Situated on the Western shore of Lake Ontario about a 40-minute drive southwest of Toronto, Oakville is a suburb in the Greater Toronto Area. With a population of a little more than 180,000 people, Oakville appeals to tourists looking for a wide variety of outdoor recreation and cultural activities.
Arts lovers will find a wealth of fun things to do in Oakville. The Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, located just east of Navy Flats Park near Lake Ontario, hosts some 250 musical, comedy, drama and family entertainment performances each year. Meanwhile, the various Oakville galleries, located in the same building as the Centre for the Performing Arts, present dozens of exhibitions and programs open to the public.
Since 1993, Oakville has hosted the Downtown Oakville Jazz Festival, which features six outdoor stages and has welcomed famous artists like the Yellowjackets and organist Jimmy Smith. The festival is held during a weekend in August just northeast of the Centre for the Performing Arts. Many of Oakville’s top restaurants are also within walking distance of the centre.
Visitors who want to explore the history of Oakville can start at the Oakville Museum, located in Lakeside Park, between the Centre for the Performing Arts and the shore of Lake Ontario. Once the residence of the town’s founding family, the Erchless Estate now houses a community museum, which includes both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions.
There are many adventurous things to do in Oakville for outdoorsy types as well. The town has more than 150 kilometres of trails that serve to connect all the sections of Oakville. The Heritage Trails comprise six different trails, including the Sixteen Mile Creek Trail and the Waterfront Trail, a 13-kilometre trail that runs along the shores of Lake Ontario. There are another 13 East Oakville trails, six Central Oakville trails and 16 trails in the Glen Abbey/West Oak trail system.
For a more low-key outdoor activity, be sure to check out the town’s historic harbours, Oakville Harbour and Bronte Harbour. Golfers can play a round at one of Oakville’s many courses before checking out the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, located at the Glen Abbey Golf Club near Sixteen Mile Creek.
Oakville also provides a surprisingly diverse mix of shopping and dining options. Downtown Oakville, featuring historic architecture and well-preserved storefronts, is a prime destination for some of Ontario’s best shopping and dining. Meanwhile, the quirky Kerr Village is chock-full of international restaurants and art galleries, while the waterfront Village of Bronte has spas and antique shops in addition to some of Oakville’s top restaurants and boutiques.
Although not a large city, Oakville offers a broad range of art, music, shopping, dining and outdoor recreation. Overlooking the picturesque Lake Ontario, the historic town has remained true to its roots as it has evolved into a thriving modern community with a few big-city amenities. Home to several museums, summer festivals, community gardens and hundreds of kilometres of trails, Oakville offers visitors something to do year-round.