29 Best Things to do in Barrie: A Local’s Guide

Barrie is one of Ontario’s best lakefront communities. With beautiful stretches of beach, incredible downtown restaurants, and a wealth of fun activities for couples and families alike, there are plenty of fun things to do in Barrie Ontario!

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or planning a multi-day road trip from Toronto to Muskoka, add Barrie to your list! You’ll find a long list of Barrie attractions to entertain you all year long.

I’ve lived in the Barrie area for over 30 years; most of my life! So, if you’re looking for a Barrie things to do from a local, I’ve got you covered! I’m sharing all the top attractions like Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery and tips for visiting the stunning waterfront.

In addition, this Barrie Ontario guide has local secrets like the hidden gems and tips on where to park. Barrie has something for everyone, from a thriving art scene, including street art, to amazing places to enjoy the outdoors.

So, plan your next road trip to Barrie! It makes the perfect base for exploring Simcoe County, Muskoka and beyond.

Top Things to do in Barrie Ontario

One of the best destinations in Ontario north of Toronto is Barrie Ontario! You’ll find a vast assortment of fun things to do in Barrie that will suit everyone’s interests. In this local’s guide, you’ll discover the top Barrie attractions, when to visit, and where to eat and sleep!

Barrie Ontario's lakeshore
The Sea Serpent on Barrie’s lakeshore

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Walk along the Lakeshore

One of my favourite things to do in Barrie is to stroll around the lakeshore. Barrie has one of the best lakeshores in Ontario! It’s home to stretches of incredible beaches, winding tree-lined trails for both pedestrians and cyclists, awesome public art, and sweeping views of the Bay and city.

Plus, it’s home to Barrie’s Waterfront Trail. This trail is is 6.7 km and wraps around the lake. It’s also part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Along the Waterfront Trail you’ll find eleven interpretive signs. I love finding these along trails or when I’m exploring a city. It’s a great way to learn about the history of a place. And these signs do just that. They tell the story of Barrie from back during the last ice age to right up until the present time.

Local Tips: Summer sunset walks are some of the best! And if you want to avoid the busy section of the trail start at The Sea Serpent statue, at the bottom of Mulcaster Street, and do the Barrie North Shore Trail. And to avoid the higher price tag for parking in the lakeshore parking lots, I recommend parking in the Meridian Place parking lot.

Heritage Walking Tour

Do you love walking tours? I always recommend taking a walking tour of a new place. But they can also be fun and interesting in a city you’ve called home.

The city of Barrie was named in 1833 but it has a rich and longer history. Barrie has seven unique self-guided walking tours. Tours take you to various places across the city and share the history and intriguing facts about the area, the buildings, and its people.

A few great tours to choose include the Grand Homes Tour, Discovering the Waterfront, and H-Block/Courthouse. You can find the list and downloadable walking tours here.

Sunnidale Park in Barrie Ontario

Sunnidale Park

One of my favourite places in Barrie is Sunnidale Park! This nearly 50-acre park is a tranquil respite in the city! It’s home to winding walking trails, the Barrie Arboretum, an off-leash dog park, and in the winter a fabulous hill for tobogganing.

Sunnidale Park is a wonderful place to visit any time of year! However, it truly shines in the spring and summer! Thanks to the large arboretum and community gardens you’ll find a ton of beautiful flowers and blossoming trees! I’ve even dubbed it one of the best places to find flowers in Ontario!

In the spring the many cherry blossoms are all a bloom! Other stunning sights are the lilac dell, the rose gardens, and the butterfly garden!

For more places to find flowers check out this list of sunflower fields, many of which are near Barrie!

As mentioned, there are trails winding through the park. One is part of 20 kilometres of Barrie’s Trans Canada Trail. It runs along much of the lakeshore and then up through Sunnidale Park. There’s also the Arboretum Sunnidale Park loop, which is just over 2km and takes roughly 30 mins.

Local Tips: Other great parks in Barrie to visit are Bear Creek Eco Park and Ardagh Bluffs.

Chappell Farms

A great place to visit, especially for families with small children, is Chappell Farms! Established in 1834, this family-friendly farm is home to a wealth of activities as well as festivals.

They host spring, summer, and fall festivals. Every festival offers something unique! Some events include candy hunts, wagon rides, and magic shows. Plus, they have a corn maze and a variety of farm animals to meet and feed!

If you’re looking for things to do in Barrie in the fall then Chappell Farms is the spot to be! They have a pick your own pumpkin field, a haunted barn, and more fall fun!

Barrie Winterfest snow sculpture
Barrie Winterfest snow sculpture

Attend a Barrie Festival

One of the top reasons to visit Barrie is to attend one of the many awesome festivals that take place here. The most popular and biggest one is Kempenfest, which takes place every August Civic holiday weekend.

Kempenfest is one of the best waterfront festivals in Ontario! With over 300 vendors, there’s everything from antiques to crafts and food. Plus, there’s an epic line up of live music, a midway, and so much more.

While there are plenty of festivals that take place in the summer, the city puts on a host of them throughout the year. And there’s one to suit everyone’s interest, from music to culture.

A few of the best festivals in Barrie include Diwali Festival and Troubadour Festival. My favourite is the Barrie Film Fest! It’s a great alternative to Toronto’s Film Festival.

If you’re looking for fun places to take a winter getaway in Ontario, Barrie is ideal! I recommend visiting in February for Winterfest. The festival features a polar bear dip, lumberjack shows, fun family activities, and more.

Local Tip: Summer is prime time for enjoy fun events in Barrie. Plus, you’ll find plenty of the best Simcoe County festivals taking place near Barrie. There’s everything from food festivals to music events.

Tiffin Centre for Conservation

Tiffin Centre for Conservation

A great conservation area to visit is Tiffin Centre! This conservation area is a great place to visit all year long and it’s only 20 minutes from downtown Barrie.

Covering over 300 acres, Tiffin Centre is home a mix of habitats, from wetlands to forests. There are 17 km of trails at Tiffin. It’s one of the best places to hike in Simcoe County!

The trails are great throughout the year and can be hiked, biked, snowshoed, and enjoyed on cross-country skis. If you’re looking for accessible trails, try the Hawk and Maple Valley trails.

It’s also home to a nine-hole disc golf course that takes you around a couple of ponds!

If you visit during the winter, be sure to check out their working sugarbush! And you can take in one of the many sweet maple syrup festivals in Ontario here, the ​​Spring Tonic Maple Syrup Festival!

Visit the Maclaren Art Centre

If you’re looking for indoor things to do in Barrie or just love art then head over to the Maclaren Art Centre. The centre, formed by the Barrie Gallery Project in 1986, is now one of the top places to visit in Barrie!

The Maclaren Art Centre is a museum and art gallery located in downtown Barrie. It’s home to a collection of contemporary Canadian art. There’s also a café, gift shop, and sculpture courtyard. The best part for budget-traveller is it’s free! However, donations are appreciated.

Local Tip: If you’re looking for free things to do in Barrie with kids that involves art then check out the scavenger hunt at MacLaren Art Centre! Kids and adults alike with delight in hunting for incredible pieces. You can find the print out here.

Freaky Wizard board game cafe

Play it Up at Freaky Wizard

A fun stop for all is the Freaky Wizard in the north end of Barrie! The Freaky Wizard is a board game café that has a ton to offer! With a whimsical interior, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a mix of Hogwarts and Lord of the Rings.

This enchanted café is home to over 450 games! There’s everything from Super Mario Jenga to Trans Formers Chess. Plus, if you’re looking for cheap things to do to in Barrie, it’s only $5 per person for unlimited gaming!

It’s a great spot for families but also professionals looking for a different work environment! I often pop in to work and enjoy coffee and snacks. I love that their coffee is called Witch’s Brew!

Beyond the board games they are a full-service café serving up locally roasted coffee and locally sourced snacks. In addition, they are fully licensed and have a fun line up of alcohol-based concoctions like Velvet Bubble Lord Sour and Space Born Unicorn Craft Seltzer.

You’ll need fuel for your fun times at Freaky Wizard! They have you covered with a menu of light snacks and desserts.

Freaky Wizard hosts a variety of events like trivia nights and there’s always something coming up. Plus, they have an escape room!

Take in a Baycats Game or Barrie Colts Game

Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter a great way to hang out with locals and enjoy a great day in Barrie is to take in a game. There are two big sports teams in Barrie. There’s the Ontario Hockey League Barrie Colts – our hockey team, and the Barrie Baycats – our baseball team.

Tickets for Baycats games are only $10 and Colts tickets can be as low as $25. So, both are great for families looking for fun things to do in Barrie with kids that won’t break the bank.

Colts games play in the south end at the old Barrie Molson Centre and Baycats games are played at the Coates Stadium just outside Barrie.

Visit Simcoe County Museum

Another great place in Barrie for some family fun, or for anyone for a fact, is the Simcoe County Museum.

There are always things to do at the Simcoe County Museum all year long, from summer events to a winter skating trail.

The Museum explores the stories and history of Simcoe County with a range of exhibits. Plus, it’s a great budget-friendly thing to do in Barrie. Admission is by donation, which is suggested at $5 per person.

Johnson's Beach in Barrie Ontario
Johnson’s Beach

Hit the Beach

Barrie is one of Ontario’s top summer destinations, especially as a day trip from Toronto! With a massive waterfront, multiple beaches, and an awesome bay and lake to explore, it’s no surprise that getting out on and in Lake Simcoe is one of the top Barrie attractions.

There are four main beaches in Barrie where you can soak up the sun or jump in for a refreshing swim! Plus, just off of Centennial Beach is a 13,000 square foot inflatable waterpark.

The four main beaches in Barrie are at Minet’s Point, Tyndale Park, Johnson’s Beach, and Centennial Park. The Barrie Centennial Park is the most popular beach and is located closest to downtown.

Johnson’s Beach is also popular but is located at the end of the North Shore Trail. Minet’s Point Park is popular with windsurfers and has a much smaller beach. Tyndale Park is a nice alterative to the other top beaches.

Get Out on the Water

Kempenfelt Bay is a wonderful place to get out onto the water! However, if you don’t have the gear, don’t worry. Northern SUP has you covered with stand-up paddleboard lessons and rentals. Plus, Happy Paddling provides lessons and rentals for canoes and kayaks. Both companies are located right along the waterfront.

There are also sailing excursions with Chances “R” Sailing where you can enjoy a two-hour cruise of Kempenfelt Bay and Lake Simcoe.

Go Diving

Do you love to dive? Well, you don’t have to go far, there are tons of great places to dive in Ontario and this may surprise you but Barrie is one!

Located off of Centennial Beach, at a shallow 30 feet depth, lies the wreck of the J.C. Morrison. The boat launched in 1855 but sadly two years later caught fire and sank into Kempenfelt Bay. Who knows, maybe it leads to the haunted tales of the area.

Enjoy the Theatre Scene in Barrie

I love the theatre! And if you do too you’ll love the scene for live theatre in Barrie!

Barrie has two theatres, Five Points Theatre and the Georgian Theatre. Five Points Theatre is located downtown and the Georgian Theatre is on the Georgian College campus in the north end of the city. Both offer a variety of shows and performances throughout the year.

Another great one to check out in the summer is Theatre By the Bay. The theatre company boasts a commitment to showcasing local artists. Each year they put on a variety of interesting performances that share stories about the diverse people of Barrie.

Barrie's Spirit Catcher
The Spirit Catcher along Barrie’s lakeshore

Take a Selfie with the Spirit Catcher

I’m always on the hunt for interesting pieces of art and Barrie has a few stunning sculptures. The most well known piece of art in Barrie is the Spirit Catcher.

Standing tall upon a mound along the lakeshore in Barrie is the iconic Spirit Catcher. Created by Ron Baird, the giant sculpture dominates the Barrie skyline and waterfront.

The sculpture represents a larger than life thunderbird from Indigenous stories. It stands 21 metres high and appears to look out over Kempenfelt Bay and the Barrie harbour. I love that when there’s a strong wind you can watch the pieces that represent the wings move, as if taking flight.

downtown Barrie strawberry mural
downtown Barrie Strawberry Mural

Explore the Art Across the City

Barrie has a thriving art scene. Along with the stunning Spirit Catcher, there are a number of other sculptures and street art in Barrie.

My favourite sculpture in Barrie is the Sea Serpent! This sculpture is also by Baird and many locals say it’s in the image of Kempenfelt Kelly, the bay’s legendary sea monster.

Ron Baird has more sculptures across the city. One is at the Sadlon arena (former Barrie Molson Centre) and another is at the Simcoe County Courthouse.

At Meridian Place, a square in downtown Barrie, is one of the newest sculptures. The piece is called ‘The Horn and the Heart,’ and is by local artist John McEwan.

I’m excited that recently street art is popping up throughout downtown Barrie! One project by local artists is called “Words and Images: Responding to this Place.” Each of these small mural plaques are paired with poems to engage deeper reflection.

Where can they be found? One is down the alleyway beside Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery. There’s one on the old BMO building near Meridian Place. Another is off Collier Street, down the alleyway between units 19 and 21. And the last can be found on the southeast corner of Mary Street and Dunlop.

In 2022 a new mural was commission and it’s starting a trend! The massive strawberry mural at 54 Maple Avenue is made up of hundreds of little hearts. It was created by Bareket Kezwer of Toronto, along with Monica Loney of Barrie.

Across the street, on the side of Shak’s World Community Centre, is spectacular piece. Created by the artistic duo, Clandestinos Art, the mural includes various symbolism.

More and more murals are popping up downtown. All the more reason to come and explore!

Barrie hiking trail in Ardagh Bluffs
Hiking the Ardagh Ring Trail

Hike Ardagh Bluffs

A popular place to hike in the city is the Ardagh Bluffs Natural Area. The 518-acre park is situated south of Ardagh Road.

Ardagh Bluffs is home to over 17 km of trails. Flanked by residential neighbourhoods, this forested area makes you feel far away from the city.

My favourite time to hike Ardagh Bluffs is in the fall. If you’re looking for things to do in Barrie in October, this is the best time to soak in the fall colours in the park

The park features four marked trails that range from 1.3 to 5 kms. The Ardagh Ring Trail, which is approximately 5 km, is one of the best hiking trails in Barrie. There are a few ups and downs as well as a lookout.

Local Tip: Trail entrances for Ardagh Bluffs do not have designated parking. There’s street parking but I recommend parking at the Peggy Hill Team Community Centre (formerly known as the Holly Rec Centre). This parking lot is across the street from the Central Creek trailhead.

Go Shopping in Barrie

If you love to browse and shop then Barrie is where it’s at! For traditional retail shops, you’ll find three different malls, a host of strip malls, and big-box stores along Bayfield Street

Fun Fact: Barrie’s Bayfield Street is also known as the Golden Mile.

However, if you’re like me and looking for local shops then head downtown! It’s where you’ll find an array of charming and unique boutique shops.

For home décor, kitchen accessories, and more fun gift ideas head to Everleigh Garden, Our House, and Summer House Store. To support local artisans pop into The Artisan Boutique. The shop boasts a wide assortment of interesting pieces, from clothing to jewellery, and more.

For the thrifters like me, try Stuff. This quirky shop is full of interesting and budget-friendly second-hand finds that range from the latest fashions to antiques.

Ski or Snowboard

Simcoe County is known as a great destination for winter sports! So, if you’re looking for things to do in Barrie in the winter, you’ll find plenty!

All of the top winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and tubing can be enjoyed in the Barrie area!

There are three main ski resorts in the area: Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Valley, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone.

Chocolate Manifesto beer at Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery
Chocolate Manifesto beer at Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery

Grab a Brew at Flying Monkeys

Downtown Barrie Ontario is known for its bars and nightlife. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Barrie at night then head over to Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery.

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery is known for quirky names and packaging for their beers. A few fun names I love are Sparklepuff Triple IPA and Speak Moistly Dry Stout.

The taproom at Flying Monkeys is fun, lively, and colourful. Be prepared for an assault on the senses! The walls and ceiling are covered in music posters and license plates.

On each table is a light switch feature that glows when turned on to alert the servers. I remember my first time visiting and playing with it before I learned what it’s true function.

They have long list of beers to choose from. My favourite is the Chocolate Manifesto, which is a milk stout. If you can’t decide, order a flight.

Pair your beer with some of their tasty menu options. There’s everything from handhelds to pizza. But I recommend their nachos!

For those visiting on a weekend, Flying Monkeys offers free tours of their brewhouse. No booking is required but the tours run at select times on Saturday and Sunday. I suggest you check their website for tour times before you go.

Local Tip: If you are looking for more places to grab a brew, check out Barnstormer Brewing and Redline Brewhouse. Or if wine is more your flavour, then visit Heritage Estate Winery.

Test Your Skills at an Escape Room in Barrie

If you’re looking for fun things to do with friends in Barrie then test your skills at an escape room! There are a number of escape rooms in Barrie.

At Escape Room Barrie, located downtown, you’ll find 6 unique escape rooms to choose from. Each of the Escape Rooms offers a different experience. Themes range from detective whodunnits to a creepy cabin in the woods. There’s even one that features Barrie’s Simcoe Arms Hotel!

Most of the escape rooms are family friendly but one is for adults only. They are good for 2 to 8 people, depending on the room. And you’ll be given one hour to try and escape!

Zenith Escape Rooms is the largest in the city. There are 4 interesting themed rooms at Zenith, including Pirate’s Bay and Mayan Tomb. Each rooms requires 4 to 8 people.

Muskoka Steamships in Gravenhurst
Muskoka Steamships in Gravenhurst

Take a Day Trip

Locals and visitors to Barrie Ontario will find a long list of places to visit nearby. Barrie makes for an ideal city to base yourself while exploring Simcoe County and beyond.

One of the best day trips from Barrie is to Muskoka! Within 1 hour are a couple of the region’s small towns like Gravenhurst and Bracebridge. Each boast some of the top Muskoka attractions like boat tours, museums, and more.

If you’re looking for things to do in the summer near Barrie, Wasaga Beach is a short drive away. Along with the longest fresh water beach in the world, there’s plenty of family friendly activities.

Other great places to visit near Barrie include Orillia, Blue Mountain and Midland.

Have Fun at X-Play Trampoline Amusement Park

In the south end of the city is a shopping and entertainment complex called Park Place. This is the former site of Molson Park where plenty of fun events and concerts took place in Barrie.

Park Place is home to X-Play Trampoline Amusement Park. If you’re for fun things to do with kids in Barrie, X-Play is the place to go! But adults will find plenty of activities too!

X-Play boasts a ton of fun activities that include dodgeball, trampolines, and foam pits. Live out your Gladiator dream by trying their Battle Beam.

One of the big attractions at X-Play is a two-level laser tag arena. Plus, there’s ariel silk lines, basketball and more!

Nelson Lookout
Nelson Lookout

More Things to do in Barrie Ontario

Whether you’re a new resident to Barrie or visiting for the first or tenth time, I’ve rounded up a few more attractions in Barrie!

Get a Selfie with the Barrie Sign – The I Heart Barrie sign is located in Heritage Park, along the lakeshore. It’s the perfect spot to grab a fun selfie!

Nelson Lookout – If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Barrie then take your sweetheart to this scenic lookout! This hidden gem offers scenic views over Kempenfelt Bay and has two perfectly placed benches to sit and soak it in. You can access the lookout via Codrington Street or from the parking lot at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to it from Blake Street.

Barrie Farmers Market – Located at Barrie’s City Hall, the farmers market has served the area since 1846! This year-round farmers’ market runs every Saturday morning and has all sorts of fabulous local products that include fresh produce, artisan crafts, and other goodies! In the winter it’s held within City Hall and in the warmer months it’s just outside.  

Barrie Hill Farms – Another local gem that’s a must visit, especially in the summer is Barrie Hill Farms! For over 40 years, the farm has welcomed locals and out of towers. The farm is one of the best places in the area to pick your own berries like strawberries and blueberries. Plus, you can pick your own apples and pumpkins too! They also host a variety of events, as well as have a farmers’ market and café!

Sandy Hollow Disc Golf Course – If you’re a disc golf fan than you’ll love Barrie’s Sandy Hollow Disc Golf Course! It’s an 18-basket course and takes players through a range of terrain, from meadows to hilly forests.

Let Loose at Break N Rage – If you’re looking for unique things to do in Barrie then head to Break N Rage. This rage room in Barrie lets you crash and crumple a variety of items. It makes a fun date night idea. Plus, there’s a restaurant serving tasty Caribbean food.

where to eat in Barrie
delicious lunch at The Common Good Café & Social House in Barrie

Where to Eat in Barrie

I hope your belly is empty and ready for some great grub when you come to Barrie! You’ll be hard-pressed on choosing from one of the many awesome restaurants in Barrie. There are endless options and something to satisfy everyone’s palate. You’ll find everything from Indian food to fine dining, as well as the tasty pub fare.

A few favourite places to eat in Barrie located downtown, are North Country, Donaleigh’s Irish Pub, Tara Indian Cuisine, and Bacio Trattoria.

If you’re looking for places with awesome views then consider Hooligans or Farmhouse for incredible views of the lakeshore.

For breakfast, a local favourite is the Dunlop Street Diner. Or head to Park Place in the south end of Barrie for Evviva, a pretty brunch spot.

There are more awesome places to grab cup of coffee and some tasty treats! A couple of my favourite coffee shops in Barrie are Homestead Bakery and the Common Good Café & Social House.

where to stay in Barrie

Where to Stay

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or summer vacation there are endless options for places to stay in Barrie. But I have a few recommendations to help you plan your stay.

One of the popular hotels is Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, located minutes from downtown. It has bright and spacious rooms as well as an onsite pool and gym.

If you’re looking for a Bed and Breakfast try Three Wishes B&B that has a near-perfect rating on Booking.com. This charming accommodation offers an incredible gourmet breakfast, two patios, and even a lovely welcome basket.

Barrie also has a range of vacation rentals if that’s what you’re after that range from downtown lofts to beautiful homes.

Another great option is the Horseshoe Resort. Located a 20 minute drive from downtown Barrie, Horseshoe is a four-season resort with modern rooms, golf courses, ski runs, and four different restaurants.

Sunset in Barrie in summer

Tips for Visiting Barrie

If you’re planning a road trip you may have a few questions about visiting Barrie Ontario. Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about visiting including when to visit, parking, and more.

Where is Barrie?

Barrie is located on Kempenfelt Bay in the heart of Simcoe County. It’s located along the Highway 400 corridor, about an hour north of Toronto.

A few approximate distances and driving times from Southern Ontario destinations: Niagara Falls to Barrie is 205 km and 2h 15mins, Toronto to Barrie is 109km and 1h 15 mins, and Ottawa to Barrie is 412km and 4h 45mins.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

The best time of year to visit Barrie is in the summer. Summer is also the busy season as visitors hit the beaches and enjoy the festivals.

However, there is always a wide array of things to do in Barrie during every season. But if you love skiing, ice fishing, and hitting the trails with snowshoes, then winter in Barrie is an ideal time to visit.


You’ll find plenty of on street parking and paid lots throughout downtown Barrie. Paid parking lots along the lakeshore are $10/hour and $50/daily​​. However, if you park at Meridian Place or other downtown parking lots it’s much cheaper. They are between $1.25 and $1.50/hour.

During December downtown Barrie offers free 2-hour parking. However, you’ll need to print out a ticket from the machine and display it.

Frequently Asked Questions about Barrie Ontario

What is Barrie Ontario best known for?

Barrie is known for being one of the best waterfront communities in Ontario. The city is also know for its beaches and famous festival, Kempenfest.

So, start planning your Barrie getaway today! And if you have any questions ask below!


Things to do in Barrie Ontario
Ultimate Local's Guide to Things to do in Barrie Ontario


I'm a Canadian gal with a passion for travel, the great outdoors as well as coffee and books. I hope to inspire others to feel the same way! Traveling mostly solo, I love to explore my own backyard of Ontario as well as exotic cities around the world.

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