21 Best Things to Do in Perth, ON, Canada
Just an hour's drive from Ottawa and voted 'prettiest town in Ontario,' Perth is a fantastic place to add to your list of travel plans. It's a perfect small town for a quick getaway with family, a girl's weekend, or a solo trip to restore your spirits after a wild year.
These are our top choices for the best things to do in Perth, Ontario, Canada, giving you a wide range of activities for all interests and needs. Whether you're a family or looking for nightlife, Perth has something to offer. Let's take a look.
What to Know Before You Go
Perth was initially settled in 1816 as a help to former military members following the war in 1812. Stonemasons made up a considerable part of the population, a fact present in the town's many historic buildings and streets. Part of the Perth charm lies in the stone buildings and features.
You're never far from the river, which bisects the downtown area, and the town boasts multiple avenues for exploring the great outdoors. At around 6,000 people, it's quiet and quaint — perfect for a low-key getaway.
It was chosen as one of two Ontario cities for historic restoration, and that old-world charm is present everywhere you look. Explore history, the outdoors, and eat like royalty in this small town.
Perth is home to some gorgeous outdoor areas for sports and nature enthusiasts. Here's what you can't miss.
As one of the first places most people visit this city, Stewart Park offers gorgeous views and plentiful places to picnic, people-watch, and play. Tay River winds through, and each year, Stewart Park hosts free concerts and festivals, including three days of music during the Stewart Park Festival, designed to entertain.
Events in the park are always free because of the park's history. The last family to own it donated the land with the caveat that no one would ever be charged admission to enjoy its beauty—great news for visitors of all kinds.
A local spot for canoe, stand-up paddleboard, and kayak rentals, Perth Outfitters, can set you up for a fun day on the Tay River. You can tour the waterways with the locals and meet other visitors as you sail through the canals.
It also offers spots for putting in your own gear, making it a wonderful option if you've got your own stuff but need rentals for friends. And if you'd rather not get in the water, it offers a mini-golf option designed for the whole family.
Perth Golf Course
While there are plenty of golfing options in the city, the Perth Golf Course has the distinction of being the oldest course in Canada. Play 18 holes with affordable rates and two distinct nines designed for both beginners and seasoned golfers.
You can host an event at the banquet hall and take advantage of other amenities as well as the staff's expertise. There are even junior golf options for those just taking on the game.
The Tay River Trail
This historic pathway leads you through the original military settlement, Perth-Upon-Tray, circa 1816. The trail leads upstream to the river's source or downstream where it spills out into lower Rideau Lake. It's a well laid out walking trail and suitable for all levels of hikers and nature enthusiasts.
More than just a nursery, this 10-acre show-garden space features pathways, art, and plants for sale. It's an entire experience designed to inspire new and seasoned gardeners and offer a bit of outdoor space for those of you looking to getaway.
Check the calendar for events happening around the time of your visit, and be sure to check out the succulent show garden for rare species grown right on the grounds. A farmer's market rounds out the list of things to do.
Arts and Culture
Perth is a thriving town with lots of creativity and culture. Here are some things to satisfy the culture-maker among you
Each year, the theater puts on a collection of well-loved and new plays designed to bring everyone back around to the glory of live theater. Take in the sites along the Tay River downtown and enjoy earlier showtimes for both plays and movies.
It's a full-service option with plenty to offer. And if you find yourself sticking around in the city for long-term projects, you can even audition for one of the productions.
Riverguild Fine Crafts
As one of Canada's oldest art cooperatives, you'll find art created by local artisans and take home unique memories available nowhere else. The store offers work from over 75 artisans in a range of disciplines designed to suit every artistic taste.
Check the local calendar for events and openings that touch on some of Canada and Perth's most accomplished local artists and pick up gifts for everyone in your life.
Perth Citizen's Band
Another "oldest in Canada" entry, this option is perfect for music lovers. The town band began in 1852 and continues to offer events put on by Perth locals. They perform in public around town, delivering a wide range of music and an annual Christmas concert.
Meet the band between sessions and offer to play your own instrument if you're brave enough. It's a tradition and a musical part of Canada's history.
History and Heritage
Perth is also home to tons of history, from local buildings to full museums dedicated to the area. You can explore on your own or enjoy one of the many walking tours designed to enlighten and delight.
Located in the gorgeous Matheson House, the Perth Museum offers four-period rooms lovingly restored to showcase the design of the times. The house was originally built for a wealthy merchant, and visitors can take part in small tours.
The Perth museum also offers local archives, local geology, and land records. You can explore the history of the area beyond just the surface.
Hall of Remembrance Military Museum
If military history is your thing, this unique museum is located on the second floor of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 244. It offers an extensive collection of reading materials, artifacts, and resources from various wars and peace-keeping missions.
Don't miss the three stained glass windows representing the three branches of the armed forces. You can also read about the Canadian Victoria Cross winners and all their biographies.
Last Duel Park
In a strange bit of history, this park is the sight of Canada's last fatal duel. Two law students dueled over the honor of a woman, ending in one succumbing to fatal wounds. It's a 27-acre site where you can wander around and read about the events that happened.
Summer Walking Plays from the Classic Theater Festival
If you visit Perth in the summer, you have the opportunity to take part in a unique bit of art and culture. The Walking Plays feature an outdoor audience following actors as they perform plays in the downtown area touching on history in the city.
Check the local events schedule to see if the outdoor plays are happening when you'll be in the city. You won't be disappointed.
Perth Town Hall National Historic Site
Among the downtown, history is the town hall. It features impressive interior and exterior features with an outdoor board designed to help clue you into the history of the building. It's an easy walk in the downtown area, and the beautifully preserved building is a sight to behold.
You may be able to attend council meetings inside, and if you're visiting during the holiday season, the town plays Christmas carols from the bell tower.
Food and Distilleries
Perth offers plenty of dining, and local distilleries are an integral part of the city. Head to these places for dining, coffee, and spirits designed to impress.
Top Shelf Distillers
This local, small-batch distillery features gin, vodka, bitters, and moonshine. You can have samples at the distillery shop, and small tours are possible if you check the schedule ahead of time.
It's a great place to try local concoctions, and the shop offers a variety of seasonal and permanent moonshine flavors that you can try before you buy. It's a fun afternoon for singles and those without children.
This adorable restaurant blends great food with an excellent atmosphere. Located in a former mill, the restaurant offers views of a structure almost as old as Canada itself. Grab pub food and sample local beers while taking in the view.
Check the hours before you go, but you shouldn't need a reservation to drop in. It's easy-going and serves a variety of items from appetizers to full meals. Ask about the history of the place while you're there and combine your love of food with all things old.
Creator of local brews, this option allows you to sample and try some of Perth's finest hops. You can take advantage of seasonal brews, shop their merchandise, and get into the beer culture of Perth as a whole.
There are quite a few types of beers, giving people plenty to choose from and get a glimpse of how the brewery runs. Support local beer excellence and learn a little about beer making along the way.
Maximillian's Dining Lounge
One of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Perth, this classic offers old-style European cuisine in a cozy setting. You have the option of outdoor patio seating to people watch and watch the Tay River roll by.
It's in the heart of downtown in a heritage building, making it a great option if you're taking a guided tour downtown or just exploring on your first night in the city. It was started over 40 years ago by a couple who immigrated from former Czechoslovakia.
The Stone Cellar
This award-winning restaurant created by Chopped Canada winner Nick Valiquette features a revolving menu and wonderful atmosphere. If you're looking for upscale dining in the heart of historic downtown, this is a great place to start.
Grab a reservation and ensure that you're able to dine during prime hours. It's the perfect way to end your trip or just treat yourself to a fancy night out.
Perth Chocolate Works
This local chocolate shop features creations ranging from classic to experimental. Located in a heritage mill, this family-owned chocolatier operates with a gorgeous small-town vibe. You can find a variety of the family's creations in chocolate, along with other types of treats, including jams, cookies, and specialty teas.
For the Kids
Families know it can't all be fine dining and history museums. Kids just want to have some fun. Explore these kid-friendly areas and make even the littlest member of your family happy.
The Smith Falls Railway Museum
Just a short drive from Perth, the Railway Museum is a fun exploration of the railroads in this area of Canada. You might even get to catch the train for a short trip or time it just right for the Harry Potter or the North Pole experience. Make sure you check the events calendar for special happenings and explore all the parts of a traditional train, from the engine to the caboose.
Silver Queen Mica Mine
This fun and mysterious place is excellent for camping and features hidden caverns and sparkling rocks. It's part of a historical outdoor space and offers kids and adults plenty of room to explore in the sunshine.
It's perfect for a day trip or as an add-on to your Perth explorations if you're into camping. Explore the history of the mine and the settlers who populated the region.
Making the Most of Your Perth ON Trip
This may be a quiet town, but don't let that fool you. There are so many places to explore and things to do. No matter what your interests are or how busy you want to be, Perth has something to offer everyone. Make your Perth trip an unforgettable time with our suggestions, and be sure to tell us your favorites once you've come back home.