Top 15 Fun Things to do in Waterloo – For Singles, Couples, and Family

You may have heard about Kitchener-Waterloo and how they are fondly called “Twin-Cities by Canadians. These two cities, alongside Cambridge, make up the Waterloo Regional Municipality in Canada. Although Kitchener and Waterloo and very close and almost merged, they are two separate cities. This article will focus on the top 15 fun things to do in Waterloo as a resident or visitor.

Waterloo is a famous city in Alberta and the whole of Canada. It is rated among one of the top 20 cities in the country and makes a fantastic place to live in or visit during the holidays.

Where is Waterloo?

Waterloo is located within the Region of Waterloo alongside two other cities – Kitchener and Cambridge. The city of Waterloo is the smallest of all three and lies just about 100 kilometers away from Toronto.

Waterloo Population

Waterloo has a population of over 100,000 residents. The city readily attracts people from within and outside Canada and has a steadily growing population rate of about 1.3% per year. People come to Waterloo to work, school, or have fun.

Cities Near Waterloo

  • Kitchener
  • Cambridge
  • Guelph
  • Stratford
  • Woodstock
  • Brantford
  • Listowel
  • Hamilton
  • Brampton
  • Mississauga
  • London
  • Etobicoke
  • Vaughan
  • Toronto
  • Markham
  • Scarborough

The farthest of these cities has a distance of 110km to Waterloo.

How to Get to Waterloo by Air and Road?

To get to Waterloo by road from Toronto, you can make a straight ride using a private or rented car. The journey is about 110 kilometers long. You can also go by bus through the Line 21 or Line 31 buses. This will take an average of 2 hrs 30 mins to 3 hrs. Better still, you can commute by train, which will take about 1 hr 47 mins.

There are no options for getting into Waterloo directly by air. However, you can fly into Ontario first or any other preferred nearby city with an airport and then commute by road to Waterloo.

Things to do in Waterloo

Finding what to do in Waterloo, Ontario, has never been a problem. This city is bubbling and promises you a fun-filled experience. Here are 15 fun activities you can start within Waterloo:

#1. Behold Pure Works of Art at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery

The name alone says it all – this is not your conventional art gallery featuring nicely drawn paintings, photographs, or sculptures. Instead, the Clay and Glass Gallery is the only one of its kind in Canada. Little wonder the gallery welcomes over 20,000 people into it each year.

This place treats you to exhibits of ceramics, enamel, and glass. From one stretch of a corridor to the other, you will find crafts that exhibit art in its purest form – up to 900. If you are keen on ceramics and glass artwork, head to the gallery shop after your tour to fish for a beautiful piece. You will find artworks that date back as far as the mid-20th century.

#2. Go Sporting at Max’s Sports World

Get lost in a world of sports at Waterloo’s Max’s Sports World. Do not leave until you are spent! This sports center features several sporting events, from football to golf to driving and axe throwing. The options are limitless here, and you get the opportunity to try sports you may have never heard of before.

There are two 18-hole mini-golf courses, a golf simulator, indoor and outdoor driving ranges, six batting cages, a bubble soccer place, and much more.

#3. Take a Historic Tour

Waterloo is a city of history. The city was so named after the famous victory over Napoleon in 1815. The history fight happened at Waterloo in Belgium. And to celebrate, another city was named after it in Canada! But that is not all about Waterloo’s history.

If you visit the Mary-Allen neighborhood or Uptown Waterloo, you can experience the history of the city come back to life again in the gothic-style buildings you’ll find, the churches, the public library, the Victorian double-house, and several streets that are named to depict specific concepts in Waterloo’s history.

An essential piece of advice: historical tours are best on foot, or how else will you be able to appreciate the history-rich buildings better?

#4. Experience Oktoberfest like you Would in Germany

Being a city home to Germans from its very beginning, the famous German Oktoberfest has been happening in Waterloo for over 75 years.

So if you time your visit to Waterloo between late September and early October, you’ll experience the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest – the largest outside of Germany, and you can drink all the beer you want.

Besides the beer (the highlight of Oktoberfest anyway), this annual festival also features cultural events that are mostly German-themed and some others that are just pure fun. For example, there is the Oktoberfest Car Show, the Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball, a fun run, and a barrel race.

#5. Enjoy Outdoor and Indoor Events at the RIM Park

RIM Park is Waterloo’s largest recreational center featuring several sports fields, ice rinks, courts, gyms, and natural reserved areas. The park offers a jamboree of indoor and outdoor activities that you’ll never be less busy for the whole day.

You can walk trails with your family and pets, jog on tracks, playfield events like volleyball and baseball, or even have a picnic for outdoor events. The kids have a playground to enjoy unlimited fun while adults are out for something “adult-like.”

If you’d like to burn energy indoors, several centers feature gyms, Olympic-sized ice pads, and even an indoor field. Of course, you could book any of these facilities beforehand so you and your friends can enjoy friendly games.

You will also find RIM Park conducive for other not-so-intensive activities such as meetings and events. For example, nine meeting rooms, a banquet hall, and food-providing services exist.

#6. Race for the Fun at the Grand River Raceway, Elmira

Elmira is a village northeast of Waterloo and the last stop on the Waterloo Central Railway. However, Elmira has always been known for one thing – it’s Grand River Raceway. Here, you can watch a live horserace or even jump on a horse yourself if you are good at it.

Try the double-seated jog cart or play on luck using a slot machine. At night, you can enjoy events like trivia nights, Bingo nights, and murder mystery nights.

#7. Ride a Steam Train, Like the Good Old Days

Grab the opportunity to know what it feels like to be on a steam train or relive the memory. Unfortunately, the Waterloo Central Railway has few steam trains that still embark on real-time travels. However, you can join the train for a trip down to Elmira. The trains go three turns a day, so you can pick a convenient time to ride.

Sit back and enjoy the rickety ride of the Ol’ trains. You can also visit the Railway Museum to learn more about steam engines.

#8. Play Golf at the Grey Silo Golf Course

Located within RIM Park, the Grey Silo Golf Course is a recreational center providing an 18-hole golf court available for public use. It would interest you, especially if you are not new to golf, to know that the course hosted the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic from 2010 to 2014. This is just one out of several other tournaments that have been played on the course. You will find it thrilling to be able to play a game or two there too.

#9. Go Camping at Laurel Creek Park

Laurel Creek Park is a great place located northwest of Waterloo, with over 120 campsites for tens of refreshing outdoor activities. In addition, there are hiking trails through the forest, spots for picnics, windsurfing and canoeing opportunities, a ball diamond, two playgrounds, and much more.

And you do not need to be a camper to visit Laurel Creek Park. Instead, you could make your visit a beach day out and swim yourself sore in the peaceful waters of the creek.

#10. Have an Educative Walk at the University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is not unpopular in Canada. However, you may be interested in finding out just what makes it highly rated.

Built on an area as wide as 404 hectares of land, the university presents you with a long stretch of adventure. There are many things to explore here, from faculties to student lounges, museums, theatres, conference rooms, and laboratories.

Do not miss the Graduate House, which happens to be the oldest building on campus. This structure has been standing since the 19th century!

There is also Wilfrid Laurier University if academics seems to be what interests you the most. This university nestles among greenery and nature and is more modern than the University of Waterloo.

#11. Shop the Mall Out

A mall and more fun in Waterloo are not complete without a visit to the Conestoga Mall. Conestoga Mall sits at a drowning size, housing over 130 shops offering various services. So, of course, get ready to spend, but all would be worth it.

This mall has everything: steaming restaurants you want, grocery shops, gadget places, or spas. One thing that makes Conestoga stand out from other conventional malls – it has a museum. So a visit to the mall will not just be about buying, buying, and buying alone.

#12. Do not Miss the Virtual Reality Arcade – Ctrl V

Virtual games are heartthrobs for many. If you are one of such persons, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to be at Canada’s first virtual reality arcade. You may also try the place even if you’ve never played a virtual game before.

Ctrl V came into Canada in 2016 and has been a place to not miss for fun. There are 16 different VR stations here featuring several kinds of games over different themes and designed for different age groups. This is to say, bringing kids here will not be a bad idea.

You can book a game station for an hour but can also renew the booking if you are not ready to leave just yet.

#13. Shop Healthy at the Farmers’ Market

The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is a center of attraction in its own right, hosting up to a million visitors every year. However, the Farmers’ Market was only just a bunch of tents in those days when it first started in the twentieth century. Today, the market is a massive 3,200 square meters building with potential for more expansion.

You may prefer picking up fresh food at the market to shopping in the mall. After all, a bag of fresh foods and fruits is way healthier than a bag of candies and ice creams. You will find locally grown food, fruits, and freshly baked pastries in this market.

Asides from the diversity of fresh food the Farmers’ Market offers you, you will also find art pieces and crafts, jewelry, horse-drawn tours, and bouncing castles. Walking around the market is a delight in itself, as you can observe the culture of the people while they buy and sell and notice what foods they feed on in this region. Meanwhile, there is also an animal farm lurking somewhere.

#14. Splash Good with Kids at Big Splash

Fun time at Waterloo with kids is never complete without a touchdown at Bingemans Big Splash. You can already guess what this place is all about, so it’s best visited during summer when the weather is warm, and a splash of cool water can never be the wrong idea.

Located close to Kitchener, the ride to Big Splash will only take a few minutes. Kids are bound to have the fun of their time here. There are AquaTube slides, a water playground, a wave pool, a vast indoor family playground, an arcade, a mini-golf course, and spots to sit and snack with the kids.

#15. Visit the Waterloo Public Square

The public square is a thing of interest in most Canadian towns and cities. They are usually designed to give premium recreation, and Waterloo Public Square is not an exception.

You can hold events here or visit to have fun that varies with the seasons and the weather. During the winter, you can enjoy skating on the outdoor skating rink. There are spots to eat and chill, and the amenities here are great.

What to do in Waterloo on Special Days?

What to Do in Waterloo on a Weekend

Things to do in Waterloo this weekend:

  • Visit the University of Waterloo
  • Enjoy Outdoor and Indoor Events at the RIM Park
  • Visit the Waterloo Public Square
  • Play golf at the Grey Silo Golf Course
  • Take a historical tour down the town
  • Shop at Conestoga Mall
  • Ride in a steam train
  • Camp at Laurel Creek Park
  • Play VR games at Ctrl V

What to do in Waterloo with Kids

  • Visit the University of Waterloo
  • Visit the Waterloo Public Square
  • Take a historical tour down the town
  • Visit the Canadian Clay and Arts Gallery
  • Tour any or both campuses in Waterloo
  • Shop at Conestoga Mall
  • Ride in a steam train
  • Visit the Farmers’ Market
  • Camp out or go to the beach at Laurel Creek Park
  • Visit Bingemans Big Splash
  • Play VR games at Ctrl V

Things to do in Waterloo at Night

  • Visit the Grand River Raceway, Elmira, for its nighttime events
  • Camp out at Laurel Creek Park
  • Visit the Waterloo Public Square
  • Shop at the mall
  • Camp out at Laurel Creek Park
  • Play VR games at Ctrl V

What to do in Waterloo Today

  • Explore the Canadian Clay and Art Gallery
  • Enjoy Outdoor and Indoor Events at the RIM Park
  • Visit the Canadian Clay and Arts Gallery
  • Take a historical tour down the town
  • Experience the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
  • Ride in a steam train
  • Watch or participate in live horse races at the Grand River Raceway
  • Play VR games at Ctrl V

Also Read: 15 Fun Things to do in Saint John, New Brunswick

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Waterloo and Kitchener the Same?

Waterloo and Kitchener are two different cities in Ontario, although they are called “Twin Cities.” The towns are so close that their boundaries are almost merged. It is effortless to commute from Waterloo to Kitchener or back, and people work across both cities. Sometimes, the region is called Kitchener-Waterloo (K-W). Both towns, alongside Cambridge, make the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.

What are the Top Attractions to Visit in Waterloo?

  • The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest
  • Ctrl V virtual reality games place
  • The Canadian Clay Art Gallery
  • University of Waterloo
  • The Farmers’ Market
  • Waterloo Central Railway
  • West Montrose Covered Bridge (The Kissing Bridge)

What Can I Do in Waterloo for Free?

  • Visit the Waterloo Park
  • Take historic tour downtown
  • Explore University of Waterloo
  • Visit the Farmers’ Market
  • Window shop from market road antique shops
  • Visit the West Montrose Covered Bridge

Conclusion

There are several things to do in Waterloo, and fun has never been a problem here. There are many activities to enjoy for adults and children alike, and Waterloo has been a go-to city for ages. The city also has some rich history you should be more than eager to explore when you visit.

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