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Restaurants On King Street West – Best Take Out Options in Toronto

So here we are Toronto, back in lockdown. I don’t know about the rest of you, but cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of my life was never part of my plan. Yes, it’s healthy and yes we can argue that it can be more economical to do so. However, it takes a lot of time and energy. Time we could be listening to our children. Time we could spend out walking a few blocks and getting fresh air. In the interest of saving my sanity and investing in keeping local businesses alive as best we can, I admit to turning to my neighbourhood restaurants on King Street West for the best take out options. 

Restaurants on King Street West

From Strachan Avenue to Spadina Avenue these local restaurants on King Street West are in need of the love of the neighbourhood. Do your part and support local! If you can, skip the delivery fee, walk to pick up your meal or ride your bike. If that’s not possible all of these restaurants on King Street West use delivery services such as UberEats and Skip The Dishes. Here are some of my favourites and recommendations for you to pick from – not a single one is part of a chain or big box store. They are all locally owned and operated.

King Rustic

Gourmet Comfort Food at it’s finest! Dishes here are made from scratch, in the kitchen of the restaurant from recipes passed down from generation to generation.

You can order online from King Rustic here.

 

Beast Bogeda

Tucked onto a quiet street in a residential neighbourhood and basically behind a church is the altar of food. Get it, church, alter? Haha.

Anyway, Beast is the type of restaurant you can never get bored of. The originality and taste of the food is extraordinary. The price is good and while it is a carnivore’s dream is also vegetarian friendly. I’ll order from them again and again.

 

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You can order online from Beast Bodega here.

 

The Wheat Sheaf

The staple of the corner of King and Bathurst, The Wheat Sheaf is famous for its wings. While the price has gone up quite a bit since renovations between 2019-2020, they’re still tasty as all hell. And I’m a sucker for good wings. Other food options as well!

You can order online from The Wheat Sheaf here.

 

Rosina Restaurante

Hands down, the best pizza in the city can be found right here at Rosina Restaurante. My kids cannot get enough of it. This is the kind of place where the servers know your name and always want to return.

 

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You can order from Rosina Restaurante by calling them on the phone at 416-519-2994 after looking at their menu.

Bamboo Buddha Chinese Restaurant

There’s a very unscientific method to measuring how good a Chinese food restaurant is. This method is pretty much only mine and it’s not for others to take seriously… My measure is how good the General Tao chicken is. Bamboo Buddha manages to make and serve the best I’ve ever had. And seeing as though on a busy street such as King Street with a high turnover of dining establishments, this one has stood the test of time of being in business more than 15 years.

 

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You can order from Bamboo Buddha by calling them on the phone at 416-504-9311 after looking at their menu.

Oretta Cafe

The most divine desserts and pastries? Find them at Oretta. If you didn’t know before how badly you needed them in your life, you will after you taste them.

 

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You can order online Oretta Cafe here.

 

Wvrst

Normally, this is the place to go for communal beer hall good times where sausage is always on the menu. Pretzels and duck fat fries are also good. One of the coolest aspects of the delivery or take away options here is the massively extensive beer menu.

 

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You can order online from Wvrst here

 

Marben

For the farm to table food, it doesn’t get any better than Marben. And for takeout, they offer a couple of options which I think are amazing. You can do a same day order on Skip The Dishes and Ritual or you can do a custom hot takeout that has to be ordered a day in advance. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only for hot takeout, menu predetermined.

You can order online from Marben here.

 

Big Smoke Burger

Using top quality and local producers where possible, these burgers are amazing. And there are a few locations in Toronto. This one just happens to be walking distance from my front door.

You can order online from Big Smoke Burger here.

Patria

 

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You can order online from Patria here.

 

Hope this list of restaurants on King Street West in Toronto that provide take-out and delivery options has inspired you to support the local economy during this time. Of course, it’s safest to cook at home, but for the nights you need a break and you’re in downtown Toronto, consider some of these options.

Restaurants on King West - BEST TAKE OUT OPTIONS IN TORONTO I Stay home I King Street West Toronto I Toronto foodies I Home food order I Eating In I Skip The Dishes I Uber Eats I Take-Out I Gourmet Burgers I Sustainable Eating I Local eating I Eat local I support local I Toronto restaurants

Guide To Hogg’s Falls, Grey County

Hogg’s Falls, outside of Flesheron, is one of the many waterfalls of Grey County, Ontario. While some might call it a secret of the area, those of us in the know, call it a treasure to enjoy. 

The falls are in a secluded area on the Bruce Trail in the forest preserve area of Beaver Valley. Hogg’s Falls are fed by the Boyne River that you can hike alongside. The waterfall itself is 7 metres tall and flows year-round unless it gets cold enough for it to freeze.

The falls are named after William Hogg, who built a sawmill upstream of Little Falls – the original name of Hogg’s Falls in the 1870’s. That mill burned down in 1888. Hogg relocated further north in the Beaver Valley to Eugenia Falls. There is a legend that these falls are actually named after a world-class cricketer, William Hogg. However, I have yet to find the connection between the two of them.

Approaching Hoggs Falls on the Boyne River, just outside of Flesherton, Ontario in Grey County

 

How To Get To Hogg’s Falls

The address of the parking lot for Hogg’s Falls is 170566 Lower Valley Road in Grey Highlands. If you are driving from the  Toronto area, the simple directions are to take highway 10 north to where it ends at Champ Burger and Super Burger. At those stoplights, head west through the town of Shelburne. When you reach Owen Sound Road, head north to Flescherton. You’ll see the signs to head northwest on Collingwood Street and then you can follow signs to Hogg’s Falls from there, but your GPS on your mobile device is the best bet from coming from anywhere else in the province of Ontario.

Parking has been free in the past to visit, hopefully, it stays that way.

 

Hiking to Hoggs Falls

From the parking lot, it’s a short, half kilometre and gorgeous hike on the Bruce Trail alongside the Boyne River to the waterfall. It will not take you more than 5 minutes.

At the top of the falls, there is no viewing platform or fence. Please hold onto your children and exercise caution when viewing from the rockface overlook. You CAN however get to the bottom of the falls two ways. I have made the trek to Hogg’s Falls a couple of times and have done the viewing both ways.

There is a side trail that takes you down to the river. You can if you’re okay with risking getting wet, hike alongside the side trail. I always recommend bringing a second pair of shoes and socks in your vehicle when you hike. This way if you get wet, you have dry socks and shoes as back up. 

Hiking in the area of Hogg's Falls alongside the Boyne River, November 2020

The other way to get eye level with Hogg’s Falls is to climb down a rope that has been replaced quite a few times and is quite muddy. I have personally done the rope climb up and down a couple of times and while I do not find it to be difficult, it does require caution. Your hands will get dirty doing this. The rocks are always wet and that makes it slippery. I cannot vouch for the safety of the rope and definitely use it at your own risk. The drop is not far, but you are on wet rocks. There is always a risk of slipping and injury.

Here is a video of me climbing up the rock face at Hogg’s Falls so you see what it is:

The trail from Hoggs Falls continues through Lower Valley Road and there is a great 5.3-kilometre loop.

Hoggs Falls in Grey County

About Hogg’s Falls

Hogg’s Falls is on what is known as Crown Land. Crown land is the term used to describe land owned by the federal or provincial governments.  

The falls are classified as a plunge waterfall. A plunge waterfall means they are waterfalls that drop vertically without touching the underlying rockface. Another great example of a plunge waterfall in Southern Ontario is Decew Falls, close to St. Catharines.

A burning question a lot of people have – where is the washroom? There is a porta-potty at the parking lot. I’ve seen many people park and look for a place to get changed so they can take Instagram worthy pictures of themselves in flowing dresses. There is no changeroom here for that.

This is not the place to dump the garbage from your vehicle either, so please plan to take out with you what you bring in.

Hoggs Falls behind the author in August 2020

 

Winter In Hoggs Falls

It is definitely possible to visit Hoggs Falls in the winter months. While summer is always a good time to view waterfalls, the cold weather brings a certain calm and tranquillity. And fewer crowds! The trail is perfect for snowshoeing except for the stairs. Pop your equipment off there to go up and down. 

Hogg’s Falls are seriously picturesque in the winter. While I would not recommend getting in the water for any photos, you can definitely view them and enjoy them.

 

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Proximity and Hike to Eugenia Falls

Eugenia Falls is known to be the show stopper between the two waterfalls. Between Eugenia Falls and Hogg’s Falls, you’re more likely to find crowds at Eugenia Falls.

In the area around Hogg’s Falls, you’ll find many trails. Hogg’s Falls can be accessed from the Bruce Trail, which is one of the longest marked hiking trails in all of Canada.  The loop trail between Hoggs Falls and Eugenia Falls is 12.6 kilometres.

If you’re not in the mood to hike the trail or are physically unable to do so, you can drive between the two waterfalls in under 10 minutes.

Eugenia Falls, Grey County in early autumn, September 2020

 

Other Things To Do In The Area

Trust me when I say that a drive to Hogg’s Falls is only part of a day or afternoon trip. In Grey County, there are a lot of craft breweries, wineries, cideries, world-class hiking and attractions that are all worth seeing and experiencing. Hogg’s Falls is approximately a 45-minute drive from Scenic Caves and the village of Blue Mountain. You can also make it to Collingwood or to Owen Sound in an hour.

Guide to Hogg's Falls, hiking and viewing the waterfalls in Beaver Valley in Grey County, Ontario

Free Things To See In Toronto With Your Kids

On any normal weekend or summer day, it’s not uncommon for tourists to wander the streets of downtown Toronto. Out of towners can be seen armed with their maps application open on their phones and wide-eyed kids looking around. Many families from around rural Ontario and in non-pandemic times, New York State flock to Toronto on weekends or holidays. They crowd many of the top attractions like the aquarium or the museum not knowing how many gems that the locals know about. And of course, we know how to entertain ourselves for free all year long! I’m not talking about a one-weekend festival or street party. These are places that exist all year long. From the interesting to the strange, unusual and seemingly normal, here are some of my favourite free things to see in Toronto, Ontario with kids in all seasons.

Distillery district of Toronto Art Installation

Free Things To See In Toronto With Your Kids

You’re clearly here because you want to know some of the best spots to see interesting and free things in the city of Toronto and entertain your kids. Skip all the lines and admission costs and knock a bunch of cool and offbeat places on this list off. Again, there is no cost to enter and observe anything listed here. Local Toronto family secrets revealed!

For those who are going to ask – I actually live, work and play in the city of Toronto. I raise my children in downtown. They attend a downtown school. They are thriving artists and athletes. We do not live in a box in the sky. We actually treasure and utilize our local library. What to know more about our urban lifestyle? You can check out What It’s Like Living In Toronto With Kids here.

 

Leslieville’s Crazy Doll House – The Tchotchke House, 37 Bertmount Ave

If you want to feel like you’ve just arrived on the set of a Tim Burton movie, well, you’ve found it. Almost everyone in the east end Leslieville neighbourhood knows about the dollhouse on Bertmount Ave. Unlike the neighbouring tidy lawns filled with flowers and simple decor, the doll house’s front yard is full. It’s filled with everyone from Barbie to Homer Simpson, John Cena, and an unreal number of classic Disney characters.

Sounds cute, right? It actually looks a little creepy. There’s something weird about all the dolls tied to the fence and sticks in the lawn.

Next time you’re on the 501 Queen Streetcar, jump off at Caroline Avenue. Take a wander north on Bertmount Avenue for this fairly uncommon and certainly unsettling lawn decor.

An assortment of dolls on the fen of the creepy dollhouse in Toronto

 

St. Mary’s Cholera Cemetery – 130 Bathurst Street

Wait, what kind of a parent takes their kids to the St. Mary’s cholera cemetery? Uh, me!

At the beginning of the pandemic, I wanted my kids to learn what happens to people while illnesses don’t get eradicated. I’m not comparing COVID-19 to cholera. Secondly, we can walk there from our front door, so we did.

This cemetery was built as an emergency burial ground. Many graves unmarked during the epidemics that hit York (later known as Toronto) in 1832 and 1834. At that time, Bathurst Street (as we know it today in the west end of downtown) was far away from the emerging city and the important Fort York. Therefore the location was thought to be a safe place to dump the dead. The remains of those in this cemetery are thought to be British and Irish immigrants who contracted cholera on their transatlantic voyage to Canada.

These graves were forgotten for many years. Human remains in unmarked graves on the lawn of St. Mary’s church were discovered a few years ago during work to the foundation of the church. A little bit of historical digging proved who and what was there. While this is a slightly macabre stop, it’s a great history lesson on the founders of the city. This is what our ancestors went through in order to settle here and build the city of Toronto.

Headstone at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Bathurst Street marking the cholera cemetery

Necropolis Cemetery – 200 Winchester Street

Another cemetery? What on earth are we doing at the Necropolis in Cabbagetown, at the east end of downtown? Well, the Toronto Necropolis is one of the city’s oldest and most historic cemeteries. History buffs will be cool with this information – this cemetery is where you will find the graves of  William Lyon Mackenzie; journalist George Brown (of which a college is named after); John Ross Robertson, founder of the Toronto Telegram; former NDP leader Jack Layton; Anderson Ruffin Abbot, the first Canadian-born black surgeon; and world-champion oarsman Ned Hanlan (think Hanlan’s Point).

It’s one of the most photographed places in the city due to the Victorian buildings, gothic architecture, stained glass windows and historical significance. There is also a monument here for Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews. The duo was hanged in 1838 for their roles in the Mackenzie Rebellion. What was the MacKenzie Rebellion? Oh, you can read about that insurrection here.

Now, if your kids tolerated this geek fest of an excursion, there is a great ice cream shop kitty-corner to the entrance gates. Grab a cone and head to the next destination, which is right across the street.

Necropolis Cemetery Gate in Toronto with children in front of it

Riverdale Farm

Across the street from the Necropolis, it makes sense that there is an urban, working farm, right? Riverdale Farm is a 7.5-acre property that will give kids and parents a first-hand taste of real farm life. Everything happens here from raising and breeding livestock (cows, horses, donkey, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, rabbits, and farm cats) to the year-round craft programs in The Meeting House.

The farm also features flower, vegetable and herb gardens. There are wooded areas and ponds connected to the city’s rich ravine system to walk through as well. I used to come here when my kids were toddlers in the spring when the baby animals were out. It was pretty magical.

Kids with ice cream cones in front of Riverdale Farm gates in Cabbagetown Toronto

High Park Zoo

Kid you not, I walked up and down this little zoo hundreds of times with my kids in strollers. First was my daughter, then came my son. High Park was a favourite of mine to get my walks in while on maternity leave. And I was never alone! With over one million visitors annually, High Park is the absolute best in Toronto’s park system.

First opened in 1893, The High Park Zoo has eleven paddocks hosting a variety of animals including bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle, emus and sheep. Let’s not forget the notorious tropical rodents known as capybaras that busted out of the High Park Zoo and frolicked in the neighbourhood like star crossed lovers for weeks back in May 2016.

Listen, the poop smells here, but the kids don’t seem to mind. Once you have strolled the zoo, be sure to hit the cafe for the breakfast or lunch special. Best priced and value breakfast in the city – in my honest opinion.

 

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Here’s Houdini enjoying the morning sunshine. #highparkzoo

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Hike the Glen Stewart Ravine

I’m all about hiking trails. And this one feels like a picturesque secret. The Beaches neighbourhood in the east end of the city has a much more laid back and into nature vibe than a lot of other places in the city and I am here for it.

You can find the Glen Stewart Ravine just south of Kingston Road, or just north of Queen Street East depending on how you want to describe it. In the summer, the canopy of green is just breathtaking, in the fall, the autumn hues are stunning. This 15-minute walk in the east end neighbourhood is a gem of a find in the bustle of the city. You’ll find wildlife and places to explore. This is where your imagination can run wild.

Kids in Glen Stewart Ravine, Beach neighbourhood Toronto

 

Distillery District Art Installations

The Distillery District in Toronto is hands down one of my favourite places to take the kids at any time of the year, for any occasion. To visit this area takes you back to the time of horse-drawn carts and industrial Victorian architecture. Mix with new design, modern cafes, tasty restaurants and you have a recipe of an area we are fortunate to be able to visit again and again for free.

What’s truly phenomenal about the area is that there is a constant flow of art installations. Yes, there are defined festivals and exhibits to see, but at any given time you are there, it’s a visual feast to the eyes and a playground for the children. The Distillery District truly is one of Canada’s best places to visit.

Outside art installations in the Distillery District, Toronto

 

Admire the tropical plants at Allan Gardens Conservatory


Originally opened in 1860 by the then Prince of Wales, the original Horticultural Gardens has been home to the Toronto Horticultural Society since 1834. This greenhouse located on Gerard avenue is open all year long and does not charge admission fees. The greenhouse here is filled with tropical plants and flowers that pique the interest of those from aged 1-99 years of age! It’s a really cool spot to come and hand for a while and just take in the smell and scenery around you.

 

Take Pictures in Graffiti Alley

On any day, at any time, you might see an artist creating a masterpiece in Rush Lane. Rush Lane is the other name for Graffiti Alley in the Queen Street West neighbourhood of Toronto. A half-block south of the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue is where you find the signpost to Rush Lane. No walk through here will ever look the same as the artists come and go and constantly are painting over old art and cover every nook and empty cinder block.

For kids who are budding artists, this is a mecca of inspiration. Graffiti, once shunned a spam art or undesirable spray paint tags is front and centre here as murals across an entire building and completely cool street art. This is a canvas for unlimited talent.

Free things to see in Toronto with your kids? Take a walk down graffiti alley and maybe see an artist at work.

 

Ireland Park

Part of my heritage is Irish, as my kids share my genes, they share that ancestory too. I think it’s extremely important that you understand history and knowing where you have come from.

This park, located at the foot of Bathurst Street, pays homage to the tens of thousands of Irish immigrants who fleed to Toronto during the potatoes famine in Ireland looking for a better life. For many years, the Irish need not apply – meaning not only did those who survived starvation and crossing the Atlantic ocean face perils that most couldn’t handle, they arrived where they weren’t wanted.

It’s not a stretch to say that there are many prominent Toronto residents from past and present who have Irish heritage tracing back to that time.

 

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The Irish Famine memorial in Toronto #haunting

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HTO Park

HTO Park is an urban beach in Toronto. while you can’t walk out in the sand into the water here, it faces the inner harbour where you can see the Toronto Islands across the water. Grab a seat on one of the Muskoka chairs under the bright yellow umbrellas and watch the boats whiz by while your kids attempt to make sandcastles.

The sand isn’t deep enough here to be buried, but there is enough to get your toes into it.

 

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Talking bout a heatwave 🔥 📸: @whats_niu

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Where can you find all these places? I’ve plotted them on a google map for you and will update it as I discover new and interesting places!

 

PIN ME FOR LATER

From the interesting to the strange, unusual and seemingly normal, here are some of my favourite free things to see in Toronto, Ontario with kids in all seasons #CREEPYDOLLHOUSE #CHOLERACEMETERY #GRAFFITIALLEY #DISTILLERYDISTRICT #ARTINSTALLATIONS

High Heels, Harvest Moon, Rimrock and A Monster Truck – My Montana Moment

Getting to Billings, Montana was a complete and total cluster fuck. “Someone’s trying to tell you something” my mom texted me. Turbulence, rerouting, delays, missed connecting flights. Like it wasn’t meant to be. My determination made it so it was. Everything accumulated to me not making it in time for my media pre-conference tour and I was gutted. Either way, if I had not gone to TBEX in Billings, Montana in the pre-COVID travel world I would not have had this incredible Montana Moment.

Incredibly new to the online dating world at this point, I’m skeptical and definitely not an active participant. “Swipe right on that guy” my friend, Monica coaches me over lunch. “Go for it” she urges. See, I’m the Queen of the left swipe, quick trigger. It’s not uncommon to get to the very end of the list in my filters and I will have swiped left – as in “no thanks” on almost every single gentleman presented in front of me. 

Leading Up To My Montana Moment

Under my girl friend’s guidance, I swiped right on 5 or 6 guys. Boom, within minutes I had matched with 4 of them. Shit, now I need an opening line. I freeze. What the hell am I doing? I’m literally in Billings, Montana for three nights for a travel bloggers conference. I should be schmoozing with the tourism board reps at the bar at night. But instead….

“What was the best live show you’ve ever been too?” I toss that line out to all of them. I got a couple of boring answers (George Strait, The Wiggles with my daughter – YAWN) and then one stood out “No Doubt opening for GooGoo Dolls and Bush. No Doubt blew them both away”. I look back at his profile. Tall, cute, 43 years old, works in construction. His bio profile reads that he describes himself as “fit and fun. Spontaneous and generally up for anything”. Well, dude, you’re about to meet your match and then some. Let’s have an adventure.

I respond that I think that would have been an awesome show. Immediately he is asking what my plans are for the night. Excellent. Tossing caution to the wind, I invite him out for a drink. I took him off guard and he was pleasantly surprised. He gave me his cell number and we make plans to meet in an hour at a bar in downtown Billings. I excused myself from the TBEX party, left my cell phone information with a couple of colleagues (safety first!), made sure I had some cash in my wallet in case I needed to jump in a taxi and made my way to Hooligans. Beating him there, I grab a table close to the door and drop my pin on Google maps, sending it off to a couple of my friends telling them what I was doing along with a screengrab of Montana Man’s profile.  Let’s call him Strider.

“Have fun, be safe” is the response from both. 

Strider from my Montana Moment night

Hooligans

Strider comes in, baseball cap, jeans, blue and grey plaid shirt, cute as cute can be. He is tall and fit. Damn, that is a fine, fine man.

I’m completely upfront that I am in town for work for a couple of nights, I’m Canadian and leaving on Saturday because I love my healthcare and Liberalism, so even if we hit it off, I’m out. It was right in my Bumble profile too, so if he actually read it, he would know. The conversation flows easily. We talk about all the places we’ve lived in and travelled to. What we do for a living. Turns out, both of us have backgrounds in martial arts, both played rugby, we both have children, we talked about the political climate, favourite concerts, Y2K, Canadian television (he’s a Letter Kenny fan), cheesy romantic comedies (I promised him I would never divulge his favourites to the world), and of course one of my favourite topics –  craft beers.

I’m smitten. Strider’s smile is adorable. By the time we order our second beer, we’ve already decided we’re getting out of here. I want to see Billings I tell him. Strider said he knew just the place and not to worry, he wasn’t going to get “handsy”. 

As we leave Hooligans in downtown Billings, he asks if I knew what a “fuck boy truck” is. He explains that he won his vehicle in a poker game. I’m so intrigued. A block away, there it was. This gigantic, red behemoth of a monster truck. I’m in 3-inch heels, a dress and I’ve got to climb my way in and out of that? Challenge accepted.

The fuck boy truck, a big red monster truck

Swords Rimrock Park

It takes about 10 minutes and we arrive at our destination – Swords Rimrock Park. In the parking lot, there are a couple of foggy windows of people making out in their cars – no wonder he said he wasn’t going to get “handsy”, this is a make-out point for the locals! I question what’s going on here when we park and he assures me to not worry, just hop out, he’s got a surprise for me. Okay, I open the door and figure my way out of the truck in my heels. 

“So it’s a bit of a hike, not far, only 50 or so feet downhill”. Let’s recap – I just jumped out of a monster truck, it’s dark, I’m in three-inch heels, with someone I just met on an online dating app a mere few hours ago. Strider offers to piggyback me, but because I’m so damn independent and an expert hiker, I’m going to do this on my own. Managing to not roll my ankle in the process, we make it to the rim. The surprise? A stunning vista of Billings. From our vantage point, we can see it all. And a bonus? A harvest moonlight tops off the night. 

Yes, this picture is really shitty, but you can see my beige heels on the left as proof this story really happened.

My Montana Moment, at swords rimrock park overlooking Billings, high heels, a harvest moon and a monster truck

 

The Montana Moment

The great conversation continues and there are lots of laughs. He confesses his real name as he used initials on the dating app. I pulled out my SkyView app and found our birth sign constellations. Maybe it was the moonlight, maybe because before I met up with him, I was already a drink or two in, but we just looked at each other, our eyes locked and he came in for it. And he’s a good kisser. Really good kisser. 

We hung out on the rimrock for a while longer, but the night time temperature wasn’t exactly tropical. I fought it for a while, claiming my Canadianism as my shield to the cold temperature, but at a certain point, we had to give up pretending we were even remotely warm. And we both had to pee. Climbing back into his truck, he asked if I’d ever driven anything like his truck before. Nope. We parked at a gas station so we could run in to use the facilities. As we exit, Strider tosses me the keys. “You’re up”.

HELL YEAH! You can take the girl out of Belleville, Ontario, but you can’t take the Belleville out of the girl. Giddy as a teenager, running off of the high of making out with this super hot guy, I climb up, close the door and start it. I peel out of the gas station and down the road. Yes, I’m driving a “Monster Truck” in Billings, Montana and loving every second. Up and down the highway we went, I mastered the three-point turn in that baby at a dead end (it took me a few attempts). Pulling back into the front of my hotel after 1:00 am in the morning, I didn’t want to part company because we were having such a good time, but it was the sensible thing to do.

 

The Fun Of Travel…

This is where the story with Strider ends. I thought about seeing Strider the following night, but let’s be realistic about the situation. I would be heading back to Toronto in two short days. 

But, who would have thought that the most charming, winsome, down to earth, adventurous, captivating and HOT man could be found in Billings, Montana? Oh and the view from the rimrock? So incredibly worth it!

Pro-tips about online dating:

  • never meet up with someone that you have met on an online dating site without leaving your cell phone number and pin-drop location with another person
  • screengrab the profile of who you are meeting with and send it to a safety point person
  • do not arrive without a charged cell phone, cash in your wallet for emergencies and a credit card or a $20 bill stashed in a pocket as a just in case fall back

 

Where To See Fall Colours Around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

From Brighton to Trenton, Frankford and Belleville, the fall colours are coming out in full force!  It’s the time of year where the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go. And that we do. Quite frankly this is the time of year I love to be outside the most. The amazing array of colours spoil my eyes. Coupled with still moderately warmish days,  it’s a shame to stay inside and miss it. Before the short days of winter, get outside and get that final vitamin D boosts from the sun. While you are at it, enjoy the splendour of October. Here are some of the best areas to see the fall colours around Belleville and Trenton in the Bay of Quinte Region of Ontario. 

“How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”

  • John Burroughs

HR Frink Centre red leaf on a rock on Thrasher Road, Plainfield, Ontario

Where To See Fall Colours Around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

Want to know where to go for the best viewing spots for seasonal colour in the areas between Brighton to Frankford to Trenton to Belleville? I have my favourites that I will disclose to you here. So read on to find out where I like to be for optimal colour viewing from east to west of the Bay of Quinte Region!

 

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

How lucky is the town of Brighton to have neighbourhood access to one of the best provincial parks in Ontario? Presqu’ile Provincial Park boasts Lake Ontario access, bird migrations, amazing camping and lovely areas to wander. The wifi isn’t weak here though, cellular reception is fairly decent.

The best place to wander for fall foliage viewing in Prequ’ile Provincial Park though is the Jobes Woods Trail. It’s only a kilometre long so no complaining that it’s too arduous. Getting out for a half-hour walk isn’t that wrong is it? While the greens stay strong for a long time here, when they turn, is’s a brilliant canopy of golden hues overhead.

If you’re ever interested in roofed accommodation camping at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, check out my experience camping with my son there: Presquile Provincial Park, Falling For the Minka Tent

One of the best places to catch sunsets in Ontario is from here as well. Curious to know where? Read Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

 

Presqu'ile Provincial Park in fall on the Jobes Woods Trail

 

 

Frankford Tourist Park and Lock 6 on The Trent Severn Waterway

When I was growing up in Belleville, I missed a high opportunity to explore the area of Frankford. Now that I am older and my mom has relocated there, I’m sure glad she has. About 15 minutes driving north of Trenton, Frankford Tourist Park is a great place to park the vehicle. From there, you can stroll the banks of the Trent River on the west side. At Lock 6, there are picnic tables and places to rest and take in the beautiful setting.

Frankford Lock 6 looking north at the Trent River on the Trent Severn Waterway. One of the best places to see fall colours in Belleville and Trenton area!

Not only is this one of the best places to view fall colours around Belleville and Trenton, this is also one of the best places to catch a sunset in Southern Ontario. I mean come on, look at that still water reflection! Read Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

Frankford, Ontario Lock 6 on the Trent Severn Waterway

Sager Conservation Area

Roughly 30 minutes by car north of Trenton and tucked in behind the Oak Hills Golf Course is Sager Conservation Area. From the top of the lookout tower is one of the best places in all of the Bay of Quinte Region to view the fall foliage.

It’s a challenge to get up there! The hike from the parking lot to the tower is only half a kilometre and there are stairs involved as the trail is steep.

Sager Conservation Area TOWER - one of the best places to see fall colours in Belleville and Trenton area

While this is a great place to go with the family, this area is not stroller friendly or good for the mobility impaired. There are 48 additional steps going up the observation tower after the steep trek. For the able-bodied, it’s worth the 30-foot climb for the panoramic views of the Trent Valley. On clear days, you can see all the way into Belleville, Trenton and Campbellford.

This happens to be a favourite spot of mine in the winter as well Sager Conservation Area Trail: Easy Winter Hike With Kids

“Wild is the music of the autumnal winds amongst the faded woods.”

  • William Wordsworth

Sager Conservation Area selfie from tower, with orange, yellow and red leaves in background

 

Mount Pelion

Here’s full disclosure on Mount Pelion, I’ve spent some time up to no good here in my teen years. Mostly it was late at night and I was trying to impress some friends. I didn’t appreciate how awesome the view was then.

Every local in Trenton knows how to get to Mount Pelion. The pity is, I don’t know how many actually go up there.  The other day when I was there, it was empty except for a runner who whizzed by. Of course, it is early in the fall foliage season. Great for the curious wanderers, visitors to the lookout point are well rewarded with a perspective of the area that nowhere else can provide. It’s a short, but steep, uphill hike, that is worth it.

From the vantage point of the 30-foot lookout tower on top of Mount Pelion, you can see all of Trenton, into Prince Edward County and even all the way to Belleville. In the fall, it’s the perfect great time to see the autumn hues colours that blanket the city. 

Mount Pelion early autumn look out view, one of the best places to view fall colours in Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

 

Riverside Trail Park

Fall is always one of my favourite seasons. The time when trees burst with its last beauty. As if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. Riverside Trail Park is definitely where this is true.

On the trail that runs alongside the Moira River, there are several rest spots along the way to enjoy your surroundings. Pack a lunch, stroll with no destination in mind. You can park and start at the Canada flag planted on the hill that is used for toboggans and make your way along the river south and back again.

Bay of Quinte Riverside Park Trail autumn leaves

 

HR Frink Centre

This conservation area has a ton of lovely trails you can hike. I think I have some memories of my days as a Girl Guide on day trips here, that’s a lot of years ago by the way. Being a conservation area rich in a lot of trees, that’s a lot of colour bursts coming your way! There’s a marsh, a boardwalk trails in the woods and a ton of canopy tree cover. It’s a romantic spot for a socially distant date as well.

HR Frink Centre hiking trails to see the best fall colours around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

For more ideas of what to see and out around the Belleville and Trenton area, be sure to visit the Bay of Quinte tourism website. Happy autumn hue hunting!

Where to find the fall colours in Belleville and Trenton and surrounding area. The most beautiful autumn hues in the Bay of Quinte Region.
PIN ME FOR LATER

How To Vacation With Kids in the 1000 Islands

Tourism 1000 Islands hosted me to vacation with my kids in the

1000 Islands during our Stage 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our opinions are always our own and as always we aren’t coerced into having a good time.

I was incredibly fortunate to have grown up in Belleville, Ontario. Looking back now, the close distance proximity to the Thousand Islands was something my parents took great advantage of. And I’m all richer for it. We had a motorboat, a Regal. Not a large one, but we used to tow it behind our Oldsmobile named Gertrude and subsequently behind a station wagon I think my dad named Bessie and we took “Bypass” the boat to the Thousand Islands and dropped her in at the Ivy Lea boat launch summer after summer while we camped in the area. These are some of my favourite childhood memories.

Welcome to Gananoque, Ontario. Sign on road driving south to downtown.

The Canadian Gateway to the Thousand Islands is Gananoque in Southeastern Ontario.  Fortune was mine when I had the opportunity to take my own children to Gananoque for an end of summer adventure. I get to have the chance to show my kids around and reminisce about the camping, hiking and boat tour spots of my youth AND take them to a couple of new places I had yet to be.

I love Gananoque tourist picture

How To Vacation With Kids in the 1000 Islands

We stayed and based ourselves in Gananoque during our stay. Nothing in Gananoque is far away from each other. An easy 5-10 minute drive really anywhere. Or you can walk really. The one surprising aspect of this town of slightly more than 5,000 people was the location of Tim Hortons. It was on the far east side, not central. However, that means that locally owned businesses in the downtown, high pedestrian trafficked area have a chance to flourish. And they are worth it!
Downtown Gananoque
Miss M, Little Man and I got a pretty cool itinerary set up that includes a helicopter ride, a hike, kayaking and a scenic boat ride. That means we get to explore the islands from land, from the sea and from above.
Kids in front of the dam in Gananoque
The town of Gananoque is quaint and family-friendly. The waterfront park area is built around a park that boasts a splash park and play structure for the kids. As a single parent, I look for “easy” places to go and experiences to have so a lot of my time isn’t spent chasing two children at two different developmental and age stages in life. Taking kids on vacation in the Thousand Islands satisfies that. Logistically, it’s a good idea for a couple of days, trust me on that, especially during the COVID-19 time frame we find ourselves in. Plenty of opportunities in uncrowded areas to practise social distancing.
Splash pad at Joel Stone park in Gananoque in 1000 Islands
We must acknowledge that the name “Gananoque ” has a couple of meanings and is indigenous land first; “ Water Rising over Rocks” or “Garden of the Great Spirit”.
If anyone is inclined to learn about the history of Gananoque, it was a Loyalist stronghold base and supplies can in and out of The St. Lawrence River between Montreal, Cornwall and Kingston. There are remains of the canons that were used to protect the town are there. You’d have to picture that from here, you would be able to see American forces coming from across the water.
kids on a canon

Where To Stay In Gananoque, Ontario

During our stay, we are at the Colonial Resort and Spa, in the west end of Gananoque. Price point wise, this is a very affordable place for families to base themselves from.

Here is what I liked about the Colonial Resort and Spa and especially during the COVID-19 travel time frame:

  • Motel-style parking outside your door. We did not have to go into any internal hallways or pass by other guests inside
  • Outdoor pool for the kids to play in
  • Ample outdoor space for the kids to stretch their legs and play
  • The gift shop at the check-in desk area – could purchase bottles of water and sweaters for late summer air chills so you didn’t have to travel elsewhere
  • Free wifi throughout the grounds. Great in the room, seemed a little slow by the pool.
  • Fairly contactless interactions and a clean room when we arrived.
My jeep at the Colonial Inn and Spa where we stayed in Gananoque

 

Here is what surprised me about the Colonial Inn and Spa:

  • There were more Quebec license plates than Ontario plates parked in front of the rooms. I normally would not have been bothered by this but since it’s not encouraged to travel province to province right now, I was taken aback. There’s no law or rule saying it cannot be done, so game on I guess.
  • On the first day we had arrived, there was a large group gathering taking up all that common area space. This was a huge family group. I suspect it may have been more than one family and they did not pay attention to the signs stating the maximum amount of people permitted at the pool area. No one from the hotel seemed to be monitoring the situation. There were timed entry sign up sheets that were basically blank.

Kids playing in exterior pool at Colonial Resort and Spa in Gananoque

This is what I disliked about the Colonial Resort and Spa:

  • Construction crews working on adjacent rooms
  • The worn inside state of the room. It’s not fancy or new by any stretch. Trust me when I say the kids don’t mind.

Interior room and beds in Colonial resort, Gananoque

Thinking of booking a trip to Gananoque? Compare pricing and locations in the handy map below from Booking.com. I might make a small commission if you choose to book your accommodations through this link.

Booking.com

1000 Islands Helicopter Tours

Have you ever thought about taking your kids for a helicopter ride? You can in Gananoque and soar over the 1,864 islands in the St. Lawrence River and quite honestly, the view you are going to have is unrivalled. 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours and Kouri’s Kopters is the best way to see the islands, both Canadian and American from the air and give you the absolute best views.

Stunning 1000 Islands from helicopter

Up to 3 people can join the pilot, so I and my two kids work out perfectly. You must wear your facemasks for safety purposes.

Little Man, who is now 6 years old declared this helicopter ride as the best time he has ever had. EVER! He will be talking about this and the “poop lake” to all his friends for weeks to come.

Kathryn and son selfie in helicopter over 1000 islands

Truthfully, this was my first time in a helicopter and it was pretty damn exciting. Like a trip of a lifetime exciting. Like having a private chauffeur in the air! He knew the region, gave a personal narration and was very professional.

There is something extremely mesmerizing of seeing the 1000 Islands from the air. Seeing the islands, the colour of the water, the boats, the cottages and houses. Believe it or not, the water is fairly clear!

Approaching 1000 Islands in a helicopter

1000 Islands Helicopters offer a dozen tours of historic landmarks and regional activities. Their 20-minute Boldt Castle tour is a Destination Ontario Signature
Experience and their 30-minute Two Castle tour is a Destination Canada Canadian Signature Experience. What I wouldn’t give to see Boldt Castle from the air too! Next time for sure.

1000 Islands Helicopter Tours

Gananoque, Ontario from the air

 

1000 Islands Kayaking With Kids

The kids and I had an incredible morning on kayaks in Gananoque. One of the best ways to see the 1000 Islands National Park is by curving in and out of her channels and inlets by kayak. This was Miss M’s first time on her own in a kayak and she’s a natural. Little Man came tandem with me and sometimes dipped his oars into the water because it was the thing to do. It’s alright, he’s six years old.
kayaking with kids in the 1000 islands #1000islandskayaking
You know what? I am so glad we got to share that experience together. Miss M constantly surprises me with what she can do, she’s a lot stronger than she looks.
Family kayaking selfie in 1000 Islands

Our guide, Danni was super helpful and friendly and took the time to make sure the kids were cool. She knew the waterways expertly. I would absolutely recommend spending time on the water with them. The rent you the gear as part of the package so you don’t have to worry about having to strap your own to the roof of your car. The boats, life jackets and paddles are all cleans and disinfected between usage. Kayaking is a very safe, socially distant activity, just stay in your own boat.

Wildlife as seen from kayak in 1000 islands
1000 Islands Kayaking offers fully guided full-day, half-day and overnight kayaking excursions along the mighty St. Lawrence River for all experience
levels. Personally, I cannot wait until I get back out into the water there. I feel like I’m Moana and it’s calling me.
https://www.1000islandstourism.com/experiences/kayak/
Entering the harbour at Gananoque by kayak

Go For a Hike With The Kids In 1000 Islands

My dad was the driving force in my youth to getting me outside, camping, on the trails, on skis, at a campfire. I work hard to give my city kids the same experiences I was lucky enough to have as a kid. Whether they appreciate their time in nature or not, that’s a conversation for another time. Anyway, I had plans to get them hiking, but didn’t tell them ahead of time and did not dress for the part as part of the element of surprise.

Hiking trails in Landon Bay, 1000 islands

On our way to Rockport for an island boat cruise, we stopped at the Landon Bay Centre and hiked to the lookout point. This gem of a view is barely a kilometre hike from where you park and super easy for kids to get to!

hiking in Landon Bay 1000 islands

There is an extensive trail network at Landon Bay. Quite honestly, you could spend an hour like we did or you could hike all day there.  But I will tell you, the view from the Lookout Trail has long been recognized as the best natural view in the Thousand Islands area.
Hiked to the Landon Bay look out in 1000 Islands with kids for the best view

1000 Islands Boat Cruise on Rockport Boat Line

Another way to explore the islands is from a sightseeing boat. We headed over to Rockport, where incidentally the kids and I also enjoyed some ice cream at a picnic table and wandered by their marina in hopes of seeing some sunfish. Spoiler: ice cream is good. Fish sightings? Few and far between by the kids wanted to keep looking anyway.
take the kids to rockport, ontario for Rockport Cruise Lines sightseeing in the 1000 islands
All passengers are COVID screened before boarding and you must purchase reserve and purchase tickets in advance. The cruise we took was 90 minutes long and masks were required at all times onboard.
The cruise took us around islands, we saw Boldt Castle – which as a child I was lucky enough to arrive there by my dad’s boat and explore. Unfortunately, we are unable right now to dock and get off to visit Heart Island as it is on US soil. What we did see though, was outstanding! Brought back so many memories for me.
https://www.1000islandstourism.com/experiences/rockport-boat-line/
Boldt Castle on Heart Island in 1000 Islands as seen from Rockport Cruise Line sightseeing boat

Those Coveted Thousand Islands Sunsets

You might know the 1000 Islands for the waterway and St. Lawrence River, but what if I told you that some sunsets from Gananoque, Ontario are parallel to none?

Sunset at the marina in Gananoque, Ontario in 1000 islands

Until I saw it myself, I had no idea. These photos were taken at Joel Stone Park in Gananoque. What’s awesome about this area is that the kids can play at the park and catch the majesty of the sky.

Sunset at Joel Stone Park in Gananoque, Ontario

Where to Eat in Gananoque

The food menus here are fairly decent. The Tinder menu, not so much, too many photos of men holding up fish. On that note, let’s strictly focus on the food. The kids are I were in Gananoque for two dinners. We ate at Muskie Jake’s Tap & Grill and had a nice sunset view from the balcony.
We also ate at The Maple Leaf Restaurant, which is famous for authentic Czech cuisine including schnitzel, pierogis, and spaetzle.
Be sure to drop by Panache Bakery & Café at 162 King Street East for coffee and pastries in the morning.
exterior of Panache Bakery & Café at 162 King Street East, Gananoque
For a small town, this Gateway to the Thousand Islands has it all. Gananoque and the 1000 Islands region is a welcoming place with plenty of open-air and distance. Never did the kids and I feel unsafe, smothered or that we were in danger. There were plenty of activities to satisfy their interests and it’s a very outdoor place.
How To Vacation With Kids in the 1000 Islands, from kayaking 1000 islands to helicopter 1000 islands, hiking 1000 islands and where to stay in the 1000 islands