuilt here.
As you walk around the village, go back in time and appreciate what life was like back then. There were barns and other buildings, and the staff wore the costumes of the time.
Doon Cultural Village has a post office, grocery store, sawmill, harness shop and fire hall. Explore buildings, see farm animals raised, and stroll through beautiful gardens.
4. Go skiing
Chicopee Ski Club has 11 runs of different levels. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, you can ski in Kitchener. Go snowboard and tubing too.
The ski club was actually officially renamed Chicopee Ski and Summer Resort. This means it is open all year round.
Visit it in summer, go mountain biking or hiking, or climb its 9.1-meter climbing wall. There are also volleyball and tennis courts on site.
5. Spend the day at the park
Right in downtown Kitchener is a beautiful park. Victoria Park. It’s also the oldest park in the city and a great place to spend the day.
Designed by the same people who designed New York’s Central Park, the park features a lake and beautiful gardens. Other features include a clock tower, a bronze statue of Queen Victoria and a bandstand.
Bring a picnic to the park or dine at the on-site restaurant. Don’t forget to stroll along the trails and get some fresh air.
6. Play a round of golf
It seems that wherever you go, there is bound to be a golf course nearby, and the same is true in Kitchener. The city has two golf courses to please any golfer, and they are both championship courses.
Adjacent to the Grand River, Doon Valley has 18 and 9 hole courses, as well as the Pitch ‘n Putt course. After a round or practice swing, head to the restaurant for a bite to eat and/or a beer.
The 18-hole, par-70 Rockway golf course was designed by Stanley Thompson. It is known to be one of the best public courses in Ontario.
7. Wander the cemetery
It may seem a little dark, but a stroll through Hope Hill Cemetery is also a walk through history. The cemetery is the oldest in the city and is home to many famous people.
In addition to the tombstones, the cemetery contains several historical monuments dating back to the 1700s. Politicians, famous historical business leaders and entrepreneurs lie in the cemetery.
Mount Hope Cemetery offers guided walking tours, or download a map and tour on your own. There are three designated tours that will guide you through the historic cemetery.
8. Eat something
No matter what your fancy, there is always a restaurant that will appeal to you. Kitchener is not big, but it does have a lot of places to eat to choose from.
As far as food goes, downtown has the most choices and variety. Offers Greek, Japanese, Caribbean, Chinese and Ethiopian cuisine, as-is or German cuisine.
If you want to eat cheaply, go to the food court in the mall. There is also a farmers market, perfect for buying fresh fruit or a quick snack.
9. Look at art
Kitchener is a culturally rich city. With it comes a great art gallery; Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery showcases contemporary art by Canadian and international artists. One of the great things about the gallery is that it collaborates with a few others, lending their work to each other, expanding the art on display.
In addition to showcasing permanent works, the gallery hosts special exhibitions and events. It also hosts arts programs for adults, children and families.
10. Enjoy the show
There are several venues in town to watch a play, musical or symphony. Some are small community theaters, while others are large venues with more than 2,000 seats.
Kitchener’s largest venue is the Plaza Center, the downtown theater and performing arts center. The theater is known for its KW Symphony Orchestra and Broadway shows.
The Registry Theatre is a small theatre offering cheap performances. There’s also the Community Conrad Center for the Performing Arts, the Lost and Found Theater Company, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theater, the city’s oldest.
11. Integrate into the culture
Meaning, go to a festival that has a lot of festivals, most of which are culturally based. Oktoberfest is the biggest, but there are some other great events not to be missed.
If you’re a music fan, come to the three-day KOI festival in September featuring more than 100 bands. If you can’t, go to the Kultrun World Music Festival in July.
The two-day Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival is also great. The festival has been running for over 50 years and features food, music and dance from around the world.
12. Learn about the city’s history
This can be done at the Waterloo Regional Museum, which showcases over 12,000 years of the region’s history. It can also be done by visiting historical sites.
One of them is the Joseph Schneider Haus, built in 1816, which is now a living museum. Homer Watson House & Gallery is another, the former home of the Canadian landscape painter.
Another great place is Woodside National Historic Site, the childhood home of former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King. The house was built in 1853 and has lovely gardens and lawns in addition to the Victorian home.
13. Be Harry Houdini
Enjoy live games and get your adrenaline pumping in the Adventure Room. There are four different rooms, each of which allows you to do a Houdini-type escape.
In the Adventure Room, you must escape or escape from the locked room before the 60-minute clock resets to zero. This is done by searching for codes, keys and other clues.
Up to 7 people can play together in a team. They can also accommodate larger groups that will play against each other.
14. Surround yourself with nature
Anyone who loves nature should spend time in the Huron Natural Area. The 107-hectare area is ideal for hiking, taking photos and enjoying the natural environment.
The Huron Natural Area features streams, meadows, forests and wetlands. There are also several hiking trails and boardwalks, as well as lookout areas for truly spectacular views.
The trail passes through forest, meadows, woodland and Strasbourg Creek. All of these trails originate from a main asphalt trail that begins in the main access area.
15. Shop until you give up
Like any city, Kitchener has quite a few places to spend your money. Downtown is where you’ll find independent stores, and Fairview Park Mall is where you’ll find brands.
Fairview Park Mall is the largest mall in the area, with major stores such as Walmart, The Bay and Sears. Other well-known stores in the mall include The Gap, Banana Republic, American Eagle Outfitters and The Body Shop.
For a more unique shopping experience, head to Kitchener Market. The market is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning, where many artisans sell their products.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Kitchener, Canada
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