There is something special about the swans at Stratford. The way they float so majestically down the Avon River, gliding along like white sailboats, is positively enchanting. Against the backdrop of this quaint historic town, they add a romantic touch that gives Stratford a movie-set feel and makes any visit more memorable.
My family makes an annual trip to Stratford and we always begin our day with a picnic by the river. Sometimes we pack our own picnic but you can also order a picnic pick-up through The Festival Theatre Café. This year we chose the lazy route and did a pick up at a nearby Tim’s window.It clearly made no difference to the swans, who visited our picnic table nonetheless.
Stratford is less than a two hour drive from Aurora so it makes for an good day trip or easy weekend getaway. After our picnic lunch, we always head downtown to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Downie Street for a delicious gelato ice cream cone.
This year we went to see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Avon Theatre. It was visually stunning with spectacular costumes, and with award-winning actress Sara Farb playing the role of Lucy, it was hard to go wrong.
After the play, we strolled through the adjoining gift shop, which is filled with “Narnia” paraphernalia, from T-shirts to playing cards to beautiful jewelry. We then wandered across the street to the Harry Ten Shilling teahouse for a delightful après-show picker-upper of tea and scones.
If you’re a tea lover, as I am, Distinctly Tea is another shop you must visit. It’s located a few blocks from the theatre on York Street and is filled with every type of tea imaginable, from green teas to oolong, herbal and more.Tea connoisseurs will love it as they have the most extensive and freshest selection in North America.
If you want to include a delicious meal on your visit, it’s hard to beat Revivial House on Brunswick Street (formerly The Church Restaurant). Housed inside an old church with stained glass windows, they serve delicious cuisine, including such delights as a Warm Mushroom Salad, Roasted Cauliflower Soup and Fois Gras Torchon. Their desserts are to die for too, like the Rhubarb & Earl Grey and the Mint & Chocolate.
If you’re making an early morning visit or staying the night, Sirkel Foods on Wellington St is a pleasing spot for a hearty breakfast with Stuffed French Toast, Huevos Ranchero or even a simple Traditional with 2 eggs, bacon, home fries and toast.
For younger visitors, since Stratford is the home of Justin Bieber, who began his career singing on the steps of the Avon Theatre, the tourism office came up with a “Bieber-iffic” map that shows where the superstar went to school, where he had his first date and where he played soccer.The map can be downloaded through the website or you can pick up a map at the Stratford Tourism office.
Stratford is an easy town to navigate but if you get lost or want to know where to find something, the tourism office is right down the street from the Avon Theatre. It’s also where you can find out about the many tours, such as heritage bicycle tours, as well as the long list of bed and breakfasts.
Whatever your visit includes, don’t forget to visit the swans.
Article by Denise Davy