Photo courtesy Destination Stratford 


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I have loved Stratford since my grade 12 English class ventured there to see Maggie Smith star as Lady Macbeth in a hauntingly brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s play.

Stratford today boasts the kind of lifestyle you can only find in small-town Ontario, yet with the kind of world-class entertainment and cuisine that big cities dream of.

From enjoying world-class theatrical performances to experiencing tasty international cuisines, as well as enjoying classy stays in elegant accommodations, find out more about the best things to do in Stratford, Ontario, for a luxury getaway.


Luxurious Stuff To Do in Stratford, ON


See a Performance at The Stratford Festival
Stratford Festival Theatre - J. SPEED - Destination Ontario
Stratford Festival has been a top attraction in Ontario for 70 years  (Photo: J Speed / Destination Ontario)

Stratford hosts Canada’s finest Shakespearean festival, an annual celebration of the Bard’s plays that will soon be in its 70th year. The fact that Stratford shares the same name as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon in England, inspired local journalist Tom Patterson to found a Shakespearean theatre festival in 1952.

Despite its humble inception with the first inaugural performance of Richard III under a big tent, the festival has grown into a revered national institution and is widely regarded as home to some of the best live theatre in Ontario. The theatre company now puts on 12 plays a season from April to November and is the center of a thriving tourism scene in this town of 32,000.

There are three theatres, the Festival Theatre, Avon Theatre, and the newest venue, the Tom Patterson Theatre. Since it opened its doors in 2022, this new addition has won five major architectural awards.


Tom Patterson Theatre Photo by doublespace photography
The state-of-the-art Tom Patterson Theatre opened in 2022 (Photo: Doublespace Photography / Stratford Festival)


A LEED Gold-registered building, constructed with sustainable and natural materials, the auditorium is bespoke in every way and offers a unique elongated thrust stage and an exceptional viewing experience that brings the action into the audience.

Stratford is one of my favourite little towns in Ontario and the theatre is a big part of that. I have enjoyed Shakespearean dramas (Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and King Lear), musicals (Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls, and The Music Man), and comedies (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) over the past few years. The venues are splendid, the performances are grand, and each play is a spectacle not to be missed – even if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare or even theatre. Many of Canada’s brightest performers have graced the Stratford stage and got their start here.

The Stratford Festival calendar is posted and tickets can be purchased online at or by telephoning 1-800-567-1600 (toll-free).


Go Behind the Scenes at the Costume and Props Warehouse
Scott Wishart Stratford Festival costume tour is one of the most luxurious stuff to do in Stratford
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the Stratford Festival’s warehouse (Photo by Scott Wishart / Courtesy Stratford Festival)

After enjoying a play, be sure to take a curated tour of the Stratford Festival Costume and Props Warehouse. The world’s largest performing arts archive, here you can even try on some of the stage-worn costumes.

Given this opportunity myself recently, I had hoped for Macbeth, Hamlet or Lear, but instead was coerced into dressing up as some Scandinavian opera singer, in a gown, horned helmet, and golden pigtails, while the rest of the group giggles and snaps photos that I know will not be flattering. I had hoped for a Shakespearean lead man but was rather playing the fool.

Still, it certainly is an enlightening behind-the-scenes look at how the costumes and sets are painstakingly put together.


Savour Stratford’s Food & Drink Scene
Tasting Tail Bacon and Ale Destination Stratford luxurious stuff to do in Stratford
Stratford’s Culinary Trails are a fantastic way to discover the town’s food and drink scene (Photo courtesy Destination Stratford)

An easy way to sample the local food and drink scene is by trying one of Stratford’s three different specialty-themed Culinary Trails. These self-guided tours are a fun way to explore the community and include a Chocolate Trail, a Bacon and Ale Trail, and a new Savour & Sip Trail, each of which allows five to six delectable tastings at various downtown restaurants and retailers.

From a list of over 15-20 offerings, you can choose from handmade truffles and chocolate at Rheo Thompson Candies, a mocha latte from Snapping Turtle Coffee Roasters, chocolate balsamic vinegar from Olive, Bavarian chocolate coffee from Buzz Stop, chocolate tea from Distinctly Tea, or a hot fudge sundae with crushed chocolate covered brittle from Jenn & Larry’s Ice Cream Shoppe.


Tasting Trail Chocolate Destination Stratford
The “Chocolate Trail” is a popular choice amongst foodie visitors (Photo courtesy Destination Stratford)


My favourites are a chocolate liqueur from Junction 56 Distillery and a chocolate porter from Black Swan Brewing. This also brings me to my favourite trail involving Ale, where local establishments such as Black Swan Brewing Co., Black Angus Bakery and Jobsite Brewing open up their doors for people to come in and taste their latest bacon and beer creations. Best of all (besides enjoying a wonderful tour of unique downtown Stratford), my wife and I run this way and that and find that we actually burnt calories in our active and energetic pursuit of the delectable chocolate, ale, and bacon offerings – which is a good thing.


Learn Culinary Arts at the Stratford Chefs School

For a wonderful dining experience at a very reasonable cost, the Stratford Chefs School is a non-profit culinary institution where students obtain a thorough grounding in the business of operating successful restaurants. I feel like I stumbled into an episode of MasterChef Canada as one of the judges.

Student chefs create their own menus, pair them with fine wine, and serve these splendid multi-course dinners at their downtown venue. While I witness the chefs in action in the open kitchen setting, cooking and preparing dishes and shouting orders, servers swirl amongst the tables aiming to please. Sommeliers in training also look for that perfect pairing – and I was only too happy to assist our wine server with their training!

My filet mignon was delectable, nobody gets chopped (or fails the course), and I left the restaurant perfectly satisfied. Professional culinary chefs, many of whom got their start at the school, work their magic at many of Stratford’s wonderful and varied dining establishments.


Paddle Among the Swans on the Avon River
Paddle among the swans on the Avon River one of the best luxurious things to do in Stratford ON
Enjoy a peaceful paddle among the swans on the Avon River (Photo courtesy Destination Stratford)

The Avon River is one of Stratford’s natural beauties. Meandering through town, it’s flanked by parks, walkways, and beautiful stone bridges that are all part of a peaceful stroll or a bike ride.

The Avon River Cycling Path is a 12km route around the river, past Shakespeare Gardens (a beautiful garden you may want to make a pit stop at), and through picturesque downtown Stratford. You can also rent a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak from Avon Boat Rentals to get up close to the graceful swans, as well as ducks, geese, and blue herons.

One fantastic event is the Parade of the Swans which takes place in spring and fall each year as these elegant creatures march single file behind a bagpiper in a ceremony taking them to (or from) their comfortable wintering quarters and the Avon.


Meet the Bieber

Well, maybe not in person, although the Canadian star is often spotted around his hometown, especially watching his favourite hockey team, the Stratford Warriors playing at the historic Allman Arena. Visit the Stratford Perth Museum and the Justin Bieber: Steps to Stardom Exhibit. Bieber got his start busking on the steps of the Avon Theatre. Download the Bieber-iffic map of Stratford to learn about all his favourite places and landmarks.


Enjoy a Luxury Stay in Stratford
Luxurious stuff to do in Stratford includes staying at Edisons Inn bedroom of luxury hotels in Stratford with wall art jpg
Edison’s Inn provides chic-boutique accommodations perfect for exploring Stratford (Photo courtesy Edison’s Inn)

To make the most out of your luxury getaway to beautiful Stratford, ON, consider booking a night or two stay.

From the elegant Bruce Hotel with its two excellent dining options to the luxurious boutique styling of Edison’s Inn and Foster’s Inn as well as the historic Mercer Hotel Downtown, you’ll be spoiled for choice of great accommodations.

Find out more in our Luxury Hotels in Stratford Ontario article.


If You Visit Stratford


While it’s an easy drive from places like Toronto and Niagara Falls, Stratford also benefits from the Stratford Airporter service. Since 1985, Stratford Airporter has provided an economical shuttle service between Stratford and Toronto’s international airport.

For more tips and tactics and to find out more about luxurious stuff to do in Stratford, ON, head to the Destination Stratford website at




Contributing Editor James Ross writes about destinations and travel adventures for various international publications. You can see more of his work at