Adventures around Waterloo: know what to do at the ION stops

Graphic by Lyn Michelle Cruz

In last week’s issue, we started our ION stop exploration at Research and Technology Park, University of Waterloo, and Laurier-Waterloo.

This week, we’re continuing our ION exploration journey through Waterloo Park and into Uptown Waterloo.

Here, the tracks split up.

Southbound trains turn onto Caroline to stop at Willis Way Station, then back to King St to join with the northbound tracks at Allen. 

Northbound trains from Allen stop at Waterloo Public Square, instead of Willis Way, on the way back to campus. 

Together, these three stops in close proximity cover most of Uptown Waterloo, and there’s no shortage of things to do here!

Willis Way

This ION station lies at the footsteps of Waterloo’s historic Seagram’s Distillery buildings, now luxury condominiums.

While access to the buildings is private, their landscaped property is pleasant for a stroll, and it’s easy to imagine a past where these buildings were part of Seagram’s alcoholic empire – once part of the largest line of alcoholic beverages in the world. 

Following Caroline back the way you came would lead you to the very southern end of Waterloo Park, where you can find the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

This gallery features a boutique shop and rotating exhibits from local and international artists in a variety of mediums, but with a particular focus on those incorporating clay, glass, and ceramics.

Entry is free for everyone.

Going along the tracks back down Caroline St. will bring you to William St., where you can find another Uptown gem that’s just a little off the main drag of King St.. Red House is small and cozy restaurant– it’s inside a renovated old home, and features craft cocktails and locally focused tapas. 


This station is in the middle of a narrow streetscape bordered by new condominiums on one side and old yellow bricks on the other.

If you enter the alley immediately across from the station, you’ll be welcomed into a quaint commercial courtyard.

The Bauer Kitchen, an upscale restaurant, also featuring dishes crafted form local ingredients, livens this space with their patio, and is encircled by a variety of other shops and businesses. 

This complex has Vincenzo’s market.

Vincenzo’s is a small but bustling European grocer with an absolute myriad of interesting and rare foods that you can’t find at any ordinary grocery store.

It’s definitely worth checking out their cheese collection.

There are also a few other bakeries and coffee shops surrounding Allen station. Do yourself a favour and explore this area of King St.

Waterloo Public Square Station

Probably one of the most conveniently located stops in the entire system, this station blends seamlessly into Waterloo’s civic centre – the Public Square.

An attraction in and of itself, this space hosts festivals and events nearly every weekend and even during some weekday evenings, so be sure to check out the schedule for this space on the signposts in the square.

From here, the best that Uptown has to offer is only steps away.

If you’re thirsty, walk north on King to iconic Uptown bars like Abe Erb, Chainsaw, White Rabbit, or Jane Bond.

If you’re looking for food, there are numerous restaurants.

Explore for yourself and try the dozens of restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world including Mexican, Korean, Japanese, and Indian. 

Heading south you can find the new Zero Waste Bulk, Waterloo’s first zero waste market, or Words Worth Books, a cozy local bookstore. 

If you’re looking for entertainment, Princess Cinemas has three screens showing a variety of films from documentaries to blockbuster hits. 

Nearby, Patent Social is a bar that features classic gaming consoles at each table and hosts all sorts of gaming-oriented events throughout the year. 

There’s also Ace Ping Pong lounge if you’re itching for a game of ping pong.

We’re lucky at UW to have such a vibrant and growing city centre so close by, there’s no reason to feel trapped into spending your weekends or evenings on indoors. 

Hop on the ION and check out Waterloo’s humming Uptown this semester.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.