St Thomas, Ontario is a fairly old city that has stood the test of time. A history built through the revolution brought about by the rise of the locomotive industry. The city has that unique charm of a modern city that is still quite in touch with its roots. A great place to spend a laid back and relaxing vacation away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. But before you book any Airbnb vacation rentals check out these activities to try.
1. Visit a Railway Museum
St Thomas and Elgin County in general have had a very extensive history with locomotives. These mechanical beasts have been one of the biggest contributors to their history and economy. The Elgin County Railway Museum holds the most comprehensive and extensive collection of railway memorabilia in the area.
The museum is housed in the former locomotive repair shops of the Michigan Central Railroad. The 1913 building has since switched hands over the years until the museum acquired it in 1988. The museum documents the railway history of St Thomas and how this industry shaped the city and its people.
2. Try Geocaching
Looking for some treasure hunting adventure? In St Thomas, there are plenty of geocaches just waiting to be discovered. Geocaching is an outdoor activity where participants look for hidden treasures called geocaches. Participants use GPS and other tracking techniques to find and hide these caches in specific places. Inside caches are log sheets where you can sign when you find it. You can also take something inside the caches provided that you replace it with another from you.
Currently, there are a few caches that are hidden within downtown. For more info on these caches, check out this link. This is a great activity that everyone can do, perfect for a family day while enjoying the beauty of St Thomas.
3. Go Hiking
St Thomas and nearby areas have plenty of amazing hiking trails. These trails take you from the streets of St Thomas to the backcountry and the surrounding woods. The trails themselves are quite popular among locals and tourists alike who are looking to stay active while exploring.
The Great Trail — formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail — is the world’s longest recreational hiking trail. The trail connects the west coast and the east coast of Canada through a series of footpaths, gravel roads, paved roads, and hiking-only trails. It was formed shortly after Canada’s 125th anniversary.
4. Spend a laid back day at Waterworks Park
Waterworks Park is a peaceful and tranquil park in St Thomas. A popular destination among locals as a place to relax, unwind and spend the day with friends and family. This public park located at the north side of St Thomas has playgrounds for children, a landscaped garden, and a pond with a beautiful wooden bridge.
The park is a popular party venue too. Baby showers and bridal showers are often held here. The Park offers a nice open area for a walk, a lot of free parking, and even a splash pond for kids to play at.
5. Explore the marvel of Pinafore Park
Speaking of parks, there is another St Thomas park you should definitely check out. Pinafore Park was established in the late 19th century by the St Thomas Street Railway Company. It was a way to promote local tourism and to entice travelers to the newly built electric trains. Known for its manicured lawns, gorgeous landscaping, and the many art installations within its premises.
Today, the park has been a popular hang out for locals out on a walk whether alone or with a group. The park is also filled with people walking their dogs and other pets.
6. Visit a park in the skies
Perhaps the most unique park among all the parks in St Thomas, the St Thomas Elevated Park is a must-visit. The parks used to be an elevated railway bridge built in 1929. It was groundbreaking at its time, in fact, it was the first elevated train bridge in Canada. The structure stands 30 meters above ground and spans 260 meters.
Today, the park is one of the most iconic parks in the area. It has been a popular venue for public art shows, busker events, and other social events. The park is wheelchair accessible making it a delight for everyone to enjoy.
7. See a giant elephant
Jumbo the Elephant was a massive African bush elephant owned by the enigmatic PT Barnum. He was touted as the biggest elephant at the time and was a bit of a celebrity. He was born in Sudan and was bought by various European zoos before he was brought into the US by PT Barnum. The poor elephant died in St Thomas after being struck by a locomotive after a show. Today, Jumbo’s legacy still stands in the form of a statue dedicated to his memory. The 38-ton life-size statue was dedicated on the 100th death anniversary of the elephant. Fun fact: Jumbo’s name has entered the English lexicon and has come to mean something big or enormous.
8. Learn to play golf
Ever wanted to learn a new sport but never got the chance to? Why not try out golf? St Thomas Golf and Country Club is one of Canada’s premier golfing destinations. It was designed by Stanley Thompson in 1922 and has since been a local favorite ever since.
Throughout its long history, the country club has been the host of many prestigious golf tournaments both local and international. The whole course has been regarded as quite a challenging yet fun course even by professionals. A great place to learn the sport while enjoying a chilled weekend in Ontario.
Make sure to check out the listings here to find all the other great golf courses in the region!
9. See the flourishing art scene
Some might come as a surprise to some but Ontario’s St Thomas has a prominent art scene. In fact, it is one of Ontario’s well-known destinations for artists and art fans alike.
The St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Center is a prominent public art gallery in Elgin County. Located at 301 Talbot St since its inception in 1969. The gallery holds a collection of over 1900 permanent works of art and holds various temporary exhibitions throughout the year. The Gallery also hosts various public events and workshops geared towards children and the youth to promote art appreciation.
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