WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? The most whimsical day trip I can think about including cottages, a winery and a flower market... with a twist!
In June 2021, I did a little road trip around Grimsby Beach and it was the perfect outing to battle the case of pandemic blahs. Now that we are back to "normal", I was able to enjoy the full experience of this part of Ontario.
A mare 20-minute ride past Hamilton, I consider it the most whimsical day trip!
It involves painted ladies, glistening waters, psychedelic Westfalia campers, rolling hills and humorous… wine (bear with me).
First things first
From Toronto, we went straight to Grimsby for our caffeine fix. The little town (population 28,883) is not to be confused with tiny Grimsby Beach by the water, 4 kms further east.
In 2021, we chose 416 Coffee Co (2 Main St West #2, Grimsby) for their wacky sense of humour. They proclaim: Our seating sucks but our coffee is great. True and true! It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee for the road.
Station 1 Coffeehouse (28 Main St East, Grimsby), is way bigger and the place for coffee and a bite, and a drink. They will keep their large front patio open “until ice and snow”, as confirmed to me. They also have an upper lounge (24 Steps Lounge) featuring shows (mental note to return at the end an outing in the area).
Down to the beach
The easiest way to get to the beach from Grimsby is to continue on Main Street and turn left on Bartlett Avenue. It will pass under the QEW and lead you to the waterfront, where it becomes Tupper Blvd. I like to park near Upper Blvd and Park Road North to start the stroll in Grimsby Beach Park. (In case you can only walk a short distance, I also noticed a small parking lot by Bell Park, which gets you closer to the beautiful houses at Fair Avenue and 3rd Street.)
At the foot of Park Road North, in the middle of a narrow park, you’ll find the access to the quiet pebble beach. It’s hard to imagine the campground run by the Methodists it was in the 1850s. Then replaced by cottages in the 1875s, this popular resort was served by train and steamboat. There were even two hotels (since destroyed by fire).
At the end of the park, you’ll get up a street to get your first glimpse of the “painted ladies”, not unlike the colourful Victorian houses in San Francisco. Then, it takes an hour to admire the whimsical neighbourhood from Temple Ln to Lake Street.
There is a gorgeous cluster of painted ladies on Auditorium Circle. In talking with the homeowners on this street we learned that it was there that residents began, more than 35 years ago, to paint the once less exuberant gingerbread cottages.
On our way out, we came upon an intriguing box on Temple Lane. It belongs to the Temple Lane Roadside Studio and uses the honour system to sell lovely cards featuring the neighbourhood’s colourful beauties (bring cash!).
Up to the escarpment
People tend to focus on the wineries around Niagara-on-the-Lake but there are more located up the escarpment. Megalomaniac Wines (3930 Cherry Ave, Vineland) is one of them, and probably the one with the best view over rolling hills and luscious vineyards. It is a 15-min drive from Grimsby Beach.
To get there, return to Grimsby (by way of Bartlett Avenue and Main Street) and keep going east on Main, which becomes King Street. Look for Cherry Avenue, an easy-to-miss country road.
The fun begins as soon as you start to drive uphill on Cherry Avenue. Megalomaniac will be to your right, preceded by a long lane through the vineyards. The main building is huge, with plenty of seating inside and out. And what a view…
The staff is really welcoming. You can reserve a table (the restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday). The store is open seven days a week. We shared bubble bread (a warm garlic loaf to die for), burrata, and shrimp tacos. All delectable. Wine by the glass ranges from $12 to $18.
On our way out, we grabbed a few bottles and found out that those who eat at the winery get a discount.
As a marketing girl, I really enjoy this winery with its line-up of Magritte-inspired labels (you know, the one featuring a man in overcoat and bowler hat with a green apple in lieu of a face?).
Megalomaniac is the winery which came up with a new creation called Much Obliged during the pandemic, in honour of the front line workers. Thirty hospitals and care homes received a personal delivery of two cases of the red and white wine to brighten their day, and Much Obliged label was also sold to the public with a portion of the proceeds donated to Food Banks Canada.
I was surprised to see the affordable cost of that label! We enjoyed their dry white Much Obliged sold at the winery and in LCBO outlets at $15.95.
Note that they offer Jazz Nights of October 13 and 20, November 10 and December 8, 2023.
Through the jungle…
To complete the outing, my friend suggested a flower market, without any additional comments, knowing very well how wildly I would love this one! I still can’t believe that I did not know The Watering Can (3711 King St, Vineland).
From the get go, they set the tone, we are welcomed by a duo of funky Westfalia camper and vintage Beatle. From a distance, I could not appreciate the full size of the white structure holding so many treasures. To call is a flower market is SUCH an understatement.
When we see the metal work on the red and gold central Bug (by Alica, Dusil Design and Landscape) we understand how unique is this store. There’s so much to unpack that I will let my photos do the talking.
I’ve never seen such a vast collection of cactus, succulents and moss under one roof. My friend kept pointing at plants he had recently bought in Toronto for double the price. Then, there’s the seating peppered around the place, to enjoy coffee and treats from the pastry counter, the café with its eclectic decor of mismatched chairs and tables and suspended bicycles…
I later learned that one can also reserve a place in their Garden Tea section, where they serve their own version of seasonal “high tea” ($40/person, $45/gluten free & vegan, $20/children), served Monday to Saturday at 11 am, 1 pm ans 3 pm.
To top it off, they now offer seasonal workshops in separate green houses, each one adorned with a different funky façade. They include the cost of material to create our own moss bowl, succulent sensation, bountiful harvest, majestic urn, etc.
Told you it was the most whimsical day trip! I can’t wait to do this again in winter time.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.
Toronto Best Urban Strolls is currently SOLD OUT but you can still get Toronto Street Art Strolls in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at email@example.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.