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Its location on the south shore of spectacular Georgian Bay makes Meaford a must-visit for those who enjoy exploring Ontario’s best small towns. Set mid-way between the larger towns of Owen Sound to the west and Collingwood to the east, Meaford has in recent years experienced a Renaissance as tourists discover this Ontario gem.
It’s also become a popular spot for people relocating from the Greater Toronto Area, with appealing real estate and lifestyle opportunities luring young families and retirees alike. Add to this its proximity to great skiing in the nearby Blue Mountains, access to endless boating fun on the Great Lakes, as well as it’s thriving cultural scene, and there’s little need to wonder whether Meaford is worth visiting. It is!
To help you as you plan your perfect day trip or overnight stay in this charming lakeside community, be sure to read through our list of the best things to do in Meaford, Ontario, Canada for ideas and inspiration.
The Best Things To Do in Meaford, Canada
Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre
A prominent fixture on the South Georgina Bay art scene, Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre is a must-visit. Set bang-smack in the middle of the town in an elegant red-brick Edwardian building dating from 1908, this cultural hub has been a premier destination for arts and culture enthusiasts since it opened in 2006.
Highlights include its 250-seat theatre, an art gallery, community spaces, and a multi-use pavilion that’s used for special events. The venue is especially popular with visiting musicians for its excellent acoustics, while audiences love it for its intimate setting. Numerous performances are held throughout the year, ranging from live music concerts featuring renowned artists to local theatre productions, film screenings, and dance recitals.
Be sure to visit the art gallery on the second floor. This attractive space is used for visual art displays showcasing works by both local and regional artists, with exhibits rotating throughout the year. One of the top Meaford attractions, the hall’s community rooms, and pavilion are used for workshops, meetings, receptions, and community events.
Address: 12 Nelson St E, Meaford, ON
Website: Meaford Hall Arts & Cultural Centre
Located overlooking Georgian Bay and the town’s lovely harbour area, the Meaford Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s rich history. Housed in a charming historic building that once served as the town’s pumping station, the museum has been a custodian of local heritage since it opened its doors in 1961 and is a must-visit attraction for those looking to find out more about the town.
The museum’s collections include artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell the stories of Meaford’s military history, its maritime heritage, its indigenous peoples, as well as its importance as an agricultural center. Highlights of its farming roots include relics from the town’s apple-growing heyday, among them a collection of vintage apple peelers (and they’re more interesting than they might sound!).
In addition to its exhibits, the Meaford Museum also serves as a hub for genealogical research, offering resources for those interested in tracing their local family roots. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to assist with historical inquiries and to offer insights into its collections.
Address: 111 Bayfield St, Meaford, ON
Website: Meaford Museum
Meaford Waterfront and Harbour
After your visit to the Meaford Museum, spend some time exploring Meaford waterfront. A lovely level footpath follows the water’s edge from the beach at David Johnston Park past the town’s coastguard station and the harbour up to Fred Raper Park, which also boasts a great little beach with super views over the water.
Along the way, you’ll pass a number of historical plaques and storyboards detailing the founding of Meaford. There’s also the interesting “Great Gun,”, a replica cannon, which makes for a great selfie. Picnic tables and benches also line the waterfront and its parks.
Another waterfront must-do is to pay a visit to Meaford Farmers’ Market. The quintessential small-town market, it’s held on Fridays from June to October at the Meaford Harbour Pavilion and features stalls selling fresh local seasonal produce as well as artisanal products and handcrafted goods from local artisans, ranging from handmade jewelry, soaps, and crafts to local honey, maple syrup, and baked goods.
Hike & Bike the Georgian Trail
Stretching all the way from Meaford to Collingwood, the 34-kilometre-long Georgian Trail has become one of the most popular multi-use trails in Ontario. Set along a former railway route that skirted the southern part of Georgian Bay, this level, easy-to-follow, tree-lined route offers stunning water views along the route.
In addition to the attractions in Meaford, you’ll want to stop in the communities of Thornbury and The Blue Mountains along the way, both of them popular places to visit for tourists. Rest areas, picnic spots, and lookouts dot the route, providing ample opportunities for rest and reflection. You’ll also find interesting interpretive signage providing details of the area’s flora and fauna, as well as information about notable historical landmarks.
In addition to being popular with hikers and bikers during the warmer months, come winter, the trail is converted to use by cross-country skiers.
Enjoy a Dram at The Dam Pub
For those looking for fun Meaford things to do that involve great food, not to mention superb craft beers and whiskies, you’ll want to include The Dam Pub on your itinerary. A long-time favourite watering hole in Thornbury (it drew its name from its former riverside setting), the establishment’s move has proven a real boon to residents and visitors to Meaford.
The epitome of a traditional Scottish pub (but with a Canadian twist), this culinary landmark is not only known for its excellent pub grub, but for its vast selection of whiskies – a selection that includes over 1000 different whiskies from around the world, including rare and unique single malts.
Check out their website for news of upcoming whisky-tasting experiences, including pairings with meal options including classics such as Scotch eggs, haggis, and meat pies, all prepared with a focus on local, fresh ingredients.
Address: 72 Sykes St N, Meaford, ON
Website: The Dam Pub