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.”
Nestled in the town of Halton Hills, Georgetown feels like a quaint village that will make you nostalgic for simpler times. Hey, there’s even a working payphone (remember those?) on its cheery main street. Though it’s just under an hour away from Toronto, the community will leave you feeling like you’ve travelled far from home. Here are our suggestions on how to spend a day exploring this charming spot.
In the morning:
Leave downtown Toronto heading west along the Gardiner Expressway to Highway 427 and then head north to Highway 401. Drive west until you reach Winston Churchill Boulevard, which you take north to Highway 7. If traffic is on your side, you should arrive in Georgetown in less than an hour.
Main Street South is closed to cars every Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12:30pm for the Farmers’ Market, which has been held since 1993. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of free parking nearby – a lot on Edith Street is a great spot to stash the car. Before exploring the market, make like a local and head to Heather’s Bakery Café to pick up a coffee and one of its signature buttercups to take with you.
Held weekly between June and mid-October, the market is full of fresh finds. The produce on sale is a celebration of local agriculture – think plump Ontario peaches, sweet corn, picked-that-morning tomatoes and even gooseberries. There is also a curated mix of vendors selling everything from gourmet granola and bouquets of wildflowers to smoked sausages made from locally raised meat and handmade all-natural soaps.
If you’re getting hungry, yummy options abound within the market. The popular Peameal Bacon On A Bun stand serves up irresistibly comforting sandwiches, as evidenced by the permanent lineup of people waiting to buy one, while That Pretzel Dough crafts soft, burnished pretzels dusted with crunchy salt crystals.
If you prefer a sit-down lunch, head to the south end of Main Street to Lily Thai Cuisine. Housed in a former Victorian home and kitted out with a sun-dappled patio, it’s a pleasing spot to savour a fresh mango salad and a plate of pad Thai.
In the afternoon:
After lunch, check out the shops for a bit of inspired window shopping. It may be just a few blocks long, but Main Street boasts a good mix of independent retailers, from Grassroots, a plant-based grocer, to home decor shops, like Dini & Co., and numerous clothing boutiques. Be sure to stop at The Way We Were, an award-winning consignment store where savvy shoppers might uncover finds by Burberry, Tiffany & Co. and Ralph Lauren.
After exploring all that Main Street has to offer, head to Church Street to check out The Helson Gallery.
[caption id="attachment_171277" align="aligncenter" width="1600"]
Over the next month, the Helson Gallery will be home to a number of paintings created by artists from the France Watercolor Society.[/caption]
Housed in a stunning church conversion – the original vaulted ceilings and colourful stained-glass windows are reason enough to visit – the gallery features work local artists. It is also home to a permanent collection of more than 100 Canadian and European paintings donated to the institution by Georgetown resident Fred Helson.
Make a left outside the gallery to meander the leafy residential streets, such as King, Mill, Queen and Albert, and admire the well-preserved original Victorian homes that are tempting many big-city dwellers to make the move to community (follow the @readmorehouse account on Instagram to discover how one couple is doing just that with their 1904 house).
[caption id="attachment_171275" align="aligncenter" width="2560"]
Around 30 artisans are based in the heritage buildings at the Williams Mill Creative Arts Studios.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Williams Mill Creative Arts Studios
Uploaded by: Joe Howell[/caption]
Hikers and nature lovers will gravitate to Hungry Hollow Trail, where there’s a gorgeous 300-acre ravine, small streams and easy-to-navigate trails (no hiking boots necessary). It’s a little pocket of pretty that takes just 30 minutes to do.
And no trip to Georgetown would be complete without a visit to the neighbouring Glen Williams, one of Ontario’s last remaining hamlets. It’s located at the north end of Georgetown, about a three-minute drive away.
The Credit River runs through this adorable spot with riverside paths for scenic walks, birdwatching and fishing. In the heart of the community, you’ll find Williams Mill Creative Arts Studios, a historic former mill where you can purchase one-of-a-kind artwork from glassblowers, stone carvers, textile artists and more. Hang a right outside of the mill and head to the Copper Kettle Pub for a drink on the breezy patio – just remember to designate a driver first.
In the evening:
Back in Georgetown enjoy dinner at Berwick Bistro and Lounge, where gluten-free and vegan options share the table with braised lamb tacos and crispy fish and chips. On the way out of the village, beer lovers will want to stop at the community’s only craft brewery, Furnace Room, for some pours to take home. If there’s time, you should book a tour – one option even offers the chance to participate in one of the steps in the brewing process.
For the Drive
Have you heard of Morris Saxe? He was a Jewish farmer in Georgetown who convinced the Canadian government to welcome 79 Jewish teenagers from a Poland orphanage in the 1920s – but there was a catch. Listen to the podcast about him, and discover what that requirement was, during your drive. It is available from the Canadian Jewish News website.
Note: Times are suggestions only
- 8:30 a.m. Leave Toronto
- 9:30 a.m. Heather’s Bakery
- 10 a.m. Georgetown Farmers’ Market
- 11 a.m. Downtown shopping
- 1:30 p.m. The Helson Gallery
- 2:30 p.m. Hungry Hollow Trail
- 3:30 p.m. Glen Williams
- 5 p.m. Berwick Bistro and Lounge
- 7 p.m. Furnace Room Brewery