Bust out the sunglasses and t-shirts because spring and summertime explorations have finally arrived! After one of the weirdest (non-) winters ever, Ontario is finally welcoming proper springtime weather. If you live here, you know exactly what I’m referring to with the past year’s seasons. A super fun way to discover Ontario is by heading outdoors along the Grand River Trail in Brantford. I recently visited Telephone City with the Grand Trails’ brand new “Bell Homestead and a Bike Ride” itinerary and had an absolute blast!

This is a sponsored blog post in collaboration with Grand Trails. All opinions remain my own.

Travel with TMc Biking in Brantford with Grand Trails

For several reason, I’m excited to share with you a very cool Canadian organization called Grand Trails. First, they promote local gems which are often the unsung heroes of the travel world. Second, they partner with local businesses across several industries, helping communities to thrive. Third, their self-guided itineraries are accessible for all ages. The active day trips are not only free, they’re family-friendly and encourage everyone to enjoy the outdoors. The Grand Trails motto says it all: Hike. Bike. Paddle. Taste. Stay. I’ll provide more information about them below, but first, let me share the exciting day I spent on the Grand River Trail in Brantford, Ontario!

A Two-Wheeled Adventure with Heron Heads Bikes

My first stop was to Heron Heads Bikes, a Grand Trails partner and true community hub, to pick up a rental bicycle. The friendly owner, Stan, greeted me with smiling eyes and neighbourly laughter that kickstarted the day’s positivity. He outfit me with a beautiful blue bicycle, tall enough for my 6-foot frame, a helmet to keep this noggin safe, and a few tips on not-to-miss spots in town.

Heron Head Bikes Storefront

After a lovely chat with Stan, I headed out onto the nearby Grand River Loop. The bicycle shop’s location is perfect for ditching your car and reaching the river in a jiffy. Brantford’s newly paved trails make for easy riding. The city upgraded several of them over the past few years to improve accessibility and it shows. I also loved extra touches like the sign posts with the Local Artist Trail Mix!

Brantford Trail Mix Signs on Pathway

Everywhere I cycled in Brantford, people waved hello and smiled as we passed each other. To say these moments between strangers were a breath of fresh air is true times two! I was smiling all day long from so many friendly interactions.

Canoe Fun on the Grand Trail in Brantford

Where to Eat on Your Grand Trails Adventure

In addition to creating active routes, Grand Trails also provides suggestions for where to eat. Always on the lookout for cool coffee shops, I was excited to see one on the list. Altitude Coffee Roasters is a local eco-friendly roaster and corner cafe that makes their own fresh baked goods. On the day I visited, there was a new menu item that piqued my curiosity: a homemade tiramisu cookie. Naturally, I volunteered to be a taste tester. (It passed with flying colours!) Since I was expending oodles of energy biking around, I added 2 energy balls to the order. The Nutella flavoured one was especially delicious. On the beverage front, the cafe serves local London drink maker, Booch’s, kombucha and jun. As a non-coffee drinker I cannot speak to their caffeinated drinks, though judging by the quality of the rest of their menu it’s safe to say their hot sips are also top notch.

Tiramisu Cookie and Energy Balls at Altitude Coffee Roasters

For lunch I headed downtown to The Chinese Sisters for a generous portion of Beef Fried with Rice Noodle. Many of us who have moved away from friends, family, and familiarity, can attest to the comfort food provides a homesick heart. The Chinese Sisters was born out of the owner’s love of sharing their cuisine with friends and family when they moved to Canada. She wanted to bring the joy of shared meals and delicious home-cooking to the whole city!

Travel with TMc at The Chinese Sisters in Brantford Ontario

What to See

I couldn’t leave Telephone City without visiting the Bell Homestead National Historic Site and the inspiration for the Grand Trails itinerary I used to explored Brantford. If I’m honest, prior to visiting the former home of Alexander Graham Bell, I didn’t know much about the historic Scottish-Canadian figure. Funnily enough, it turns out he and I both share a love of linguistics! Another neat tidbit to take away from the day’s experiences. It was so neat to walk through the home and grounds, learning about the history of the telephone, as well as why the family immigrated to Canada. Diving into the details of his story reenforced the belief that every single person can make an impact on the world.

Scientist Table at Bell Homestead House in Brantford

Spending a day cycling the Grand River Trail in Brantford was good for the body and soul. It was the perfect sunny day. I learned a ton and met several wonderful people. I can’t wait to visit Brantford again soon!

Where is Brantford Located?

Brantford is a landlocked city in Southwestern Ontario’s Brant County. It’s approximately 35 minutes west of Hamilton and 90 minutes southwest of Toronto.

How Can Grand Trails Help Plan Your Day Trips?

Does having to plan your day trips stop you from getting out the door? Researching and planning fun excursions isn’t for everyone. Luckily an Ontario organization, Grand Trails, creates and provides free family-friendly self-guided itineraries for biking, hiking, cycling, and paddling along the Grand River. They cover 6 regions in Ontario, from Headwaters down to Lake Erie. The guides are available in digital and print form on their website.

Grand Trails also give suggestions for where to eat and stay overnight in case you’d like to plan a longer a multi-day trip. Not only do you save time and money, but they remove all of the stress of planning for you too!

Blue Bicycle at Wilkes Dam

How to Access The Grand Trails Itineraries

If your interest is piqued and your sense of adventure sparked, head to the Grand Trails website to discover all of the fantastic itineraries they’ve compiled. They’re sorted by region and easy to find. At the time of writing in 2024, there are 22 1-day itineraries available for Headwaters, Centre Wellington, Waterloo Region, Paris and Brantford, and Onondaga to Lake Erie. Additionally, Grand Trails provides multi-day experiences with overnight option ideas.

Grand Trails Website Snapshot

Why is The Grand River Significant?

The Grand River Watershed is the largest watershed in Southern Ontario. For over 10,000 years, the Grand River has been an integral waterway and life source for Indigenous populations and later also the settler communities. For its role in shaping human lives over several generations, it is designated as an Ontario Heritage River. Today the Grand River continues to be used for leisure and is a source of inspiration and calm.

Formerly known as The Grand Watershed Trails Network, The Grand Trails routes stretch from Headwaters south down to Lake Erie. Their vision is to help us to connect with the culture, heritage, and natural aspects of the communities along Ontario’s mighty river.

Welcome to the Grand River Trail at Waterloo's Pioneer Memorial Tower

Sneak Peek of the Brantford Bell Homestead Biking Adventure

Want a preview of the Brantford Bell Homestead Biking Adventure from Grand Trails? Check out the reel I made following the 1-Day Itinerary for exploring the Grand River Trail in Brantford! Still have questions about this awesome organization? Send me a DM on Instagram and I’ll be happy to help where I can.

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Stay tuned to all things vanlife, international travel, and learning how to pay yourself to travel like I do by subscribing to the (nearly) monthly newsletter and joining the adventure on Instagram. Thanks for reading!

About TMc


Me having a seat in front of one of the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes in Australia!

Heya! I’m Tara (Tar-ah)! Welcome to Travel with TMc where you’ll find quirky language tidbits, travel hacks for Canadians, and stories from the road. I hope you enjoy!
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