About an hour northwest of downtown Toronto lies the adorable little town of Orangeville. This vibrant community has plenty to offer with plenty of public art, amazing shops, top-notch restaurants and more. Whether you’re planning a day trip from Toronto, a weekend getaway or a spot for a little road trip in Ontario, these things to do in Orangeville are not to be missed!
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Brief History of Orangeville
The land where Orangeville resides is on the territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Mississauga, Petun and Wendake Peoples. With European colonization became the settlement of what is now Orangeville by United Empire Loyalists. The first permanent settlers were Orange Lawrence and his family as they migrated from Connecticut around 1844.
Due to its location on Mill Creek, a tributary of the Credit River, Orangeville grew fairly quickly. By the 1850s, there were five mills that served the surrounding farmland. The town grew even more with the arrival of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway in 1871 along with the fact it was located along a major stagecoach route. Business was booming in the town of Orangeville as the population doubled in less than a decade!
However with the arrival of the 1900s, growth began to decline. With little crown land left in Dufferin County, children of early settlers were forced to move away if they wanted to continue farming. This combined with soil degeneration, the destruction of forests and the problem of erosion meant businesses began to struggle. As the century progressed though, Orangeville saw a resurgence due to its close proximity to Toronto. As more and more people fall in love with Orangeville’s charm, the town continues to prosper.
Fun Things to Do in Orangeville
While the town has certainly changed over its ~180 years, there is no shortage of activities to entertain both locals and visitors alike. Check out some of these places to visit in Orangeville as you enjoy how the old world charm has been given new life.
Explore Historic Downtown Orangeville
First things first, head to Broadway Street and acquaint yourself with historic downtown Orangeville. It has been the centre of town since the area was first settled and you can still see remnants of that to this very day! Admire the architectural charm as you take “a walk through time”. If you’d like to learn more about the iconic buildings such as the Orangeville Town Hall, Public Library and more, take a look at their historical walking tour brochure online here.
If you visit on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Orangeville Farmers Market. It runs all year with it moving into the Orangeville Town Hall during the winter months. You can check out the products from local artisans, produce farmers and more from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Admire the Public Art
As you stroll through downtown Orangeville, you’ll certainly notice a number of public artworks. You’ll find beautiful murals, decorated utility boxes, sculptures and more along their art walk. The town’s newest addition is the Theatre Orangeville mural on the side of The Chocolate Shop. Created by scenic designer Beckie Morris, she is no stranger to bringing a set to life. Insert yourself into her backdrop and snap a selfie!
One of Orangeville’s coolest features though has to be its collection of tree sculptures. Artists from across the province have transformed local trees into beautiful masterpieces – over 40 of them at that! They are scattered throughout town though you’ll find a number of them along Broadway.
You can check out the city’s top ten picks with their guides here, like the fierce praying mantis next to the Orangeville Tourism office. However, my personal favourite has to be the Every Child Matters sidewalk crossing at the intersection of Broadway and First Street.
INSIDER TIP: During the holidays, downtown Orangeville is extra festive as it’s decked out with festive lights. Enjoy the brilliant snowflakes, garland and all of the beautiful decorations the storefronts add to the repertoire. It makes a perfect little Christmas getaway in Ontario and a great spot for some holiday shopping!
Support the Local Shops
Speaking of shopping, Orangeville is home to a number of fantastic little businesses ranging from flower shops and home decor to specialty eats and treats. Here are some of my top picks of shops to pop into while you’re in town.
Pear Home – This adorable novelty shop is owned by the trio of mother Karen Alexander and her two daughters. A staple of downtown Orangeville since 2004, they specialize in unique home decor, home accessories and quirky yet cute gifts.
Dragonfly Arts on Broadway – Step inside to find a collective of six artists ranging in various mediums. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a few of the artists in action while they work! Chances are they will be at their studio and if they aren’t focused on their craft, these fine folks are always happy to chat.
Fromage – If you’re a fan of cheese, you need to head to the gourmet shop that is Fromage. As you’ve probably guessed, they specialize in cheese as well as other gourmet eats and treats. You’ll find over 60 different varieties of cheese from across the globe!
Suzanne Gardner Flowers – Even if you have a black thumb like me and have killed all the plants you’ve ever owned, you need to visit Suzanne Garder Flowers. This boutique flower shop is absolutely gorgeous and will have you wishing they would be your apartment’s interior decorator. The icing on the cake? They also serve coffee!
Stroll One of the Town Trails
You don’t have to go very far to enjoy a little dose of nature in the town of Orangeville! I highly recommend heading to the eastern end of Broadway where you’ll find Dragonfly Park. It has a cute little boardwalk and some interpretive signage with a brief history of the town. Take a moment to relax on one of the benches as you stroll around this easy loop.
If you’re looking for something a bit longer, you can find a number of trails scattered throughout Orangeville. Take a peek at their map for more details. Orangeville also has a number of cycling routes including a rail trail to Shelburne. You can learn more about these trails here.
Explore Island Lake Conservation Area
If there’s anywhere to go for a hike in Orangeville, it’s definitely at the Island Lake Conservation Area. There are over 820 acres of wetlands and forests to explore at the headwaters of the Credit River. Island Lake has five trails to offer, though the most popular is the Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail. It wraps around Island Lake and connects with local trails in both Orangeville and the town of Mono. While it is 8 kilometres long, it is stroller friendly and not overly difficult as it offers rest stops every ~800 metres.
Hiking isn’t the only thing to do at Island Lake Conservation Area! There are a number of activities visitors can enjoy including cycling, fishing, boating, paddling, and birding. In the winter months, hop on a fat bike, try your hand at ice fishing, go for a skate, strap on some cross-country skis and more! It’s even home to one of the top outdoor skating trails in Ontario. As you can see, there is plenty to do all year round at Island Lake!
Grab Some Coffee at a Local Cafe
This gal is certainly fuelled by caffeine and luckily there are a number of cute spots for when the need for a coffee strikes! First up we have the adorable Mochaberry Coffee & Co. Local and independently owned for almost two decades, they roast their beans in-house and offer a variety of flavours. Enjoy a cup of joe at one of their cozy tables and admire some of the artwork you see on the walls. All of them are done by local artists as Mochaberry looks to be a community space where all are welcome! Whenever you visit, check out their seasonal beverages as they are absolutely top-notch!
Another fantastic option is Le Finis by Lavender Blue Catering. While you can get items to go, I highly recommend planning some time to settle in and enjoy a hand-crafted beverage or one of their delectable desserts. This cafe is absolutely adorable with a bright interior adorned with gorgeous hand-painted flower murals. While it is modelled after an early 20th-century French patisserie, they also serve French-inspired meals. You can even live a little luxuriously with their afternoon tea experience!
As I mentioned earlier, Suzanne Gardner Flowers is not just a flower shop but also a cafe! They don’t have seating so this is purely for someone looking for some caffeine to go. Take a gander at their beautiful arrangements as you wait before continuing to explore Orangeville!
Catch a Theatre Orangeville Production
Theatre Orangeville has been brightening the downtown core through their brilliant performances since it was established in 1994. Showcasing almost exclusively works by Canadian playwrights, it aims to not only enrich the community through their high-quality shows but to support local and Canadian artists.
One of Theatre Orangeville’s highest achievements though is the establishment of its New Play Development Fund. This allows Theatre Orangeville to actively foster new plays from emerging playwrights while also acting as an incubator for new theatre works.
While their offerings can range in topic and style, Theatre Orangeville typically has one show per month. Also, you’ll often find a holiday-themed performance as Christmas approaches. Be sure to check out their website to see what they have available during your visit.
INSIDER TIP: Looking for some Orangeville date ideas? Pair a Theatre Orangeville show with a lovely dinner at one of the restaurants in Orangeville and you have the perfect romantic evening.
Visit During a Seasonal Event
Orangeville is home to a number of festivals and events throughout the entire year. For some added fun during your time in town, plan your trip around some of these great seasonal Orangeville attractions!
Orangeville Blues and Jazz Festival – This is Orangeville’s largest event with over 90 award-winning performers spread across four stages in the downtown core. Restaurants and pubs also have their own live music sets while shops host interactive workshops. Orangeville is the place to be during the first weekend in June!
Maple Syrup Festival at Island Lake – Celebrate the end of winter with some of that sweet tree sap! Take a tour of the sugar bush, hop on a wagon ride and enjoy some maple-heavy eats and treats. Happens yearly from mid-March to mid-April.
Rotary Ribfest – The third weekend in July is the time for carnivores to head to Orangeville. You’ll find a number of local, national and international ribbers trying to win your vote for the best ribs around. There’s also a midway, vendors and plenty of live entertainment all weekend long!
Christmas in the Park – Beginning the first Friday of December until the 31st, Kay Cee Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland of festive fun. Light displays abound that are a treat to see, no matter how old you are so come with friends or bring the whole family!
Amazing Things to Do Near Orangeville
The Headwaters Region of Ontario is full of incredibly unique destinations. These small town destinations make perfect little excursions from Orangeville and they will certainly enhance your visit to the area. These are some of the top things to do near Orangeville for when you want to enjoy some rural adventures!
Visit the Museum of Dufferin
It may look like just a barn nestled in the hills of Mulmur but there is so much to uncover inside the Museum of Dufferin. You’ll find incredible thought-provoking exhibits and fascinating tales related to the past and present of the area.
Their displays are beautifully presented with peek-a-boo style displays showcasing specific artifacts with topics such as women in the military, farming and agriculture, mental wellness, the climate crisis and more. The exhibits and layout can change, but you’ll always learn something new during our visit.
When visiting the museum, make sure to explore the Dufferin House. It’s a perfect example of how early settlers constructed their homes in the area. Considering it was built in 1850 by Nancy and James Eccles, it’s in fantastic shape! Take a peek inside to be transported to the 19th century.
On the second floor is where you’ll find their permanent exhibition, the Corn Flower Glass Gallery. Did you know that this iconic floral pattern was developed by Dufferin County artisan W.J. Hughes? Admire his delicate works at the largest public collection of his corn flower glass in the world.
Explore Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Home to 20 kilometres of hiking trails, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is a popular destination to stretch the legs. The park draws visitors from all over with its picturesque views and beautiful lookouts. However, my favourite part of the park has to be the 1.3 kilometre long Spillway Trail. It might be a dead end but this brilliant boardwalk takes you through a towering rock canyon. It’s absolutely magnificent and not to be missed when visiting Mono Cliffs.
One thing to note is that Mono Cliffs is VERY popular in the summer months. So much so that it has led to increased parking restrictions and a reservation system coming into effect. If you wish to visit Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, you will need to purchase an advanced vehicle permit from the Ontario Parks website. For full details, check out my guide to Mono Cliffs Provincial Park which has everything you need to know for your visit!
Admire the Art at the Alton Mill Arts Centre
Less than 15 minutes from downtown Orangeville lies the quaint little town of Alton. Nestled on the shores of Shaw’s Creek is where you’ll find one of the two remaining 19th century stone mills. Surviving the Great Alton Flood of 1889 as well as the fire of 1908, this woolen mill has since been transformed into an artistic hub of wonder.
The Alton Mill Arts Centre is home to ~25 studio artists, galleries and unique shops. From glass-blown objects to wood carvings and everything in between, you’ll be in awe of the talent found within these old walls. There’s also a lovely cafe along with indoor and outdoor event spaces. Take a look at their calendar to see what special events are happening or to check out a workshop. Be sure to explore the grounds and admire the sculptures during your visit as well!
Enjoy Some Local Wine, Beer &/or Cider
There is no shortage of fantastic adult beverages to be found in the Headwaters Region. If wine tickles your fancy, check out a wine tour either at the unique chateau that is Windrush Estate Winery in Palgrave or the stunning Adamo Estate Winery in the Hockley Valley.
Is beer your style? There are three fantastic craft breweries near Orangeville. The first is GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co in Caledon where you’ll find a beautiful hop farm and stunning beer garden in the summer months. Next is Caledon Hills Brewing Co in picturesque Palgrave where they brew spectacular small-batch beer while hanging out with their neighbourhood woodpeckers. Lastly, there’s Sonnen Hill Brewery in Caledon Village that focuses on uniquely flavoured beers and mixed-culture fermentations.
Not a fan of the previous options? Never fear as Spirit Tree Estate Cidery is here! For over a decade, they’ve been producing incredibly crisp ciders from the 15 apple varieties grown on the property. Just minutes away from the Cheltenham Badlands and Belfountain Conservation Area, it’s a great spot to quench your thirst after a hike!
Rosemont General Store
If you find yourself driving down Highway 89, plan a stop at the Rosemont General Store. This building has been standing since Specializing in organic, locally sourced products, this shop makes a fantastic pit stop or foodie destination. You can pick up one of their woodstone pizzas made fresh to order, one of their sandwiches or some treats made in-house.
Rosemont General Store is always a great spot to shop for unique gifts. They carry a number of local and Canadian companies like the County Bounty in Napanee and Indigenous-owned Spirit Bear Coffee Company. Not only that but Rosemont General Store has a wide selection of eats and trinkets from the United Kingdom too! You have to check out their chocolate section because they have unique flavours you can’t typically get in Canada.
Visit the Town of Erin
Head just 20 minutes south of Orangeville for an additional dose of small town charm. The town of Erin is home to a quaint downtown strip that’s bursting with little eateries and shops. Stop by McMillan Park where you’ll find a self-guided historical tour of the town as well as some adorable installations.
Admire the stunning historical architecture as you stroll down Main Street. Pop into some of the shops like The Weathervane, Element Inspired and Sweet B Studio for a taste of big city boutiques amidst the rural charm. There are also a number of fantastic walking trails that showcase the area. Stretch your legs at the Woolen Mills Conservation Area, the Water Tower Trail and the Rotary Trail during your visit. If you’re a cyclist or really looking for a challenge, hop on the 47 kilometre long Elora Cataract Trailway which connects Elora to Forks of the Credit!
Jolly Zee Alpacas
When you find yourself in the middle of a pandemic… start an alpaca farm? That’s exactly what the dynamic duo of Julie and Steve did! At Jolly Zee Alpacas, you’ll find six beautiful alpacas that are full of character at Alabaster Acres in Caledon Village.
They offer a number of packages where you can get up close and personal with these adorable critters on a private tour. Their main tour includes a bag of feed so you can treat them as you learn more about what makes each of the alpacas unique. Never mind a teddy bear picnic, why not book an alpaca picnic? You can even book a photoshoot which will make for some awesome family photos! Take a look at all their offerings on the Jolly Zee Alpacas website.
Orangeville Restaurants for a Bite to Eat
Despite its modest size, Orangeville is home to a number of incredible restaurants. While I haven’t had a chance to try them all, I have taken one for the team and tried a few to test their worthiness. You can guarantee you’ll enjoy a great meal at these fantastic Orangeville restaurants!
Pia’s on Broadway
This small little eatery offers a simple yet satisfying menu where you’ll find hearty soups, salads and appetizers that will satisfy all appetites. Chef Xel Campbell only uses the freshest local ingredients around to craft these tasty dishes. Everything is made from scratch from the sourdough bread to the mayonnaise to each and every salad dressing. Once you sink your teeth into one of their meals, you’ll quickly understand why Pia’s is one of the top spots for lunch in Orangeville!
Their portions are quite large and filling so keep that in mind when ordering. I opted for the half sandwich combo with their corned beef and a side beet salad. Both were incredibly flavourful and just the right amount of food. However, I’m eyeing their breakfast menu for my next visit! On Saturdays from 9:00 am until 11:00 am, they have the perfect meals to start your day – like their rosti benedict which has me drooling already.
Greystones Restaurant & Cafe
One of the town’s original buildings has been transformed into one of the best restaurants in Orangeville! The Dattels Family could see the potential in this mid-19th century building and established the brilliant culinary destination you see today.
Greystones offers a variety of eats from simple sandwiches and salads at the cafe to more sizeable meals at the restaurant. Opt to sample a few appetizers from their menu or dig into mains like one of their housemade pastas, seafood dishes or a AAA Ontario steak. Whether you pop into the cafe, lounge or settle in for a meal at the main restaurant, you’ll receive outstanding quality and service.
RustiK Local Bistro
Serving local dishes with an emphasis on farm fresh fare, RustiK was created as a way for owner, Brett, to share her love of food and the relationships with local farmers and suppliers she has cultivated with that passion. RustiK features a healthy mix of country and modern vibes that set the stage for a cozy meal.
Their menu is an eclectic one with a variety of eats that will satisfy all taste buds. Based on seasonality, you’ll always have a variety of eats that caters to most dietary restrictions. Their quality of food is excellent and you can easily tell their ingredients, especially their protein, is locally sourced. I indulged in their duck breast entrée and the flavours were exquisite. It’s very clear that they put a lot of care into creating these dishes.
INSIDER TIP: This is a great spot to dine before catching a Theatre Orangeville performance. However, sometimes the food can take a little bit of time to prepare so let your server know you’re attending to ensure you have enough time to enjoy your dinner.
It’s a great spot to celebrate a milestone or to treat yourself to a great meal. Reservations are definitely recommended as it can get quite busy!
Bluebird Cafe & Grill
What started as a natural food store has undergone a number of transformations to become the delectable Orangeville restaurant you see today. While it has cafe in the name, this is certainly more of a restaurant than a cafe in the traditional sense of the term. Orangeville locals Michelle and Rick Arsenault have created a charming atmosphere that has become a staple in the heart of downtown.
Their menu focuses on Italian specialties such as cannelloni and lasagna along with a variety of delicious entrées. They also have fantastic pizza made custom to order in their food-fire oven that’s the centre of their kitchen. Using only Double 00 flour imported from Italy, you know it’s going to be good!
Adamo Estate Winery
Okay so this one isn’t quite in Orangeville but it’s a short 10 minute drive from downtown and well worth the trek. Settle in at a table in the heart of the winery with gorgeous views from the second floor of the showroom below and the beautiful vines outside. Their menu focuses on tapas-style dishes with smaller items meant to be shared along with their salumi boards. Everything pairs perfectly with their wine flights – why have one wine when you can enjoy two instead?
However, Adamo truly shines with their delightful Sunday brunch menu. Once again it’s a tapas-style menu though there are a few larger plates in the line-up. Mix and match with sweet and savoury items such as their eggs benedict, Nutella waffle, croissant sandwich and the grilled sausage sourced locally from 100km Foods.
Where to Stay in Orangeville
While Orangeville can be done as a day trip, I highly recommend staying overnight. Make it a getaway so you can experience even more of the great things to do in Orangeville! If you’re wondering where to stay, here are a few great options for Orangeville hotels.
Best Western Orangeville – If you’re looking to ditch the car for a little bit, the Best Western Orangeville is located within walking distance of downtown Orangeville. They feature suites that offer guests plates, cutlery, etc along with a small fridge and microwave. The rooms have ample space with a work desk and seating area, making a great spot to consider if you’re planning an extended stay in Orangeville. A complimentary continental breakfast is also included with your booking! See what others have to say about their experience or click here to book your stay.
Hockley Valley Resort & Spa – This is your perfect one-stop shop for a luxurious getaway in Orangeville. This year-round resort offers gorgeous guest rooms, an 8,000 square foot spa, both indoor and outdoor pools, a dry sauna, a hot tub, an 18-hole championship golf course and a number of seasonal amenities. Plus, Adamo Estate Winery is just a kilometre away where you can indulge in their top-notch wines and amazing eats. If you’re looking to treat your partner to a romantic getaway in Ontario, Hockley Valley is a fantastic option. See what others have to say about their experience or click here to book your stay.
Millcroft Inn & Spa – Head to the rolling hills of Caledon for the tranquil paradise known as the Millcroft Inn & Spa. What was once the Alton Knitting Mill has since been transformed into 100 acres of country charm. This lavish hotel has plenty of amenities to offer including their award-winning spa, outdoor hot and cold pools, eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, indoor pool, fitness room and more. Dine at their prized Headwaters Restaurant overlooking the Mill Pond and Shaw’s Creek Falls. Whether you stay one night or a weekend, chances are you won’t want to leave! See what others have to say about their experience or click here to book your stay.
Alabaster Acres Glamping – Enjoy a restful night’s sleep surrounded by nature with a glamping experience at Alabaster Acres. Yes, you will be sleeping in a tent but this isn’t just any tent as you’ll be treated to a king size bed with heated mattress pads, mini-fridge, stove, cutlery and anything else you may need. All you need to do is pack your eats, treats and personal gear! It’s one of the great things to do in Caledon and will certainly make your visit to the Headwaters Region a memorable one! See what others have to say about their experience or book your stay now.
If none of the above options work for your dates, take a look at these other Orangeville accommodation options.
Things to Know When Visiting Orangeville
As you can see, there are so many great things to see in Orangeville! Now that you’re ready to plan your own visit, let’s take a look at some of the things you should know to ensure you have a stellar experience.
How did Orangeville Get Its Name? Who is Orangeville Named After?
Orangeville is named after Orange Lawrence who is said to be the “father of Orangeville” in some ways. This businessman was born in Connecticut in 1796 but as a young man, moved to Canada and settled in Halton County. He purchased land in the mid-1840s and established several mills in the area. However, he never actually lived IN Orangeville as most of the land is considered to be East Garafraxa. Orange Lawrence actually committed suicide about two weeks before the town was established as Orangeville, so he never knew it came to be named after him.
How do I Get to Orangeville?
Orangeville is located at the junction of Highway 10, Highway 9 and Dufferin Road 109. It’s approximately an hour northwest of downtown Toronto. It makes for a great day trip from Toronto as well as Guelph, Kitchener, Burlington and other surrounding cities.
What is There to Do in Downtown Orangeville?
As you saw in this post – there are plenty of fun things to do in Orangeville! In the downtown core, wander along Broadway Street and you’ll find a plethora of murals and sculptures, great little boutique shops, fantastic restaurants and more. Some spots that are not to be missed include:
- Praying Mantis sculpture, tree sculptures along Broadway and the Every Child Matters crossing
- Shops like Pear Home, Dragonfly Arts on Broadway, Fromage and Suzanne Gardner Flowers
- Local cafes like Mochaberry and Le Finis
- A show at Theatre Orangeville in the old town hall
- Restaurants such as Pia’s on Broadway, Greystones, Rustik and the Bluebird Cafe
Where Should I Park in Orangeville?
While there is plenty of street parking to be found in Orangeville, most of it limits you to just two hours. However, there is a public parking lot between Broadway and Armstrong that will allow you to park there all day. During the week and in the winter months, it shouldn’t be a problem to find a space but Orangeville can be busy in the summer, especially on weekends. If it’s full, there is also a parking lot at Mill Square Park that is a short walk from Broadway.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Central Counties Tourism. While I was compensated for my time, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!