Think you’ve seen all that Ontario has to offer? Hate the crazy traffic on the 400-series highways that drives you nuts when you try to escape the urban sprawl of Toronto and neighbouring cities? For a change of pace, you may want to take a road trip along Lake Erie – along the north shore.
This area is not congested with tourists on weekends, particularly early in the morning. At most, you need to fear the occasional deer that may pop up to fly across the road.
There’s no easy way to provide directions. This is a case of knowing where you are positioned and going constantly west… with the occasional turn onto a road south or north to further keep going west.
Why explore the areas of Norfolk, Elgin and Essex counties? Here are five reasons:
There are palm trees in Port Dover
Palm trees in Southern Ontario – strange but true! These ones grace the shoreline at Port Dover.
Despite being well-known for Friday 13th biker rallies which bring riders from all over Canada and the US, Port Dover is also a popular town for summer time visits.
For anybody who has never vacationed here or just stopped by for a few hours, the most shocking view is that of several palm trees that dot the sandy beach shoreline right at the base of the town.
The best time to visit this town is early in the morning (and I mean early – 7:30 a.m. or thereabouts is the best time) to ensure you don’t deal with crowds. After all, most visitors at this point are sleeping off the effects of this town’s bars or long day of playing along the beach. Just be beware of the occasional muscle car that creates noisy havoc revving up and down the quiet streets. We had to deal with one such yahoo during our recent visit.
Take a walk along the breakwall to the lighthouse, built in 1846, to get a great view of the port and shoreline along either side.
Marshes at Long Point
If you don’t want to camp at the sandy dunes of Long Point or spend time on the beach, check out the marsh that is on the west side of Long Point Road (traveling towards Long Point Provincial Park). The entrance to the wooden lookout is somewhat hidden, so if you drive fast you may just pass by it.
This is a spot to stretch your legs and take in the view of a large marsh. Bring along binoculars or your best zoom lens for your DSLR camera to take in the views of birds going about their daily lives in this lush area.
Port Bruce – former fishing village turned recreation spot
Apparently the fishing in Port Bruce is still good if you are a recreational fisher. Here you can find Lake Erie Yellow Perch and Walleye. The town has many reminders of it’s fishing village roots including a beautiful lighthouse.
However, for most visitors to this small town the provincial park here is what lures you to stay for a few hours. Check out the bluffs visible from the beach – on a stormy day, the view becomes quite dramatic.
Head north for about 10 minutes and you come across the local Rush Creek winery to get a taste of the fruits of this land.
Baked deliciousness at Killer Desserts in Port Stanley
It’s too sweet and big to eat on your own, unless you have a huge sweet tooth – share the Everything Buttertart with your traveling companion with a shot or double shot of espresso to take off the sugary edge.
This baked-on-site tart is loaded with raisins, pecans and walnuts, along with a crunchy, caramelized bottom crust.
All desserts here look so good – during our next visit we plan to try the Margarita Cheesecake with triple sec and tequila.
Point Pelee Marsh
While standing at the point of Point Pelee itself is pretty amazing, walking along the boardwalk in the marsh is breathtaking. As far as your eye can see, the landscape is waving bullrushes, reeds, water lilies and marsh plants.
If you take a leisurely, quiet walk along the floating boardwalk, you can spot numerous birds which make this marsh their home.
Have you ever taken a road trip along Lake Erie? What were your favourite places to visit and experience?