Eastern Ontario Staycation Guide: Explore Cornwall, a nearby location for a charming getaway

Cornwall
Editor's Note

This article originally appeared in the spring edition of EOBJ. Read the full staycation guide here

Spring is the perfect time to take a fresh look at the riverside destination of Cornwall. Located a little more than an hour’s drive southeast of the nation’s capital, Cornwall offers all the amenities of a medium-sized city, but it’s also brimming with small town charm. At every turn you’ll discover fascinating history, picturesque parks, comforting food and people who are supremely friendly and welcoming. Although it’s easy to plan your visit ahead of time thanks to the comprehensive resources available at CornwallTourism.com, be prepared to have locals offering you tips and stories to help make your time in Cornwall even more enjoyable than expected. Whether you’re looking for a getaway that’s relaxing, inspiring, educational or invigorating, you’ll find everything you need in this clean, green city that’s home to world-class events, award-winning inns and so much more.  

Cornwall

Take to the trails

The Riverside Trail is one of Cornwall’s most-visited attractions, beloved by walkers, runners and cyclists alike. Running the entire length of the city, it offers amazing views from Gray’s Creek, through Lamoureux Park and on to Guindon Park. There’s free cyclist parking at the conveniently-located Cornwall Civic Complex right beside the Riverside Trail. Planning a cycling trip to Cornwall has never been easier. Ottawa’s Escape Bicycle Tours is now offering guided and self-guided multi-day bike tours in Cornwall! Check out escapebicycletours.ca for details. 

World-class waters

From sport fishing to kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle-boarding, the Cornwall area is a mecca for those who love to play on or in the water. An angler’s haven with trophy fish of all types, Cornwall offers two public boat launches in Lamoureux and Guindon Parks.

shopping

Satisfying shopping 

Cruise downtown to visit Cornwall’s many one-of-a-kind boutiques and don’t miss Laura’s — one of the largest gift shops of its kind in Eastern Ontario, packed with a carefully curated selection of items ranging from whimsical to practical. Mrs. B’s Gifts & Home Decor is another favourite, with collectibles, outdoor décor and much more. 

Fabulous festivals

This season, check out the Rock the River festival’s beer edition on May 21 featuring craft breweries, live music, local food and local non-beer beverages. Other popular events include the St. Lawrence Marathon (April 30), Cornwall Ribfest (July 21-24), Poutine Feast (August 4 – 7) and Waterfest (August 13).  

Spring recharge itinerary ideas:

  1. Sample some of the best bites in Cornwall and learn a bit about the city with Cornwall Food Tours (www.cornwallfoodtours.com to book).
  2. Stroll through Memorial Park or the Rotary Eco Gardens in Lamoureux Park to admire the spring blooms.
  3. Expand your cultural horizons with a tour of the Native North American Travelling College.
  4. Rent bikes from Marina 200 (call 613-932-8301 to book) or book a pedicab tour (waterfronttours.ca) and explore Cornwall’s beautiful waterfront.
  5. Bliss out with some pampering at one of the region’s spas.
  6. Complete your day with some retail therapy and dinner downtown followed by a visit to Cornwall’s popular escape room, Rush Hour Escapes (book a time at rushhourescapes.ca).

Food and drink

Cornwall’s thriving culinary and beverage scenes offer something for every taste and budget, showcasing farm-fresh local ingredients infused with global influences. Scores of eateries — many with patios — are available across the city. Gather your own delicious local harvest at seasonal farmers’ markets as well.

Cornwall

Cultural connections

Explore Indigenous culture at the Native North American Travelling College on Cornwall Island, which has been instrumental in preserving and maintaining the Mohawk culture, history and language. Feast your eyes on visual art at the Cline House Gallery and check out events like Art Walk on June 24 and August 26 in downtown Cornwall.

A community steeped in history

The self-guided Cornwall Historic Walking Tour showcases the city’s rich past via several dozen artistic plaques. There’s a lot to learn about the region in the Cornwall Community Museum, as well as at the city’s many old churches, the former cotton mill district and the Saunders Hydro Dam Visitor Centre.

Hotel

Where to stay

Options for accommodations are numerous — from hotels, motels, Airbnb spots and quaint bed and breakfasts, including the historic Auberge Chesley’s Inn. Ontario’s oldest inn, it has been recognized as one of the province’s best bicycle-friendly businesses. Ramada, Best Western and Comfort Inn are comfortable and convenient options as well.  

Fun facts: 

  • First named New Johnstown, Cornwall was renamed for Prince George, the Duke of Cornwall in 1834.
  • Beloved food retailer Farm Boy was founded in Cornwall and is one of the city’s top business success stories.
  • Some hometown heroes include actor Ryan Gosling, Olympic hockey gold medallist Lori Dupuis and April Wine drummer Roy Nichol.

Got a question? Planning to visit Cornwall? Cornwall Tourism is always available to help! Call or text anytime at 613-938-4748 or email info@cornwalltourism.com for one-on-one assistance.