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15 Things to do in Peterborough, ON

Nestled along the Otonabee River in the heart of Ontario, Peterborough is a vibrant city that offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and outdoor adventure. Known as the gateway to the Kawarthas, 'The Electric City' shines with its friendly atmosphere and an array of activities that cater to all interests. Whether you're a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply in search of a charming Canadian cityscape, Peterborough promises an unforgettable experience.

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01 Explore the vibrant downtown

 Peterborough downtown

Stroll through the bustling streets of Downtown Peterborough to discover a blend of unique shops, delightful eateries, and local art galleries. The area is a hub for entertainment with its array of live music venues and theaters, offering a taste of the city's cultural scene. Downtown Peterborough is a perfect starting point for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the local vibe. The historic architecture and seasonal festivals add to the downtown's allure, making it a lively center day and night.

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02 Visit the Canadian Canoe Museum

Canadian Canoe Museum

Delve into Canada's rich canoeing history at the Canadian Canoe Museum. This unique institution houses an extensive collection of canoes, kayaks, and paddled watercraft, sharing the stories of indigenous peoples, early explorers, and fur traders. The interactive exhibits provide a hands-on experience for all ages. The museum also offers workshops and events that celebrate the enduring legacy of canoe culture in Canada, making it a must-visit for those interested in the country's outdoor heritage.

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03 Take a cruise on the Lift Lock

Peterborough Lift Lock

Experience the engineering marvel of the Peterborough Lift Lock, the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world. Visitors can enjoy a scenic cruise on the Trent-Severn Waterway, marveling at the lock's ingenious design as boats are lifted and lowered with ease, offering a unique perspective on the region's waterways. This National Historic Site of Canada not only serves as a functional piece of infrastructure but also stands as a testament to early 20th-century innovation.

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04 Enjoy the beauty of Jackson Park

Jackson Park

Jackson Park is an oasis of greenery in the heart of Peterborough, featuring picturesque walking trails, charming bridges, and a serene creek. It's an ideal spot for a leisurely walk, a family picnic, or simply to enjoy the tranquility of nature within the city limits. The park's extensive network of paths connects to the Trans Canada Trail, inviting visitors to explore further into the scenic beauty of Ontario's countryside.

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05 Experience the Art Gallery of Peterborough

Art Gallery of Peterborough

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Art Gallery of Peterborough, which showcases contemporary visual arts with a focus on local and regional artists. The gallery's rotating exhibitions and educational programs make it a dynamic space for exploring the creative pulse of the community. With its location on the shores of Little Lake, the gallery also offers a picturesque setting for art lovers to enjoy both the indoor and outdoor art installations.

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06 Attend a performance at Showplace Performance Centre

The Showplace Performance Centre is a cornerstone of Peterborough's performing arts scene, offering a diverse lineup of theater productions, concerts, and dance performances. This state-of-the-art venue is a testament to the city's commitment to the arts and provides top-notch entertainment for visitors. The center's rich programming schedule ensures that there is always something captivating to attend, no matter the season.

07 Discover the Riverview Park and Zoo

Riverview Park and Zoo

Families will love the Riverview Park and Zoo, where they can encounter a variety of animals and enjoy recreational activities. The zoo is home to over 25 animal species, and the park features a splash pad, playground, and scenic train ride, making it a perfect destination for a day of fun. The zoo's commitment to conservation and education offers an informative experience that resonates with visitors of all ages.

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08 Wander through the Peterborough Farmers' Market

Peterborough Farmers' Market

The Peterborough Farmers' Market is a bustling hub where locals and visitors alike can sample fresh produce, artisanal foods, and handcrafted goods. Held weekly, the market is a celebration of the region's agricultural heritage and a great place to connect with the community. The vibrant atmosphere and the opportunity to meet local farmers and artisans make the market a true reflection of Peterborough's spirit.

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09 Relax at Little Lake

Little Lake

Little Lake is a gem in the heart of Peterborough, offering a peaceful retreat for boating, fishing, or simply soaking in the views. The lake's Musicfest brings the community together with free concerts throughout the summer, making it a lively spot for entertainment and relaxation. The surrounding parkland and marina provide additional recreational options, ensuring that visitors can enjoy a full day of activities by the water.

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10 Explore the Trent University Campus

Trent University Campus

The stunning campus of Trent University is worth a visit for its architectural beauty and natural setting along the Otonabee River. Visitors can take a guided tour, attend public lectures, or simply enjoy the campus's open spaces and modernist buildings designed by renowned architect Ron Thom. The university's integration with the environment makes it a prime example of sustainable design and a peaceful place for reflection.

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11 Play a round of golf at Kawartha Golf & Country Club

Male practicing golf on sunny day Morsa Images / Getty Images

Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the Kawartha Golf & Country Club, which offers a challenging and beautifully maintained course. With its rolling fairways and strategic hazards, the club provides an enjoyable round for golfers of all skill levels amidst the picturesque landscape of Peterborough. The club's history dates back to 1932, adding a sense of tradition to your golfing experience.

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12 Take a historical walking tour

peterborough downtown

Peterborough's rich history can be explored through guided walking tours that highlight the city's architectural landmarks and historical sites. These tours offer insights into the stories and events that have shaped the city, making them a fascinating activity for history buffs. The knowledgeable guides bring the past to life, offering a deeper understanding of Peterborough's development and heritage.

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13 Visit the Peterborough Museum & Archives

Peterborough Museum

The Peterborough Museum & Archives presents a window into the past, with exhibits that cover the natural and cultural history of the area. The museum's interactive displays and educational programs make it an engaging destination for visitors interested in learning about the region's heritage. Located atop Armour Hill, the museum also provides panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

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14 Enjoy outdoor activities at Beavermead Park

Beavermead Park

Beavermead Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, featuring a sandy beach, volleyball courts, and ample green space for sports and recreation. The park is also a gateway to the Rotary Greenway Trail, a scenic path for hiking and cycling that stretches across the city. With its location on Little Lake, the park is a popular spot for water sports, including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

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15 Sample local brews at a Craft Brewery

Peterborough's craft beer scene is thriving, with several local breweries offering tours and tastings. Visitors can sample a range of innovative brews, meet the passionate brewers, and learn about the craft beer-making process while enjoying the laid-back atmosphere of the city's taprooms. The breweries often feature seasonal and experimental beers, reflecting the creativity and community spirit of Peterborough's local businesses.

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