Goderich is a sleepy tourist town in Ontario. It is branded as one of the most beautiful towns in Canada. We’ve put together this guide for travelers who are planning a visit. Let’s take a look at the top things to do in Goderich, Ontario.
Goderich might be a small town but it is not short of entertainment. Whether you are looking for things to do in town or outside of town you’ll get plenty of options. It’s a true laid-back holiday destination where you can relax and forget the troubles of everyday life.
Many claims that Goderich is the ‘prettiest town in Canada’. This title is attributed to Queen Elizabeth II who apparently said this about Goderich. However, in reality, it is a disputed claim and no reigning monarch has ever visited the town.
Regardless, legends like this help elevate towns above others. And Goderich is a full-blown tourist paradise where travelers are welcome. There is one title though that the town received and is actually documented: Goderich was chosen as one of the best small towns in Ontario by Comfort Life magazine.
1. Enjoy the sun on the beach
Ontario’s summer might not be the longest but it’s definitely nice and Goderich is one of the best places for enjoying it. People who appreciate a slow atmosphere come here from all over Ontario to swim in Lake Huron and soak in the sunshine.
Not only is the town equipped with its own beach: there are three beaches. This gives you plenty of options and it helps maintain overcrowding. For a small town like Goderich, this is a remarkable amount of beach area.
Goderich Main Beach is the favorite among tourists. It’s a nice sandy beach with small shops, bars, and food trucks around. The beach boardwalk of the town also starts here.
If you follow the boardwalk you’ll soon end up on St. Christopher’s Beach. A smaller beach that’s great for avoiding crowds. Then at the far end of the boardwalk, you have Rotary Cove Beach which completes our journey of the three beaches.
All three beaches feature clean facilities and pristine water. Lake Huron is well known for its clear water and you can easily enjoy time on the lake when you are in Goderich.
2. Downtown Goderich
Goderich has quite a unique downtown. It takes up an octagonal shape with the courthouse park and the town’s courthouse in the middle.
This creates quite a beautiful downtown area where you can find countless small shops and restaurants. Definitely one of the best places to grab a bite and enjoy the local hospitality.
We also recommend a quick walk over to West Street (which opens from The Square) as it is the town’s small historic district with some beautiful architecture.
3. Goderich Lighthouse Park
After checking out the downtown area it’s nice to head over to lighthouse park. This is a park with excellent views and the town’s historic lighthouse.
In fact, this lighthouse is the very first lighthouse in Canada that opened on Lake Huron. It started operation all the way back in 1847.
The lighthouse park is a popular spot among locals to sit down and take in the scenery. You’ll find plenty of benches overlooking the lake. The park is actually elevated above the level of the beaches so you’ll get some of the best vistas from town.
4. Catch the sunset at Sunset Park
One of the best ways to end your beautiful summer day in Goderich is to catch the sunset. The sunset over Lake Huron is known to be especially beautiful from town and they even have a park dedicated to the best views.
So if you want to catch some of the greatest views of the local sunset head over to Sunset Park at the end of the day. It’s a romantic and beautiful experience.
5. Huron County Museum & Huron Historic Gaol
Those who enjoy exploring local history will need to make a visit to Huron’s Historic Gaol and the County Museum. Both are in the same area and you can conduct a visit to each in one run. They offer a peek into the town’s history making it one of the best things to do in Goderich.
Huron Historic Gaol
The Huron Historic Gaol is the county’s old jailhouse. Gaol is an old English word for jail. It is a unique octagonal building (people in Goderich like octagons right?) that was the local jail from 1841 until its closure in 1972.
You can learn about the full history of this jail and check out the interior and some cells when visiting. The whole complex is preserved in an excellent state with furnishing put in to relive the old days. A very unique experience.
Huron County Museum
After the visit to the Jailhouse, you can complete your Huron County historical exploration by visiting the official county museum.
You will find a variety of historical and cultural exhibitions at the county museum. There’s a nice selection of permanent displays but there are also some rotating exhibits depending on the time you visit town.
Countless artifacts are on display from the early years of the county. They help you understand how this area developed and what life was like back in the day. There is a great focus on the rural and agricultural aspects of Huron County which you usually won’t see as a traveler.
Visitors can also see a full-size steam locomotive in the middle of the museum. This is a favorite of children and a great start to an interesting museum.
6. Try the local ciders at East Street Cider Co.
We always love great local businesses and as travelers ourselves we are drawn to local tastes. East Street Cider Co. is a true Goderich startup and one of the best places to visit in town – that is if you like cider.
They are located in a historic building and they focus on making great local cider. The cidery prides itself on using 100% Ontario apples hence giving back fully to the local community. By shopping at East Street Cider Co. you can support the local ecosystem as well.
As of now, they have no tasting room but there are plans to open one soon. Regardless, you can buy their cider in their shop. You can stock up on different flavors and try them on your hotel balcony.
7. Menesetung Bridge
The town has a variety of opportunities when it comes to walking and hiking. However, even if you are not into hiking during summer there is one spot you might want to check out: the Menesetung Bridge.
It’s an old wooden pedestrian bridge that spans the Maitland River. The bridge was originally a railway bridge but since then the railway is demolished. What remained was transformed for pedestrian use and today it’s a wonderful sight in Goderich.
The bridge runs naturally high above the river giving you nice views and superb photo opportunities.
8. Walking and Hiking Trails near Goderich
Travelers who want to see more nature will be happy to learn about the many hiking trails available from Goderich.
For example, the Tiger Dunlop Heritage Trail starts in town, will have you travel over the Menesetung Bridge, and will take you out to a beautiful nature area. It’s a well-maintained trail that’s easy to walk and it’s very accessible.
The Maitland Woods near town is also great for exploration. It’s a small area but it has a nice walking trail and is loved by locals who want to enjoy some unspoiled nature near Goderich.
Further from town, you have nice spots like Naftel’s Creek Conservation Area, Falls Reserve, and Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area. These are all amazing places if you want to enjoy the beauty of nature.
9. Get a taste of local beer at Square Brew
You’ve had a chance to try the local cider now it’s time for you to try the local craft beer. Square Brew Brewery was opened in 2017 and has been an integral part of the community ever since. As you would expect the beer is made locally in their Goderich brewery but they also handle packaging here.
You can stop by to stock up on a nice selection or you can sit down and order something from the tap. The brewery might have a simple design but the atmosphere is always great inside. We love to stop here for a beer or two.
10. Do a local tasting tour
Are you still longing for the local tastes after trying both the cider and the beer? Then you are in luck. 519tours is a local company that specializes in beverage tours. Whether it is beer or wine you want they have some packages you might enjoy.
Usually, we are not keen on recommending tour companies but 519tours is a local business which means you are contributing to the local community by choosing them.
It’s an especially great activity for groups. They will take care of the transport and be your guide and all you have to do is kick back and enjoy a nice beverage tour.
11. Do a day trip to nearby towns
Finally, on our list of the best things to do in Goderich, you have a day trip. Lake Huron is nice and the local beaches are excellent but there’s an opportunity to see more. Some of the best day trips from Goderich are:
- Pinery Provincial Park
- Nice park with beautiful nature and good beaches
- Owen Sound
- A nice small town with waterfalls and park areas
- Greenock Swamp Wetland Complex
- Picturesque swamp with walking trails
- A big town with a small-town atmosphere with plenty to see and do
Eating and Staying in Goderich
We’ve taken a look at the top things to do in Goderich but we are not done yet. If you want some more tips we’ve got some nice restaurants and some great hotels where you can stay.
Restaurants in Goderich
- West Street Willy’s Eatery
- This is one of those places that you must try before you go home. Excellent food, and expansive menu, and the best owners. A nice local restaurant that has everything you should wish for and it’s right next to The Square on West Street.
- Looking for a quick bite? It’s V’Sandwiches where you need to go. Forget everything you knew about fast food sandwich joints. Here you’ll get some of the best sandwiches you’ve ever tried.
- Goderich Harbour Restaurant
- Nice setting and nice food. What else is there to wish for when you are thinking of a restaurant? This is the place if you want to have fried fish in an outdoor setting. Just perfect.
- River Run Restaurant
- Finally, we have River Run Restaurant which is one of the best traditional restaurants in town. The main attraction is the schnitzel here. If you are a fan then you are definitely in for a treat.
Hotels in Goderich
- Colborne Bed and Breakfast
- Possibly the best B&B in town. It is right in the town center. The rooms are pretty big and very comfortable. We especially liked the bed. Plus the breakfast was nice and it’s run locally which is always nice to hear.
- Samuels Boutique Hotel
- This is our go-to hotel when we are thinking about a romantic getaway. This boutique hotel has everything you would need for romance. An old and beautiful building, with nice and stylish interiors, and sleek rooms. It’s only about you and your significant other at this hotel. We definitely consider it top-of-the-line among the hotels in Goderich.
Things to do in Goderich – FAQ
Yes, Goderich is definitely worth the visit. If you are looking for a small town that has a relaxed vibe then you’ll love Goderich. You can swim in Lake Huron, enjoy the local restaurants and bars, and forget about your every day worries.
It is disputed where this claim is coming from. Allegedly it was Queen Elizabeth II who described the place as the ‘prettiest town in Canada’. However, records show that no monarch has ever visited Goderich so it’s unknown where the expression came from.