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13 Ontario Towns You Need To Visit (But Have Probably Never Heard Of)

For when you just need to get out of the city...

Aren't small towns lovely? The fresh air, the quaint coffee shops, the smell of cow manure penetrating your every breath ... oh that one's just me? Ok.

Fergus, Ontario, Canada
Doradalton / Getty Images/iStockphoto

There's just something so irresistible and charming about small towns in Ontario. I've scoured my memory (and Instagram) to bring you a list of 13 towns that you HAVEN'T already heard of. So dive in and take a look — you might just find yourself a new road trip destination or two!

1. Neustadt

2. Paisley

3. Bayfield

4. Fergus

Photograph of a fast river, rushing along a tall stone wall, where several European-style stone buildings sit. One of the stone buildings has a large chimney
Kate Storey /  BuzzFeed

I discovered Fergus, as most people likely do, on my way to the much more well-known town of Elora. Settled by the Scottish in 1833, the European roots of Fergus are obvious with one glance at the architecture. Fergus is truly a history lover's dream, with several buildings dating back 100 years or more. A few of my favourite historical spots are the now-defunct Beatty swimming pool and The Vault Coffee & Espresso Bar, which takes its name from the building's former use as a bank (it was even the site of a bank robbery several decades back). You'll have to go check it out for yourself to get the full story!

5. St. Mary's

Trestle Bridge in St. Mary's, with view of an old tower in the back which reads "St. Mary's, The Town Worth Living In".
Mark Spowart / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.ca

A short drive from Stratford or Woodstock, St. Mary's is another hidden gem. Check it out for its beautiful Quarry, where you can go swimming, cliff-jumping, and even rent paddleboards for the day! Not much of a swimmer? You might prefer to grab a pint at Broken Rail Brewing Inc., or take a stroll through the well-stocked farmers' market.   

6. St. Thomas

7. Meaford

A photograph of the front of the old Meaford Library. It's a red brick building with a sign above the door that reads "MEAFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY" and a clock at the very top of the front wall
Kate Storey / Buzzfeed

Just north of Collingwood and Thornbury lies the friendly little town of Meaford. This once-bustling town is now a quiet, peaceful getaway on the edge of Georgian Bay. Despite its laid-back nature, Meaford has seen something of a renaissance in the past few years, with Toronto restaurateurs leaving the city and bringing their skills with them. One to try is Gio & Fran's Italian Eatery (Go. Here. Best pasta I've ever had). Thinking of going for a fall weekend? Plan a trip during October to see the legendary Scarecrow Invasion (with COVID restrictions, looks like you may have to wait until next fall, but trust me, it is SO worth the wait). 

8. Prescott

Photograph of a large white lighthouse with a red top, surrounded by greenery and a blue sky.
Dennis Jarvis / Flickr Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

Ottawa and Kingston peeps, here's one for you! Prescott is best known for Fort Wellington, built for use during the War of 1812 due to its proximity to the St. Lawrence River. Its riverside location also means it's perfect for a day trip to New York — just a quick drive over the historic Seaway Skyway Bridge! My personal Prescott rec? Step back in time with a stay at Colonel's Inn, an 1838 stone manor right in town.  

9. Kimberley

10. Vankleek Hill

11. Rockwood

12. Smiths Falls

Photograph of a fast, wide river flowing toward a bridge and several old-fashioned-looking brick and stone buildings
Martin Cathrae / Flickr Creative Commons / Via flic.kr

Here's one for our Eastern Ontario friends! Smiths Falls is STUNNING. From the theatre converted from an old train station to the sweet-as-pie local bakery, you'll feel like you've been dropped right into a Hallmark movie. 

13. Cheltenham

There you have it my friends: 13 fantastic Ontario towns that you've probably never heard of! How many of these towns had you already visited? Let me know in the comments, and please add your own suggestions!

This fall, BuzzFeed Canada is taking you on a virtual trip from coast to coast. Check out how BuzzFeed is highlighting different provinces and territories while bringing you more Canada content!

A coast to coast banner with the "Ontario" on it
Carmen Capri // BuzzFeed