For the long weekend this year, my boyfriend and I yearned to get out of the city, but were searching for a trip that was low key, not too expensive, within a few hours of driving and above all – relaxing. After a quick Google search, we came up with a number of options – one of the many reasons I love Ontario is that there is never a lack of interesting destinations! We decided on Port Hope, a small town about an hour and half east from Toronto in the west end of Northumberland County. Located at the mouth of the Ganaraska River on the north shore of Lake Ontario, Port Hope looked like the perfect getaway: beaches, bike trails, good eats and antiques.
We stayed at a lovely Air B&B hosted by Jeffrey Allan, and my boyfriend Mike posted our review on his page. A cozy, comfy home, convenient and I swear we would have been friends with these folks, they had the same taste as us! Air B&B is cool that way – getting a glimpse into another person’s life.
The next morning we wandered downtown and hit up Queenie’s, a cute little cafe recommended by our Air B&B host. Fresh coffee and a croissant was a delightful way to start our day.
We discovered a little Farmer’s Market over the bridge behind the Town Hall. I ended buying some amazing handmade items – a wooden bowl that holds your ball of yarn, knit wool yoga socks, a succulent plant, cedar jelly, and was very tempted to buy one of the adorable rabbits below (but that’s when my boyfriend put his foot down…). I don’t think my cats would be too happy with a rabbit either! Although apparently they do get along, according to the rabbit breeder.
In the afternoon we jumped on our bikes and headed just outside of town to Primitive Designs, a huge antique and craft store who import unusual and exotic items from around the world. The store is incredible, and we spent hours browsing and even came back the next day to purchase some larger items. Most impressive were the T-Rex and Transformer found artworks outside that were built out of recycled automobile parts. AMAZING.
Inside the store, there were two floors filled with the coolest furniture, decor, jewelry, clothes and so much more. There was something for everyone and the prices varied from affordable (a $10 wooden coffin box from the Phillipines) to “one day when I’m rich” (a handmade Predator-designed coffee table priced at a few thousand dollars).
We spent so long at Primitive Designs that by the time we biked back and were ready to head back out again for dinner, most places were already closed. Luckily, Black Beans on Walton street let us sneak in an order just before their kitchen closed. We sampled a bunch of snacks including: a black bean dip with fresh corn tortillas; Yucatan lettuce rolls with rice noodles; deviled eggs with a lemon dijon mayonnaise, pico de gallo, tomatillo & bacon (an unusual but devilishly delicious combination); shrimp el barco (shrimp in a jalapeno boat with cream cheese, wrapped in smoked bacon and roasted – the shrimp and bacon combination didn’t really work in my opinion); and a pogo loco (house made chorizo sausage, dipped in light corn batter – the sausage and fried batter was a bit too rich for me). The platter had some really interesting and unique flavours, and was an all round satisfying and fun late night dinner!
On our last day in Port Hope we explored the town some more and picked up a few books and antiques – I shopped a lot more than I expected!
As we headed down Mill Street towards the beach, a line of Canada geese came waddling across the street. I was careful not to get too close to all the baby goslings in the group – I had no desire to test how protective the adult geese would be!
The beach and pier were so pretty, with the water sparkling a clear blue and the warm sun shining down on us. The weather was still a bit too cool for swimming, but it was a perfect spring day nonetheless. Looking out at Lake Ontario, I breathed in the cool fresh air and thanked Port Hope for such a relaxing weekend. I was able to get away from the city and appreciate the simpler things in life: good food, art, nature, quiet streets and antiques.