Tag: road trip

Travel Swellness: Your Guide to a Dog-friendly Getaway to Prince Edward County

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Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto, Prince Edward County is a bucolic wine and food lovers’ escape that many of us in Toronto flock to in the summer. I’ve visited several times (once to stay in a tiny house, another time for a girlfriend-and-pups vacay, and yet another time for foodie girlfriend road trip, to name just a few). But what about PEC in the fall? The County has loads of gourmet indulgences and wouldn’t the fall be a cozy time to explore? I set out there recently to discover what it’s like for a dog-friendly fall getaway.

Note: This is about Prince Edward County—not to be confused with Prince Edward Island (those outside of Canada often confuse the two!).

Although it was fall, we ended up with very summery weather for our whole stay! Something else unexpected: I only visited quickly once last year, and this trip I discovered that several of my faves in the County have closed down. That was disappointing, but I also found that there are lots of darling new spots to enjoy.

Some of my favourite (mostly dog-friendly) things to see and do while in the County.

WHERE TO STAY

It can sometimes be hard to find great dog-friendly accommodations, amirite? Not in Picton, though, dog parents, you’ll want to stay at The Ferg in Picton with your four-legged pal if you can snag a spot.

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This is my second stay in the Loft at the Ferg (I visited first in 2017) and full disclosure, they hosted us for this stay. It’s a gorgeous, welcoming space filled with natural light and stylish cottage country (but also sorta beachy chic) decor. There is a full kitchen if you plan on cooking meals (we treated ourselves to eating out while there). Billie Jean seemed to remember the space and made herself right at home right away. (btw, if you’re interested in Billie Jean’s backstory, check it out here!)

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Another fantastic dog-friendly spot to stay? The Drake Motor Inn (I stayed here with Billie Jean last summer). Where your pup will have a plush bed to sleep on and you get to enjoy the stylish retro-inspired space. Bring a crate (or request one from the Motor Inn) as your dog must be crated if you go out and leave your pup in the room.

WHERE TO EAT

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A new spot for us, Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor serves up very large and tasty sandwiches. Definitely go with an appetiteI was only able to finish about half of my When Porky Met Petunia (housemade sausage patty that is wrapped in bacon, topped with a fried egg, housemade aioli and old cheddar cheese). There are picnic tables on the patio and it’s got a family-friendly atmosphere; plus dogs are welcome, so it was a great spot to grab lunch at on the day we checked out of the Ferg and had Billie Jean with us. To wash down your sandwich, order one of the Lemonade Dave (another Ontario brand!).

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Yes, there’s a Tim Hortons right by The Ferg in Picton, but we weren’t in the mood for a double double and trekked over to the adorable Beacon Bike + Brew where the latte was very good but the croissant was phenomenal (they’d warmed it up and it was a delightful buttery, flaky treat to kick off the day with). As they were serving customers curbside, there was no need for Billie Jean to stay outside with one of us while the other ventured inside to order.

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If you like me go by the motto “treat yourself” while on a getaway, then you follow up breakfast by stopping to get a cookie at Picnic Cafe, another new spot to me! We’d seen some incredible salted caramel cookies there the day before, but when we went back, they didn’t have them (lesson learned: snap up delicious treats when you can cuz if you snooze you lose!). However, the peanut butter cookie more than satisfied our sweet tooth. Speaking of treats, definitely stop at Sunnydale Farms to pick up Waupoos Butter Tarts; these ample tarts (one was three servings for me!) are the perfect late-night sweet treat. Next time, I’ll get some of the Sunnydale Popcorn, too! I don’t know why we didn’t get any this time, I think we were too excited about the tarts!

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Like a moth to a flame…I feel like I can’t visit PEC and not eat at Drake Devonshire. Its dining room is one of my favourites, although we sat outside thanks to the gorgeous weather this time. The menu was more limited (due to the pandemic, I presume) but that didn’t impact how good it was. We both ordered the lobster and shrimp roll and it was so good that neither of us could stop talking about how delicious it was in between each bite. The fries were perfection as well, crispy on the outside, soft and potato-y inside. N.B. The Drake Devonshire is not dog-friendly, so enjoy a meal here when your itinerary includes leaving your dog to lounge at your Airbnb.

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My biggest regret this trip is that we missed our one opportunity to stop by for Jamie Kennedy’s J.K. Fries. They were only open the day we arrived as the next two days they were closed as they were prepping for an event, and I read the news on the Instagram too late. Some of the best meals I’ve ever had are at his restaurants. Heads up: J.K. Fries returns May 2021.

Because there are only so many meals one can have on a two-night getaway, my next stop into PEC will include trying out Bermuda. The owners are the one’s behind Guapo’s Cantina, a Mexican taco spot I’ve tried twice (the first time was during a foodie tour for work), and this is their new brick-and-mortar resto in Bloomfield.

WHERE TO SHOP

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Field Made Goods is one of the shops that’ll have you wanting to ditch everything you own and replacing them with the beautiful lifestyle pieces that fill this new shop. It’s a collaborative shop featuring the work from four makers: Sunday’s Company, Bethanie Kaye, East City Candles, and Cylinder Studio, and now more than ever, I think we need to fill our lives with beautiful items that make you feel good every day, whether that’s a dreamy scented candle or a mug that feels great in your hand for the cup of hot cocoa after a walk in the brisk weather.

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I’ve always been sad that Sand & Sumac closed in Wellington, and when I walked into Keep in Picton I was excited to see many of the stunning covetable items I recall from S&S, and then we chatted with the woman running the shop as we cashed out and I learned it’s the same owner (who also owns another favourite lifestyle shop, Kokito). At Keep you’ll find decorative throw pillows, cozy throws, and beautiful tableware and more (like the Moroccan babouche shoes I pick up every single time I’m in the shop, but never end up buying as I don’t know how I’d wear them…).

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I am no green thumb but the curated gardening items and other pretty products (think candles and flannel shirts) at Carson’s Garden + Market made me want to become one! While your order at Flossie’s Sandwich Parlor (located just outside of Carson’s) is on the grill, take the time to poke around in the shop to make your shortlist of what to buy before you leave (it’s gardening expert Carson Arthur’s shop, by the way, who’s the nicest; I met him when I did a garden-centre partnership with Loblaws a couple of years ago).

WHERE TO DRINK

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While many of the wineries require you book your tastings (given the pandemic), which I personally found hard to do (given we would play things by ear), Closson Chase Vineyards was one you could pop into to have a tasting or glass on their expansive outdoor terrace. Although we admittedly stopped by just for delicious wine and to take photos at this charming space, we left with a couple of bottles in hand. Oh, and the terrace is dog-friendly (they even had treats for Billie Jean!).

Although I do enjoy a glass of wine now and then, I’m usually more likely to order a cocktail. Kinsip House of Fine Spirits was fully booked (we arrived unaware we had to book in advance) so we didn’t get to enjoy a whiskey tasting (it seems there weren’t serving cocktails like they did last summer). Pop by here (the Kinsip Maple Whiskey is fantastic) and to check out the beautiful chickens roaming the property. And cider lovers, you’ll want to make a visit to County Cider Company; I have a weakness for cider and these beautifully bottled ciders are another PEC essential of mine. My fave is the County Apple, their flagship product.

Do your tastebuds a favour and book a wine and cheese tasting at Lighthall Vineyards. It’s a vineyard but they also make cheese, and their feta is unlike any I’ve ever had, and I was so happy that my friend enjoyed our visit as much as I did my first visit there, as evidenced by the bag filled with wine and cheese she left with. It’s not in a pretty barn or Instagrammy space, but one sip of their wine paired with their cheese and you’ll forget all about “IG or it didn’t happen.”

WHAT TO DO

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On a day you’ve left your pup at your accommodations (or can take turns staying with the dog in the car), visit Shed Chetwyn Farms for their adorable alpacas and shop the store for the softest alpaca wool goods. I completely missed the sign that dogs aren’t permitted but went to wait by the car with her after stressing out the poor alpacas (I’m sorry, sweet alpacas!).

Although the lavender won’t be in the bloom in the fall and winter, a visit to Prince Edward County Lavender is worth it. Check if they’ve got lavender gelato in stock, and even if you’re not in the market for say, lavender sachets for your closet, soap and hand sanitizer is something we’re all using plenty of these days, so why not make it a luscious lavender-scented one to soothe your stressed out self during quarantine.

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It wouldn’t be a dog-friendly trip without some quality time with your pup outdoors! We ran out of time to visit Sandbanks Provincial Park for the day, but we stopped at Wellington Public Beach, which I’ve never been to before. There were so few people there so I let Billie Jean explore and we played fetch with her by the lake for a couple of hours. Oh, and if you’re staying in Picton, for your morning walk, be sure to bring your dog to the Prince Edward Dog Park, a vast and grassy fenced-in dog park where you’ll find many locals, morning cup of coffee in hand, with their puppies.

Prince Edward County is one of my favourite road trips, and now that I’ve written this post, I’m thinking maybe a winter getaway there needs to be planned! Do you have favourites in the County? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Leave a Comment November 30, 2020

Travel Swellness: How to make a destination race less stressful

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Running a marathon is a stressful endeavour. As a first timer, you’re stressed about evening being able to complete the distance. As a regular marathoner, you may be focused on trying to run a personal best and there are so many factors you can fret about (getting enough sleep, fueling properly, whether you put in the training that’ll get you that PB, etc.).

And when it’s a destination race you’re running, a whole slew of other factors come into play. You’re not sleeping in your own bed, the travel may have tired you out, you’re eating foods in a different city—there are simply a lot more unknowns to contend with.

My most recent destination race, the Detroit Marathon (where I ran a great race and tried to BQ—check out my race recap) I incorporated a lot of factors to help make the trip less stressful (and learned a few new things that’ll be sure to keep in mind for future destination races):

1. Drive a comfortable, safe car for your road trip. Bonus if it’s sleek and luxurious, too. General Motors Canada let me test drive the Buick Enclave Avenir to Detroit for the race. I’ve driven the Enclave before but not the Encave Avenir. It had so many features that made the drive so much more comfortable and stress-free (more on that later) but the car was so spacious and luxurious (the leather interior is sleek and the seats were so comfortable for our five-hour drive to Motor City). The temp dipped in the evenings, so the heated steering wheel was much appreciated, too. I’ve been on a few road trips where we’ve run into car trouble and you do not need the stress of that when you’re heading to another city to run 42.2k!

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2. Have a GPS you can count on. I have zero sense of direction (anyone who’s traveled with me can attest to how horrible my sense of direction is!), and I know I’d be so much more stressed driving without a GPS. And they’re not created equal. When I drove from Calgary to Jasper, the GPS in the car rental often couldn’t find the destination I was looking for (and if I had a signal, I had to resort to using my Google Maps on my phone). The one in the Buick Enclave Avenir is reliable and gives plenty of advance notice of when you need to make your next turn (I’ve had ones that would only notify you when you are right at the intersection, which meant we always drove right by our turn). The Enclave was also equipped with OnStar, which we didn’t end up having to use, but I always feel safer in a vehicle that is equipped with it.

3. Feel confident about your safety as you drive. When I got my driver’s license when I was 18, cars were very different. Test driving this Buick Enclave Avenir, I appreciated the modern features that allow you to feel really safe. I’d say in general, I find driving to be a bit stressful, but with features like blind-spot assist and the safety-alert seat, the vehicle is helping you to drive more safely, and more safely translates to less stress. Also, not only was the Buick Enclave Avenir equipped with WiFi, it also features wireless charging, and as I count on my phone way too much (that’s another story for another time), nothing stresses me out more than my phone being low on battery and wireless charging is so convenient!

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4. Have great playlists for your road trip. Music plays such a big role in setting the mood. For the first time ever, I created a playlist for my race (mostly a mix of Backstreet Boys, NKOTB, a few 80s hits, 90s hip hop and R n B) and in the Enclave, we had Sirius XM, which for most of the time in the car we had on hip hop but the day before the race, I just needed to chill so switched to a station with low key indie music. I don’t need thumping beats to go with my pre-race jitters! I need to do whatever little rituals I have to do to quiet those nerves about the race, and the SirusXM in the Enclave helped to do that.

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5. Stay in a cozy hotel room filled with natural light. I know some people thrive on being surrounded by runners and the excitement for the marathon, but I prefer an environment that’s relaxed and serene. We were hosted at the Element and it was an ideal place to call home for race weekend. Other runners were also staying here, but not huge groups of runners (or not that we saw anyhow) so I didn’t have the nervous energy of other marathoners to make me feel more anxious about the race. Our corner suite was so spacious, and had so many windows it was filled with natural light and we were able to wake up to the sunrise (well, except for race morning when we got up at 5 a.m.!). With a full kitchen, it would’ve been an ideal spot to prepare a simple pasta dish for dinner before the race rather than wait way too long at the Italian restaurant we went to (which doesn’t take reservations, hence the crazy long wait). I also loved that there’s a Drought juice spot just a few steps from the hotel, and you can stash those cold-pressed juices in the kitchen’s fridge (we indulged in this beet juice post-race, delish!). The Element is a Westin hotel, so it features that Heavenly bed that is so comfortable (we had no problems falling asleep!). The hotel is also nice and quiet; it’s peaceful and serene, but if you’re in need of some white noise, the room also is equipped with a white-noise machine. Oh, and parking the Enclave? It’s simple as a guest at the Element with the valet parking. Parking is not my strength (I will park blocks away rather than parallel park) so I was more than happy to pull up to the Element and hand over the keys!

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I could just as well have gone in a regular car, stayed at an budget-friendly Airbnb and probably could’ve run just as good a race, but having this sophisticated car and a great place to call home while in town for the race made this marathon weekend so much simpler and stress-free.

Thank you to both General Motors Canada and the Element for helping make this Detroit Marathon weekend (and my first visit to Motor City!) an incredible one.

 

Leave a Comment October 29, 2019

Travel Swellness: Road tripping in a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal

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I think the Buick slogan, “That’s a Buick” is pretty clever, because the brand has truly changed my (and I’m sure other people’s) perception of what a Buick is.

Thanks to Buick Canada, I had the opportunity to test drive a 2019 Buick Envision to Montreal in April. And I comfortably drove for 2.5 hours straight; this is the longest stint I’ve ever been behind the wheel ever since I started driving at the age of 18. And I felt comfortable (great ergonomic design), safe (thanks to features such as the heads up display making me aware of my speed and blind-spot detection system) and aesthetically, the car’s very sleek (appealing to my design sense — check out the dashboard in the photo below; and love the huge sunroof!) and the Envision we test drove was in the Galaxy Silver Metallic, which is the colour I would get the car in (although the Summit White is pretty hot, too). Oh, and the OnStar (which provides turn-by-turn navigation and if you know me at all, I have zero sense of direction) and 4G LTE WiFi hotspot (which I used aplenty when I was a passenger to catch up on work). And the car had Sirius and I was able to listen to all my faves:

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Plus there was plenty of space, both in terms of leg room (Billie Jean curled up in the floor area of the passenger side) and in the trunk (we drove back with several dozen bagels and loads of food that my mom cooked, and she cooked for days and days since she knew I had a car that I could load up).

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Even though I grew up in Montreal, it was great to have the Envision to try somethings I’d never done in my hometown. I got a chance to see the two apartments I lived in as a baby (which I’d never been back to before); we stopped for a sweet and creamy drink at Orange Julep (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid even though I have passed by it for years on the way downtown); and we hiked with Billie Jean on a trail I’ve never been to at Mount Royal, one just off of the observation deck area.

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Yep, that’s a Buick, and it’s a car I’d seriously consider when it comes time to get a car.

Thank you GM Canada for the test drive where I got to explore a bit of my childhood and discover new things to in the city I grew up in! I think Billie Jean enjoyed seeing where I came from!

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Leave a Comment June 4, 2019

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