I moved to Guelph in 2014 for University, and since then, it’s been my home base in-between traveling and being location independent.
I’m not a Guelph local, but over my time here, I’ve really come to love this city and all that it has to offer.
In my opinion, Guelph is one of the nicest cities in Southern Ontario; it’s a vibrant, peaceful change from the hustle and bustle of some of the more major cities around here.
So, if you’re a Guelph local yourself or just passing through, welcome!
I’m going to cover some fun things to do in Guelph so you can make the most out of your time here.
Plenty of the best things to do in Guelph are also kid/family friendly, so there are lots of options here!
The Best Things To Do In Guelph
After living in Guelph for a number of years, I wanted to write a post covering all of the Guelph attractions you can see and what’s worth doing.
Some ideas are free while others require spending money, but I hope this list of what to do in Guelph helps you come up with some fun plans!
1. Tour The Arboretum
The Arboretum is a series of gardens and nature trails right by the University of Guelph that spans over 400 acres!
If you go to school at Guelph, it’s an absolute classic to walk.
But even if you’re just passing through, it’s nice to traverse the boardwalk and dirt trails or to explore some of the gardens and sculptures hidden throughout the area.
Some of the natural areas are quite cool, and there’s usually a variety of wild flowers and fauna to explore.
Plus, there’s enough open grass area to have a picnic, play some ultimate frisbee, or try out slacklining!
Address: 200 Arboretum Rd.
2. Tour Guelph Campus
While you’re at the Arboretum, you might as well check out Guelph campus for another fun thing to do in Guelph.
When I first saw Guelph campus, it felt like a mini Hogwarts to me in a sense; some of the buildings are old, inviting, and the whole campus has a lovely vibe overall.
My advice is to check out McDonald Hall and War Memorial since those are two nice buildings.
You can also stop for lunch at The Bullring, a student-run cafe and restaurant on campus that’s an absolute Guelph classic. Creelman hall also has great food, and it’s nice to wander around by the Guelph Library as well.
Pro Tip: If you feel like hot dogs, you can check out Bob’s Dogs right by the Bullring and get an awesome European sausage for around $5!
Address: 50 Stone Rd E.
3. Get Drinks Downtown Guelph
Downtown Guelph is one of my favorite parts of the city, and I’m not just saying that because it’s a classic spot to hit the bars as a student!
Guelph actually has so many nice restaurants and bars downtown. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Guelph this weekend, I definitely recommend heading downtown with some friends for a few drinks.
Some of my favorite Guelph bars include:
- Royal Electric: A slightly older crowd, awesome ambience, fantastic sours, and a fried chicken sandwich.
- Sip Club: Really nice cocktails.
- Gin Mill: Great if you’re a gin fan, and there’s a speakeasy downstairs which is super cool!
- Brother’s Brewery: My favorite Guelph brewery to grab a pint or two.
You can also patio hop as well if the weather is nice, so I definitely recommend adding this to your Guelph bucket list.
Address: All in the downtown core.
4. Check Out Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate
Another classic Guelph attraction is to check out the church that sits atop of a hill right downtown Guelph.
The Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate is a beautiful church that dominates over the downtown core.
Even from outside, it’s a beautiful building, and you can walk right up the steps and explore around the church anytime you want.
Service runs regularly as well, and inside the church is also quite beautiful so I recommend going inside to check it out!
Address: 28 Norfolk St.
5. Check Our Starkey Hill Trail
There are a lot of popular Guelph trails that are perfect for a casual hike or stroll through the woods.
But, one of my favorite Guelph trails is the Starkey Hill trail.
This four-kilometer loop is right by Arkell Road and is a fun trail that goes through a variety of slopes and tree-covered forest trails. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker or walker by any means, and it’s a very beautiful trail to walk.
There’s also some wetlands/small streams passing through at different points, and if you’re a hiking fan, I definitely recommend checking it out!
Address: 735 Arkell Rd, Puslinch.
6. Visit Some Guelph Cafes
If you’re still wondering what to do in Guelph, my recommendation is to grab a great book or some stellar company and spend the morning at a nice cafe!
Guelph cafes are some of my favorite spots to visit, and the city has a lot of unique ones, especially around downtown.
You can wake up early and spend the morning there, or enjoy a quiet afternoon in a cafe before exploring some other fun things to do in Guelph.
Some of my favorite Guelph cafes include:
- Red Brick: A warm and inviting cafe right downtown Guelph with some cool artwork and fun events like live music. They also have a great bakery!
- Robusta: Another popular Guelph cafe that’s downtown; they have great muffins and awesome coffees!
- Planet Bean: Another fun cafe to checkout in Guelph with some nice coffee as well.
- Cornerstone: One of my favorite places to grab coffee and brunch, and it’s also located right downtown Guelph! This one has plenty of vegan/vegetarian options as well!
Address: All within the downtown core.
7. Go To The Guelph Farmers Market
I’m a huge fan of farmer’s markets, and thankfully, Guelph has one that runs year-round every Saturday from around 7:00am to noon.
The Guelph Farmer’s Market is right around downtown as well, and during the summer or warmer weather, there’s usually vendors selling flowers, plants, and fresh produce right outside.
But inside the farmer’s market, you can find all sorts of interesting stalls, ranging from Vietnamese spring rolls to European smoked sausages and other delicious foods. There’s also some awesome baked goods and a particularly great donut stall I recommend checking out.
Overall, my advice is to bring $20 to $60 of cash and to enjoy some of the fun local food Guelph has to offer!
You can also buy clothing, candles, and various trinkets, but I think the food is my favorite part.
Address: 2 Gordon Street.
8. Watch A Football or Soccer Game
The University of Guelph redesigned their stadium a few years ago, and let me tell you, our new football/soccer field is pretty awesome!
If you like watching sports live, I definitely recommend catching a UofG Football game or soccer game.
You can also watch Guelph United F.C. plays in League One Ontario (the games are actually quite high-level, and Guelph has an awesome roster.)
Football games are particularly fun, and there’s normally food trucks outside the stadium as well for you to enjoy at halftime.
Address: 26 Powerhouse Lane (right on campus!)
9. Checkout Riverside Park
Another fun thing to do in Guelph is to spend the day at Riverside Park, which is right around downtown and the northern part of Woolwich Street.
It’s an 80-acre park with a lot of open space and some gazebo-type buildings that are great for having a picnic, barbeque, or family gathering.
I actually went there for a corporate barbeque once and it was pretty fun as well!
There’s also a playground and plenty of areas for kids and pets to play, so it’s overall a great family activity to do in Guelph if you want to spend some time outside.
Address: 709 Woolwich Street.
10. Get Ice Cream & Boats At The Boathouse
One of my favorite things to do in Guelph in summer is to visit the Boathouse, a tea room and ice cream parlour located right by Speed River towards downtown.
During the summer, you can pass by the Boathouse and try around a dozen delicious ice cream flavors (I recommend the cookie dough or Grandma’s Cupboard).
Plus, the Boathouse also has a canoe and kayak rental operation, so after your ice cream date, you can rent a vessel and head out onto Speed River for a relaxing paddle as the sun sets.
Address: 116 Gordon Street.
11. Go Bowling In Guelph
I feel like going to the bowling alley is a classic for every town, but I think going to Woodlawn Bowl is another fun thing to do in Guelph.
There’s honestly nothing special about Woodlawn bowl, but it’s a family-friendly, fun way to spend an evening. I actually went there a bunch while in University with friends, and it’s a great venue to grab some beers, fries, and to play a few games of bowling.
There are kid-friendly lanes with bumpers as well, so it suits all skill levels!
Address: 253 Woodlawn Road West.
12. Checkout Some Guelph Breweries
If you’re still wondering what to do in Guelph and you’re a fan of beers, do I have some great news for you!
There are several Guelph breweries that are awesome for having a few pints with some friends at after work or on a weekend night.
Plus, you can always do a brewery tour and check out a few of the best breweries in Guelph!
My favorite Guelph breweries include:
- Brother’s Brewery: Right downtown so you can patio-hop afterwards, and Brother’s has some great sours! You can’t really order food here, but there are decent bar snacks.
- Fixed Gear: With two locations in Guelph, Fixed Gear is another awesome Guelph brewery that has some solid sours and very good IPAs. The location at x also has some really tasty pizza!
- Royal City Brewing: Royal City beers are a classic in this area, so you can pass by this brewery to pick up some bottles or sit-in for a few drinks with friends.
- Wellington Brewery: Another classic Guelph Brewery with a nice variety of beers to try. This is the perfect way to end your brewery tour of the city in my opinion!
Address: Varies, some are downtown while others are spread throughout Guelph.
13. Visit The My Kitty Cafe
If you’re a cat person, another Guelph attraction you need to check out is the Kitty Cafe right downtown!
The Kitty Cafe is a feline-themed cafe that actually has cats walking and strutting about the cafe! That’s right: you can enjoy a cappuccino and also pet and play with some of the many cats that reside in the cafe.
The best part is that the cats are available for adoption, so you can even leave with a furry friend if you find one you bond with.
Address: 117 Wyndham Street North.
15. Visit The Guelph Civic Museum
If you check out the Guelph church, you might as well visit the Guelph Civic Museum since it’s right by the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate.
According to its website, the Guelph Museum is “a fun and interactive family gallery, and special events and activities.” There’s also over 30,000 artifacts that help you learn more about Guelph history and what life used to be like in this city.
There’s a cool section of the museum on brewing, and you’ll find other artifacts relating to things like sports, entertainment, and art. Overall, if you live in Guelph or want to learn more about this city, I think it’s a must-visit museum.
Address: 52 Norfolk Street.
16. Visit The Art Gallery Of Guelph
Another fun thing to do in Guelph is to visit the Art Gallery of Guelph that’s right by Guelph campus.
I’m honestly not a huge fan of art galleries, but this one is a bit different.
For starters, there’s a very wacky sculpture garden right out front, so it’s fun to walk around with a coffee and to examine all of the different creations outside.
Exhibits also rotate quite regularly and often feature local artists, so it’s nice that things change quickly and there’s always something new to see.
Address: 358 Gordon Street.
17. Go Skating Downtown Guelph (Winter)
A fun thing to do in Guelph during the winter is to go skating right downtown outside of City Hall.
Every winter, a small ice rink is frozen and prepared outside of City Hall, and it’s completely free to the public!
It’s quite a small rink, and it’s basically for going in an endless circle and taking things nice and easy, not for racing, hockey, or figure skating.
But it’s an awesome family-friendly Guelph activity, and you can check out some Guelph cafes or restaurants right downtown when you’re done with your day of skating.
Address: 1 Carden Street.
18. Visit The John McCrae House
John McCrae is the soldier who wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”
And, the birthplace of John McCrae is actually in Guelph!
The small and antiquated McCrae house is a very small museum that’s right around Boathouse and Speed River.
Again, it’s a very small museum, but it’s cool to look past the white picket fence and small building and to reflect on a much different period in history.
There’s a small gravestone and memorial as well, and you can go inside to learn a bit more about John McCrae, his work, and what life was like back during the war.
If you’re a history buff, I definitely think this is a Guelph attraction worth checking out!
Address: 108 Water Street.
19. Go Rock Climbing At The Grotto
If you’re looking for something sporty to do, my recommendation is to check out the Guelph Grotto Climbing Gym!
The Grotto is a classic Guelph activity, and there’s a nice range of bouldering walls and rock climbing walls for different skills levels. You can also rent shoes, harnesses, and any of the gear you need for a solid climbing session.
I’ve gone a few times for bouldering, and I find that there’s enough variety that I can try several walls and am too tired from climbing before I’ve tried every wall!
Address: 199 Victoria Road South.
20. Check Out The Bookshelf!
In my opinion, one of the coolest things to do in Guelph is to spend an afternoon or evening at The Bookshelf.
Located right downtown, The Bookshelf is an indie movie theater and bookshop all rolled into one!
That’s right: you can buy some new books to indulge in, catch an indie film, and even enjoy some coffee or cocktails while you do so. Overall, it’s a very hipster sort of vibe, which makes it fit very well with the overall vibe of Guelph as well.
Address: 41 Quebec Street.
Fun Things To Do Near Guelph
While there are so many Guelph attractions you should check out, there are also some must-see sights and activities you can do just outside of the city.
21. Visit The Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is located in Puslinch, so it’s just outside of Guelph and is easily accessible by car.
If you want to see some cute donkeys and learn more about the species, it’s definitely worth a visit. You can go and see the playful donkeys in their barns or pens, and there are also “Donkey Talks” where you learn about the history of the Sanctuary.
If you’re so inclined, you can even sponsor a Donkey! Just note that the Donkey Sanctuary isn’t open every day, so check online to see when you can drop in!
Address: 6981 Conc. 4, Puslinch.
22. Go To The Aberfoyle Antique Market
The Aberfoyle Antique market has been running for over 50 years, and if you like antique shopping, you can’t miss this one.
There’s over 100 vendors at this market, and the market runs every Sunday from 8am to 4pm. You have to pay $5 to get in, but honestly, the variety of the market makes the cost well worth it.
At the market, you can find various collectibles, artwork, furniture, food, and various trinkets from a bunch of friendly sellers. There’s also a special show on Saturdays with even more vendors. The Saturday show runs from 8am to 4pm as well but costs $10 to get in.
Address: 57 Brock Road South, Puslinch.
23. Visit The Rockwood Conservation Area
There are so many nice Guelph trails you can explore. However, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city for a tad and to explore someone else’s backyard!
One of my favorite attractions near Guelph to checkout is the Rockwood Conservation Area.
Its part of the Grand River Conservation Authority, and it’s definitely one of the more interesting parks in the area if you ask me.
Rockwood has a series of cliffs, caves, and glacial potholes you can explore. In fact, there’s over 200 of these glacial potholes around the conservation area.
You’re able to walk along various trails and boardwalks throughout the conservation area, and there’s also a canoe rental option!
During the summer, you can also head to the beach and go for a swim, but it’s a great year-round activity and is perfect for families as well.
Address: 161 Fall Street South, Guelph/Eramosa.
Extra Reading – 20+ Best Things To Do In Kitchener.
I hope this list of places to visit in Guelph and the nearby areas helps make your time here in this city as fun as it possibly can be.
I honestly think there are so many things to do in Guelph, and even after living here for over five years, I always find myself staying busy.
Overall, this place really feels like home, and I just hope you enjoy your time here in Guelph as much as I have.
If you have a suggestion for what to do in Guelph that I didn’t include in this article, let me know down in the comments!