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Get out of town without going too far

Your guide to a summer staycation in and around Windsor
Author: Alley L. Biniarz
Photographer: Syx Langemann
5 years ago
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It’s just you, your camper, and the open county roads. Is there anything that our area doesn’t have to offer during the warm months? With local businesses and events to frequent every weekend, I challenge you to say that you’re bored this summer

So grab your friends or family and enjoy a little Windsor-Essex staycation. We’ve done all the hard work for you—all you have to do is pick your favourites, map your route, and take off for a few days. The best part? You’ll be so close, any of your friends can join you for a hike, a dip, or a s’more along the way.

A One-Day Staycation: Windsor

Where to grab a morning cup of joe?

Tucked behind a vintage truck, you’ll find a cabin ready to serve you the perfect cup of coffee. Minutes from the campground, 14th Coffee Co.’s (14451 Concession Rd 14, Essex) roasted fresh in-house beans will kick you into high gear for your day of exploration. But first, sit back with your cup and take in the morning farmland scene.

14th Coffee Co.

Where to eat?

All day diner-styled eats combined with local goodness is exactly the kind of place we Windsorites love to frequent. Garfield’s

(1 County 50 Rd W, Harrow) is a must-try county gem that serves better-than-Mama’s-meatloaf and Doritos Nachos that you wish someone had thought of sooner. If this is your first visit to Garfield’s, it sure won’t be your last.

What to drink?

Farmland vibes are what visiting the Windsor area is all about. What better place to drink up the agricultural history than at a brewhouse on a century family farm? GL Heritage Brewing Co. (8728 Howard Avenue, Essex Rd 9, Amherstburg) is camper-friendly (and just plain friendly) and even have designated parking for people with trailers. Located just minutes away from Holiday Beach, GL has your hoppy fix waiting for you before you make your way to sprawl out on the sand.

GL Heritage Brewing Co.

How to relax?

Walking onto the Serenity Lavender farm (130 Essex County Rd 50, Harrow) property is exactly that: serene. If your plan was to relax on this staycation, this floral scent will do the trick. Grab some satchels to hang in your car and you’ll keep your cool all weekend long.

What do to?

Take off on a guided tour around the canals of St. Clair Beach with Urban Surf Co. (55 E Pike Creek Rd, Windsor) It wouldn’t be a Windsor summer night without scheduling a sunset paddle—if you’re the type of person who enjoys golden streaks against the lake while dipping your feet into cool water after a hot day.

Urban Surf Co.

A two-Day mini-getaway: Wheatley/Kingsville/Leamington

Hang out by the creekside and forget the city life for a while. Wheatley Provincial Park is for the nature enthusiasts who love to explore heavily wooded areas and trails. The park offers semi-wilderness camping for the brave off-the-grid campers, but don’t worry, glampers; they have electrical hookups, too.

How to turn “Camping” into “Glamping”?

Retro-style travel is making a comeback, and if you’re looking for a minimalist and totally Instagrammable ride for you and your pals, Happier Camper is a great local option. Their lightweight trailers are perfect for the avid summer adventurer and it can hook up to most vehicles. With the extra compartments available, the camper space can quickly transform from your sleeping area to your on-the-go home. It’s never been easier to take on the nomadic lifestyle.

Happier Camper

Where to find coffee in Kingsville?

Take a little break from the great outdoors and step into the shared space between Red Lantern Coffee Co. (19 Chestnut St, Kingsville.) and Urban Art Market (548 Chilver Rd, Windsor.). The iced coffee hits the spot on those humid days, and a little local knickknack shopping is a great way to spend a vacation

Where to grab snacks?

A true Windsor-Essex experience includes munching on our fresh and local produce. Willow Tree Market (North, 1827 Division Rd, Kingsville) is an adorable family-owned market on Division Road that sells farm-fresh fruits and veggies. You can also snag some homemade pies, cookies, and other treats from their “sweet shop” and head back to the campsite for a feast!

Where are the trails?

There are so many outdoor options in and around Wheatley Provincial Park but if you really want to get the crème de la crème, find an entry point into the Chrysler Canada Greenway. It stretches across 50 kilometres with lanes for cyclists and hidden paths for hikers, and “birders” should keep their binoculars handy to spot the native species. Take a stroll through Southwestern Ontario’s agricultural history—you’ll see why this area is environmentally one of a kind

Where to find a post-hike meal?

When you’re on the road, it’s hard to pack a lunch (and for it to keep well in this heat!) Green Heart Lunch Club (28 Main St W, Kingsville) takes “paperbag lunch” to a whole new level with their deliciously healthy food options. From veggie to keto, the varieties of wholesome meals will help anyone refuel post-hike

Where to CHASE some excitement?

Swap the cricket noises for a night of lively outdoor music. Friday Patio Nights at the Marina brings most of Leamington’s local eats and drinks to one location, so you can try a little bit of everything. It’s a great excuse to spend a night out by the water and get to know what’s been right outside your city all along

Where to get more coffee?

The coffee is hot and the food comes out fresh and fast—Lil Hil’s (13 Talbot Rd W) is exactly the type of place you’d expect to find around friendly Wheatley. With its close proximity to the site and accommodating hours, you won’t have to worry about where you’ll be getting your next meal.

Where to see some local art?

The best keepsake to bring back with you from your staycation is a piece of art, and why not make it something that you created? At Chiaroscuro (11 Main St E, Kingsville)you can bring home a new skill by unleashing your artistic side in a unique watercolour book page or photo editing class. Or you could support someone else’s handiwork and purchase an oil painting or a piece of handmade jewelry that’s made from the heart

Where to ENJOY local seafood?

What is it about summertime that just screams food trucks? Birdies Perch (625 Point Pelee Dr, Leamington) serves up some of the best perch and fries in the area, and all from inside their double-decker “bustaurant” location. Who doesn’t love some crispy fish and chips or a perch taco in this weather?

Where to RUMMAGE FOR good antiques?

If you and your friends are enthusiastic antique hunters, you’ll have a field day at Finders to Keepers (114 Erie Street North). This vintage shop adds a little twist to your home décor, and you can decorate your space with thrifty and unique items that no one else will have

Where to feast?

Though this spot looks like a meat-lovers-only destination, there are family favourites to be enjoyed by all at Renny’s: The Village Smoke House (7 Talbot Rd W, Wheatley). It’s a great spot to wind down from a day of exploring and to stock up on your daily calories. You’ll have endless local options of beer and cider to complement your sweet and smoky dishes

Where to grab Sunday Ice cream?

It wouldn’t be a Sunday without a sundae! Wooden Spoon’s (15 Seacliff Dr E, Leamington) soft serve is some of the creamiest in the area (and surprise, it’s vegan!). It’s a perfectly guilt-free way to enjoy a sweet dessert without that dairy overload.

The Village Smoke House

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