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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
- Bayfield to Goderich – 18-minute drive – Top Things to Do in the Village of Bayfield
- Goderich to St Marys – an hour’s drive – Discover the Historic Town of St. Marys, Ontario
- Stratford to Goderich – an hour’s drive – The Best Ways to Experience Stratford Ontario
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.