15 things to do on your next Kitchener, Ontario summer vacation

I’ve lived in Kitchener, Ontario for 26 1/4 of my 27 years, and one would think I would take my vacation literally anywhere else. . .

Whether it be cost, or timing, or simply wanting to keep it simple, there is nothing like a #staycation. My best friend and I decided to do it right and visit a mix of places we wouldn’t normally adventure including some KW classics.

Hiking

Elora Gorge


We were lucky to go on a day that wasn’t busy. The park was nearly empty! We hiked 5KM and enjoyed a packed lunch in the woods. I may have fed some of my cauliflower to a particularly adorable chipmunk. The park also offers camping and tubing. Elora Gorge

Huron Natural Area

You may remember this as the place you went in elementary school to learn about birds. There is a little over 5KM of trails through a mixture of wooded and open areas. We were easily able to avoid the field trip groups and spent a great morning hiking. Huron Natural Area

Victoria Park

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We visited here a few times during the week for events, but it is worth a mention all on its own. Located right downtown Kitchener, steps from the bus terminal, is my favorite lunch spot. The park is large enough to take a decent length stroll through, and in recent years the playground and splash pad have been updated. Victoria Park

Theater

The Apollo Cinema

The Apollo is always showing something quirky. This time it was retro cartoons and Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) from the 60’s to the 80’s with an all-you-can-eat cereal bar. I controlled myself by having a modest 6 bowls of cereal while enjoying such Canadian gems as “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth”. This spacious theater has a section with tables and a nostalgic feel. Before or after your show you are right downtown Kitchener and set up to continue your adventure. The Apollo

Wonder Woman at Cineplex VIP

When they say VIP they mean it. In seat service, reclining chairs, tables, so much space, and a 19+ atmosphere is enough to make anyone feel spoiled. We were a bit early, which allowed us to take advantage of an empty arcade before enjoying our drinks and a really excellent movie. Cineplex

CTRL-V Virtual Reality Arcade

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Ever wanted to try virtual reality? CTRL-V Waterloo is the flagship VR arcade location. We explored a nightmare-inducing haunted house, went deep-sea diving, experienced an office simulator (on vacation from our office jobs…), caught basketballs, and shot lasers. It was almost overwhelming, but the amazing staff were more than attentive. The available games category is extensive and you’ll want to book multiple sessions. Book online CTRL-V

Festivals

KW Multicultural Festival #KWMF2017

Festival season is my favorite season. Multicultural fest is one of the many food and vendor festivals over the summer. We enjoyed live music while sitting under the clock tower and eating. KWMC

Canada Day 150 at Columbia Lake

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Every year on Canada Day there are fireworks at Columbia lake and the University of Waterloo more than outdid themselves for the 150 celebration. It had all the characteristics of a true outdoor celebration – endless food lines, hoards of families, a concert you could totally hear-ish, and a certain lawlessness that comes with events of this scale (think people using the middle of roundabouts as parking #CanadiansGoneWild).  University of Waterloo

Food

Rawlicious in Belmont Village

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As a vegetarian I’ve had no trouble finding great food locally. Gluten-free, raw, vegan soft tacos? Yes, please! Move over chain restaurants of KW because, despite being unfortunately named, these are the single greatest tacos I have ever eaten. I even went back and got them as take-out later in the week. Rawlicious

Gilt Restaurant in Downtown Kitchener

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A more upscale option right downtown Kitchener. Gilt is a newer restaurant, but is already a local favorite with a large patio. Vegetarian friendly, make reservations. Gilt Restaurant

Arts

Paint Nite @Crossroads Board Game Cafe

The 20th anniversary of Harry Potter happened to be the same day. So we clinked our butterbeer and attempted the first painting we’ve done since high-school. I would recommend Crossroads for their selection of nerdy drinks and fantastic grilled cheese. I would recommend Paint Nite for making it look like I have some artistic ability, however small. Paint Nite Crossroads Cafe

Legally Blonde at KW Little Theater

Not the first, nor the last play I will see here. It’s a neat, cozy space. Try not to freak out the actors when you inevitably lock eyes. KWLT

Shopping

Used Bookstores – A Second Look and KW Bookstore

Another time in history, downtown Kitchener was flooded with thrift stores. Only a few have survived the food infestation but they are well worth the visit. Also pictured is my “currently reading” pile. I was determined to make a healthy dent in it over vacation. I didn’t. A Second Look KW Bookstore

Open Sesame at Kitchener City Hall

A bookstore, art store, gallery, and performance space, Open Sesame is a favorite. Make a point to stop in and see the newest exhibit, or see a show. Grab some local zines and browse the collection of housewares and art books. Open Sesame

The Boardwalk

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“It’s by a dump!?” – all of Yelp.

A place to avoid on particularly hot and muggy days, and a wonderful way to spend a few rainy hours, this strip has everything. Food, shopping, a movie theater, and some really distracting roundabout art. The Boardwalk

Honorable Mention

Horseback Riding at The Ranch in Oakville

Bucket list! I had never ridden a horse up until this point. As a special birthday surprise we went to the Ranch in Oakville for a one hour trail ride. I don’t think anyone has ever looked cooler on horseback.   The Ranch


This is in no way a definitive list of all the #KWAWESOME adventures you could potentially have. Did we miss one of your favorites? Tweet or comment!


 Lead photo by: Matt Smith

KWLT photo by: Angela Clayfield

All other photography by: Samantha Campbell

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