The kids became connoisseurs of everything cheerful, reasonably priced, and “super-fun” on our summer trip to the Statford Festival. While our theatre experiences may have been the focus, the remainder of our trip was outstanding because of the kids’ willingness to taste and try just about everything. Here are the kids’ top pics for where to Eat, Shop, Snack, and Stay in Stratford, Ontario.
377 Huron Street
There’s nothing like spinning around on a counter seat at an old fashioned diner. And, this is a diner done right. Not only does Madelyn’s make the best butter tarts on earth [in a range of in-season flavours], they make, by far, the best pancakes ever, period. Don’t order off of the kids’ menu. Believe us! You will want to eat the whole, light and fluffy, adult portion.
Boomers Gourmet Fries
26 Erie Street
The kids love fries, and the fries at Boomers are the bomb. The burgers are fab. And, well, the poutine with goat cheese and basil olive oil is as much of a hit with the big sister as it is with her mom.
York Street Kitchen
24 Erie Street
Right next to Boomers, you’ll find an awesome place to pick up gourmet sandwiches made to order in a flash. Add their chips, fruit, baked goods, and drinks for the perfect picnic on the Avon.
70 Ontario Street, Lower Level
If you designed the perfect sandwich at York Street Kitchen for lunch, you can design the perfect pizza for your supper [or vice versa]. The basement bar and restaurant of the Pazzo establishment makes thin crust pizzas to order. Game. Set. Match.
99 Ontario Street
The kids just loved Bentley’s. The large pub-style menu has items to suit just about anyone’s fancy. There always seems to be a table available [choose your own]. And, unlike most Stratford restos, this place is open late into the night. The burgers were excellent and the chicken fingers and fries were a hit with the little man. The drink options, including kid-friendly virgin Daquiris and Margaritas, are off the chart. Mom and Dad, if you’re looking for a pint, try the Black Swan E. P. A.
Family and Company
6 Ontario Street
This might just be the most amazing toy store on earth. We describe it as the best-possible-muggle-version of the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in the Harry Potter series. Hoola Hoops and Stuffies to the Rafters. Need we say more? The little man picked up some amazing Codee toys and a fist-full of fun things from the loot bag station.
Fundamentals Books and Toys
52 Ontario Street
Along with more fun toys, including my favourite Stacking Robots, this place has an amazing selection of books for children and young adult readers. The lady picked up copies of YOLO Romeo and SRSLY Hamlet. Do you need to ask why?
Macleod’s Scottish Shop
80 Ontario Street
It was chilly outdoors in the early mornings and late evenings at our motel. We picked up a few gorgeous tartan blankets at this shop to tuck in over ourselves as we sat out on our deck chairs with our hot chocolate and s’mores. Also, Dr. Who stuff.
92 Ontario Street
This independent offers not only a whole host of theatre books but also an amazing selection of Canadian fiction. The kids section here is also spot on.
Rhéo Thompson Candies
55 Albert Street
Two words: Mint Smoothies.
Two more words: Christmas delivery.
[Thanks, Annie, for the suggestion.]
28 Erie Street
Alongside of Boomers and York Street Kitchen, this family-friendly spot has a huge selection of ice creams. Chocolate Moose Tracks anyone? Oh, and they make amazingly thick shakes and malts.
Slave to the Grind
46 Ontario Street
Come in for an Americano for your mama, leave with amazing baked goods for the kids.
Jenn and Larry’s Brittle and Shakes
49 York Street
Sure, the long-but-fast line-up here is predominantly for the soft-serve ice-cream sundaes and shakes [the cherry shake and the chocolate/malt combo shake were both winners with us]. But, whatever you do, don’t neglect the namesake brittle. It would be a sin to leave without the brittle!
The Forest Motel
2941 Forest Rd., R. R. #4, Stratford
We like the old-school charm of Stratford’s motels. And, we think this charmer is the best of the best. Situated on a multi-acre lot with its own private lake, the Forest Motel offers a bit of country in the city. [Just bring the bug spray.] The dock is stocked with plenty of canoes, kayaks, and peddle boats [included]. And, the shed beside the lake is stocked with tons of safety equipment, paddles, fishing poles, nets, and toys. You can hunt for frogs, look for herons and other native species [with the motel’s birding guide] and play bocce or croquet on the lawn. Along with several propane grills, the proprietors keep a camp-fire going long into the evening. Just bring your own supper or s’more-stuff.
The basic rooms are clean and well-maintained, complete with Andes Mints on the pillows. The kids enjoyed the [gratis] microwave popcorn and hot chocolate packets in our room after the plays each night. We also spent an evening in one of the two super-fab, secluded “chalet” rooms down the drive. The chalet features its own dock and, at an additional cost, private hot-tubs.
Breakfast is included. And it’s quite a tasty one. There is plenty of room in the breakfast area to enjoy the coffees, teas, fresh-baked muffins, fruits, yogurts, breads, cereals and eggs available each morning. You can also take your goodies back to your room or out to the water’s edge.
For more information on Stratford Tourism, check out Visit Stratford.