2019 Ultimate Summer Staycation Guide to Guelph

Staying in Guelph this summer? Here are just a few of the great things you can enjoy in the Royal City this summer season! 

Survival Kit

Here are some summer essentials you’ll need as you work your way through our staycation guide.

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Sensible Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Bathing Suit
  • Beach Towel
  • After Burn & After Bite
  • First Aid Kit ­— just in case

Ice Cream

Nothing says summer like ice cream. Whether you like hard-scooped, soft serve, gelato, or sherbet, Guelph’s got you covered.

The Boathouse Tea Room: 
Open 7 days a week until 10 p.m., you can enjoy up to 33 flavours (16 at any given time) over the summer next to the scenic Speed River.

Feed your tastebuds and your nostalgia by getting some retro candy with a Kawartha Dairy cone.

Planet Bean: 
When your friends want coffee and you want gelato you know where to go. Also, obviously get both.

My Kitty Cafe: 
For when you want ice cream but also want to look at a lot of cats.

Bluewater Creamery: 
Small batch, hand crafted ice cream and frozen treats in seasonal flavours. Known to be available at the farmer’s market and festivals.

Make a Splash

There’s no better way to beat the heat than a refreshing swim or dipping your feet in the water.

Guelph Lake
: Although it is a manmade beach and reservoir, many activities can be enjoyed at Guelph Lake such as swimming, fishing, and camping.  

Canoe/Kayak Rentals: 
Rent a canoe or kayak at The Boathouse to cruise up the Speed River, just don’t rock the boat.

Interactive water feature at 
Market Square: 
Dip your toes in the Market Square fountain if you’re spending the day downtown to keep cool during the hot summer days.

U of G swimming pool
: W.F. Mitchell Athletics Centre is open every day for length swims, recreational swims, and the hot tub. Just be sure to check the times.  

Rockwood Conservation Area: 
Boasting cliffs, caves, and glacial potholes; many days can be spent adventuring around the Rockwood Conservation Area by hiking, biking, swimming, or canoeing.

Picnic Spots

It’s time to dig out the ol’ picnic basket and get ready to indulge in some watermelon. Here are the best places to bring your friends, family, or that special someone.

Riverside Park
: Fun for the whole family, Riverside Park does not just have picnic areas, but also a number of hiking trails, sports fields, horseshoe pits, pedal-boats, and a merry-go-round.

Royal City Park
: Royal City Park is a gorgeous park and is steps away from a grocery store if you’re unprepared.

The Arboretum
: The Arboretum has a beautiful and diverse landscape, and is only a short walk from the University.

Exhibition Park
: Close to downtown, Exhibition Park has tennis courts, baseball diamonds, a playground, and plenty of open fields to enjoy any sport when you finish your meal.

Johnston Green
: With an abundance of greenery and field, Johnston Green can accommodate an intimate picnic, or perhaps even a picnic party.

Road Trip

Sometimes you just need a little vacay in your staycay. That’s where these road trip ideas come in.

Just an hour’s drive from campus, those who are 16 to 29 can get Play On tickets for the Stratford Festival starting from just $21. If you’re more into food than Shakespeare, fear not! Stratford has a ton of restaurants for your eating pleasure.

Rattlesnake Point: 
A 35-minute drive from campus, this park in Milton offers overnight camping, hiking, yoga, rock-climbing, and geocaching.

St. Jacob’s Market: 
A 40-minute drive from campus, this farmer’s market and flea market in Waterloo is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays until 3:30 p.m.

Niagara Falls: 
A 90-minute drive from campus isn’t too shabby to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you’ve already seen the falls, there is a lot of other stuff to do, such as the casino, tacky tourist attractions, the butterfly conservatory, and strolls along botanical gardens.

Toronto: A 75-minute drive from campus, Toronto offers endless options for entertainment. If you’re a foodie, take advantage of Summerlicious from July 5 to 21 to try a great selection of fancy-pants restaurants.

African Lion Safari: 
A 30-minute drive from campus, you can visit Hamilton to see monkeys, cheetahs, and elephants, oh my!

Staying in

You don’t have to go out. There are tons of things you can do from the comfort of your own home.

: Find a few good books to read while relaxing at home. Try reading a book before the movie inevitably comes out.

Watch: Stream a movie or binge watch a show on Netflix.

Cook: Find a new recipe and make a meal at home with your friends using fresh ingredients from the Guelph Farmer’s Market.

Sounds of summer
: You can stream music for your summer theme song without even leaving your house using apps and websites like Spotify (check out our playlists at Ontarion Web) and U of G’s radio station CFRU 93.3 FM.

Sunbathe in your backyard: 
Remember to apply SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen and to reapply every one to two hours. You’ll get a better tan if you divide the time you spend outside because this will avoid getting a sunburn.


Grab a few friends and paint the town red. Guelph has lots of options when it comes to music, movies, and games.

Free movies in the Square
: You can enjoy a family-friendly movie at the 
Market Square for free.

The Mustang Drive-In
: Enjoy great movies in a nostalgic drive-in setting.

Karaoke/Trivia nights
: You can be a rockstar with a full band at The Tavern on Grange, or enjoy karaoke at Shakespeare Arms, Ample Annie’s, to name a few. Or show off your smarts at trivia night at Fionn MacCool’s, Sip Club or McCabe’s.  

Board game cafes/escape rooms: You and your friends can team up to try to escape the puzzle rooms at Exitus or Fantescapes, or enjoy a night at The Round Table or The Boardroom to have a few drinks and play your favourite board games.

Live shows
: There are live shows downtown almost every day of the week, so pick your poison: music, comedy, drag, dance, or theatre. Change your RSVP to “Going” on those Facebook events your talented friends have been inviting you to.


Summer is filled with outdoor adventures and activities, here are a few ideas to keep busy and active.

You can let your inner-Lebowski shine with a day of bowling at Woodlawn Bowl any day of the week, or enjoy the electrifying night bowling on a Friday or Saturday night.

Ice Skating at U of G Gold Ice Rink
: If you miss winter sports then take a day to skate at the Gold Rink to cool off.

You can skateboard in the streets, at The Ward Skatepark, or tear up Guelph’s new outdoor ramps at Silvercreek Skatepark.

Bike trails/hiking trails: 
There are over 65 kilometres of trails in Guelph to start your adventure, including: Starky Hill Trail, Speed River Trail, Eramosa River Trail, Silvercreek River Trail, Guelph Lake Trail, the University of Guelph Arboretum Trail, and many more!

Sports leagues: 
There are many sports leagues to join over the summer to remain outside and active including: ultimate frisbee, beach volleyball, soccer, and flag football.


Whether you want to fill your staycation with music, food, or art, these five festivals have you covered.

Guelph & District
 Multicultural Festival: June 7 to 9 at Riverside Park. Enjoy multicultural performances and food as well as carnival rides and games.

Art on the Street: On June 22, artists will exhibit their work along Quebec Street. There is plenty to do for kids of all ages at The Children’s Art Festival in St. George’s Square from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hillside Festival: 
From July 12 to 14, Guelph Lake Island hosts five stages of musicians, spoken word artists, workshops, and more—a true staple of the Guelph summer experience.

Riverfest Elora: 
From August 16 to 18, take a free shuttle bus from Guelph to Bissell Park in Elora to enjoy music, arts, food, and culture along the banks of the Grand River.

From August 23 to 25, Guelph’s in for a weekend of barbecued ribs, music, cars, and more at Riverside Park.


Avoid the sun, but enjoy the outdoors as restaurant-meets-picnic on these patios around Guelph.

What used to be The Ox, Miijidaa’s patio is tucked away from the bustle of Quebec Street and offers a unique menu based on traditional First Nations cuisine.

Sip Club: 
A patio that offers a generous amount of shade from the summer sun during the day, and a whole lot of fun at night.

The Albion: 
Make even the pickiest patio-goer happy as you can sit downstairs in the shade or upstairs to enjoy the view of downtown.

Baker Street Station: 
A sunny and open upstairs patio. The view may be a parking lot but it’s still a good time with the charm of an English pub.

Red Brick Cafe: 
For a more connected patio experience, try the Red Brick’s community table-inspired seating. Take in the fresh air with a hot or cold beverage and stick around for their delicious evening menu!

Featured image by Tiffany Agliani/The Ontarion

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