London, Ontario is a big city with small town vibes. As I strolled down Richmond Row, the historic shopping district in London’s downtown core, the old buildings seamlessly merged with modern boutiques. On a sunny, summer day, the patios were packed and the streets were buzzing with groups of families and friends. Starting at Richmond Row and beyond, there are so many fun things to do in London Ontario.
If you’re looking for a weekend away, there’s really something for everyone: the outdoor adventurer, the foodie, the museum lover, and the gaming nerd. As I consider myself to be a mix of all of the above, I’m going to share my favorite activities and attractions that you can easily do in one weekend. Also, I’ll share my top food and drink options from some of the best restaurants in London. Seeking what to do in London Ontario? Let’s go!
Things to Do in London Ontario: Treetop Trekking
Did you know that London, Ontario is known as the “Forest City”? London’s roots are very green, indeed. Back in its early days, it was a city in the middle of a dense forest. There were vast expanses of greenery and trees as far as you could see.
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While construction and development may have diminished some of the trees, London has plans to maintain its Forest City moniker. For every 1500 trees that are chopped down due to poor health, the city replants 5000 trees. If you’d like to explore one of the city’s green spaces, head directly to Boler Mountain. In fact, this is one of the most unique and fun outdoor activities in London Ontario: you’ll be right up in the trees!
The treetop adventure park at Boler Mountain is a great place to connect with nature and get some exercise. By winter, Boler Mountain is a ski park. By summer, there are non-stop adventures in its natural Carolinian forest. There are five ropes courses for all ages and abilities. I participated in the beginner, intermediate, and zip line course. Watch the video below to see my treetop trekking skills in action!
My Treetop Trekking Experiences
Treetop trekking adventures at Boler Mountain are so much fun, and it’s one of the greatest outdoor activities in London Ontario. Reconnect with nature as you hop and swing through the trees. I was challenged by each apparatus that I encountered. It was interesting to figure out how I was going to swing from one platform to the next.
Some of the platforms and planks were easier to navigate than others. There was one circular bit of wood that unexpectedly spun when I stepped on it, so I completely lost my balance and flew up into the air. But, that’s no problem at all! You are safely connected with harnesses and cables, so you can quite literally hang out up there while staying 100% safe.
As you can see in the video above, I got to fly through the air on a Tarzan swing right into a pirate net. Of course, I missed grabbing onto the net and flew backwards into the middle of the course. Not to worry: there are staff members positioned at spots throughout the course. This particular staff member was quite helpful in describing how to climb out of my situation!
What to Know Before You Go
Here are a few helpful tips to know before you go treetop trekking:
- You can’t bring any bags or backpacks with you on the course. You can bring cameras, as long as they are attached to you in some way as you’ll need both hands free. My BlackRapid camera strap came in super handy here for keeping my DSLR safe. Highly recommend bringing a GoPro to take photos and video of your adventure!
- Don’t wear sunglasses on the course. It’s perfectly fine to wear them (and I wore mine). However, I wish I didn’t. The canopy of the forest blocks out most of the sun. And you might not want to wear your sunglasses on the zip lines as you could lose them in the forest.
- Bring your own pair of work gloves. You’ll need something that allows you to grip the ropes without hurting your hands. If you don’t bring your own pair, Boler Mountain will supply you with some gloves. However, you’ll likely end up tossing these ones at the end of the trip, and that creates a lot of waste. It’s best to bring your own durable pair from home.
- There’s a training session at the beginning of the ropes course so you can familiarize yourself with the equipment. Bring a sense of adventure and have a great time!
Indoor Activities in London Ontario: Rec Room
The Rec Room is 30,000 square feet of games, food, and fun in London’s Masonville Place. If you’re seeking indoor activities in London Ontario at night or on a rainy day, gather your pals and head straight to the Rec Room. Justin and I love playing video games, so we were pretty pumped to visit the Rec Room for the first time.
You’ll find tons of brand new games and fun activities at the Rec Room. There are modern video games (four player Mario Kart, anyone?), redemption games, ping pong, pool, virtual reality, and even axe throwing. The two of us played lots of video games and redemption games. We even amassed enough points by the end of the evening that we came away with some boxes of candy.
Playing Games at the Rec Room
It’s easy to play games at the Rec Room. Add credits to a wrist band. Hold your wrist band up to the game that you’d like to play. That’s it! Any points that you earn from redemption games are stored on your wrist band. You can keep your wrist band and save your points or redeem them in the shop at the end of the night.
Our favorite game was one that combined air hockey and Pac-Man. We’d both never seen it anywhere else before. The game starts off quite normally. We were hitting an air hockey puck back and forth, trying to score on each other’s goal. After a couple of goals, a panel at the side of the game unleashed a fury of pucks on our game. Dozens of smaller pucks spilled onto the game field and chaos ensued. There were pucks flying around everywhere. I was doubling over with laughter. I really don’t think that I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. After a couple of moments passed, more miniature pucks fell down. And more of them again. I think our final score was something like 91-77, which is insanely high for a game of air hockey. You’ve gotta try it when you go to the Rec Room!
Admire Art at Museum London
Museum London is Southwestern Ontario’s leading gallery for regional art, culture, and history. They have one of Canada’s most important art collections, featuring over 5000 regional and Canadian works, as well as 45,000 artifacts illustrating London’s history. This museum continues to inspire and represent the community by sharing and preserving its art and history. If you’re looking for things to do in London Ontario, add this amazing museum to your list. It’s also a great rainy day activity, too!
Kent Monkman Exhibition
The exhibition by Kent Monkman, Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, runs from June 1st to August 25, 2019. You absolutely need to check this one out, whether you’re visiting London or you’re a local resident. It’s very enlightening and quite moving.
This exhibit was created by Monkman as a response to the Canada 150 celebrations happening a couple of years ago for Canada’s 150th birthday. The history of Canada is written by the victorious and in this case, European white men. Kent Monkman is a Canadian Cree artist who brings attention to the complex and devastating history of Canada’s First Nations. He works in a variety of mediums (paint, installations, video, and performance) to reinterpret romanticized North American landscapes and historic events. In doing so, Monkman explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, devastation, genocide, and resilience.
Through Monkman’s gender-fluid alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, we travel back in time through Canada’s history from its beginnings as New France. This exhibition details how Canada’s history is told through art and stories from the lens of newly arrived white Europeans. Then, it juxtaposes the mainstream history with Monkman’s art, which brings some of Canada’s darkest chapters in history to light.
We’ll see romanticized portrayals of the fur trade, the signing of treaties, and beautiful landscapes. Monkman gives us a window into alternate perspectives and devastating realities for First Nations from history to the present day, including the reserve system, residential schools, mass incarceration, and destitution. The piece illustrating the genocidal nature of residential schools is particularly moving.
Visiting the Monkman exhibition should be required viewing for all Canadians. Definitely check it out at Museum London this summer before the exhibit is over.
The Rhino Lounge
Fancy a sweet treat before or after your visit to Museum London? Pop by the Rhino Lounge bakery and coffee shop, right inside the museum. While it’s not an exclusively vegan cafe, they cater quite heavily for vegans and vegetarians with many plant-based offerings. Browse their Facebook page for lots of drool-worthy photos of vegan treats: vegan calzones, tarts, doughnuts, vegan and gluten-free chocolate cake, and more.
Tea Time at The Tea Lounge
If you’re looking for what to do in London Ontario and you’re a tea lover, don’t leave the city without visiting The Tea Lounge. It’s a peaceful place, just off Richmond Row, to savor a cup of tea and light meals. There was a very serene atmosphere when I dined on the front porch, as I enjoyed a light breeze with my freshly brewed tea.
You can choose from a variety of over 100 high quality loose-leaf teas from around the world on their expansive menu, as chosen by their tea sommelier. Then, you can drink tea from a traditional tea set that corresponds with its country of origin. For instance, I chose the Uji Gyokuro tea from Japan, so my tea was served in a traditional Japanese tea set. I was shown exactly how to steep my tea properly, and there was an endless supply of hot water (at the ideal temperature for the tea).
Vegan Food at The Tea Lounge
Next, I enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Tea Lounge. The menu is predominantly vegan and plant-based, with the small exception of a few vegetarian items. I tried a vegan cheese platter with a variety of local, nut-based cheeses. Artisan vegan cheese is absolutely delicious, so I urge you to order this one, even if you don’t follow a vegan lifestyle. I also ordered a nourishing bowl of miso soup, which matched my Japanese tea quite perfectly.
If you’re feeling a little hungrier, order one of their Mason jar salads. I tried the Sexy Mexi Jar (love the name!), which includes greens, black beans, peppers, onions, corn, chickpeas, guacamole, and vegan cheese. To top it all off, I had a vegan chocolate chip scone for dessert, complete with coconut cream and local jams. I haven’t had a scone in years and years, so it was such a treat to try this veganized version.
Treat yourself to afternoon tea, a light lunch, and dessert at the Tea Lounge. It’s one of the most memorable things to do in London, and it’s also a fabulous place to gather with your partner, friends, or family. In fact, there was a birthday party indoors when I attended…for the cutest little dog named Pip!
Sample Craft Brews at Curley Brewing Co
I’m a huge fan of craft beer and microbreweries, so I just had to check out Curley Brewing Company. Curley Brewing is a nano brewery, meaning that they produce beer in small batches. You can only find their beer in house, so head straight to Curley Brewery to sample a flight or a pint. There was also a fantastic duo playing some rock tunes during my visit on a Friday night, which boosted the lively atmosphere. It’s one of the best places to visit in London Ontario.
There were so many unique kinds of beer on tap. I couldn’t decide between the Citra Blonde (blonde ale with cascade and citra hops), Kettle Bird (lightly soured and dry hopped ale), or the Mocha Stout (stout with coffee, bourbon soaked vanilla beans, cacao). But, I eventually ended up choosing the Strong Hill for something a little fruity (saison with raspberries and blackberries). It was a wise decision as it was very refreshing and like summer in a glass!
Vegan Brew Cafe
Curley Brewing Company is also the first vegan brew cafe I’ve ever visited. Their pub grub is so yummy and pairs perfectly with the beer. There’s just about every comforting dish or snack imaginable, all made completely with plants. I was tempted by all of the options: burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, grilled cheese, and more. In the end, I couldn’t resist a big ol’ plate of vegan nachos – yum!
The Best Vegan Food in London
If you’re looking for the best vegan restaurants in London, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t forget about the options I listed above (Curley Brewing Company, the Tea Lounge, and Rhino Lounge) as they’re fantastic options, too. Here are some more amazing vegan restaurants and restaurants with vegan options where I suggest you dine when you visit London, Ontario.
Plant Matter Kitchen
I’m not a stranger of Plant Matter Kitchen. In fact, I visited Plant Matter Kitchen a few years ago during a trip to London where I explored local markets and the local food movement. PMK not only lived up to my memories, but potentially exceeded my expectations once again.
Plant Matter Kitchen focuses on vegan, organic, fresh and healthy meals made from local ingredients when possible. Only the good stuff here! It’s always difficult to choose something from the menu when it all sounds so delicious. I decided to try the Holistic Enchilada and it was super tasty. Every ingredient worked so well together: refried beans, kale, sweet potato, peppers onions, sour cream, and cheese sauce, smothered in tomato sauce in a wheat tortilla. I quenched my thirst with a black currant kombucha.
The folks at PMK have two other vegan establishments in London: Plant Matter Bistro and Plant Matter Cafe. I’ll have to try the other two on my next visit!
Garlic’s of London
Garlic’s of London is a farm-to-table restaurant in downtown London that has served up chef-driven meals for over 25 years. They source the highest quality ingredients from local farmers and producers, merging rustic eats with a modern flare.
I was pleased to see a few vegan options on the menu. My server was happy to point out all of the plant-based meals, as she also happened to follow a vegan diet. I decided to order the Slow Roasted Garlic Bulb to start, which has apparently been on the menu since the restaurant opened 25 years ago. It only seemed fitting to eat a bulb of garlic at Garlic’s (also, the perks of dining solo: no one was there to smell my garlic breath!).
For my entree, I selected the vegan Pad Thai with tofu, rice noodles, bean sprouts, toasted peanuts, chili, lime, scallion, and coriander. I loved how both dishes were so artfully arranged on their respective plates, and both meals were tasty and full of flavor. I highly recommend checking out Garlic’s if you’re planning a date night or having dinner before catching a show at the local theater that’s around the corner.
The Little Bird Cafe
The Little Bird Cafe is a cozy spot in Wortley Village with a cute patio. I got there pretty early in the morning for breakfast and the patio was nearly packed. I was a little bit cold, so I didn’t mind eating indoors. There are a few vegan options for breakfast, and I ordered two of them: the chia seed pudding (which had interesting flavors that actually worked quite well together – pineapple, coconut, and dark chocolate) and the grapefruit brulee.
I thought the chia seed pudding was delicious, but that grapefruit brulee really stole the show. There was a layer of sugar on top of the grapefruit, which had been heated with a flame, much like a creme brulee. I had to crack the top of the sugar layer to get to the fruit, eating a spoonful of crunchy sugar with each bite of grapefruit. It was sinfully sweet and not like anything I’ve tried before.
Save Room for Dessert
Even if you’re full, I advise that you save an extra little space of room in your stomach for a sweet treat. After all, desserts go in a separate area of your stomach right? Here are a couple of spots where you’ll find vegan dessert in London.
Chick Boss Cake
When you walk into Chick Boss Cake, you feel like you’re walking right into a beautiful Instagram feed. There are gorgeous decorated spaces throughout the bakery and even entire walls devoted to taking selfies.
They also have vegan cupcakes, which was my primary reason for visiting. I ordered a rainbow colored cotton candy cupcake. Then, it only seemed fitting to order a matching rainbow lemonade. Their Pride lemonade celebrates Pride Month, and it also tasted like Skittles. Yum!
Chil Frozen Yogurt
Did you know that Chil Frozen Yogurt has over 100 toppings and they have an absolute ton of vegan options? Chil was my last stop on my tour around the city, and it was such an amazing surprise that tops my list of things to do in London Ontario. Essentially, it’s a frozen yogurt bar where you pay by weight for your dessert.
There are four different kinds of vegan ice cream bases, so I did a mix of vanilla and chocolate. Then, there are a variety of kinds of cookie dough, candies, syrups, sauces, fruits, nuts, and more. You name it, it’s a topping at Chil Frozen Yogurt. The vegan options are clearly marked all around the shop. After you’re done, you weigh your masterpiece and then…eat! I was rather pleased with my ice cream creation, which looks like a child went a little crazy at the ice cream shop. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Where to Stay: The Park Hotel
If you’re seeking the top things to do in London Ontario, it’s a good idea to stay in a prime location. The Park Hotel has one of the best locations in the city, right in the middle of it all. Located right off Richmond Row in the downtown core, you can easily walk to many spots in London right from the hotel.
My suite felt more like my own little apartment in the city. There’s a living room with a TV, a separate bedroom with another TV, a desk, a clean and modern bathroom, a microwave, a mini fridge, and a Keurig coffee maker. Wi-Fi is complimentary, and you can also park for free in their underground parking lot.
The staff of The Park Hotel were super friendly and helpful, and I felt right at home there. Although I didn’t do this, you could actually order room service from the Jack Astor’s restaurant next door, which I felt was a really nice touch. I can’t imagine wanting to stay anywhere else when I travel to London. Book your stay at The Park Hotel or check out more reviews from fellow travelers.
As I spent a couple of days in Windsor before visiting London, I traveled from Windsor to London aboard the VIA Rail train. My journey was quick and easy, and the service is always excellent on the train. I also took VIA Rail from London back to Union Station in Toronto, too. If you have a car, you can always drive to London, but the train is such a relaxing experience (and more environmentally friendly, too!).
I mostly walked around on my own two feet as many neighborhoods in London are quite walkable. However, when the distance was a little too far, I used Uber to get all over town. Uber drivers are plentiful in London, especially since it’s a university city.
If you’re looking for things to do in London Ontario, whether you’re a local or a visitor, I hope that my list has helped inspire your plans. There are so many activities in London Ontario that I couldn’t possibly visit all of them in just one stay. Just as there are so many more vegan restaurants to try, too! I can’t wait to make another trip down to London for another incredibly fun weekend away.
Thank you so much to Ontario’s Southwest and Tourism London for hosting my visit. This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.