Ziplines, gardens and wine in Norfolk County

It’s a bit of a hike from Ottawa, but Norfolk County on the north shore of Lake Erie is worth the trip. The warm and friendly residents are passionate about their heritage, and welcoming when you drop by for a cool beverage or a bite to eat. And the long, sandy beaches are magnificent!

Sunset on the beach at Long Point will make you think you're in the Caribbean. Photo by Dave Finn.

Sunset on the beach at Long Point will make you think you’re in the Caribbean. Photo by Dave Finn.

Here are just a few places to check out.

Long Point Eco-Adventures and Burning Kiln Winery

At Long Point Eco-Adventures in St. Williams, start with a guided tour featuring eight zip lines, two suspension bridges and a 40-foot rappel. My favourite was the 800-foot parallel run alongside Lake Erie with a stunning view across the marshland. The whole two and a half hours brings you up close and personal with Mother Nature, while you learn how we can all be more ecologically conscious and still have fun.

Dave Finn sets off on a zip line tour at Long Point Eco Adventures. Photo by Jane Finn.

Dave Finn sets off on a zip line tour at Long Point Eco-Adventures.

After the tour (not before!), nip across the road to Burning Kiln. Tour the facilities and then head to the patio for tapas and a glass or two of Cabernet Frank. No, that isn’t a typo—but you’ll have to visit Burning Kiln to hear that story.

The Blue Elephant

After growing up in Norfolk County, Heather Pond-Manorome travelled the world as a chef with an international hotel chain. Now she has returned home to showcase the flavours of local produce in her signature dishes. The oak-grown shiitake mushroom cream soup is to die for, as are many of the other menu items. With not one but two patios, the Blue Elephant in Simcoe is also a great place to stop for a cold drink.

Settle down with a drink and some local specialties on a patio at the Blue Elephant. Photo by Dave Finn.

Settle down with a drink and some local specialties on a patio at the Blue Elephant.

Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery

Let rich scents soothe your senses as you stroll through fragrant fields in Waterford that owners Anita and Steve Buehner hope will one day rival Provence! They will eagerly share the story of how they are creating a sanctuary where visitors can simply relax and be. Pick up a few items from their boutique so you can enjoy the scents of summer all year long. As this is a working farm, tours are by appointment or chance.

Lavender stretches to the horizon at Bonnieheath. Photo by Jane Finn.

Lavender stretches to the horizon at Bonnieheath.

Whistling Gardens

Whistling Gardens, which opened in Wilsonville in 2012, is Darren Heimbecker’s version of “If I can dream it, I can do it!” Supported by his wife Wanda, he is creating the most amazing botanical garden with one of the largest collections of conifers in the world. As you explore these 18 acres, you can see the couple’s vision coming to fruition with over 4km of walking trails, statues, a Greek temple, water features—including water fountains with synchronized lights and music—and an amphitheatre for evening concerts and events. If you want to be inspired and re-energized, don’t pass up  the opportunity to spend an hour or two exploring this blooming oasis.

One of the charming water features at Whistling Gardens. Photo by Jane Finn.

One of the charming water features at Whistling Gardens.

Are you a golfer? Check out this guide to the golf courses of Norfolk County at GolfTravelAndLeisure.com.

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If you go

Distance from Ottawa: 582km (Port Dover)

Information: Norfolk Tourism

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4 Responses to Ziplines, gardens and wine in Norfolk County

  1. Clark Hoskin July 22, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Thanks for a very well written article about Norfolk County attractions. We hope you come again some time!

    • Laura Byrne Paquet July 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Clark–thanks!

      • Rachel January 24, 2015 at 9:32 am #

        Although I haven’t explored the whole site, I feel like you’re missing the Pontiac. It’s a big region with many tourist attractions (I live there) yet sometimes pal drive through without realizing it. Day drive or weekend, there’s beauty, fun, entertainment and us residents tend to be pretty cool too. In fact we have and lot of Ontario n’s who cottage in Norway bay (and region in the pontiac), Brian Murray is from here and it’s not unusual to see a few sens players eating at our restaurants. We also have zip lining, dog sledding, horse back riding, camping, beaches (several to choose from). The fishing and hunting opportunities we have would likely be what many remember us for, visiting is great but there’s no place that you can feel like you belong more than the pontiac. It surprises me that we often fall below the radar cause I love it and have never heard of anyone saying the regretted coming to the pontiac.

        • Laura Byrne Paquet January 27, 2015 at 12:08 am #

          Hi Rachel,
          Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on the site! I agree with you that the Pontiac is great, and that it is not as well known among Ottawans as it should be. I’ve been out there a number of times, and I’m hoping to write much more about it this year. I often mention Pontiac attractions in my weekly newsletter (e.g., dogsledding, Coronation Hall Cider Mills, Pontiac Artists Studio Tour) and I have written about the area a few times on Ottawa Road Trips (see the post about Fort Coulonge at https://ottawaroadtrips.com/?p=1032). But it’s definitely one of the areas I’d like to write about more extensively as I round out the coverage on the site.
          Cheers,
          Laura

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