In my quest to savour every last moment of fall, a friend of mine and I embarked on a 3-day getaway to Ontario’s West Coast. Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, is known as a great beach destination with wonderful sunsets. With the expert help of the Huron Tourism Association I was equipped with an action-packed itinerary that would give me a chance to sample various aspects of this wonderful land by the lake.
After a leisurely 2.5 hour drive from Toronto we arrived in Bayfield, a small community on Lake Huron at the mouth of the Bayfield River. My first reaction was surprise: the main street with its tall trees, historic Victorian-era homes, quaint shops and attractive restaurants and bistros was really picturesque and distinctly reminded us of Niagara-on-the-Lake on a smaller scale with much less traffic and congestion. A walk up and down Main Street revealed that Bayfield is a historic gem in the region and a perfect getaway destination for a beach vacation or a shopping and dining experience.
We stopped in Pioneer Park, whose elevated position above the shorelines provides sweeping views out over Lake Huron. A long sandy beach sprawled at our feet and was accessible through a wooden stairway. We also drove to the marina to have a look at the boats that were moored along the scenic Bayfield River. Looking north from the Bayfield River Bridge, I was taken in by the vibrant display of colours that was painting the forest in green, yellow, orange and bright red hues.
Then, to get to know the town better, the next point on my travel plan was a gallery tour on the Main Street. Bayfield’s picturesque main street is lined with numerous shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. As an art lover, I wanted to see the creative treasures that were available in some of the galleries, so I first headed into Kryart Studio and Bizaar where I met the brother and sister team of Craig and Kristyn Watterworth. They have created a unique studio where adults and children can get actively involved in creating arts projects themselves. Kryart Studio offers an Art Menu where guests can create their own masterpiece, using the quality supplies and guidance of a trained artist. Three children of different ages were on the grounds, creating some wonderful using different techniques and having a ton of fun.
Next I visited Clay and Gourmet, a store that combines hand-made pottery by several different artists with gourmet sauces, dips and other fine foods. A few steps further I headed into Marten Arts Gallery, whose main floor and upper level display spaces showcase a wide range of paintings, sculptures, and decorative items, mostly created by Ontario artists. Not far away is the HMR Art Gallery where I had a chance to meet owner Judy May Foster Roth who is an accomplished glass artist herself. Judy also showcases a variety of other Ontario painters working in different media. Art lovers will find lots of interesting creations in Bayfield.
One of Bayfield’s signature properties is the Little Inn, a historic inn that was built in the 1850s, although an earlier stagecoach stop had existed in the same location since the early 1830s. I had a chance to meet innkeeper Darren Erb who took me on a tour of this historic property. For more than a decade, the inn has been awarded the CAA Four Diamond rating, and it is also a founding member of Ontario’s Finest Inns and Spas.
We started our tour with the picturesque back garden that is open to overnight guests and day visitors, saw the elegant parlours and sitting rooms on the main floor, the dining facilities with their two large and sun-filled rooms and several comfortable guest rooms in the main inn. Then we walked across the street to check out the Guest Cottage which features a large common room with two pianos and 10 luxury suites with private verandas. Because of its facilities and private setting, the Guest Cottage is very popular with large groups and wedding parties.
With our tour complete, I’d have a chance to get to know Little Inn even better, since I had a dinner scheduled here for tomorrow evening that would allow me to sample the locally flavoured cuisine of Executive Chef Joseph Petrinac.
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