I have had the absolute pleasure of joining several Stroll Walking Tours over the past year and a half, and have to admit I’m on a bit of a mission to complete them all! What can I say, I love a good travel (or chocolate) series. Whether you were born and grew up in Waterloo Region, here to visit family or on a work trip, or just like trying something new, they’re definitely an interesting and exciting item to put on the To Do list. In fact, I’ve included them on a list of the best Ontario travel gift ideas for you as well (pssst there’s a discount there too!).
About Stroll Walking Tours
Stroll Walking Tours is a relatively new travel company in Waterloo Region that combines all of the excitement, intrigue, and history a walking tour elsewhere in the world provides. The owner and founder, Juanita Metzger, has long been a hyperlocal travel advocate. With a travel column in the Community Edition, a resume full of community advocacy, and a deep passion for all things local, she is the perfect person to introduce these heritage walking tours to Waterloo Region.
Ironically, Stroll Walking Tours was created in the summer of 2020 at a time when travel (and life) was at a complete stop. This didn’t stop Juanita, who knew the value her new company would bring to locals and visitors alike once things opened up again. I was tickled to be a part of the inaugural Downtown Kitchener Mural Tour before it was released to the public, and have since been on several more Stroll Walking Tours around Kitchener and St. Jacobs. After hosting a few dozen walks, everything was put on hold for the winter until things opened up again. Hopefully we don’t see a repeat of this pattern in 2022 so that more people can get outside and enjoy a little stroll.
In addition to Juanita, there are 6 more enthusiastic local tour guides. Each guide is an expert on the tour they lead, because they’re also the researchers and designers of said tours. They span a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and include a high school history teacher, an author, a civil servant who lead Jane’s Walks tours, a photographer, an adult literacy instructor, and a restaurateur with a deep love of music.
5 Reasons Why You Will Love Stroll Walking Tours
1) These Tours are Perfect for Anyone
If you enjoy the sun on your face and new information in your brain, these tours are perfect for you. Past strollers have included solo adventurers, retirees and seniors (the oldest so far was in their 80s!), couples, and even families with young ones. All tour routes have been created with accessibility in mind to accommodate unassisted bipedal folk, and those with walkers, wheelchairs, or other mobility devices. Sometimes construction re-routes the paths but except for the cemetery tour, all routes follow city sidewalks. In addition, tour guides use voice amplifiers to help everyone hear as clearly as possible.
If you’re a history buff, visiting from out of town, booking an out-of-office company event, or a Waterloo Region native, Stroll Walking Tours are a great way to spend a couple of hours. They’re not offered for schools at the moment, but I can see them being fantastic school trip options in the future too.
Based on your comfort level you can also join a public small group tour or arrange for a private “bubble” tour.
2) It’s an Affordable Way to Travel
The per person tour cost for a 4-10 person group on a 60- to 75-minute tour is $25. For a 4-10 person 90-minute group tour, the cost is $30 per person. As with any walking tour, tipping is appreciated as well. Due to the current covid situation, groups of 11 or more are not possible. As things open up and larger groups can happen, check in on the Stroll website to see pricing for larger groups.
3) Enjoy the Outdoors, Year-Round
One of the best aspects of a walking tour is the opportunity to get a little vitamin D in the process – no matter the time of year! It’s probably safe to say that a lot of people don’t venture outside in the winter if they don’t ski, snowboard, or skate. However, we’ve got a lot of walkers and rollers among us who can still enjoy the crisp cool weather! Another bonus is that you don’t need to be an athlete or have expensive gear to participate. Just bundle up in your warm winter coat, warm mitts and hat, dry boots, and you’re good to go in the winter. You know what they say – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. So whether it’s a scorching summer day or wintry afternoon, dress for the weather and enjoy a little stroll in KW.
4) Accessible Travel
It’s pretty incredible how much there is to discover in short distances. Stroll Walking Tours are an ideal and accessible way to do so. The price point, variety of topics, accessibility for different ages and physical abilities, and the proximity to home (for Waterloo Region and southwestern Ontario residents) combine to make a powerhouse of an accessible travel option. Tour routes don’t exceed 2km, with plenty of stops along the way, so don’t sweat it if you aren’t a marathon walker either!
5) Backyard Travel Lets You See Home with New Eyes
One of the silver linings of the past two years is that more people are exploring their backyards, and having a lot of fun doing so. However you phrase it, backyard travel, hyperlocal travel, or travel-at-home is relishing the spotlight these days and a walking tour is the perfect way to dive right in. Whenever I land in a new city, a walking tour is one of the first things I do to orient myself with unfamiliar surroundings. It can be argued that the places we pass each day are, to an extent, also unfamiliar and waiting to be explored. I’ve lived in Kitchener-Waterloo for most of my life and each Stroll walking tour I’ve taken has given me a new appreciation for KW. It’s also been a blast to share what I’ve learned with friends and family when we’re out and about together.
How to Book a Stroll Walking Tour
To book a Stroll Walking Tour, visit their website or email them from the contact page. Try to book 1-3 weeks in advance so that you’re more likely to secure the time and date you’d prefer. The best way to pay upon booking is via e-transfer, however cash and cheque are also accepted.
Learn More About Stroll Walking Tours
To learn more about Stroll Walking Tours, click here the in-depth blog post I wrote.