Kitchener-Waterloo, the place I call home for the last 4 years, is in a bit of a transition. The two cities, often referred to as one, are finding ways to protect its history while undergoing a massive revitalization. It’s most famous for its tech employment, with one of the highest concentration of start up entrepreneurs in the country. Not to mention the countless number of craft breweries and locally-owned restaurants. What binds the two cities together – is the thriving arts community.
When the pandemic hit us the hardest, the city decided to create an outdoor museum full of amazing art installations and murals. There are a total of 90 spread throughout the core of downtown Kitchener.
Since I’m a local, seeing all 90 art installations is not a big deal. But I get it, for those day trippers it might be hard to see them all. So, I’ve pulled together the best ones. Let this be your guide to downtown Kitchener’s Art Walk tour. I’ve grouped them together based on location, along with a suggested eatery or activity.
Let’s start with a short loop, of maybe 10-15 minutes of walking time, bringing you to 5 art installations. A couple of these will feature a walk back in time where you will learn about Kitchener’s historical roots.
Finish your tour of these 5 and support locally-run, and my personal favourite, Cafe Pyrus. The entire menu is plant-based and even those that are not vegan won’t know the difference – it’s that good! This healthy restaurant caters to the breakfast and lunch crowd.
an even dozen
Enjoy discovering this group of 12 art murals in close proximity to each other. It might require you to look up, way up, as a few of these are featured on the back of buildings. If you are looking for a coffee fix, be sure to stop at Show & Tell Coffee.
the first 6
Then follow your way to Kitchener’s best kept secret – Goudies Lane. The once docking area has been turned into a cool hangout spot – complete with lights dangling between buildings and picnic tables to sit at while you admire the art murals.
the last 6
the 11 on halls lane
Head to Halls Lane, a hidden laneway, running parallel to King Street. The part running between Ontario and Queen Streets is where you will find this grouping of 11. Close by, there is no shortage of locally-run, ethnic fast-food eateries. Everything from sushi to African to Caribbean.
Let these 6 art installations lead you to Kitchener’s largest park – Victoria Park. End your tour here with a leisurely stroll around the lake.
As a holidaymaker…
This free outdoor art gallery builds a sense of community. Not only does it showcase some amazing talent telling an important story, it also brings locals and visitors to the downtown core. It adds a little edge to its character. As quoted, “Kitchener has a heart of grit that everywhere doesn’t”, it’s what makes this city stand out from the rest. Now, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself.
If you want to do a deeper dive into the history and interesting tidbits, why not join a private group with Stroll Walking Tours. They are the ultimate storytellers.