Explore Windsor Essex with Staycation Itineraries
Original blog by PostMedia Commercial Content | August 3, 2020
Exotic resorts and multi-country cruises are so last year. The places to be right now are local trails with elbow room, neighbourhood shops, wine, beer and distillery trails and other attractions close to home.
“We know 2020 is the summer of the staycation – and we hope that Windsor-Essex residents will take this opportunity to explore some of the gems we have right here in our own backyard. As consumer confidence continues to build, locals are still hesitant to travel far, making a day trip adventure in Windsor-Essex a great way to get out and explore, and the perfect way to support our local businesses,” says Gordon Orr, chief executive officer of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island.
“We’ve made it easier than ever this year to plan a staycation by creating downloadable itineraries on our website at https://visitwindsoressex.com. We’ve also launched the Mytrip Digital Itinerary builder to create your own unique stop-by-stop itinerary to experience our region this summer,” Orr says.
Explorations that take in local food, drink and the big, beautiful outdoors are in demand.
Like birds sprung from their cages, more people are flocking to Point Pelee National Park than ever before. “It’s great we’re expanding our audience. We want people to come out and enjoy our natural world,” says Dan Dufour, the park’s project coordinator.
Located at 1118 Point Pelee Dr. in Leamington, the world-class park is the gateway to adventure. “We have around 20 kilometres of trails. The park itself has kilometre upon kilometre of open beach so there is lots of room for beaching,” with nearby washroom facilities, Dufour says. “You can always find a spot of your own.”
Although the visitor centre and park-led tours are not operating, many public restrooms (frequently cleaned) and a new pavilion are open. Since the shuttle to the tip of Point Pelee is not running, guests are enjoying the two-kilometre hike. Staycationers can extend their visit by camping in Point Pelee’s campground.
With COVID-19 measures in place, “it’s a different experience but so much of the experience was already outside,” Dufour says. “Nature doesn’t change. The trees, beach, marsh – they are all here.”
Although Point Pelee National Park is not currently renting bikes or canoes, guests can bring their own or rent from offsite businesses.
“With Point Pelee being open, we’ve seen an upsurge with people buying and renting our kayaks,” says Jeff Dorrell, manager of Pelee Wings Nature Store next door at 636 Point Pelee Dr. “Kayaking is a good social distancing activity. You are in the kayak by yourself, but you can do it with a group of friends, all six feet or more apart.”
Women are embracing the stand-up paddleboard, “nice and light, making it easy to transport and get paddling,” Dorrell says.
Teaching people how to handle a kayak, canoe or SUP, Pelee Wings staff ensure classmates are safely distanced outdoors.
People preferring to stay on land are encountering birds and wildlife in Essex County. “COVID-19 has created a lot of new birders in our area,” says Dorrell, who has sold bird feeders, binoculars and scopes to many. “It’s something to do with the family right in the backyard. Or find new places to scope out birds. People noticing neat things to see in the night sky are getting into astronomy.”
With customers able to shop in the store again, Dorrell says, “we minimize how many items we bring out to show people, cleaning everything afterwards.”
Farther along Lake Erie is Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. Visitors can purchase wine by the flight, glass or bottle and a picnic basket or grazing box, all to be enjoyed on the shore of Ontario’s only beachfront winery. “Some guests even show up with their bathing suits and go swimming. It’s much cooler here than in the city,” says co-owner Steve Mitchell.
Watching the grapes grow in the vineyard and feeling the lake breeze at 7258 County Rd. 50 W. in Harrow, “you can spend lots of time here and really enjoy your own space.”
I’m sure there are many people who drink wine in Windsor-Essex County and haven’t been to the wineries yet,” Mitchell observes. Twenty wineries are waiting to be sampled in the EPIC wine country.
One of those is North 42 Degrees Estate Winery, also home to Bistro 42 and Serenity Lavender at 130 County Rd. 50 E. in Colchester. “It really is a sensory experience, between our winery, food and lavender,” says co-owner Suzanne Dajczak. Cuisine is prepared by top rated executive Chef Cameron MacDonald, who competed on Food Network Canada’s Chopped Canada. Guests eat on four patios with views of the vineyards, lavender field and lake.
“We’ve deployed staff to wipe everything down constantly,” Dajczak says. As a winemaker and essential oil distiller, she quickly realized everything was onsite to create North 42 Degree’s own hygienic lavender and alcohol cleaner, made to the World Health Organization’s formula. “We’ve had such a nice reception to our in-house cleaner that we’re looking at making it commercially.
One more example of the resourcefulness of Essex County people, helping one another make the very best of these unusual times.