Ontario Road Trips: Elora is home to gorgeous gorges — and a bit of Hollywood glam

Click to play video: 'Ontario Road Trips: Could Elora be the province’s best-kept secret getaway?'
Ontario Road Trips: Could Elora be the province’s best-kept secret getaway?
WATCH: If you’re looking for an escape and willing to drive just 90 minutes northwest of Toronto, you might just find out why Elora is considered one of Ontario’s most beautiful and exciting villages. What are you waiting for? – Jun 22, 2024

This article is the second in Global News’ Ontario road trips series, offering getaways to some fun locales across the province. Out first adventure took us to Paris, Ont.

Has it been about three years since you updated your Facebook profile pic? Or are you a big fan of Instagram?

If you answered, “yes” to either question and are looking to get outta town for a day or two. Perhaps a visit picture-perfect to Elora, Ont., is in order.

The village is best known for the Elora Gorge and the Grand River Raceway but it has plenty of other interesting spots to explore.

Chevrolet Canada named Elora the Most Road Trippable Town in Canada in 2019. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

Elora was voted the Most Road Trippable Town in Canada in 2019 but you can make the call yourself on whether it lives up to that billing.

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Quiet on the Set

The scenic town on the banks of the Grand River has also caught the eye of Hollywood. An arm’s length list of movie and TV productions have been shot in Elora over the decades.

While the Elora Gorge is a beautiful conservation area to visit, the Elora Quarry Conservation Area has seen its fair share of movie cameras.

The Elora Quarry Conservation Area has proven to be a popular spot for filmmakers and swimmers alike. Garrett Klassen

Two decades ago, scenes from Angel Eyes featuring Jennifer Lopez were shot there as was part of the 2017 horror movie It, which featured an evil clown whose face continues to haunt people to this day.

More recently, Adam Sandler’s Netflix “comedy” You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah! was partially shot at the site. And when a mild-mannered reporter from Global News paid a visit to Elora a couple of weeks back, access was denied as an unnamed TV series was being filmed at the location. (Internet chatter says it was a new Apple series based on the Murderbot Diaries and starring Alexander Skargard.)

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A couple of weeks prior to the reporter’s visit, chins were wagging as Arnold Schwarzenneger was in town to film scenes for FUBAR.

These are just a few of the dozens of productions that have taken place in Elora and in nearby Fergus.

What to do in Elora!

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There are plenty of great options in the area but the top drawing card for many would be the Elora Gorge Conservation Area.

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If you are a big fan of the outdoors, the Gorge has plenty to offer with scenic views as you walk along the thousands of feet of trails on the banks of the Grand River.

The giant limestone walls along the river can be viewed from the lookout or travelled through in the Hole-in-the-Rock.

If hiking is not your thing, you can rent a paddleboard, do some fishing, take your kids to the splashpad or even have a picnic on the conservation area, which also offers camping.

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In addition to the three-kilometre trail that runs through the site and high above the river, Elora also boasts part of the Elora Cataract Trailway, which is a 47-kilomotre trail that follows an old railway line linking the Grand and Credit watersheds.

As mentioned earlier, at the other end of Elora is the Elora Quarry, with the conservation area offering a chance to go for a swim from a beach surrounded by the scenic cliffs of limestone.

The Wellington County Museum began its life as a poorhouse.

If you need to go inside for a spell, just down the road from the quarry is the Wellington County Museum.

The beautiful building that houses the museum has quite a story as it was originally built as a poor house back in the 1800s.

It housed hundreds of homeless and destitute people between 1877 and 1947 and was then turned into a senior’s home. Thirty years later, the museum was born when the senior’s home was moved.

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After a visit to the museum, it might be time to head towards town with a stop along the way at the Elora Centre for the Arts, which is also located in another historic building.

Built in 1856, the three-story limestone building was originally constructed as a school but now serves as the home to galleries and an artisan shop.

Heading into downtown, it’s recommended you take Metcalfe Street. The old Truss bridge has been replaced, butthere are still spectacular views in every direction as you head across the new bridge.

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In one direction is the Elora Mill Hotel, another gives one a look at the beautiful downtown, while a third offers a spectacular view of the Grand River.

Once you park, you can wander around dozens of shops, cafes and restaurants while enjoying a view of the old limestone buildings in the historic community.

A spectacular view of the Grand River can be had from the dining room at the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa.

Perhaps a bite to eat at the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa, where the restaurant sits almost right on top of a cascading waterfall.

If that is not for you, wander up the road to Victoria Park where you’ll find Lover’s Leap, a spot that offers’ more beautiful views from far above the Grand River.

The park also offers stairs to the Gorge below, offering views to the top or a closer look at the river.

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If you have littles with you, perhaps you should head back across the bridge to the Nora Carlaw Splash Pad in O’Brien Park for a quick soak after a hot day of wandering.

Races run three days a week at the Grand River Raceway.

If you are looking for more adult fare, the Grand River Raceway sits just across the street from the Elora Gorge Conservation Area.

In addition to live racing three days a week, there are rooms full of slot machines inside of Elements Casino.

How to get to Elora

The hamlet is located about a 30-minute drive north of Guelph. If you are coming from Toronto or Windsor, you could take Highway 401 to Guelph and head north. Or you could take a more scenic route.

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If you are looking to make a detour along the way, consider a pit stop at the St. Jacobs Market to pick up supplies for a picnic in one of Elora’s conservation areas.

An alternative stopfor film buffs and Instagrammers is West Montrose Covered Bridge.

Also known as the Kissing Bridge, the 140-year-old red covered bridge was also featured in the movie It and is famed for its insta-worthy pics.

The West Montrose Covered Bridge. @Woolwichupdates / Twitter

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