Fall is a time where kids go back to school and adults return to work from vacation. Usually around now, I start getting wanderlust even though I just got back from a trip home to Calgary! The cool crisp air and the smell of autumn leaves makes me want to be outdoors at every chance possible. If you live in Toronto like me, why not consider a road trip to Ontario’s favourite small town of Port Hope? A few weekends ago, Jeff and I had the pleasure of visiting the area to watch the salmon migration and go horseback riding. It was so nice to spend a weekend out of town and away from city life. There was also a Miata meetup at Rice Lake that weekend, and for anyone that knows Jeff, you’ll know he loves Miatas so seeing 50 of them driving around the lake made his weekend!
Here are 5 of my favourite things we did over our weekend in Port Hope:
1. Visit a Farm or the Farmer’s Market
Around Northern Ontario, there are many small farms. From pumpkin farms to apple farms, you can find many small family farms around the Northern Ontario area harvesting their crop around this time of the year. With harvested produce, come fresh pies and homemade jams! Some farms along the rural countryside also have “Pick Your Own Produce” activities where you take a basket and pick your own pumpkins, zucchinis and tomatoes to take home. Nothing is fresher than picking your own food!
2. Watch the Salmon Migration on the Ganaraska River
Since it is next to Lake Ontario, the Port Hope area is one of the best places to watch the salmon migration! Every year during the fall, salmon migrate to warmer bodies of water to stay alive. To complete this journey, the salmon need to jump over and through a man-made dam before continuing upstream. This is especially challenging as the dam is quite high and they move against turbulent water, so many salmon do not successfully make it past this point.
3. Check Out a Local Event
While in Port Hope, we attended Cultivate, a local festival taking place in the middle of the town. It was full of live music, craft beer sampling, local food vendors and activities for children. One thing I love about being in a small town is that when there are events like this, it seems like the entire town shows up! There was even a butter tart competition! In addition to food festivals, Port Hope also hosts fun local events such as movies in the park, Fall Music Day and Port Hope Farmers’ Market Arts Festival. You can find out more about their upcoming events on the Event Calendar on their website!
4. Go to Haute Goat
I talk about Haute Goat every time I mention Port Hope but it’s because it’s one of my favorite places to visit. First off, the owners, Debbie and Shain are the nicest people. They worked in entertainment in Toronto and after a career producing TV shows, they decided they wanted to retire in the rural parts of Toronto and start a hobby farm. They started raising goats and rescuing horses – soon, they found themselves with a full out farm with goats, chickens, bees, horses and alpacas! For some reason, playing with goats can be very soothing and they are just too cute. It’s also really fun for us to visit occasionally and see our favorite goats grow up! Haute Goat offers activities such as goat schmurgling (which is essentially taking a scenic walk with a herd of goats and playing with them in a fenced playground); goat yoga (“yoga” with goats: 0% yoga and 100% goat cuddling); and alpaca feedings. You can also pre-order lunch ahead of your trip and have a picnic on their 200 acre property.
5. Map out all the sites from the movie IT
Did you know that Port Hope is actually where many of the scenes from the move adaptation of the Stephen King book “It” is filmed? When we told our friends we were heading out to Port Hope for the weekend, one of the first things he said to us was “Don’t get caught by Pennywise!” the second thing he said was “Let me know if you see Stephen King!”
6. Go Horseback Riding at Trickle Creek Farm
This was Jeff’s first time ever riding a horse but the team at Trickle Creek eased him into it with no problem! There was a practice area where they taught you the commands and how to talk to your horse before hitting the trail.
Overall, we had a very enjoyable weekend hanging out on farms and riding horses. We stayed overnight in Port Hope but because it’s only one hour outside of Toronto, it is also totally do-able as a day trip!
Is there anything you love about small towns? Anywhere you would recommend I check out next time I’m in Port Hope? Let me know in the comments below! Otherwise, have an amazing weekend!