Your Guide to Glamping in Elora, Ontario

Last Updated on July 21, 2023

Elora is a picturesque Ontario town, known for its 19th-century limestone architecture, and its proximity to the beautiful Elora Gorge. One of the most exciting ways to explore this Ontario gem is by glamping in Elora!

About 80 years ago, Canadian artist A.J. Casson called Elora “Ontario’s Most Beautiful Village.” Since then, Elora has continued to capture the attention of Ontario locals, as well as tourists from around Canada and abroad. 

In fact in 2019, Elora was recognized again when it won the award for the most Road Trippable Town in Canada

An Ontario weekend escape to this town is just enough time to take in everything the town has to offer. Admire the architecture, browse Elora’s boutiques, dine in Elora’s restaurants, wander down into Elora Gorge, and explore the surrounding area.

In this guide you’ll learn how to go glamping in Elora, as well as 10 things to do in Elora that you won’t want to miss, like kayaking on the Grand River and learning the area’s history in the Wellington County Museum and Archives.

Where is Elora, Ontario

Elora is a small town near Guelph, Ontario. It sits along the Grand River, and the Elora Gorge. The town is just a 20 minute drive from Guelph, and a 1 hour, 45 minute drive from Toronto.

Elora is part of the Township of Centre Wellington, and it’s about 20 minutes away from another picturesque town called Fergus. 

old buildings in Elora, Ontario
Elora, Ontario

When to Visit Elora

You can visit Elora year-round, but the best times are summer, fall, or during the holiday season. In the summer and fall, you can explore Elora Gorge and Elora Quarry, do outdoor activities like kayaking, and enjoy Elora’s patios. 

Many exciting events happen throughout the year in Elora, and in the surrounding area. It’s worth planning your trip to this town so that you can catch one of these local seasonal events or festivals! 

In July you can enjoy one of the events put on by the Elora Festival. Every August, you can catch the Fergus Highland Games.

In the fall, head to Elora for the Elora Fergus Studio Tour, the Fergus Fall Fair, or Monster Month (Elora gets a little spooky!). And in December, visit Elora for Starlight Shopping, to find those special gifts for friends and family. 

woman smiling standing in front of a bunkie near Elora ontario
The Bluebird Bunkie

Where to Stay: Elora Glamping

Elora has plenty of boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts to choose from. But for a special Ontario experience, go glamping in Elora! 

I’m a big fan of glamping whenever I’m on an Ontario road trip. My partner and I have spent a weekend glamping in a huge prospector tent in Algonquin Park, and we’ve also gone glamping in a geodesic dome near Essex, Ontario! 

So when I had the idea to spend a weekend in Elora, I knew glamping was the way to go. Glamping in Elora gave me a chance to enjoy Elora’s peaceful countryside (and a campfire!) after spending a day exploring the town.  

I found the Bluebird Bunkie on Hipcamp, and it was perfect. This little bunkie has 2 cozy double beds, a small fridge, cooking utensils, a barbecue, and an enclosed bathroom with a compost toilet and running water. It even has an outdoor shower!

The bunkie is also outfitted with electricity, along with AC for the hot summer months and a heater for the fall and winter months. The best part? It’s just a 10 minute drive from the centre of Elora. 

the outside and inside of Bluebird Bunkie, where you can go glamping in elora
The Bluebird Bunkie

My Glamping in Elora Experience

I spent two nights glamping in Elora in the Bluebird Bunkie, along with a friend. We loved everything about our stay. The bunkie was super comfortable, and had all the amenities we needed. 

From the bunkie you can look out over acres of sprawling farm land. This is because the bunkie is on a family farm that grows corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, pumpkins, and lentils. The families that run the farm have been farming in Canada for over 150 years, and the crops they grow today are used domestically as well as shipped abroad. 

Laura, the bunkie host, is super friendly and welcoming. She made sure we had everything we needed for our stay, and checked in with us regularly. She also gave us great recommendations for things to do in the area, like the Fergus Fall Fair!

a woman smiling with some sunflowers, and a hand showing a soybean
Enjoying the sunflowers on the Bluebird Bunkie property, and checking out the soybean field

Glamping With Hipcamp

Hipcamp is a platform for discovering and booking tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses, and glamping across the US, Canada, and Australia.

Hipcamp is on a mission to protect and support private lands, and they actively encourage responsible recreation, as well as leave no trace policies across their site and booking emails. 

I love their commitment to conservation and responsible tourism, and so I was excited when they gifted me a stay in the Bluebird Bunkie!

10 Best Things to Do in Elora

If you’re planning your own weekend escape to go glamping in Elora, you’ll want to plan some activities! Here are 10 of the best things to do in Elora, and nearby. 

1. Victoria Park and the Elora Gorge Lookout

The Elora Gorge is one of the highlights to see while glamping in Elora. The cliffs of Elora Gorge rise 22 metres above the river, and the Grand River rushes through the middle. 

It’s possible to view the gorge from a couple different points in Elora town, but for the best views, head to Victoria Park. This park is a short walk from the centre of the village. Here, you can admire Elora Gorge from the lookout point above, and you can also venture down into the gorge itself. 

When you enter Victoria Park, you’ll take a brief walk along a path that leads to the lookout point. The lookout point has a small platform where you can safely take in views of Elora Gorge, from above. 

Follow the path a little further, and you’ll come to a set of stairs that lead down into the gorge. Depending on water levels (which vary from season to season), you can wander through the gorge.

the entrance to Victoria Park in Elora Ontario
The entrance to Victoria Park

2. Visit the Elora Quarry Conservation Area

Back in the 1900s, this quarry was a limestone firm. Back then, it was known as The Whitestone Lime Company. Today, Elora Quarry is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. 

The quarry has a large beach area where you can spend a few hours relaxing, and of course, go for a swim in the quarry’s beautiful blue lake. It’s also possible to follow the 1 kilometer long trail that loops around the quarry. 

As tempting as it is, it’s not safe to jump from the cliffs of the quarry into the lake. It’s also good to note that boats, paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and any other water crafts aren’t allowed at Elora Quarry. 

The cost of admission into the quarry is $10.50 for adults, $5.50 for children, and a parking permit can be bought for $15.00 per car, per visit.

a view from above of Elora Gorge, and a woman standing on a rock in the gorge
Elora Gorge

3. Explore Elora Gorge Conservation Area

Elora Gorge Conservation Area is just a short drive away from Elora Village, so it’s easy to add this to your itinerary when you’re glamping in Elora. 

This conservation area is known for its 3 kilometers of riverside trails. The trails weave through the woods, alongside the gorge. There are barriers to keep you safe from the edge of the cliffs, but it’s still important not to wander off the trails. 

Along the trails there are several scenic overlooks that provide beautiful views of the gorge. You can also stop by a couple notable points in the park, like the “Hole in the Rock.” It’s a staircase that passes through a massive boulder, taking you closer to the Grand River.

There’s a $7.50 admission fee (per person) to enter this conservation area. Alternatively, there is a free trail that you can access from Victoria Park. Follow the trail that goes along the gorge from the Elora Gorge stairs, toward David Street W. 

When you reach David Street W, cross over the bridge (enjoy the view of the gorge for a moment!) and then take the path that’s right at the other end of the bridge, to the left. It will take you past a curling club, and along the gorge. 

4. Go Shopping in Elora Village

Be sure to spend some time browsing Elora’s boutiques while you’re glamping in Elora! All along Metcalfe St, which runs through the centre of town, you’ll find shops selling clothing, artisan goods, gifts, and more. 

Elora has several fantastic vintage clothes shops. I picked up a second hand sweater from Studio Kampina (140 Metcalfe St), which I’m now obsessed with. For more vintage and consignment, head to Blackbird (136 Metcalfe St), or reFIND Salvage (7-45 Mill St. West).

For unique collectibles and gifts, head to Mermaid (105 Metcalfe St), or drop by Hanscomb Glass Studio for handmade glass ornaments and more. For an amazing selection of candies, be sure to pop into Sweet Distractions (16 Mill St W).

outside of a building in Elora, Ontario which is a vintage store called Studio Kampina
Studio Kampina in Elora, Ontario

5. Have a Spa Day at Elora Mill

If you’re in the mood for some pampering on your glamping trip, head to the Elora Mill and Spa. Back in the early 1800s, Elora Mill was a grist mill. Today, it’s a beautiful hotel, spa, and restaurant that overlooks the Grand River. 

Elora Mill’s spa offers various spa treatments to choose from, like facial treatments, massages, and hand and foot therapies. The spa also offers fitness classes, sauna and steam rooms, and an outdoor pool. From the mill, you’ll have lovely views of the gorge while you rejuvenate and relax. 

6. Tubing or Kayaking on the Grand River

For a dose of excitement on your Elora glamping trip, book yourself in to go tubing down the Grand River from Elora Gorge Conservation Area. 

You’ll spend about two hours floating down a 2 kilometer long stretch of the Grand River, surrounded by the Elora Gorge’s towering cliffs. 

To go tubing in Elora Gorge, be sure to book your adventure in advance. You’ll start at Elora Gorge Park. You can grab your tube starting at 10:00am, and the tube will be due back at that same spot by 7:00pm that same day. When you’re done your river ride, you’ll walk the tube the 2 kilometers back.

You can bring your own inflatable tube, but note that you’ll still need to register it with the Grand River Conservation Area. 

people wandering through elora gorge, a must visit spot when you're glamping in elora
Elora Gorge

7. Enjoy Restaurants and Cafes in Elora  

You’ll definitely work up an appetite while glamping in Elora. While you can absolutely barbecue at your glamping site, it’s worth popping into town for at least one meal, because Elora’s restaurant and coffee scene is diverse, and delicious. 

For breakfast, head to Box Social for fresh fruit cups, eggs, and waffles. The Lost and Found Cafe has fantastic coffee, as well as sandwiches. Plus, they have organic, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. 

Need more coffee? Pop into Elora Coffee Roasters, a zero-emissions coffee roaster. Or, swing by Wreckless Eric for fair trade organic coffee or loose leaf tea. 

For lunch and dinner, head to Shepherd’s Pub. They have currywurst, shawarma fries, burritos, donairs, and more. If you’re looking to have house-made fresh pasta and wood-oven baked pizza, pop into LaFontana. 

The Handsome Devil Bistro is the spot to go for dishes made with local, fresh ingredients. They also serve Ontario craft beers, and make signature cocktails. 

None of those strike you fancy? Simply stroll through Elora town, and you’ll be sure to come across a restaurant or cafe that serves what you’re looking for. 

8. Elora Distilling Company 

If you’re into spirits and cocktails, you’ll want to visit Elora Distilling Company in downtown Elora. This distillery is owned by two partners, Marty and Mark, who are from Elora, but have traveled extensively in search of unique cocktails.

Elora Distilling Company makes craft spirits, from grain to glass. They make gins, vodkas, ryes, and liqueurs, all of which you can try by booking a tour of the distillery, taking one of their cocktail classes, or by ordering a drink in the distillery’s Royal Room. And of course, you can simply swing by to pick up a bottle of their spirits to bring home. 

9. Elora Brewing Company

Glamping in Elora calls for craft beer! Elora Brewing Company is a craft brewery as well as a gastropub. You can drop by to sample their beers, or stay for a full meal. They also have a bottle shop where you can pick up some brews to take away. 

Elora Brewing Company releases new beers on rotation, but they also have some staples like the Lady Friend IPA and Elora Borealis Pale Ale. They have an extensive dine-in menu that includes classics like burgers, as well as risotto, bangers and mash, and vegetarian options. 

shows a large, old building which is now the Wellington County Museum and Archives, near Elora Ontario
Wellington County Museum and Archives

10. Wellington County Museum and Archives

The Wellington County Museum and Archives is a National Historic Site located just a 10 minute drive down the centre of Elora. The museum and archives are inside a historic building that is the oldest remaining House of Industry and Refuge in Canada.

It was originally built in 1877 as a “Poor House,” a place of refuge for the poor, homeless, and destitute people in Wellington County. 

It operated as a Poor House and Industrial Farm until 1947, when it became a County Home for the elderly. Then, in 1974, it was transformed into the Wellington County Museum and Archives. 

Today, the Museum is home to 2 floors of exhibits which tell stories of Wellington County’s people, places and events.

There is a permanent exhibit that covers the history of the building, and the role of “Poor Houses,” and there are also rotating exhibits that cover different themes through a local lense. The Wellington County Museum and Archives is free to visit, but small donations are encouraged. 

Final Thoughts on Glamping in Elora

For a small town, Elora definitely packs a punch! There’s so much to do while glamping in Elora, from floating down the Grand River in a tube, to relaxing at Elora Mill spa, and shopping on Metcalfe St. There’s truly something for everyone here. 

As with traveling anywhere, be sure to be as responsible as possible while exploring Elora. Be sure to incorporate my responsible tourist tips, pack in and pack out when out in nature, and take some time to engage with the local community and learn about the area’s history. 

Looking for more Ontario adventures? Read my other Ontario posts: 

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