Road Trip: Two Days in Port Hope
It’s easy to fall in love with this picturesque town cozied up to Lake Ontario approximately an hour east of Toronto. Perfect for a mini-getaway, Port Hope is chock-full of great restaurants, boutiques, farms and other fun things to do.
When you’re planning your trip, the first thing to consider is where you’re going to stay. Port Hope has a number of affordable boutique inns and bed & breakfasts. Try The Plantation House Bed & Breakfast for a luxurious B&B experience, with lush rooms and organic dining. Or you could check out some of the eclectic AirBnBs in the area, like this artsy Foodie-Writer’s-Reader’s Retreat, or this incredible 19th Century Luxury Log Cabin.
Spend your first day getting familiar with Walton Street, the main business area downtown, which is lined with shops, restaurants and cafés. You’ll probably end up spending an hour or so just browsing at The Nooks, an arts market showcasing dozens of local artists—and that’s okay, because it’s a great place to pick up a few gifts as mementos of your visit. Afterwards, stroll over to Dreamer’s café and sample their over-the-top hot chocolate and one of their famous Crazy Cookies.
From Dreamer’s, it’s a short walk to Memorial Park, where you can see the historic Memorial Park Bandshell —a community landmark since 1946. Bring a picnic and enjoy it on the stage (or practise your favourite Shakespearean monologue!).
If you’re starting to get hungry for dinner, don’t worry; Port Hope has some amazing dining experiences to choose from. Head to Olympus Burger for one of their award-winning burgers, or, you’re in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, try the homegrown farm to table style of The Social Bar and Table. Then find dessert across the street at Frosted Flour.
For breakfast, everyone who lives in Port Hope swears by the Ganarascals, run by Matthew Thompson and Caitlin O’Sullivan. They serve up Southern hearty, homestyle cooking, so after that you’ll have tons of energy to stroll the beautiful residential streets surrounding the downtown area; you’ll love the historic homes and lovely gardens that make this town such a coveted place to live. And if you’re looking for more vigorous activity, check out the Cavan Park Fitness Centre, an outdoor gym engineered to give you a full workout using just your body weight.
Port Hope has several original attractions that you won’t find anywhere else in Northumberland County. Just up Ontario Street, you’ll find Primitive Designs. A sprawling indoor-outdoor space filled with eclectic larger-than-life sculptures, including an enormous red-eyed Tyrannosaurus Rex—a must-see especially if you have kids in tow. You could also drop into the Toe Beans Cat Cafe if you want to spend a little quality time with a good coffee and a family of cute kitties.
Add even more value to your trip by booking it during a weekend in order to experience Port Hope’s farmers’ market, which runs every Saturday from May through October, or during one of its festivals, such as the Fall Fair or Cultivate Festival, both in September. The Capitol Theatre also puts on a variety of shows throughout the year, but keep in mind that shows do sell out; get tickets early to avoid disappointment.