We have travelled through Perth, Ontario, on many occasions, but never as the end destination. On our way through, we usually stop at a couple of our favourite shops, but on this beautiful summer day, we decided to take a road trip with the town of Perth, Ontario, as our destination. If you are looking for what to do in Perth, Ontario, then read on for some great ideas!
Located 1.5 hours from Kingston, 1 hour from Ottawa, and 4 hours from Toronto, this Eastern Ontario town on the Tay River has a population of approximately 6500.
Here are some ideas for how to spend the day in Perth, Ontario.
What To See and Do in Perth, Ontario
First Stop: Perth Information Centre
Your first stop should be the Perth Information Centre in the Perth Museum right downtown on Gore Street. The staff here will suggest things to do and provide a map of the sites. On the way out, take some time to relax in the Rotary Garden courtyard.
While at the Perth Information Centre be sure to visit the attached Perth Museum. Accessed by donation, the museum is in the Matheson House. The beautiful stone house was built in 1840 for the Honourable Roderick Matheson, a wealthy merchant, businessman and senator.
You can visit four-period rooms and a comprehensive display of Mr. Matheson’s contributions to the Perth community and other areas of expertise across three floors of the house.
In 1947, Stewart Park was donated to the town of Perth by Mrs. Jessie Stewart in memory of her husband, The Honorable John Alexander Stewart. One of the conditions of this generous gift was that there would never be any admission charge for entering the park or any events held there.
Located behind Perth’s historic Town Hall, the rock wall gardens, majestic maples, expansive natural open spaces, and burbling water of the Tay River provide a beautiful area for a picnic, photo op or a calming walk.
While at the park, take time to stroll across three strategically placed bridges. One of the bridges is an authentic drystone bridge constructed from stones without mortar.
Even while enjoying the park, you are never far from the unique restaurants and shops of downtown Perth.
Big Ben Statue
Located at one of the entrances to Steward Park is a bronze statue of Olympian Ian Millar and his horse, Big Ben. The statue is in honour of Canadian history’s most successful equestrian team. The farm is owned by Ian Millar and where Big Ben is buried is just outside Perth, Ontario.
The Tay River
The Tay River runs through Perth. It can be accessed beside the Crystal Palace, a 3-sided glass structure beside the river that holds public events, public restrooms, and paid parking. We did not go kayaking or canoeing, but it is popular here; you can either bring your own or rent from Perth Major Outfitters.
The Mammoth Cheese
Adjacent to the Crystal Palace, we found the Mammoth Cheese display. In 1893, a 2200 lb.(907kg) wheel of cheese was produced in Perth, Ontario, to be exhibited in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition to promote Canadian cheese worldwide.
The Mammoth Cheese was made from milk from 10,000 cows. Local cheese makers donated milk to the project. It measured 6ft (1.83m) high and 28ft (8.54m) in circumference.
Big Red Chairs
Directly across from the Mammoth Cheese display are the iconic, larger-than-life Muskoka chairs just waiting for you to climb up and snap a photo.
If you are interested in self-guided walking tours, use the app Driftscape or get walking tour info on the Perth website. We didn’t follow any specific walking tour but used ideas from several tours for our visit.
Driftscape Tours include:
- Perth Downtown Walking Tour
- Heritage Perth Tavern and Brewery Tour
- Vintage Signs and Murals Walking Tour
- Elmwood Cemetery Walking Tour
- 15 Bridges of Perth Tour
Where to Eat in Perth, Ontario
We broke up the afternoon by stopping for a snack at the Code’s Mill. Code’s Mill, originally home to Code Felt, is a designated historic site representing over 150 years of manufacturing activity. The grand Edwardian façade is composed of a distinctive limestone unique to Perth. This heritage building is home to several shops and restaurants.
Blackfly Grub Hub
We had heard so much about Blackfly Grub Hub that it was at the top of our list. They sell donuts and hotdogs, but it was the donuts we were after. We chose the maple bacon donut and the PB and chocolate donut and were not disappointed.
They are open six days a week. Make sure you check their hours online to avoid disappointment. They will close early if they are sold out. Go early to avoid disappointment!
Perth Chocolate Works
Perth Chocolate Works is also located in Code’s Mill. We picked up a delicious latte to go with our donuts. They have pastries and, of course, lots of chocolates. The courtyard was a peaceful place to enjoy our treats.
Fiddleheads Bar and Grill
We arrived in Perth after lunch, so we didn’t stop at this highly recommended restaurant. It is also located in Code’s Mill and has a great patio overlooking Stewart Park.
Mex & Co
Mex&Co is a well-known local restaurant with a fantastic patio right beside the Tay River. We have not eaten here ourselves, but each time we have asked for restaurant recommendations from others, Mex & Co is always one of the suggestions.
Coutts Coffee Roasting & Café
Perth, Ontario, does not lack cafes. We stopped at Coutts Coffee Roasting & Café on our last trip. A freshly brewed latte and a sandwich on the patio beside the Tay River hit the spot.
Sheriff Thompson once resided in this café. It is located in a heritage building from 1841 and is well worth visiting.
The Perth Cheese Shop
If you are not looking for a sit-down place to eat, this is the place to stop. The Perth Cheese Shop is located a short distance from Stewart Park. We have yet to drive through Perth without a stop here.
The Perth Cheese Shop has a fantastic selection of fine cheeses, cured sausages and other treats. You can pick up everything you need for a picnic lunch or to bring home.
1827 Wine and Cheese Lounge
Our favourite cheese shop has just opened another place in Perth, Ontario. It is called 1827 Wine and Cheese Lounge. They are starting with dinner service and then plan to expand, opening for lunch. They have been teasing us with tidbits of information, like having 40 cheeses, wines, and workshops available. We can’t wait to try it.
Where to get a drink in Perth, Ontario
Top Shelf Distillers
We stop at Top Shelf Distillers almost every time we are in the area. We have so many favourites, but if we had to pick one, it would be Reunion Butter Tart Moonshine. They often include authentic butter tarts when you purchase a bottle.
Their creamy Reunion Irish Cream Moonshine is also at the top of our list. You can stop in for a tasting and try the many flavours for yourself.
If beer is more your style, Perth Brewery and Bridge Masters Brewing Company are local favourites.
Conclusion – What to do in Perth Ontario
This post about things to do in Perth, Ontario includes more suggestions than you can do in a day, but a day trip is worth the drive. Be warned; it may leave you wanting to return sooner rather than later to explore more of this charming Eastern Ontario town.
If you are touring around Eastern Canada, why not also check out Kingston, Ontario? It was Canada’s first capital city!