Alton Mill Art Centre: stone brick building with red paned windows. Photo courtesy of Alton Mill Art Centre


History and heritage amidst rolling hills and conservation areas — if that’s your image of Caledon you’re not wrong. But its hamlets and villages also offer a range of cultural experiences from art galleries to on-farm breweries and markets. At just an hour outside of Toronto, Caledon makes an ideal day trip or, for those wanting to savour more of its charms, a full two-day getaway.

Day One

The Alton Mills Art Centre. The center is a wood building with various art projects displayed on the walls and floor Photo courtesy of Alton Mill Art Centre
Alton Mill Art Centre
New Wine in Old Bottles

New life created from old beauty has unique appeal, as the Alton Mill Arts Centre proves. A former 19th-century stone mill, the building was beset by floods and fires, ultimately becoming a derelict site until the late 20th century. That’s when a remarkable restoration project began, turning the historic mill into studios and galleries featuring paintings, hand-crafted clay, glass, fibre, jewellery and more. It’s a must-visit. Alton boasts another historic building-turned-gallery as well — The Paul Morin Gallery. It’s located in a former church and town hall and was restored by the Governor General’s Award-winning illustrator and artist himself. Next, from a feast for the eyes to a feast for the taste buds, consider stopping at the cozy Gather Café, the iconic Ray’s 3rd Generation Bistro-Bakery, or Headwaters Restaurant with its view of the Mill Pond and Shaw’s Creek Falls.

Farmstead brewing Co's patio, seen at sunset Courtesy of GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co
Caledon Village, Belfountain, Inglewood
A Trio of Towns

Little villages dot the Caledon region, including Caledon Village, which boasts a captivating history of its own. Take the self-guided Caledon Village Heritage Walking Tour to get a sense of the village in its bustling early days. That’s when the Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway ran through town, creating a prosperous community that was home to three blacksmiths, a doctor, a tailor, two shoemakers and three hotels. Visit the annual Caledon Fair to learn about the region agricultural heritage and customs. Today, the arts side of the village is flourishing thanks to the Caledon Townhall Players, who put on several plays each year.

Belfountain was developed because of nearby sandstone quarries — but that fact doesn’t capture the beauty of this locale. In 1850 it took its name from the French “Belle Fontaine,” or “beautiful fountain,” the fount in question the clear waters of the Credit River. The Belfountain Conservation Area (reservations recommended), perched on the Niagara Escarpment, defines “scenic,” with its suspension bridge spanning a stunning waterfall. Belfountain’s natural environment contributes to the culture in numerous ways, including via the annual Salamander Festival that draws attention to the endangered Jefferson salamander.

Snack options include two sweet cafés: The Belfountain Café and the Higher Ground Coffee Company. If you’re craving something local to take home, swing by HoneyComb Cottage Bee Company’s farm gate honey house for raw local honey, beeswax and candles. Speaking of local, check out the proudly “hyper-local” and organic GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Co., committed to sustainability — and beer. They have two outdoor beer gardens (May to October), live music and a four-season tasting room.

As to the third in the trio of towns, drop by Inglewood for the Inglewood Antique Market and browse newly made regional goods at Lost Bear Market. While there, grab a coffee at Lost Bear’s sister enterprise, Coywolf Coffee.

A terra cotta field, surrounded by lush forest Photo Courtesy of Credit Valley Conservation
Late Afternoon & Evening
Cheltenham, Terra Cotta
Brickworks to Badlands

Circa 1914 clay deposits around Cheltenham gave rise to the Cheltenham Brickworks, one of the first industries in the Caledon area. Today the abandoned works have a bit of a ghost town air, making for eerie viewing. Nearby Cheltenham Badlands are distinctive in an entirely different way — the ridges and gullies of red rock formed some 450 million years ago. Today they’re designated as a provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, viewable three seasons and into the evening (reservations are required). The unique terrain lends its name to nearby Badlands Brewing Co., a farm brewery in a retrofitted calf bar that hosts live music in season.

For a peek into the local brickworks and carriage works history, head to Terra Cotta for a self-guided walking tour — in Caledon you’re never short of places to walk! Or ski or snowshoe, for that matter. (The Terra Cotta Conservation Area is just one of a number of conservation areas open year-round — others include the Upper Credit Conservation Area, Albion Hills
Conservation Park, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Bolton Resource Management Tract and the Caledon Trailway.) Consider capping off your day by dining in a beautiful setting alongside the Credit River at the Terra Cotta Inn.

Day Two

A family walks down a gravel path surrounded by fall leaves Caledon Trailway.
Caledon East
From Railway to Trailway

Walk it, bike it, ski it or even ride your pony on it — the Caledon Trailway is 35 kilometres tracing the former Hamilton & Northwestern rail line, now open to non-motorized traffic of all descriptions. Sometimes that includes wildlife, so keep your eyes open for herons, snapping turtles, deer, wild turkeys and more. It’s also where you’ll find Caledon’s Walk of Fame, honouring local luminaries from filmmaker Norman Jewison to the founders of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. If your trailway exercise makes you peckish, head to family-run Rock Garden Farms (Easter to Thanksgiving) for fresh local produce and baked goods. Or check out local favourite spots the Villa Caledon Inn, Tom’s Family Restaurant, Four Corners Bakery, or Indian Spice Culture Sweets & Restaurant.

a horse and jockey jump over a metal beam Caledon Equestrian Park
Magnificent Horses

The community of Palgrave, located on the Oak Ridges Moraine, may be best known for one magnificent animal — the horse. The Claedon Equestrian Park was built for the 2015 Pan American Games and has become so associated with its location that horse people sometimes refer to the world-class showgrounds simply as “Palgrave.” Visitors, whether horsey or not, can thrill to the ballet of dressage and drama of show jumping while enjoying the beautiful grounds themselves. Caledon is serious horse country — you may even spot an equine or two while exploring the Palgrave Forest and Wildlife Area, where trails wind through coniferous plantations, sandy meadows, and sugar maple forests in a 306-hectare greenspace. To rest and reenergize, drop into the Palgrave-based Caledon Hills Brewing Company — a church-turned-brewpub.

Late Afternoon & Evening
Grist for the History Mill

George and James Bolton built the first water-powered grist mill on the Humber River in 1822, and the town named in their honour expanded to become Caledon’s biggest centre and first Heritage Conservation District. Take a deep dive into the 19th century through not one but three self-guided heritage walking tours. As you make your way through Bolton’s core, you’ll be treated to more recent history in the form of vibrant murals, including the eye-catching “In Bloom,” celebrating Ontario’s diverse flora. Locally made public art is also available to view at the Humber River Centre, a community space in a renovated Fire Hall that opened in November 2023. As to community, Bolton’s citizens include a sizeable Italian population, making it an excellent place to seek out Italian cuisine. Among the many possibilities, Fratelli Molinaro, Belsito Trattoria, Casamici and Allegro Fine Foods. Though it must be said, other cuisines may tempt as well — delish possibilities for Indian food include Mohan Dhabba and Caledon’s Curry and Cocktail.

Your trip at a glance

This guide represents a weekend-long experience, highlighting one of the many wonderful destinations in the area. To suggest a destination for a future guide, please CONTACT US.

All editorial decisions were made at the sole discretion of Ontario Culture Days staff. This guide was written by Li Robbins.