Elora is located about 30 min north-east of Waterloo in the heart of Wellington County, and truly is one of the most picturesque towns in Ontario. With a population of just under 8,000, this town is a tourist hot spot for the adventurer, creative spirit, foodie or eager shopper. Known for its amazing shops, thriving artist scene and incredible cliffs and caves belonging to the Elora Gorge, the town has and continues to build up, a warm community inclusive to all who want to wander about.
One of the most recognized architectural landmarks in Elora is the Elora Mill, which was built in the 1930s and is currently wrapping up a massive renovation to become a luxury Inn, complete with spa, dining and elegant event facilities.
When you’re booking your outing to Elora, I recommend you spend at least a half day in town and half day exploring the natural scenes of the Elora gorge, Elora Quarry and surrounding parks and adventures – including zip lining, tubing, kayaking and hiking (ok so you may need more than a half day for all that).
Here are the shops and stops I recommend exploring while in the area:
Pariscope – A delightful little French-inspired shop filled with fine linens, soaps and home decor items to beautifully dress up your table and home. Many of their fine products have been directly imported from Europe so take trip a little closer to home this summer and still bring back some wonderful keepsakes!
Karger Gallery – Truly a one of a kind gallery shop filled with handcrafted furniture, décor, fashion and jewellery with a flair for the unique. Items crafted from Canadian artisans as well as supporting fair-trade arrangements from international artisans around the world, Karger Gallery focuses on one of a kind, hand-crafted unique items for your home and body.
Honey Church Lane – A beautifully crafted vintage gift shop and furniture refinishing emporium. Carrying the full lines of Homestead House Milk Paint, Mill Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, Fusion Paint, FAT paint, as well as the tools and expertise you’ll need for your next furniture refinishing project. Don’t forget to peek at the unique light fixtures, mirrors and gift items for sale throughout the shop.
Mermaid Emporium – I don’t believe I have or ever will be in another shop quite like this one. If you need shelf brackets, door knockers, mail boxes, plaques, hooks or anything similar for your home, this is the shop to check out! The store goes on and on into themed corners and walls of the most interesting and unique collections.
The Queen’s Fancy – Located just outside Elora in the corner town of Salem, this warehouse style shop is packed full of vintage and restored furniture and accessories. There are also many handcrafted tables, benches, pieces of art and decor items that will surely appeal to the country or eclectic homeowner.
There are so many small shops and artist studios in town you really need to poke around and explore what the town has to offer. I really couldn’t include them all but I encourage you to explore the side streets, brightly coloured buildings and corner studios for a look at some amazing artisans and galleries.
Elora Brewing Company – Brewery, gastropub and amazing farm-to-table restaurant, this place is the perfect place to lunch, dine or grab some brews before heading back on your road trip home. The rustic and industrial touches of the pub make for a great contrast to the local fresh food and refreshing brews. Check out their local events and facilities for your next private event too.
Lost & Found Café – A vibrant and friendly cafe perfect for the start of the day or an afternoon pick-me-up. The cafe supports local and organic when possible, hunting down nothing but the freshest ingredients from local farmers and markets.
The Secret Garden Tea House – The sweetest little place for traditional English Tea with whoever you brought along with you on your day out. I’m thinking this would be ideal for a mother/daughter day out and I can’t wait to take my sweet baby girl in a few years. Also a place worth considering for any bridal or baby shower events you may be hosting.
The Cork – Casual fine dining in the heart of Elora, the Cork offers fresh and locally inspired menu options. Be sure to enjoy the patio during warm weather and check out their special events menus for that next special occasion.
The Desert Rose Cafe – Homemade vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cooking in their cafe, cooking classes, ready-to-go meals and beautiful event space. Ethnically diverse offerings and nothing but the freshest, the Desert Rose also has an award winning cookbook worth checking out.
Elora Mill – The Elora Mill is recently undergoing an extensive revitilization under the Pearle Hospitality Group (owners of the Cambridge Mill, Ancaster Mill & more). Although currently only open for special events, their dining, hotel suites and spa will surely be as impressive as what we’ve been able to see so far. Opening July 6th, 2018!
Elora Gorge – Nothing short of breath-taking, the Elora Gorge is part of the Grand River Valley with trails alongside the cliffs and caves reaching as high as 22 meters. Check out this variety of exploring opportunities below:
- Tubing – explore the gorge with an adventurous and wet viewpoint.
- Rock climbing & zip lining – ONE AXE PURSUITS – for the thrill seeker and adventurer
- Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping and more! Visit here for more details on these adventures.
Elora Quarry – This local spot has become a busy destination on hot summer days as locals and tourists enjoy taking a dip in the refreshing waters and beautiful limestone cliffs reading up to 12m in height.
Homes & Architecture – One of my favourite things to do while in new towns is to cruise up and down residential and back roads exploring the architecture and homes of the town. Elora surely did not disappoint and I think I picked out a few homes I could see myself moving into.
Whether you pop into Elora for just an afternoon or have a couple of days to explore and seek adventure, the stunning nature and architecture are the perfect backdrop for the picturesque town of local artists, shops and fresh local eateries.