Sitting on the edge of Lake Huron in southwestern Ontario is the charming historic town of Goderich. So charming, that it was once described as “the prettiest town in Canada” by Queen Elizabeth II. Goderich offers visitors a great mix of history, sandy beaches, arts & culture and a vibrant downtown. It’s also close proximity to other popular small towns in Ontario like Bayfield and Grand Bend. Whether you’re looking for the perfect Ontario small town getaway or a fun day trip you’ll find everything you know. Here are the top things to do in Goderich Ontario. (Updated November 2022)

About Goderich

lighthouse and sign saying Goderich

Goderich has an interesting history in Canada. After the War of 1812, John Galt and a group of investors formed the Canada Company. The British government granted the Canada Company 1,100,000 acres of land stretching from Lake Huron to Guelph. The location of the proposed town was cleared of its dense trees and a log cabin was erected. When John Galt arrived by boat on the shores on June 29, 1827, it was celebrated as founder’s day for Goderich.

John Galt then drew up the town plan. Similar to the design of the charming village of Bayfield it includes a central square and streets fanning out from it. Very different than the usual grid patterns you see in most small towns in Ontario. 

Top Things to Do in Goderich

Stroll Downtown Goderich

main square in Goderich with trees

Like any small town in Ontario, the heart of the community can be found in its historic downtown. And the downtown in Goderich is surprisingly large. At the centre sits Courthouse Square, nicknamed ‘The Square’, which is an octagonal-shaped public space with eight streets radiating out from there. It’s the location of the County Courthouse built in 1857 and later replaced with an Art Deco style after a devastating fire. 

Most of the buildings around The Square were built in the mid-to-late 1850s. There are almost 200 unique shops that line the historic downtown. Everything from antiques to art galleries to specialty stores makes shopping in Goderich a fun way to spend a couple of hours. 

Check out a Museum

building in Goderich Ontario

If you are looking to learn about the history of Goderich and the surrounding area head to Huron County museum. Goderich has a number of interesting facts. Did you know…

  • the last public hanging in Canada took place in Goderich
  • the Huron County Jail operated from 1842 to 1972. The Huron Historic Gaol is now a National Historic Site and operates as a museum which offers ghost tours.
  • Goderich is home to the largest underground salt mine in the world. It sits under Lake Huron. 

Watch a Local Theatre Production

theatre in Goderich Ontario

Goderich has a thriving arts community. It also has one of Canada’s longest-running community theatre groups that put on productions out of the Goderich Little Theatre. As well, The Huron County Playhouse offers musicals, comedies and dramas. 

Attend a Festival

art mural wall in Goderich Ontario rainbow and butterfly

This family-friendly community offers year-round festivals. A highlight in the summer is listening to the local highlanders’ pipe band Pipe Down the Sun every Friday evening. And, in the winter, don’t miss the Tree lighting ceremony followed by a holiday parade and festival of lights. As well, every Saturday Goderich features a large Farmers Market in the Square. Be sure to check out upcoming events in Goderich to plan your trip. 

Grab a Bite

building in Goderich Ontario

There are a lot of great restaurants in Goderich. My favourite is Cait’s Café – a Parisian-inspired eatery. A must-try is their butter croissants. For breakfast, it’s the decadent chocolate croissant and for lunch, it turns into a delicious sandwich with your favourite toppings. Their delicious croissants can stand up to any boulangerie in Paris- they are that good!

Go to the Beach

beach in Goderich Ontario

There is no doubt that one of the biggest draws to Godrich is the beautiful shores of Lake Huron. Goderich offers visitors three beaches to choose from. There’s the Goderich Main Beach – perfect for families or Rotary Cove Beach – a shallow sandy beach. Then, there is St. Christopher’s Beach – a dog-friendly beach.   

Walk the Menesetung Bridge that crosses over the Maitland River, or the Goderich boardwalk stretching 1.5-km along the beachfront. With the main beach on one side and green space on the other. 

Goderich Lighthouse

lighthouse in goderich ontario

No visit to this small town is complete until you check out the Goderich Lighthouse. It is the oldest Canadian light station on Lake Huron. Built in 1847, it only stands at just over 6 metres. As it sits on a hill above the shoreline, it has a focal plane of 46 metres. Be sure not to miss this Goderich attraction, the views alone are worth it. 

Take a Day Trip

The entire shoreline of Lake Huron has been recognized as one of Canada’s best beach areas. And, beyond the beach, it’s in close proximity to some other amazing small towns – explore Bayfield, Kincardine and Sauble Beach. This is now becoming the new hot spot for Torontonians to come for the weekend. If you are staying in Goderich for more than a day, check out these nearby small towns that are equally charming and worth a visit.

Tip | If you are looking to stay and rent a cottage nearby, check out 10 Best Airbnb Properties in Ontario’s West Coast

As a holidaymaker…

Goderich easily earns the title of one of the prettiest towns in Ontario. With its scenic backdrop of Lake Huron and so many top things to do,  it makes for the perfect small town getaway in Ontario or a fun day trip.

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  1. I grew up just down the highway from Goderich. For us older folk, Goderich is known as the place where Steven Truscott was jailed as a young boy.

  2. I love the very laid-back feel of the town. The beaches for sure would be the top most for me . I like the sound of those cafes and colorful street art that you have shown. The lighthouse is definitely an interesting stop too.

  3. Goderich has got to have one of the cutest city signs I have seen! Would love to see the light house, check out the street art and browse the farmer’s market. Thanks for introducing me to Goderich

  4. Goderich isn’t too far from my hometown, but to be honest I haven’t explore the town itself in much detail. I’ll have to drive there this summer!

  5. As someone who loves visiting small towns, Goderich looks like the typical place I’d visit. Interesting to know that the central square is octagonal. I would definitely do a quick visit to the Huron County museum. The lighthouse looks nice. Is it possible to climb it too?

  6. I had never heard of Goderich before, but it looks so charming! I would personally love to just stroll around, taking in all the sights, and spend some time on the beach for a day. Thanks for sharing. Xx Sara

  7. I’d never heard of Goderich, Canada but you’re right: it’s such a pretty town in Ontario! I pinned this for my sometime in the future trip to Ontario. Can’t wait.

  8. I’ve been hearing such good things about Ontario lately, I think the universe is trying to tell me something. Goderich looks like a charming town, one that l would love to explore further. Thanks for the details on this very pretty place.

  9. Goderich is a fantastic little town with some great restaurants. Anyone from the area will remember the Steven Truscott murder which occurred in the 60’s. He was tried as an adult and incarcarated in to Goderich jail. It is interesting to tour. He was found innocent many many years later in his life.

  10. Loved learning about Canada’s prettiest town! I can even tell from your pictures how gorgeous it looks.

    Lake Huron sounds right up my street and would love to visit this place while there.

    Also, I didn’t know that people from Ontario are called Ontarians until this post!!

  11. This is a really pretty town, although I might have to visit to really appreciate how pretty it might be. With the quaint shops and lighthouse out might take some beating. That butterfly artwork is gorgeous. So stunning

  12. This town looks like the perfect place to get away for a few days: Cute and walkable with a lot of history and a lot of things to do. I would start with the Huron History Museum and then browse the small shops until I get hungry. And in the evening I would visit one of the small theater performances. I have the feeling it is easy to get into contact with the people in Goderich.

  13. Having just moved to Chicago, Canada (and Ontario in particular) is on my travel wish list once borders reopen. I love small towns, so naturally I have to bookmark “Canada’s Prettiest Town”! The layout sounds interesting with the courthouse at the very center with the eight streets surrounding the circular park. It looks small enough to be very walkable as well. I would love to check out the historic center, and the waters of Lake Huron look so pretty and bright blue in Goderich!

  14. Goderich reminded me of historic downtown in America. A courthouse in the middle with other buildings surrounding it, occupied by different businesses. I like admiring the old buildings when visiting historic town like this, and visiting local’s favorite cafe or antique stores.

      1. What a beautiful town, John Galt and his investors built did an amazing job. Can’t help think it had something to do with the salt mine tho. These business men and very cleaver. Lovely place would definitely love to visit.

  15. What a gorgeous quaint town in Ontario. The museum sounds pretty interesting and I’d be curious to know what the charge was for the last public hanging in Canada. I’ll have to visit the museum to find that out 🙂

  16. Seems like a quaint find, I’d visit for the Lake Huron coastline, a big draw for me. The arts scene too looks quite vibrant. You mention some interesting facts as well about the historic town, which have piqued my interest.

  17. Goderich looks so lovely! I can picture how to spend a weekend here. I’d love to visit the Huron County Playhouse for musicals and comedies, then wander around the art gallery and shops in the historic downtown. Of course I wouldn’t miss the Goderich Lighthouse and spend a lovely evening at the beaches.

  18. I love that the town square is the focal point with everything spanning from it, cities set on grids aren’t as pretty. Looks like a great downtown to wander, lunch in a café and take the butterfly selfie. A bike ride on the boardwalk next to Lake Huron sounds like the perfect end to the day

  19. Goderich indeed looks like such a pretty town. A place where one would want to lose oneself 🙂 I would like to attend the festival and paid my visit to the local theatre.

  20. Well, if it’s good enough for her majesty … it’s good enough for me! It looks a perfect weekend getaway – if only it was closer to me,lol. It certainly fits the “prettiest town” category.

    Love the effect of the rays of pink/purple with the butterflies on that building – very creative.

    I never thought that there were beaches on the Lake but then …. why shouldn’t there be. Makes the getaway even better.

  21. What a cute little town! This is exactly how I’d like to spend a long weekend – eating, shopping, festivals, the beach! Bagpipers and a butterfly mural sound so lovely too. All of your spotlights on Ontario’s small towns are giving me lots of inspiration for our honeymoon in case we can’t travel into the US or the Maritimes.

  22. I love visiting lighthouses and the Goderich lighthouse is the first place I will go when I visit Goderich. The town definitely looks beautiful and every corner is pretty. I would love to visit Lake Huron shores as well as it looks amazing. I am adding Goderich to my list of places to visit.

    1. Goderich looks rustic laidbook place with lovely things to do. I would love to visit museum and book some show at local theatre. Even Goderich lighthouse looks very interesting as it is oldest Canadian lighthouse at Lake Huron.

  23. I am loving all the new Ontario gems you are introducing me to. I do love small Ontario towns like Goderich to just wander. And as the summer weather comes we are definitely looking for new ideas for a beach. We will definitely be heading that way this summer.

  24. I’d never heard of Goderich before reading this. I love a beachside town – there’s always so much to see and do and if there’s a lighthouse even better!

  25. This town is beautiful! It definitely deserves the name of “prettiest town” and the beaches look fantastic. Looks like yet another place to add to my list for when I eventually visit Canada!

  26. What a beautiful place! I had never heard of Goderich but it looks like the perfect place to get away from the city.

  27. This town looks very cute. I like the town square and radial street design. I guess you can do a lot when the town is planned and didn’t just spring up and grow from commerce.

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