Tag: wanderlust

Travel Swellness: A quick getaway to King City

Kingsbridge outdoor pool

Early this summer (where has summer gone already?!), I went for an overnight getaway to King City, which is just north of Toronto, to experience an equine therapy session with Jennifer Schramm and I got a chance to stay at Kingbridge Hotel and Conference Centre.

Kingsbridge indoor pool

I’m almost reluctant to write about this little gem because I want it to be my little secret, but this property is so quiet and pretty, I really felt like I’d escaped city life even though I hadn’t (I was conveniently near a suburban Walmart when I needed a pair of emergency shorts given the warm weather). I know it’s probably funny to some people that I consider King City a getaway (especially as I know people who live in that area!), but when you live right downtown, and escape to the quiet and greenery of the property, it does feel like you’ve taken a road trip to completely different surroundings.

Kingsbridge swing

On the property, there are hiking trails, where you’ll find this darling swing from a tree, and a quiet little river. There’s also one of the coolest indoor tracks I’ve seen here; it circles through the woods, so I got to fit in some speed work when it rained briefly.

Kingsbridge indoor running track

My entire stay, I had the pools entirely to myself, and the quiet time in the sunshine helped to calm my frazzled brain. I spent most of my time outside by the pool or hiking, but there’s a cozy library you can lounge around in, too.

A short drive away is where I grabbed a couple of meals. Firstly, a good thin crust pizza at Locale. This place was a popular spot and I’ve heard that a lot of the dishes are great (that’s always the downside of traveling solo — not getting to try more dishes when eating out!).

Roost Cafe in King City

For a casual lunch, I popped into The Roost Cafe for a fresh chicken wrap and a smoothie; it’s a charming coffee shop set inside of a century home, and there are pretty views from its’ patio.

Before driving back to the city, I went for a hike in Happy Valley Forest (one of the largest intact hardwood forests on the Oak Ridges Moraine, which was pretty but I had to cut my hike short as I hadn’t packed insect repellent and got more than 30 mosquito bites in the half hour I trekked there. Douse yourself in repellent if you go!

I often crave getting outside of the city, and I think a weekend at Kingbridge is a great option because it’s so close to the city and yet offers some light hiking, greenery, an indoor and outdoor pool, and a running track (helpful if you’re a runner in training for a race), all on a beautiful property. The only thing missing is perhaps a spa treatment, but I’m sure there’s a day spa nearby you could book a treatment at.

Have you been to King City? I’d love to hear your faves in the area.

Leave a Comment August 16, 2017

Travel Swellness: Dog-friendly road trip to Prince Edward County

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With my recently adopted dog, Billie Jean, who I adopted from Save Our Scruff, much of my life now revolves around whether she can be included in my plans. In fact, she’s part of the inspiration behind the road trip series I’m doing this summer.

Bun in Chevy Equinox

For my second visit this summer to Prince Edward County, I went with one of my girlfriends (like the last visit in early June) but this time, I planned a dog-friendly trip so both my girl Billie Jean and my bestie’s adorable silky terrier, Bun, could join, too.

The County is, yes, a little bit country, but it’s also more than a little posh with its wineries and great food, and with two girls and two dogs, thanks to General Motors Canada, I got the Chevy Equinox to test drive for this trip and it was the perfect vehicle for us. Roomy (for road trips, I often lean towards overpacking, plus Billie Jean doesn’t travel very light as there’s her crate, giant bag of food, toys, and more). Also, the Equinox is, in my opinion, both practical for my lifestyle but also quite refined — just like me (I’m the picture of refinement, no?!)! I love, love, love its luxurious interior — they had me with these leather seats. And as you can see, both Billie Jean and Bun got very comfortable and relaxed in the car.

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Of the cars I’ve driven in the past year or so, I think it’s the Equinox I feel most comfortable driving. I guess I’m partial to SUVs (I like the height of them) but this crossover seemed more easy to maneuver than others I’ve driven. Also, since I usually road trip with one friend along, I loved that we could each control the temp of our space in this Equinox. It’s key for us both to be comfortable when you’re on the road for a couple of hours or more.

One thing I did notice: Either we toured around more than we realized (there was our last day when we had the hardest time finding a spot open for lunch, so we did roam around a lot!) as it would say it seemed the Equinox isn’t as fuel efficient as other crossovers I’ve driven recently (although it is 5.7 L/100 km hwy). I will have to pay closer attention to this from now on.

For those of you with a dog in your brood who are looking to visit Prince Edward County, here are some of the things you should add to your itinerary.

The Ferg The Loft

Stay at The Ferg

Finding accommodations that accept pets isn’t the easiest, so when I came across The Ferg and it ticked off both boxes for beautiful and cozy (and a great location!) and also allows dogs, I knew I had to visit. And coincidentally, one of the owners, Jaime, is someone whose book I copy edited some years ago! Small world.

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We stayed in the Loft at The Ferg and its two floors fill with natural light during the day, and it’s decorated in the prettiest cottage chic. Spacious for us with the two dogs, and just off of the main street in Picton, and most key, it’s within walking distance to my favourite ice cream shop, Slickers Ice Cream (have the Campfire!). And for late night or early morning quick jaunts outside, there’s a grassy backyard that both dogs enjoyed.

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Eat and drink at Norman Hardie Winery

You may have to wait a little longer as they seats guests with dogs on the tables by the outside of the patio, but the wine and pizza (I’m in love with both the mushroom and the margherita) is well worth waiting for.

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There’s usually a special side dish you can order as well (last time it was a gorgeous asparagus with burrata cheese dish) and it’s always superbl; this visit we had the green salad that is on the menu, and it is quite possibly the best green salad I’ve had (so fresh and with a lovely vinaigrette). Norm Hardie is pretty much always my first stop in the County, as we plan to arrive there around lunch as our first stop and are usually ravenous after the two-hour drive.

Visit the alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms

Introduce your canine to some adorable alpacas at Shed at Chetwyn Farms. I’m a little obsessed with interspecies friendships, and how cute would a dog and alpaca friendship be? I actually didn’t get to stop by this trip at Shed because it was closed the day we were nearby, but I do usually pop by to say what’s up to the cuties and to check out the beautiful knit goods in the shop.

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Visit Prince Edward County Lavender

For $2, traipse around the beautiful lavender fields at PEC Lavender and breathe in that lovely, relaxing scent. If the fields are not in bloom, pop into the shop to buy lavender souvenirs to make your home a soothing oasis. The dogs visited the fields with us, but it was hard for me to get Billie Jean to pose for pictures. I don’t think she “gets” Instagram yet :)

Enjoy taco time at Guapo’s Cantina

I was introduced to Guapo’s Cantina on my foodie tour of PEC last summer and I think we taste tested each type and they were all incredible. So you can imagine how devastated I was when we drove all the way there on our way home only to find it closed that day (we were in PEC in June, so it wasn’t high season yet, so many businesses were closed Tuesdays). It’s set up outside of Traynor Family Vineyard, so you can easily grab some tacos with your four-legged buddy along with you and grab one of the tables outside.

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Play at Sandbanks Provincial Park

There are two dog-friendly beaches in the Park, and we set up ourselves at what I think is the smaller one that’s not on Sandbanks Beach. There were a handful of dogs off leash and splashing about in the shallow water, which Billie Jean ventured into (she doesn’t mind getting wet, but doesn’t seem fond of swimming, so likes to have her feet on the ground). She was in heaven, as was Bun. It was my first time spending time in the Park and next time I hope to explore Sandbanks Beach more.

Perfect Lil Bakeshop with BJ

Buy dog treats at Perfect Lil Bakeshop

I discovered the adorable Perfect Lil Bakeshop during my visit in early June and Billie Jean loved the dog treat I brought home for her last time. So we made a point to go again to get our dogs some treats, except they were all out! Not to worry, as we picked up plenty of treats for ourselves, including a delectable strawberry rhubarb pie to share.

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This dog-friendly trip marks my fourth visit to the County and I feel like I’ve gotten to know a lot of the great spots in PEC, but I’d love to hear about your favourites (Especially of the dog-friendly variety, because Billie Jean is just dying to visit again!)

 

 

Leave a Comment August 8, 2017

Travel Swellness: 5 musts for the first-time Toronto visitor (and a discount for your next BOOKING.COM trip!)

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Traveling is a passion of mine but after a whirlwind couple of years in and out of town, I definitely need to balance it with quality time at home in Toronto. And even though I spend a lot of time escaping the city, there is definitely a lot to love about TO. If a friend who had never visited Toronto, what would I take them to go see in Toronto? Here’s my personal guide to some of my favourites in the 6 for those who’ve never been to T.O. (and if you’re planning on booking a trip, be sure to use this booking.com link to get a discount on your travel booking!).

Visit the CN Tower. Yes, it’s touristy (possibly the most touristy thing), but these attractions are popular for a reason. I’ve done the CN Tower Edgewalk, and it’s thrilling and fun if you’re not scared of heights, but even just going to get the view of the city on a clear day, it’s fantastic. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, though; have been up the Empire State Building as a kid, and to Vancouver Lookout. the SkyDeck in Chicago, and Sky100 in Hong Kong. Nothing like the breathtaking views of the city below you to remind you that you are just a small speck in this big beautiful world of ours.

Tour Casa Loma. I think I became enamoured with Casa Loma as a teen reading a YA book and the characters went to Casa Loma on a date. And then I finally got the chance to visit it when I moved to Toronto. I have been back once or twice for events, and I just love that there’s this magical little castle in the middle of the city. I bet you’ll fantasize about being of royal descent and living there, just like I maybe (totally) have.

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Run along the Lake Shore. Or walk or bike. Not all of it the route pretty, but how can you not love the pretty pink beach umbrellas at Sugar Beach or the phenomenal view of the downtown skyline from the new Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail (which is just off of the Lake Shore trail)?

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Eat. Eat. Eat. One of the things I feel so fortunate about living here is the wealth of good food we have here. I don’t go to very many places regularly because there are so many options, but some spots off the top of my head that you should try: go for a burger and fries at the beautiful Café Cancan (it’s the pretty pastel nistro pictured above); go with an empty stomach to Bar Raval and eat as many tapas as you can (even better if you’re a bigger group so you can try as much as the menu as possible); have dim sum at Rol San in Chinatown; carb load at Buca downtown (their pizzas — especially the burrata pizza, oh my gosh, so good — and pastas are simply beyond; that’s their carbonara pictured below); do a little taco tour and hit up Grand Electric, La Carnita and Campechano; stop into Momofuku Noodle (it’s in the Shangri-La Hotel, which is one of my favourite hotels to stay in when I travel, their service is always top notch) for some pork belly bao and to slurp up a bowl of ramen.

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Hike in Rouge Valley National Park. The Rouge Valley Park is a new discovery for me. It’s outside of the core, but there’s now Parkbus that’ll get you there. I know when I travel to cities, it’s busy and noisy and sometimes I just need a half-day to decompress. Getting out into some nature and solitude is what works best for me, and the park is green and pretty.

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Not motivated to drive an hour to Rouge Valley? Stay central and pop over to Trinity Bellwoods Park or to High Park for a summer picnic.

Now, ready to book your next trip? Here’s how you can save some money:

Inspired to go travel, whether it’s to come here to Toronto, or anywhere in the world? Well, here’s a little gift for you: book through www.booking.com using this exclusive link (it’s my exclusive refer-a-friend link), and you’ll get a $40 discount from your reservation. That money you save could go towards a great meal, or tickets to a show, or whatever you choose to do on your adventures!

www.booking.com

And I’d love to hear about your travels! I’m always looking for wanderlust inspiration!

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4 Comments July 24, 2017

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