Natalie Preddie is a travel and lifestyle writer, speaker and guest expert on Cityline, Your Morning and Global’s The Morning Show.
First, March break travel in 2020 was a bust. Then we all hoped 2021 would bring an opportunity to jet-set somewhere, but again we had to rethink our spring break plans. On the bright side, we were thrown a first-time opportunity — April break — but now the province has entered another lockdown to slow down the third wave of infections.
I think it’s safe to say everyone needs something to look forward to. Though most of us are still waiting to fly south, in the meantime we should be thankful we live in a province ripe with luxurious getaways, stunning scenery and sensational food and drink spots. So here are three glam getaways within a 90-minute drive from the city where you can celebrate the end of yet another lockdown.
Nestleton Waters Inn
This property is right out of Gilmore Girls — a quaint and charming B & B in Nestleton, Ont., just east of Toronto. This beautiful country home sits on 96 scenic acres and partners with local vendors, farmers and musicians to create a unique, warm and inviting experience for guests. Nestleton Waters Inn has won awards for its picturesque weddings, hospitality and chef Moss’s delicious locally sourced dishes.
Days can be spent forest bathing, birdwatching or perusing the B & B shop. While here, take the opportunity to discover the enchanting town surrounding the inn: Stroll through beautiful Port Perry, explore upscale Victorian boutiques, discover new favourites in the local chocolatiers or indulge in locally made gelato in the marina.
A getaway to Nestleton Waters Inn would not be complete without a visit to Old Flame Brewing Company, a Port Perry landmark. This award-winning brewery has six signature beers — all lagers — with seasonal stouts available year-round. When restrictions allow, Old Flame Brewery offers tours that share the history of the beer, the building, the people and the process. Finish your tour in the tasting room to find your favourite Old Flame lager, fill your growler and then take it home to enjoy another day.
Alabaster Acres Glamping
A short drive from Toronto is the ultra-glamorous, ultra-relaxing glamping site, Alabaster Acres. Here you will find a gorgeous canvas tent with a luxurious king-sized bed opening to a covered porch with a hammock and an open-air bathing room just waiting to be enjoyed. Whether you spend the night stargazing with a glass of wine around your private firepit or cuddled in the hammock with a local craft beer, this destination is the epitome of tranquillity.
The farm is also home to cows, rabbits, ducks, pigs, chickens, horses and, most famously, goats, who love to participate in Alabaster Acre’s seasonal Goat Yoga. Enjoy a 50-minute yoga class while the pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats play, jump, cuddle and climb beside and, sometimes, on top of you and your mat.
Once you’re fully relaxed, ramp things up with a geocaching adventure — a scavenger hunt that uses GPS coordinates as your guide. Each coordinate leads you to a cache, and each cache contains a clue, which continues your hunt. Adventures can be tailored to accommodate everyone from young kids right up to experienced geocachers. It’s the perfect family activity.
Millcroft Inn & Spa
Take in the country air at the elegant Millcroft Inn & Spa in nearby Caledon. This property consists of three separate buildings, originally built as a knitting mill in 1881. Here you can indulge in homemade maple syrup and fresh honey from the on-site forest and hives, or spend the day wandering through the acres of woodland. When COVID-19 restrictions allow, you can enjoy a meal at Headwaters Restaurant, and a culinary exploration of locally sourced produce, guided by the fruits of the season with executive chef James Buder at the helm.
When you finally tear yourself from your cosy room and your views of Shaw’s Creek Falls and Mill Pond, wander over to the Alton Mill, a national, award-winning heritage building that hosts artist studios, unique galleries, a heritage museum and shops. Here you will find handcrafted jewelry and one-of-a-kind fine art pieces. You’ll also find small batch, handmade artisanal wares at the Noodle Gallery.
Finish your day at Heartwood Farm & Cidery, a regenerative farm that focuses on biodiversity with a commitment to the natural process that takes place from farm to table. At Heartwood, they raise grass-fed livestock, make maple syrup and press craft cider from their forest garden and orchard.