Road-tripping might just be my very favourite way to spend a summer weekend. Nothing captures the essence of the season quite like packing a bag of snacks, calling up a few friends, and leaving the city in search of good eats.
If you’re thinking of adding a foodie day trip adventure to your summertime schedule, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Explore new vintages in Ontario’s wine country
While Niagara might be the most famous and best-established of Ontario’s wine regions, there are fantastic wineries to discover all over the province. The Wine Route Planner from the Wine Council of Ontario makes it easy to pick a region and then build a custom itinerary complete with directions to get you from one winery to the next.
If you’re thinking of exploring the up-and-coming vineyards of Prince Edward County, you can also follow the Taste Trail, which will guide you through some of the area’s best wineries, restaurants and food producers.
Or, if beer’s more your thing, try a trek along one of five different Ontario Craft Beer Routes instead.
Needless to say, a designated driver is a must if you’re planning on sampling the goods!.
2. Spend the day at the farmers’ market
Use the Market Finder on Farmers Markets of Ontario to find a nearby farmers market, or make a beeling straight to the Waterloo Region to check out my personal favourite, the St Jacob’s Market. The market runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during the summertime, but make sure to get there early and grab a dozen freshly-made apple fritters before the lineup gets too long! (And if you’ve got a little extra time, drive over to nearby Elora to explore the gorge and grab a loaf at the Elora Bread Trading Company. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
If you can’t find the time to leave the city, you can always plan an excursion to your local urban farmers market. A Saturday morning at Toronto’s St Lawrence Market or at Ottawa’s Byward Market is always great fun.
3. Stuff your face at a food festival
It’s just not a summertime weekend in Ontario unless there’s some kind of food-related festival going on! From rib fests to fish fries to chili cook-offs to town fairs, there’s something for everyone.
One of the highlights of the summer festival schedule is Savour Stratford, which takes over the town of Stratford the weekend of July 19-20 with cooking demonstrations by Canadian celebrity chefs, tutored tastings with food experts, live music, and more.
If a staycation is more your thing, Toronto is hosting the Taste of Toronto on July 24-27, the Roudhouse Craft Beer Festival on August 9-10 and the Hot and Spicy Festival on August 15-17, while Ottawa hosts the National Capital Beer Fest on August 15-17.
4. Plan a pick your own day
There are literally hundreds of pick-your-own farms scattered around Southern Ontario. Find a local farm and check what’s in season on Harvest Ontario.
If it’s apples you’re craving, wait until the end of summer to take a jaunt down the Apple Pie Trail, which winds its way through the orchards of the Blue Mountains near Georgian Bay.