Things to Do in Burlington: A Weekend Visitor’s Guide

Pier at night

August 23, 2021

Burlington is a quaint, small city in Ontario. Museums and art galleries intrigue travellers with beautiful pieces unique to the area, while village squares, mouth-watering doughnuts, and world-class breweries appeal to the city-slickers. 

Located near the heart of Lake Ontario, Burlington also offers a plethora of adventures for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The city and surrounding area are bursting with magical hiking trails through conservation areas and charming fishing spots nestled between the trees. 

Spending at least a weekend here is highly recommended, especially if you’re not from the surrounding area. Take a look at things to do in Burlington, Ontario, for a weekend spent in the friendly, charming city.

Top Burlington Activities

Burlington is a small city with a big personality. Given the short journey from Toronto, you can begin with fun things to do in Burlington, Ontario, as soon as you arrive up until the last hours of daylight on the third day.

While it’s teeming with adventure, one of the biggest advantages is that it’s easy to get around and explore the many things to do there. This is how you can spend your time in the idyllic city.

Cottage Country Candy Outlet

Explore the world of sweet and savoury snacks at Cottage Country Candies Outlet. Fuel up for the rest of your trip with trail mixes, wrapped candies, sour sweets, and more. Although they’ve been open since 1910, they’re keeping up with the trends and producing some tasty vegan treats and creating less-waste products.

Backed By Bees

Backed by Bees is also another fantastic place to grab some natural goodness. They strive to connect you with only the best local, natural products created by the buzzing bees in the area. Unrefined, raw honey is the main attraction, but they’ve also mastered the art of brewing beers by fermenting honey – it’s a great way to explore new tastes and ways to use natural ingredients. 

While you’re here, speak to the friendly beekeepers and discover a thing or two about these life-preserving creatures.

Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens feature both magical indoor and outdoor gardens and 27kms of nature trails. As you wander around the magical grounds, you can discover 250 acres of cultivated gardens home to over 2,400 plant species. Each season boasts a new experience, which makes it an excellent destination to return to with each visit.

After smelling and experiencing all the beauty, visit one of the two on-site restaurants with flavourful dishes made from locally grown vegetables and fruits. There is also a teahouse for mid-walk breaks.

Pepperwood Bistro

Beers, wine, cocktails, and tapas are all in the works at this charming cafe that boasts cozy indoor and outdoor seating. Tourism in Burlington is all about letting travellers experience the city like a local, and you couldn’t feel more at home at this local favourite.  

If you’re not in the mood for dining in, they offer takeaway pizzas, handhelds, appetizers and mains.

Holiday Inn Burlington

Before adventures, checking into the Holiday Inn in Burlington can make the rest of your day care-free. The hotel is situated within 4kms of the top Burlington attractions, meaning you can wander around on foot and return to a comfortable suite with an on-site bar and restaurant.

Sunshine Doughnuts

In the heart of downtown Burlington, there is an icon that can’t be missed. The Sunshine Doughnuts make fresh goodies every morning, filled with all kinds of wonderful treats like caramel, cream, mint, toffee, and strawberry. They’re the perfect snack to grab before heading out for a day of exploration in the downtown area – but get there early as they sell out fast!

Art Gallery of Burlington 

Visiting art galleries is the best way to get to know a city like Burlington. Discover interactive exhibits, travelling pieces and locally curated masterpieces at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

Given that the city is oozing with history and culture, it’s worth including a visit to Joseph Brant Museum and Burlington Performing Arts Centre. The Arts Centre boasts vibrant theatres where you can catch theatrical and musical productions. You can take a look at their events page to see if there’s anything on during your visit.

Kelly’s Bake Shoppe

Looking for vegan or gluten-free delights? This enchanting mother-daughter bakery is one of the most famous destinations in Canada. The quaint store sells everything from velvet-cake mixes and brownies to doggie treats and cookbooks.

Village Square

Village Square is a tourist site and multicultural space boasting culinary delights, specialty shops, and boutique items in historic architecture buildings in Downtown Burlington. After wandering through the cobblestone streets, pop into Son of a Peach Pizzeria and grab one of their pizzas for sharing or a tasty handheld. There are lots of other options for food & drink in the square.

You can also visit Burlington’s  Village Cigar Company & Barbershop for the finest do’s and cigars, such as the Pueblo Cigars. 

The North Coal 

If burgers and finger foods are what you’re after, this little Canadian gem has been designed to transport you away from the city life for a cheerful experience with family and friends. The restaurant also offers curbside pick-up, making it the perfect place to grab some classic grub for a picnic in one of the many Burlington parks.

The Odd Spot 

The Odd Spot is exactly what you’re thinking; it’s a haven for thrifters and eco-warriors looking to find some second-hand goodies. Hidden in downtown Burlington, this off-the-beaten-path treasure trove boasts a collection of vinyl records, branded tees, and vintage furniture.

Brant Street Pier

As one of the signature activities in Burlington, you can wander along the Brant Street Pier that boasts breathtaking views of the lake and shoreline. The ideal time to visit the pier would be late afternoon as it is the perfect place to watch the sun setting over the glistening waters. Not only that, but as the sun sets, the pier is lit up with colourful lights that are based on nationally recognized events.

Spencer Smith Park

If the weather is glowing, be sure to catch some rays at Spencer Smith Park, with its soft green grasses and incredible views of Lake Ontario. Depending on the season, you can bring your skates or model sailboats to Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond for some family fun. 

Spencer’s at the Waterfront is right next to the park and serves a mean seafood feast. With floor-to-ceiling windows, you can enjoy sparkling lake views no matter the weather. 

Nickel Brook Brewing

Founded in 2005, Nickel Brook Brewing is one of the leading breweries in Ontario. The taproom and tasting room are open for daily tours and world-class beer tasting sessions with an expert beer drinker as your guide. 

Industria Pizzeria & Bar

One of the best pizzerias in town that offers a variety of classic toppings like pepperoni or basil. Or swap them out for a new experience, like wild mushroom and goat’s cheese. Their craft beer selection is always evolving, too. 

Crawford Lake Conservation

As the sun starts to rise, make your way to the pristine Crawford Lake to discover an array of things to do in Burlington. Whether that be dog walking, cross-country skiing, fishing, hiking or picnicking along the shores, you can create your own kind of adventure in the park. Embark on the Hide & Seek Trail in the park and discover wooden carvings and the meromictic lake.

One of the main attractions here is the Longhouse Village, a 15th century Iroquoian village teeming with history. As you wander through the village, you can see artifacts and contemporary and seasonal exhibits that provide you with an idea of what life was like here 600 years ago.

Lowville Bistro 

When it comes to afternoon snacking, Lowville Bistro has a dreamy patio and outdoor seating space that couldn’t be more superb for ending a weekend in Burlington. But be sure to make a booking, as it’s one of the busiest restaurants in Burlington on weekends. Families and friends gather around bowls of delicious food, such as cured salmon, butter chicken, mushroom aglio e olio and crispy fish and chips. 

If you’re planning an extended trip in the city, visit the bistro on Sunday evenings for the vibey jazz nights that the locals adore.

Springridge Farm

Before leaving the beautiful city of Burlington, factor in some time to visit Springridge Farm, located just north of the city. Filled with fresh produce, baked goodies, and market delights, you can take a piece of Burlington back home with you. Everything is season-dependent, so you might find strawberry tarts one month and apple crumble the next.

Those with children will be delighted to know that the farm is filled with adventure. There’s everything from a singing chicken show, and tractor rides, to climbing ropes, and straw playgrounds. 

Enjoy your visit in Beautiful Burlington! To see my visits by video, check out these links:

Written by Chris Rudder, Travel Content Writer, Video Editor, Videographer, Photographer at Rudderless Travel & Co-founder of the Toronto Bloggers Collective