This region of south-central Ontario (midway between Toronto and Windsor) took great joy in modeling itself after England: London has its own Thames River, and nearby Stratford (namesake of Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon) has its own internationally acclaimed theater festival and its own Avon River.

Originally an agricultural community, several of the attractions in London focus on local history: Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a re-creation of a town from the 1800s that presents crafts demonstrations. Iroquoian life around the year 1000 is the focus of the Ska-Nah-Doht Iroquoian Village. Eldon House, built in 1834, is the city's oldest building, and you can also visit many fine Victorian residences in town. You'll also find an abundance of outdoor markets and just a few minutes outside the city, you'll see why it's still considered agriculturally based.

Stratford, located 35 mi/55 km northwest of London, is famous for the Stratford Festival, one of the best Shakespearean performance series anywhere. Each season (April-November), several of the bard's works are performed in Stratford's three theaters, and they're supplemented by non-Shakespearean plays that range from Greek tragedies to contemporary dramas. In addition to the performances themselves, you can tour the festival's costume shops and backstage areas, attend discussions with actors in some of the plays, see live concert recitals and listen to readings by famous authors.

While in town, take time to enjoy the tranquil park that stretches alongside the Avon River—picnicking before the show is a Stratford tradition. Stratford boasts a surprising assortment of upscale dining options; many establishments offer a picnic option as well. Take a ride on a double-decker bus or a paddleboat cruise along the Thames. Stratford is also the hometown of singer and teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber.

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