Despite the pandemic, there is plenty for Waterloo residents to see and do close to home
August 20, 2020: WATERLOO, Ont. — The sun is out, the weather is hot, the kids are already getting restless …. and we are still in the midst of a pandemic.
But there is light ahead — and it’s much closer than the end of the tunnel. Ontario has been gradually re-opening the province’s economy, and with the relaxation of some restrictions around travel and hospitality, there are attractions and entertainment options opening across Waterloo Region for people to enjoy. The WR United campaign — is doing its part to let locals know what is available to keep them occupied.
Like most other parts of Ontario, bar and restaurant patios are open across Waterloo, and the region boasts some incredible food options, from small mom-and-pop eateries to big chain restaurants.
But there are also several attractions that have opened for guests (with caveats to respect public health orders that mandate physical distancing, recommend the use of personal protective equipment and request people to stay home if they are not feeling well).
Without going far, Waterloo residents can enjoy:
- African Lion Safari — Canada’s original safari adventure boasts more than 1,000 animals from 100 different species spread across 750 acres. It is also the perfect activity for physical distancing as you stay in your car to drive through the animal reserves while they roam in areas as large as 50 acres.
- Bingemans Mini-Golf — Hit the mini links on two different courses at Hole in Fun, the mini-putt attraction at the Bingemans’ complex. Both the Town and Country courses offer a fun and challenging round.
- The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory — Focusing on education and outreach, the Conservatory is situated on more than 100 acres that includes the ecologically sensitive Kossuth Bog. Thousands of butterflies can be found in a 10,000 tropical garden paradise along with a dozen small bird species, other insects and tropical plants.
- Camping — The Bingemans Campground is open, whether you bring your own tent, trailer or RV or rent a log cabin or container unit.
- Canoeing the Grand — Enjoy canoeing, kayaking or tubing trips along the Grand River. Take a trip lasting from 90 minutes up to eight hours, travelling between seven and 38 kilometres along the scenic river, with proximity to more than 100 kilometres of hiking on river trails.
- Conestogo River Horseback Adventures — Enjoy the view of the Conestogo River from horseback with a trek that can last from one to four hours.
- Golfing — Golf courses across the region are open for a round on the links.
- Grand Experiences — Canoe, kayak, cycle and trek amidst some stunning vistas. Bike along buggy lanes and farm roads through Mennonite country. Paddle a scenic route along the Grand River, a designated Canadian Heritage River through lush Carolinian forest. Seek adventure with a white water rafting and cycling experience on the Nith River. Enjoy a true eco-adventure hiking the trails along the Grand River Valley.
- Bingemans Drive-In – In response to the challenges that Covid19 has produced across the entertainment sector, Bingemans is pleased to launch Drive-In entertainment at the On The Grand Amphitheatre starting July 8 th . The only Drive-In experience in Waterloo Region!
- Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum and Doon Heritage Village — The largest community museum in Ontario opens July 2nd with safety restrictions in place and modified hours. The main gallery tells the story of Waterloo Region; also reopening on July 2nd will be the Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibit, running for a limited time until August 3rd. A ticket for a 90-minute viewing of the Mandela exhibit also includes a “walk in the park” experience through Doon Heritage Village. The Museum will be open Thursday to Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- KW Art Gallery — Located in the Centre in the Square in downtown Kitchener, the art gallery features contemporary and historical exhibitions of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, prints and video.
In an effort to help give small businesses like tourism operators a boost, the provincial government has launched the Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop with Confidence! program to encourage Ontarians to get out and support the businesses in their communities. The campaign asks mayors, local leaders and organizations to make commitments on social media to shop local, and highlight best practices that are keeping people safe.
“I’m not certain most people understand the extent of the impact COVID-19 has had on the tourism sector,” says Minto. “To help keep people safe, they stayed closed during the months when they would have normally been ramping up for the busy summer season. They did their part. Now it is our turn to do ours and show our support by visiting their attractions and eating on their patios.”