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Explore the Scenic Cheltenham Badlands and the Elora Gorge

From the Badlands to the Gorge, this scenic getaway delivers natural wonders, outdoor fun, culinary delights and homespun hospitality

A person is standing on a large rock in the middle of a stream, which faces a bridge. Behind him is a rock wall with mossy greenery growing all over it.

Heading out of town is always a great way to recharge the batteries. This Ontario road trip includes admiring the rounded rocks of the Cheltenham Badlands, hiking the Elora Gorge, going tubing down the Grand River and visiting the renowned St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market. Before you head out, check health and safety protocols for each destination, as well as make reservations or book a time slot, to avoid disappointment. Happy road tripping!

Explore the Cheltenham Badlands Trail

A bright blue sky with a few clouds floating in the background of bright green tree tops and rolling red rocks. There is a road in the far back corner of the image.

Drive to Caledon to check out the Cheltenham Badlands, an otherworldly red landscape of eroded shale bedrock. Get an early start here to avoid the heat, and be sure to respect the environment by sticking to the trails.

After the trek, head over to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, which is just five minutes away, to purchase a picnic lunch from its bakery-bistro and a few local ciders to enjoy later. It’s also worth stopping into nearby Badlands Brewing Company for a few of their choice IPAs.

Hike the Elora Gorge

Dark green trees can be seen against a bright blue sky with no clouds. At the forefront is a sandy beach with some rocks and greenery poking out between the rocks.

Next, head to the quaint 19th-century town of Elora to experience the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, a recreation space surrounding a deep ravine. This natural area is a great spot for camping and hiking, but it’s especially renowned for tubing down rapids of the Grand River. Outfitters to consider include Grand River Rafting Company, Tubing the Grand.com and Elora Rapids, with excursions lasting about 90 minutes.

The rest of the afternoon is pegged for wandering the town or relaxing along the manicured banks of the Grand River. Check into The Village Inn Elora or splurge for a night at the luxurious Elora Mill Hotel & Spa, a former historic inn and gristmill with an elegant restaurant.

Visit the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market

A woman in a light floral print sleeveless top is standing in front of a fruit stand displayed with pints of strawberries and blueberries. In her hand she holds a pint of blueberries and a pint of strawberries next to each other.

On your way home the next day, stop in at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market & Flea Market at the north end of Kitchener Waterloo. At Canada’s largest year-round farmers market, you’ll find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to pastries and fresh honey and cheese to fill the fridge and the pantry for the week ahead and beyond. The farmers market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the adjacent outlet mall and antique store open daily. But be sure to check the website for hours of operation and health and safety protocols.

Start Planning

When you’re ready to travel again, whether you’re staying close to home or venturing further away, speak with an experienced CAA Travel Consultant to help you book your next holiday.

To discover more itineraries in Ontario, visit Hidden Gems.

Image credit: Destination Ontario, Yugen 23/Wikipedia Commons, RyanJLane/iStock