Tour This Town – Elora, ON

Elora is located about 30 min north-east of Waterloo in the heart of Wellington County,  and truly is one of the most picturesque towns in Ontario.  With a population of just under 8,000, this town is a tourist hot spot for the adventurer, creative spirit, foodie or eager shopper.  Known for its amazing shops, thriving artist scene and incredible cliffs and caves belonging to the Elora Gorge, the town has and continues to build up, a warm community inclusive to all who want to wander about.

img_3280.png
Photo source – Instagram @drimmieflorist

One of the most recognized architectural landmarks in Elora is the Elora Mill, which was built in the 1930s and is currently wrapping up a massive renovation to become a luxury Inn, complete with spa, dining and elegant event facilities.

When you’re booking your outing to Elora, I recommend you spend at least a half day in town and half day exploring the natural scenes of the Elora gorge, Elora Quarry and surrounding parks and adventures – including zip lining, tubing, kayaking and hiking (ok so you may need more than a half day for all that).

IMG_3277

 

Here are the shops and stops I recommend exploring while in the area:

 

TO SHOP

Pariscope – A delightful little French-inspired shop filled with fine linens, soaps and home decor items to beautifully dress up your table and home.  Many of their fine products have been directly imported from Europe so take trip a little closer to home this summer and still bring back some wonderful keepsakes!

 

Karger Gallery – Truly a one of a kind gallery shop filled with handcrafted furniture, décor, fashion and jewellery with a flair for the unique.  Items crafted from Canadian artisans as well as supporting fair-trade arrangements from international artisans around the world, Karger Gallery focuses on one of a kind, hand-crafted unique items for your home and body.

 

Honey Church Lane – A beautifully crafted vintage gift shop and furniture refinishing emporium.  Carrying the full lines of Homestead House Milk Paint, Mill Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, Fusion Paint, FAT paint, as well as the tools and expertise you’ll need for your next furniture refinishing project.  Don’t forget to peek at the unique light fixtures, mirrors and gift items for sale throughout the shop.

 

Mermaid Emporium – I don’t believe I have or ever will be in another shop quite like this one.  If you need shelf brackets, door knockers, mail boxes, plaques, hooks or anything similar for your home, this is the shop to check out!  The store goes on and on into themed corners and walls of the most interesting and unique collections.

 

 

img_2969.jpg

The Queen’s Fancy – Located just outside Elora in the corner town of Salem, this warehouse style shop is packed full of vintage and restored furniture and accessories.  There are also many handcrafted tables, benches, pieces of art and decor items that will surely appeal to the country or eclectic homeowner.

 

 

There are so many small shops and artist studios in town you really need to poke around and explore what the town has to offer.  I really couldn’t include them all but I encourage you to explore the side streets, brightly coloured buildings and corner studios for a look at some amazing artisans and galleries.

 

TO EAT

Elora Brewing Company – Brewery, gastropub and amazing farm-to-table restaurant, this place is the perfect place to lunch, dine or grab some brews before heading back on your road trip home.  The rustic and industrial touches of the pub make for a great contrast to the local fresh food and refreshing brews.   Check out their local events and facilities for your next private event too.

 

Lost & Found Café – A vibrant and friendly cafe perfect for the start of the day or an afternoon pick-me-up.  The cafe supports local and organic when possible, hunting down nothing but the freshest ingredients from local farmers and markets.

 

The Secret Garden Tea House – The sweetest little place for traditional English Tea with whoever you brought along with you on your day out.  I’m thinking this would be ideal for a mother/daughter day out and I can’t wait to take my sweet baby girl in a few years.  Also a place worth considering for any bridal or baby shower events you may be hosting.

 

img_28131.jpg

The Cork – Casual fine dining in the heart of Elora, the Cork offers fresh and locally inspired menu options.  Be sure to enjoy the patio during warm weather and check out their special events menus for that next special occasion.

 

IMG_2954.JPG

The Desert Rose Cafe – Homemade vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free cooking in their cafe, cooking classes, ready-to-go meals and beautiful event space.  Ethnically diverse offerings and nothing but the freshest, the Desert Rose also has an award winning cookbook worth checking out.

 

 

TO TOUR

img_3281.png
Photo source – Instagram @geoffwild

Elora Mill – The Elora Mill is recently undergoing an extensive revitilization under the Pearle Hospitality Group (owners of the Cambridge Mill, Ancaster Mill & more).  Although currently only open for special events, their dining, hotel suites and spa will surely be as impressive as what we’ve been able to see so far.  Opening July 6th, 2018!

 

img_2934.jpg

Elora Gorge – Nothing short of breath-taking, the Elora Gorge is part of the Grand River Valley with trails alongside the cliffs and caves reaching as high as 22 meters.  Check out this variety of exploring opportunities below:

  • Tubing – explore the gorge with an adventurous and wet viewpoint.
  • Rock climbing & zip lining – ONE AXE PURSUITS – for the thrill seeker and adventurer
  • Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, camping and more!  Visit here for more details on these adventures.

 

People enjoying the beach and blue waters of Elora Quarry Park
Photo source – Grand River Conservation Authority

Elora Quarry – This local spot has become a busy destination on hot summer days as locals and tourists enjoy taking a dip in the refreshing waters and beautiful limestone cliffs reading up to 12m in height.

 

Homes & Architecture – One of my favourite things to do while in new towns is to cruise up and down residential and back roads exploring the architecture and homes of the town.  Elora surely did not disappoint and I think I picked out a few homes I could see myself moving into.

 

Whether you pop into Elora for just an afternoon or have a couple of days to explore and seek adventure, the stunning nature and architecture are the perfect backdrop for the picturesque town of local artists, shops and fresh local eateries.

 

 

Tour This Town – Tillsonburg, ON

 

Tillsonburg may be a town you haven’t heard of, but like most small towns in Southern Ontario, you probably will pass through it or near it this summer on your way to friends or the beach.  As the weather warms and we yearn to get outdoors and seek exploring new areas, why not take a morning to visit some of the unique and independent shops on your way to your next adventure.

I must admit, this town made my radar based on the first stop on my list. I was after some light fixtures for my home and had been following the shop on Intagram, browsing all of their inspiring posts. After purchasing the perfect kitchen pendants, I quickly discovered what more the town had to offer and hope you will be able to too!

 

 

J.D Lighting

This family owned and operated lighting and décor store provides an array of options both in-store and online. No matter your style, their knowledgable staff will assist you in selecting the best lighting for your needs. Don’t forget to gander upstairs and check out some of their adorable décor items as well!

 

 

 

Tillsonburg Antiques Plus

A collection of antiques and treasures for your browsing pleasure. This multi-vendor marketplace surely will have you taking home a little piece of history with an array of furniture, tools, books, art and home accessories to look through.

 

 

 

The Anchor Shoppe

This home décor and supply store will surly have you ready to set sail on your next project. Pick up some Fusion mineral paint for your next décor project or browse their large selection of beautiful home décor and furniture displays.  With a casual, beachy vibe, this shop screams summer living!

 

IMG_1304.JPG

The Fox & Fawn

Unfortunately this little gem wasn’t open when I was in town but peeking in the windows led me to believe this shop has some lovely antiques and collectables. Lace and delicately cared for décor items seem to be beautifully displayed, waiting to make that perfect gift for someone dear of just for you.  Let me know if you get here and what you are able to find!

 

IMG_1301.JPG

Pedlar’s Quay

A collection of unique and quality gift and home décor items can be found in this beautiful 1872 Heritage Home. Whether you are shopping for that hard to buy person or a little something to bring into your home, Pedlar’s Quay has something for everyone and for every room.

 

 

 

The Cup & Cake

This bright old home has been converted into a cheery place to meet up with friends for lunch or coffee and dessert. Be sure to have a lovely cup of tea here and some of their made from scratch British baked goods.

 

img_2234.png
Photo source – Facebook

Dad’s Ice Cream

This seasonal joint is your next family tradition.  Described as having the best selection and offering the best ice cream in town, this cool stop is sure to satisfy every member of your family.

 

Take a scenic drive this summer on your way to the beach, stopping into Tillsonburg’s adorable home décor, gift shops and tasty eateries!

 

Did I miss a stop in Tillsonburg or perhaps you have a town to suggest I get to this summer – don’t hesitate to let me know!

 

 

Tour This Town – Stratford

Best known for its theatre and arts culture, Stratford is a tourist hotspot with some amazing shops and delicious eateries. First settled in 1832, Stratford really began booming in 1850 when the railroad came to town and the manufacturing district really took off.  This town is less than 30 minutes from my house so I tend to get there a little more than I care to admit after discovering some unique and inspiring stops.  With a population of just over 30,000 people, visiting Stratford means engaging and supporting hardworking small businesses and encouraging a prospering art community.

Whether you are heading to town for a Shakespearean play or to meet a friend for lunch, make sure you check out some of my recommended stops in this picturesque town:

 

Wills & Prior

Hands-down the most perfectly curated home shop I have ever been in. Owner Sarah has an amazing eye for mixing vintage pieces with modern accessories in a European-feeling design that will compliment any home or make for the perfect gift. Whether you are in the mood for a vintage accent chair, well-made Dash & Albert rug, complimenting basket or beautiful local-made art goods, Wills & Prior should be first on your shopping list. Pop back often as new items are constantly being added and seasonal arrangements and displays will be sure to inspire your home.

 

Got it Made

I only discovered this shop the last time I was in town and I cannot believe the creativity and craftsmanship that gets poured into each piece found here. A wonderful and unique collection of over 60 local artisan goods can be found displayed and prepared for your home or next gift.

 

Bradshaw’s

Family owned and operated since 1895, this is the ultimate stop for all things functional and beautiful for your hard working kitchen and home. Enjoy browsing a wide range of kitchen tools, beautiful linens and don’t forget to pick up your next bridal registry gift while you’re there.

 

Stratford Antique Warehouse

The multi-vendor warehouse Stratford Antiques, is home to an afternoon of exploring and treasure hunting. Take your time as you look booth by booth at some one-of-a-kind items from days gone by.  Pick up a solid wood chair, a vintage serving dish or some framed prints to compliment and add history to your space.

 

EATERIES

I’ve compiled a large list of eateries for you to explore.  You’ll probably have to return a few times to hit every stop on this list (and I’ve probably missed some amazing ones as well):

(In order from top to bottom, left to right)
Sirkel Foods – homemade food in a cafe atmosphere, join for breakfast or lunch
The Red Rabbit – fresh take on fine dining, menu inspired by local ingredients and artisan producers
The Common – eclectic mix of food from around the world, theatrical beautiful interior
Keystone Alley – casual fine dining with an amazing patio for warmer months
Jenn & Larry’s Brittle’n Shakes & Ice Cream  – year-round offering of traditional cold treats and homemade brittle
Edison’s Cafe Bar & Inn – fresh, mostly organic and simple cafe fair.  Be sure to check out their gorgeous inn as well
The Pulp – high quality juices, smoothies and vegetarian food options
York Street Kitchen – the perfect spot for a casual lunch before a show or while shopping about
Soup Surreal – a hidden hole in the wall with the best soup ever (great take home options too)
IMG_1485.JPG
photo credit – OpenTable 
Revival House – Ok so I’m dying to get to this old church turned restaurant/event space, and I can’t review it because I haven’t been there.  This multifunctional space is both restaurant/lounge and can also be rented out as an event space for weddings, parties or functions.  Call ahead if you’re heading to the restaurant because sometimes the place gets rented out.  If you have been – send me a message and let me know what you thought!

 

Whether you are in town for a theatrical show, meeting up with a friend or looking for that perfect gift, be sure to check out the amazing shops and eateries Stratford has to offer.  Did I miss one of your favourite stops in Stratford?  Message me and let me know.

Tour This Town – Conestogo, ON

Just a short five minute drive northeast of Waterloo lies the small community of Conestogo, ON. Once a thriving mill community, this small town now is home to a few great shops (especially for the vintage enthusiast) and some quiet subdivisions. Conestogo is a wonderful stop on your way through to the neighbouring towns of Elora, Guelph or Elmira.

 

You should first stop at Rumbletum Café & Gifts for some delicious breakfast, lunch or just a morning coffee. Be sure to look around at their lovely gift shop while you’re there, and make your way upstairs for more vintage finds, décor pieces and adorable clothing for the wee ones.

 

Next you’ll want to walk a few minutes down the road to Pepper Pot Place Vintage Store for a sneak at the wonderful displays of quality furnishings and vintage treasures. From lamps and crystal glasses to globes, picture frames and hutches, you’ll be sure to find something with a mysterious history for your collection or display.

IMG_0100

Another interesting shop you’ll want to explore (but unfortunately wasn’t open while I went through town) was Auburn Vintage Clothiers. A sneak peek in the windows revealed some unique looking clothing and accessories perfect for that special occasion or collection.

 

As you head on your way to your next destination, be sure to stop at Sittlers Home Baking for some goodies to go. Fresh baked breads, buns, cookies, loafs, preserves and granolas abundantly fill shelves of a small tucked away building just off the main street. Only open Wednesday-Saturday, be sure to go early for the best selection and freshest options! I highly recommend their short johns for just the perfect bite of sweet dough and cream!

IMG_9075

Finally if you continue about 5 minutes northeast outward from Conestogo, you’ll end up at the intersection of Northfield Drive East and Line 86. A large orange barn off to your left should catch your attention and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a large selection of antique furnishings at the Country Antique Store.  With everything priced very reasonably, I would think you’ll have a hard time leaving this stop without stuffing something into your trunk or backseat.

 

Let me know if you make your way to Conestogo and tell me all about some of the wonderful treasures and goodies you were able to find!

Tour This Town – Galt, ON

Before Cambridge amalgamated several small communities to form the present day city, Galt held it’s own as a historical industrial town and beautiful riverfront community. And although it is technically referred to as Cambridge, the area that was Galt is still acknowledged as such by locals. This picturesque downtown overlooks the Grand River and has an abundance of stone buildings and architecture with a long historical tale. Many local businesses have planted their seeds in buildings that have a history much longer than their own, making visiting this area a trip to days gone by.  Read more history here.

IMG_9130 2

I am a frequent traveler to this area as many of my favourite shops can be found here. You’ve probably seen me post many treasured goods that were found in Galt and I’d like to share these spots here with you today.  Here are some of my favourite stops:

Cornerstone Interiors – Once upon a time this beautiful building was the old Woolco department store that has now been transformed to a well-collected furniture wonderland. If I had to shop at only one furniture store for my whole house, this would be it! The space is huge and the selection is amazing. Something can be found here for every style – the only problem being, you’ll want to take it all home!

The Art of Home – Whenever I need a unique quality gift for someone, this little gem is my go-to store. Whether it’s a hard-to-buy for family member, corporate holiday gift or for a best friend, The Art of Home has something delightful for everyone: home décor accessories, the cutest babywear, fine jewelry, stylish clothing and tabletop items for any home.

Monigram Coffee Roasters – This cozy café roasts and sells quality coffee and tasty eats in yet another restored stone building downtown. This java joint is a local meeting spot for business folks to students to parents and tots, making it a delightful addition to the downtown community. I can’t rave enough about their sandwiches and coffee, so hop in for a quick cup of coffee to-go or for a relaxing lunch with friends.

Southworks Antique – Said to be Canada’s largest antique selection with over 125 booths and over 30,000sq ft. of treasures, Southworks Anqitues has recently settled into their new space on Water Street in Galt. Although the building lacks the charm of the old stone architecture found on the other side of the Grand River, this new location still boasts a massive selection of amazing antiques and helpful friendly staff to help you along your way.

The Flower Market – This picturesque stone cottage sits on the river’s edge and has a good selection of arrangements, unique plant holders, houseplants and gifts. Order ahead for custom arrangements or pop in for a last-minute hostess gift or birthday surprise.

See you all soon in Galt!

Tour This Town – St. Jacobs, ON

Well known for the amazing Farmer’s Market and Mennonite history, the quaint town of St. Jacobs is bustling on any given weekend in the summer months. Leading up to Christmas, the streets fill up with lights and decorations as the town comes alive in festive spirit.

Recently, St. Jacobs was voted in the top 3 for small towns in Canada by Expedia, so it’s no wonder it’s made our list of Towns to Tour.  Many people think they have been to St. Jacobs without even being to the town because of the amazing Farmer’s Market and outlet stops just 5 minutes up the road near North Waterloo.  But the downtown of the village is a must-stop for checking off some of those hard-to-buy people off your Christmas list and learning about some of the Mennonite Heritage of the town and people.  The many shops have an array of merchandise, specialty products, homemade treats and quality furnishings.

Here are my top choices to shop at with some honourable mentions as well:

Timber Barn – An amazing showroom of not only solid building materials and customizable furniture, but some awesome gift ideas, décor pieces and home-goods as well.  Although must of the store has a rustic edge, there are some lovely modern and traditional options to spruce up any space. They have everything for your home and I can’t wait to use some of their pieces in some upcoming projects.  There are many hidden nooks in this store so take your time as to not miss a treasure.

 

Stone Crock Bakery – This is one of the founding shops of the tourist town today and I will warn you, it is likely you will leave the bakery 5 pounds heavier (if not in bags, then your tummy). Behind the abundant displays of breads, pies, muffins, donuts and more, you can see many of the hardworking employees rolling out dough or mixing batter.  Visit their restaurant, meat & cheese shop or booth at the Farmer’s Market too for more delicious goods.

 

Artefacts Salvage & Design– Just 2 short blocks off the main road, where the train stops for those traveling from the Farmer’s Market, is a rustic barn housing hundreds of years of one-of-a-kind artifacts, building supplies and furnishings. These reclaimed materials are available for purchase as-is or you can customize anything you see into a beautiful piece of furniture or décor for your home.

 

img_7933.jpg

Shadetree – It can be easy to miss this store on the main street as it is set back a bit and immersed in the shade of a beautiful tree (hence the name). But this old home is filled with theme-filled rooms of decor, accessories and gift ideas. The rooms go on-and-on so keep traveling back and up as your arms fill with wonderful finds.

Here are just a few other places worth popping into:

Home Hardware Furniture, Jacob’s Grill, Exclusive Elements,
Block 3 Brewing Company, The Village Silos, La Creme

Something to keep an eye on in the village are these two transforming properties which both have a rich history:

 

If you want delicious comfort food, to see some horse-drawn carriages and Mennonite heritage, amazing specialty shops and solid quality furnishings, St. Jacobs should be a must on your shopping list!

Tour This Town – Paris, ON

About 30 minutes West of Hamilton is the small town of Paris, ON. This riverside town is home to about 12,000 people. Since my initial visit to this town by bike (40km ride there and back… what was I thinking??), I have been attracted to its’ small town charm and alluring downtown shops. Here are my top 4 must-go-to stops in Paris:

 

  1. Piper & Oak – Since discovering this place, it is now my driving reason (no pun intended) to come to town. I can walk into this store and want to purchase half of it. Owner Sarah has a great eye for design and beautifully displays furniture, accents, décor and gift items in an effortless way. The open and spacious store design allows the browsing to feel calming and unrushed… allowing you to pick up one too many things for purchasing.  My mango wood pedestal dinning table comes from this store and remains to be one of my favourite furniture purchases.   It’s a stunning piece I am proud to own and houseguests can’t go without noticing its beauty.

 

  1. Paris Wincey Mills Co – This is like a small indoor marketplace filled with tiny treasure booths and tasty eats. I have never gone in here and it not be bustling with families, conversations over coffee and busy shop owners connecting with their community. A true treasure and must stop at location for coffee, lunch and gifts to go!

IMG_7118

  1. Paris Road Antiques – Just outside of town, this small stop is packed with treasures for your home. They have an abundance of furniture, mirrors, chandeliers & more antiques that spill out of their garage and onto the patio and lawn surround. Take your time so you can note each item and bring a large vehicle so you can take home something unique.

 

  1. Still Waters Plate & Pour – Breathtaking views of the river, mouth-watering menu and courteous staff – what a combo! I have eaten here a couple times and still can never make up my mind with the menu each time. The options are plentiful and it all sounds amazing. Plan to go at least once when the weather is warm so you can enjoy the patio that looks over the river.
    (I enjoy the food so much I always forget to take pictures here.  Photos are credited to stillwatersplateandpour.ca).

Tour This Town – New Hamburg, ON

About 15 minutes West of Kitchener/Waterloo is the small town of New Hamburg. For a community of just under 8,000 people, this town has a pretty bustling downtown. Several shops & restaurants grace the streets and a gorgeous park overlooking the Nith River is a nice place to spend a sunny afternoon. After poking my head into several stores and grabbing bites at many of the eateries, I have my top 4 stops to get to when in town:

 

 

  1. Imperial Market & Eatery – First of all, the food is great. You can’t go wrong with a classic selection like rotisserie chicken or smoked brisket for lunch or dinner. Their takeout options are a go-to for our family and brunch sounds amazing (need to try that soon!).
    What really makes this place for me though is the décor and design of the restaurant. It has a vintage upscale farmhouse vibe going on.  The open concept space keeps things inviting and approachable in contrast to some of the finer architectural details. Rustic wooden pantry shelves help display local goods for sale and balance out all the traditional elements.  The generous amount of beautiful chandeliers making this place feel warm. A lovely and cozy place to dine!

 

Continue reading “Tour This Town – New Hamburg, ON”

Tour This Town – upcoming post

Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was to highlight many of the places I love to shop at and get unique home decor items from.  There are so many small towns near me with amazing little shops and I think more people need to know about them.  I don’t get any compensation for mentioning these stores so this is a genuine list of places I enjoy to browse.  Each post will highlight a few shops or eateries from each destination.  If there’s a place you think I need to know about, I’d love to have you comment so I can check it out.