By now, many parts of the world have entered “Stage 3.” Stores and restaurants are open again, gatherings can now exceed more than 10 people, and our autonomy to live our best summer lives is slowly coming back. BUT if you’re like me and prefer easing into ‘normalcy’ instead of diving in headfirst, you might enjoy some safe and fun tiny town outings as a pleasurable way to occupy your time this summer.
In the past month, my friend Elise and I have hit the open road once sometimes twice a week to explore neighbouring towns one to three hours outside the city of Toronto. It’s still too early to hop on a flight and satisfy our travel cravings but these day trips have allowed us to satisfy a part of those cravings while enjoying and learning about our province unlike ever before!
If you’re looking for some mini roads trips and instagrammable hot spots, here are five towns worth checking out!
Some may know Creemore for it’s breweries but one of its most popular tourist destinations is the Purple Hill Lavender Farm.
This family-run property is located in the beautiful rolling hills of the town and has been a staple for over 30 years! With fresh rows of lavender for all your photo opps, a mini store to purchase lavender products (the body oil is a must have), and fresh fields perfect for a picnic, this spot is great to explore with girlfriends, a date or family.
The owners of the farm are incredibly kind. If you show up without a picnic basket, they may ask you why you’re in a rush to leave!
Beaches are getting crowded again, as beaches do in the summer, but if you’re more of a ‘let me have my space while I sprawl out and read in peace’ kind of person, Turkey Point Beach is a great space for that. It’s a clean sandy beach that stretches over 2km with water sports to occupy your time spent.
Unlike a lot of other beach towns, Turkey Point feels a lot more tight-knit with cosy beach restaurants and ice cream shops steps away. If you’re looking to stay the night, there are also over 200 camp sites to take advantage of.
Where do I even begin with this street that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a Hollywood film lot or the set of Desperate House Wives (if housewives were Polly Pocket Dolls)! 15 minutes north of Niagara Falls, you will find a street full of residential houses that look like the cutest life size dollhouses you ever did see. Take the off-ramp at Bartlett and head towards the lake for this hidden gem of a neighbourhood. Every detail that’s been maintained will shock and awe you.
As noted, this is a residential area (yes, people live inside!), so don’t forget to be respectful of the community as you take photos and melt your eyes and imagination with these structural eye candies.
Norfolk County is about 2 hours outside the city but the trek is well worth it. It’s home to many small quaint communities like Port Rowan which is known for its lakeside charm and wineries!
Burning Kiln Winery is one of Port Rowan’s most popular tourist spots. Great service, a thoughtful list of wines including two crisp rose for a hot summer day. The estate used to be a tobacco farm before they took over and started planting grape seeds in 2007. They’ve come a long way in a short time!
If you’re into Canadian wines, history, cosier beaches, and beautiful scenic roads, highly recco!
You may recognize La Grande Hermine along the Niagara stretch of the QEW for its rustic charm, and by rustic charm I mean for the very fact that it has been an abandoned ship on the side of the road for well over a decade. The ship is actually one of the most recognizeable landmarks in Southern Ontario, originally used as a ferry and cargo ship in the early 1900s before becoming a floating restaurant. It was, unfortunately, victim to an arson fire in 2003 which is why it looks like an abandoned pirate ship now!
La Grande Hermine is just one of the hot spots to check out for unique photos along the strip. Next door is a fantastic vintage market with vendors selling teak furniture, paintings and other trinkets on a sprawling piece of land.
B. Tru xx