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Ours to Discover

Ours to Discover: Goderich, Canada’s prettiest town

Historic and relaxing beaches await in this community on the coast of Lake Huron.

By Jessica Huras Wheels.ca

May 30, 2022 5 min. read

Article was updated a month ago

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About this series: Wheels wants to inspire you to explore. This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province, ands show you why Ontario is “Ours to Discover.”

Nicknamed “the prettiest town in Canada,” Goderich charms visitors with its natural beauty and striking urban design. Set on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, in an area known as Ontario’s West Coast, Goderich’s location blesses its beaches with wonderful sunset views.

While there’s plenty for outdoor enthusiasts to appreciate here, Goderich’s historic downtown makes it an equally engaging road trip destination for visitors with an interest in architecture. Here’s how to spend two days in this delightful coastal town.

DAY ONE

In the morning: Leave Toronto, driving west along Highway 401 before following Highway 8 from Kitchener-Waterloo or Highway 4 from London. Depending on traffic, the drive should take about three hours. After a morning in the car, you’ll be ready to refuel at Cait’s Cafe, a quaint coffee shop that sources its beans from local roasters, Coastal Coffee and Shopbike Coffee Roasters. Fuel up for your afternoon with one of its paninis made with homemade focaccia.

goderich the square

Take a tour around The Square, which is the heart of downtown Goderich. The area’s distinctive design features eight streets stretching out from a central octagon. The focal point is the Huron County Court House, an Art Deco-style building constructed in the 1950s, and a pleasant park. The area is full of architectural points of interest, so be sure to download the free audio tour from Huron County Historic Walking Tours for insight into the significance of the various heritage buildings you’ll spot.

In the afternoon: Change into your flip-flops because it’s time to hit the beach. From The Square, it’s a short walk to the waterfront, where you can spend your afternoon relaxing on the sandy shoreline or sauntering along the 1.5-kilometre boardwalk that connects the town’s trio of beaches. Watch ships arrive in the port from a spot on Main Beach or follow the wooden stairs up from St. Christopher’s Beach to the Goderich Lighthouse.

After getting your fill of lake views, it’s time to check in to your hotel. Head to Colborne Bed & Breakfast for cheerful rooms set in a Victorian-era home or choose Samuels Hotel for modern rooms with private terraces, many of which overlook the Maitland River.

In the evening: Grab a table at Park House Restaurant for dinner with a view of Lake Huron. Get a taste of the Great Lakes’ freshest catches with dishes like perch tacos or pan-seared pickerel. Alternatively, head to Part II Bistro for crowd-pleasing fare – crab cakes, cheddar stuffed perogies or pork and broccolini ravioli – paired with creative cocktails.

Walk back to Main Beach after dinner to catch one of Goderich’s spectacular sunsets. Then call it a night or swing by Paddy O’Neils Restaurant Pub, which is housed in the historic Bedford Hotel, for a drink to toast the end of your first day.

DAY TWO

In the morning: Begin day two with a hearty breakfast at West Street Willy’s. The restaurant’s infamous Morning After Poutine, featuring home fries, bacon, sausage, onions and tomatoes topped with cheese curds, chipotle, hollandaise sauce and two eggs, is big enough to share with your road-trip buddy. Then pop across the street to Culbert’s Bakery to pick up some of their beloved cream puffs to enjoy later.

Take some time to admire the architecture found along West Street, including the Town Hall, a Romanesque-style limestone building designed by Thomas Fuller, the architect behind the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

hike in maitland woods

Burn off breakfast with a hike that takes in Goderich’s natural scenery. The Maitland Woods Trail is a lovely, 3.2-kilometre loop that runs through groves of beech and cedar trees. Alternatively, walk on one of the trails in the Falls Reserve Conservation Area, which is home to waterfalls and limestone cliffs. If you brought your fishing gear, the Maitland River, which wraps around the conservation area, is an excellent spot for catching bass in the summer.

In the early afternoon: Drive 20 minutes south along the lake to visit the pretty community of Bayfield and enjoy a late lunch at the Black Dog Village Pub and Bistro. Try the Stack Burger, which is topped with bacon from Metzger's Meat Products in nearby Hensall. If you’re not the designated driver, Black Dog also has an extensive selection of whiskies to sample.

In the late afternoon: Spend the remainder of your day walking around downtown Bayfield, where you’ll find well-preserved yellow brick and clapboard buildings dating back to the 19th century.

Take a peek inside the town’s collection of shops and art galleries, such as Main Street Gallery, which showcases creations like pottery, jewellery and glassworks. You can also visit one of Bayfield’s four beaches or head to Pioneer Park to admire the view of Lake Huron.

Before driving back to Toronto, consider making a detour to Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth. This 26,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant is known for its commitment to sustainable initiatives. Pick up some craft beers, hard ciders or seltzers to take home with you.

COVID-19 need to know

Goderich is following Ontario’s provincial COVID-19 guidelines. Contact individual businesses ahead of your trip to find out their protocols.

For the drive

Goderich is the home of the annual Celtic Roots Festival, a three-day outdoor event in August celebrating Celtic music and art – a culture with deep roots in the region. If you can’t catch the festival, get into the event spirit by listening to some Celtic music on your drive.

TIMELINE: Drive guide

Day One

  • 8 a.m. Leave Toronto

  • 11 a.m. Cait’s Cafe

  • Noon The Square

  • 1 p.m. Beach

  • 4:30 p.m. Check-in to hotel

  • 6 p.m. Park House Restaurant or Part II Bistro


Day Two

  • 9 a.m. West Street Willy’s

  • 10:30 a.m. Culbert’s Bakery

  • 11:30 a.m. Hiking

  • 1:30 p.m. Black Dog Village Pub and Bistro

  • 4 p.m. Drive back to Toronto


NOTE: Times are suggestions only

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