The 5 Best Small Towns In Ontario, According To Our Travel Team

From waterfront beach towns to charming villages.

Elora, Ontario. Right: Little Cove in Tobermory.
Associate Editor

Elora, Ontario. Right: Little Cove in Tobermory.

Enchanting villages, beachside towns and historic hamlets — Ontario has so many beautiful small towns to visit and explore. If you're wondering which places are worth a day trip, Narcity's travel team has picked some of their favourite small towns in the province to help you uncover some truly beautiful spots.

Whether you're in search of crystal-clear waves, natural wonders and endless ice cream parlours or historic streets with local shops and unique eateries, you'll find tons of charm and things to do in these villages.

Here are five of the best small towns to visit in Ontario, according to members of Narcity's travel team.


Address: Tobermory, ON

This tiny lakeside village is brimming with summer charm and it's one of Video Reporter Ashna Bharkhada's favourite towns in the province.

While the town isn't big, it's got a lot to offer, especially if you love the outdoors. It's perched atop the Bruce Peninsula and is "surrounded by crystal clear water."

One of the biggest draws of Tobermory is the renowned Grotto. This natural wonder is located within Bruce Peninsula National Park and features turquoise waves along with "dramatic caves and limestone cliffs overlooking Georgian Bay."

Another unique natural wonder to explore in Tobermory is Flowerpot Island. Accessible only by boat, this island features giant, flowerpot-shaped rock pillars that give the area its name. You can explore a light station as well as go for a dip, hike, and camp at this spot.

Tobermory has also been dubbed the "shipwreck capital of Canada" and has over 20 sunken vessels. You can spot the wrecks at Fathom Five National Marine Park by diving, boat tours, and more.

The town itself has lots to offer from local boutiques to ice cream parlours and eateries.

Tobermory website


Address: Elora, ON

Why You Need To Go: One of my personal favourite small towns in Ontario is Elora. This historic village is renowned for its old-time charm and beautiful surroundings.

Having grown up just outside of Elora, I've been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time there, and it's no surprise that it's been called "Ontario's most beautiful village."

One of the most well-known spots in Elora is the quarry. This turquoise swimming hole is surrounded by towering white cliffs and boasts a small sandy beach.

Close the quarry is the Elora Gorge. It offers riverside trails and 22-metre high cliffs. You can even tube down the river during the summer months.

My favourite thing about Elora are all the cute local shops. From clothing to coffee and jewelry, you can find so many unique items. There are also lots of delicious restaurants and cafés and I love visiting the creperie for a mini Parisian escape.

The Elora Mill is still on my bucket list. This venue offers a restaurant with locally-sourced ingredients as well as a hotel and spa that make for a dreamy weekend away.

Elora website

St. Jacobs

Address: St. Jacobs, ON

Why You Need To Go: For Travel Creator Katherine Caspersz, St. Jacobs is "a perfect little day trip if you're in the GTA."

Located just outside of Toronto, the area is brimming with charming shops and attractions.

"The village is such a neat place to explore, with quaint little shops and places that will transport you back in time, like Hamel Brooms, the last corn broom manufacturer left in Canada," she said. "You also of course don't want to miss the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market and the Market Road Antiques."

The Farmers' Market is home to hundreds of vendors selling food, art and more. You can browse the many unique items and try one of the popular apple fritters.

If you're looking for a Christmas-time adventure, you'll want to keep this town in mind. The area transforms into a twinkling village that will whisk you away to Europe during the St. Jacobs Sparkles event. The annual tradition features horse-drawn buggies, entertainment and more.

St. Jacobs Village website


Address: Bayfield, ON

Why You Need To Go: Another one of my favourite small towns in Ontario, Bayfield is a small but charming destination located on the shores of Lake Huron.

The village makes me feel like I'm in a scene from Gilmore Girls with its enchanting main street and cute local shops.

I love having breakfast at The Little Inn before heading out and doing some window shopping. The area is also home to some beaches and stunning water views.

Pier Beach is the most popular beach and offers a large sandy shoreline perfect for relaxing. You can take a dip in the crystal waves of the lake and soak up some summer sun.

There are also several hiking trails to explore in the area so you can take in the scenery. If you're looking for views, you'll want to head to Pioneer Park.

This privately owned area is situated on a bluff and gazes over the lake.

Bayfield website


Address: Stratford, ON

Why You Need To Go: While it's technically a city, Stratford has all those small town feels and it's another one of Katherine's favourite spots to visit.

"The town is named after a city in England, and you definitely get that English feel while here," she said.

"The Stratford Festival is reason enough to visit, but the town also has some lovely restaurants and super cute shops to poke into. If you're a fan of Shakespeare, you'll want to visit the Shakespearean Gardens, where you'll find plants mentioned in Shakespeare's plays."

The Stratford Festival is one of the area's biggest draws and runs each year from April until October. You can see a variety of plays and shows including several Shakespearean performances.

Beliebers will want to check out the Justin Bieber exhibit at the Stratford Perth Museum and take a self-guided tour around the town to some of the celebrity's favourite spots to hangout during his childhood years in the area.

You can indulge your sweet tooth by following the Chocolate Trail which leads to "world-famous confectioners and bakers.'

The town is brimming with quaint shops and eateries so you won't run out of things to do while visiting this spot.

Visit Stratford website

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Madeline Forsyth
Associate Editor
Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Travel Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Toronto, Ontario.