The weather’s getting cooler and the lazy days of summer are in the rear-view mirror, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of fun to be had. These three destinations, Chatham-Kent, North Bay and the Ottawa Valley, are all full of wonderful excuses to get away for a weekend. Here’s how to spend a delicious and wonderful 48 hours in these welcoming regions.
Chatham-Kent is a mostly rural municipality that straddles Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. To get the most out of your time in the CK, follow the Bakery Trail, a self-guided tour that will lead you right to the best breads and pastries in the region. Some delicious highlights include Maple City Bakery (which has been slinging baked goods since 1960) and Big Ricky’s Little Bake Shoppe (which has been dubbed the home of CK’s best desserts for two years running). If you’re more interested in brews than bread, Chatham-Kent is also home to a number of microbreweries and wineries. Enjoy a cold one by the lake at Bayside Brewing Co. in Erieau or head over to Early Acres Estate Winery for a glass of 100-per-cent Canadian-made wine. If you’re hungry for more, head over to Traylor Parker’s Real Texas BBQ in Charing Cross, which feels like stepping into a small Texan town complete with perfectly smoked ribs and juicy pulled pork. Or, check out Casa Bella in Chatham, which overlooks the Thames River and offers a variety of pasta, veal, seafood and steak entrees – there’s something for everyone.
What to do: Because of its location between two lakes, Chatham-Kent is a great place to get in touch with the outdoors. Learn how to kitesurf at Mitchell’s Bay on Lake St. Clair or visit the St. Clair National Wildlife Area for prime birdwatching.
Where to stay: Retro Suites in downtown Chatham is right in the middle of the sprawling region and has a stylish vintage vibe. The boutique hotel is also home to the Chilled Cork Restaurant Lounge, for a quick and yummy late-night bite.
North Bay is a city in Northeastern Ontario on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Start your day off with a coffee and breakfast at Twiggs Coffee Roasters, which serves up specialty coffees and traditional breakfasts. The North Bay Farmers’ Market is a great spot to stock up on snacks for a picnic lunch in one of the area’s many hiking spots. For sips, enjoy a beer flight at New Ontario Brewing Co., which also has live music on the weekends. As a bonus, there are often food trucks stopped outside the brewery for a quick bite with your brew. Cap off the day at The Boat, North Bay’s landmark restaurant, where you can enjoy a lakeside dinner while enjoying the views off of the sprawling deck. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more low key, head to Greco’s Pizza, which has been one of the city’s most beloved local spots since 1913, when it started out as a bakery. Its signature pies are baked directly on stone bricks.
What to do: Also called the “gateway to the North,” North Bay is close to a number of prime hiking trails and conservation areas where you can lace up your hiking boots and commune with nature, like the nearby Mattawa River Provincial Park and the Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Trails. Downtown North Bay is also home to unique art galleries, museums and cultural centres that highlight the work of artists from Northern Ontario. The North Bay Museum and the WKP Kennedy Gallery are must-visits.
Where to stay: The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott North Bay is a brand new hotel within close proximity to many of the city’s galleries, museums, restaurants, bars and hiking trails.
The Ottawa Valley is also known as the Whitewater Capital of Canada and is home to more than 900 lakes, making it a picturesque getaway close to the nation’s capital. Grab a morning coffee and some breakfast at Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown. If you come back to Neat in the evenings, you’ll be treated to a delicious cocktail and bites menu that you can enjoy while taking in live music or comedy. The 86 Bistro and Market in Deep River is another must-visit that just opened in late July. On top of its picturesque patio, 86 Bistro also sells fresh burgers, steaks and sausages that you can take home and grill yourself. For a cold bevvy, head to Whitewater Brewing Co and Lakeside Brew Pub. Open year round, the brewery is right on the Ottawa River, where you can enjoy one of their brewskis with something off their seasonal menu featuring local ingredients. For dessert, grab a BeaverTail in Killaloe, the birthplace of the iconic Canadian treat. Pair your BeaverTail with a coffee from Fifth Chute Coffee, where you can also pick up a fresh loaf of bread.
What to do: There’s a ton to do and see in the Ottawa Valley region. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, take a guided ATV and off-road motorcycle tour with Tom Irwin Adventure Tours. Or go whitewater rafting with OWL Rafting or Wilderness Tours if you’re not afraid to get wet. If it’s a rainy day, stay dry by visiting the Canadian Clock Museum, the country’s only clock museum where you can learn about timetellers from the early 1800s up to the present day.
Where to stay: The Whitewater Inn located in Beachburg is also home to Jamieson Travel and Valley Cycle Tours, so you can rent e-bikes on the premises for a guided tour around the beautiful property. The inn also hosts farm-to-fork dinner events and there’s a brand-new sauna on-site so you can relax after a long day of adventures.
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