It is mid-summer, you’re completely spent from your 9-5 and side hustle . . . you need a vaca my friend!
Typically, I am one of those people who err on the side that the further I am away from home the better the adventure will be. Well, let me tell you. . .
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THAT FAR!
I recently had an EPIC girls weekend in the southwest ontario region and it was full of sun, wine, beaches and of course DELICIOUS food! This is even better because one cannot always take a week or more off at the drop of a hat right? So a weekend is the perfect little getaway time.
Maybe I am am not as knowledgeable as I should be about what is right here at home, but I guess my excuse is that I am not from Ontario??? You’re right, terrible excuse!
Considering it is not only #Canada150 this year but also #Ontario150 you should really take a weekend to explore and experience what we have only a couple hours away (depending on where you live of course 🙂 ).
So the girls weekend spanned through Sarnia , Grand Bend and the area surrounding Lake Huron. I think it is about time to dive into wining, dining and beach timing!
↓ Here is a little teaser of our weekend ↓
This was one of the most quaint and homey wineries that I have been to! As soon as we got on the property we entered a beautiful terrace with flowers and were greeted by cute dogs . . . my favourite things! The winery was started in 2005 by Marc and Anne Alton. Since then, they have been making delicious wine that just so you know has minimal chemicals in the process. These guys do EVERYTHING by hand; this is not an easy task but you can really taste the care in each glass (or few) of wine 😉
Have a glass of their 2013 Red Dog Red (named after their pup!) and pair it with a spinach and feta pizza! … oh yes, did I mention they have a stone pizza oven on their beautiful terrace! I mean, does it really get better than a little ‘za and vino? I think not!
This place was a showstopper and definitely a great locale for a wedding or large event! As soon as you pull up to the front of Dark Horse you will be in awe of the grand accents of their architecture; most notably the impressive doors and classic statue of a horse. After a tour of the terrace and event space it was time to get into a tasting! I could have definitely enjoyed a couple of glasses on their terrace in front of the stone fire place, but alas, rosé all day has to end at some point right?
I went with a simple three wine tasting of summer options, this included a brut, a chardonnay and a rosé.
This little taco truck is pretty unassuming; it is humbly located in the parking lot at Canatara Blue Flag Beach. Once you make your selections you will definitely remember exactly where this truck is; it packs a punch and is a perfect treat during a beach day with friends! As much as I love just chilling on the beach and bringing my own snacks, there is always something great about some prepared, hot food during a long day. Another good thing to point out is with Mad Tacos most of their food is super shareable so you can split a few options with your girlfriends and try and bunch of different items!
Keep it interesting and go with the Hercules taco which has Greek inspired flavours of feta and olives and then of course you MUST get the nachos; there is nothing better than a good plate of nachos!
If you were waiting for some nautical vibes, this is the place! Dockside is located along that Sarnia Bay Marina and has a terrace overlooking the water. If the weather is not on your side, you’re still getting some great views as the entire interior dining area has massive floor to ceiling windows so you can yacht gaze whilst sipping down something cold. One thing to note is that portion sizes are healthy, you won’t be going hungry!
I kept that taco theme going from earlier in the day . . . I guess I can never have enough tacos! I went with shrimp tacos and paired them with a classic lime margarita!
You might not think that you would find a sushi restaurant on main street in Grand Bend, but think again! This was a highlight for a sushi loving city girl like me! Strolling down main you will find this cute restaurant with, I kid you not, one of the best patios on then street. Chilling out there sipping a lychee lemonade cocktail (a beautiful pink drink, perfectly Instagrammable) and munching on some edamame was the perfect way to spend a few hours in the afternoon. If you want a break from sun and sand, take a rest here!
A good dynamite roll is always on my mind, and it did not disappoint! As mentioned I paired it with the cocktail of the day which was the lychee lemonade. It was both beautiful and refreshing, the perfect combo!
If you haven’t heard of Oakwood resort then you likely are not a golfer! If you are a golfer, I am sure you have heard of it or have visited a plethora of times! Oakwood not only has one of the best beaches to watch the sunset but has hosted some pretty notable golf figures! If you’re not yet a pro then Colin Scatcherd, CPGA is there to turn you from a newbie to a professional! Alas, I am getting ahead of myself on the beautiful grounds and facilities of Oakwood resort! Dave’s Pub and Grill was a great way to end an evening. You can dine on a torch lit terrance overlooking the grounds or indoors in awe of the beautiful wood beamed ceilings!
Am I so predictable? My favourites were a chilled glass (or two) of rosé and the spinach artichoke dip!!! I mean . . . I think I might have to go back and get it again, except this time, no sharing!
I imagine anyone reading this who lives in Toronto or another large city centre is thinking, “ANNIKA WHERE IS THE BRUNCH???”. It is now 😀 Another weakness of mine is brunch through and through! If you’re in the Grand Bend area you do need to stop in at Schoolhouse for brunch or lunch . . or even just a snack for that matter! Schoolhouse is actually located in a historical schoolhouse from 1874, which you can feel in the architecture and accented decor on the inside.
We ended up visiting this amazing brunch spot on the lunch side of brunch and I had the Greek salad and a tall glass of homemade lemonade . . . YUM!!! The salad was generous on the feta cheese (which made me extremely happy) and the lemonade was the perfect way to cool down after an exciting parasailing adventure at the beach!
So far you may have been wondering why this post is called Sunshine & Whiskey as I didn’t have any whiskey the entire weekend. We had the amazing opportunity to go to Bluewater BorderFest a music festival right in Sarnia! When the girls and I went we were definitely excited to see the bands however, we didn’t realize that the song Sunshine & Whiskey by Frankie Ballard would be on repeat in the car for the next couple of days. It became our girls weekend anthem! BorderFest was a perfect summer music scene complete with cold drinks, awesome music and some excellent people watching!
I would suggest bringing a blanket or sweater just in case the weather is cool. We were a little chilly at the beginning but once we got dancing we warmed right up! My other suggestion would be to wear comfortable shoes! You will be on your feet for quite a bit of the night and you’re on grass, so don’t be wearing any high heels!
SUN AND SAND – cliché but so amazing! People from the area and visitors of this beach know what is up! From early in the day this beach is filling up full of families and others on weekend getaways. The beach has approximately 20 acres of sandy space, but it fills up quickly! You will notice that Canatara (where Mad Taco truck is) and Grand Bend both have “Blue Flag” in their name. This is because they are clean certified and accessible for swimming! There are 27 beaches and marinas across Canada that have “Blue Flags” flying!
If you want a good spot on the beach getting there early will make a huge difference in the set up! Try and get there around 8:00am for decent selection sandy space and camp out all day to enjoy the sun! It goes without saying but wear that SPF! I use a 60+ SPF 🙂
Parasailing is the best way to get a view of the whole area! I would highly recommend grabbing a parachute at Grand Bend Parasail! The vibe on the boat was super fun and the crew was very helpful. If you haven’t parasailed before the concept is such that you are harnessed into somewhat of a ‘seat’ with one or two friends. When the boat starts going, your parachute will catch the wind and pull you high into the air to have one of the best views of the lake and area. Once you’re up in the air it is super calming and quiet, almost zen-like.
Don’t be scared! There were a few individuals on our boat that were not so chill about going up in the air, however each of them after coming down said that the parasailing was so much more relaxing than even just being in the boat! Take the chance, you will LOVE it!
If you’re planning a trip to attend the Bluewater BorderFest this is definitely the place to stay! You’re super close to the action! You could easily walk to the concerts or if you like it is a short drive away. On top of that, the breakfast here was #onpoint! We had the terrace to ourselves on a beautifully sunny morning and a calm meal before hitting the day!
Definitely get up a little early and enjoy a sunny breakfast on the terrace. I would highly recommend the buffet; it has everything you want and more!
Pet friendly, German inspired interiors and a secret serenity garden. . . ummmm what is not to fall in love with!?? Oh, also a short walk to Grand Bend Blue Flag Beach mentioned above! This was the most quaint little inn that I have stayed at. Pine Dale is family run and they make sure that you are comfortable! I can definitely picture myself going back with Karlsson and spending some early mornings with my coffee in the garden.
Take time to walk around the grounds and explore the grassy area by the water. If you’re feeling adventurous ask at Pine Dale about canoeing along the river 🙂
So yeh, I am sure I don’t need to tell you that we had a blast! We all also were strongly aware as to how much we ate in just one weekend >.<!
This was such a great girls weekend to get my mind of of work take a break. The trip was not far from Toronto and when you’re pumping Spotify with the girls the drive is quick anyway 🙂
Happy Travels ladies!