Tuesday May 7, 2024

Discovering Ontario’s California: Best Things To Do In Windsor Essex

Original blog by Claudia Kaan

Welcome to Ontario’s hidden gem, the Windsor-Essex region, where Canada meets California in a delightful fusion of warm weather, sandy beaches, and exceptional wine. This Lake Erie paradise is located a 3 hour drive from Toronto, making it the perfect weekend trip. The region is on the same latitude as Northern California, making the climate and temperature more mild in comparison to the rest of the province. 

If you’re looking for a getaway that combines relaxation, adventure, and a touch of luxury, this is the place to be. Here’s the ultimate guide to experiencing the best of Windsor-Essex.

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A post shared by Claudia & Kaan Nieroda (@claudiandkaan)

Where to Stay:

  • Lungovita Beach Retreat: Experience glamping like never before in dome-style tents that offer year-round comfort. With amenities like a heated pool, hot tubs, saunas, and complimentary bikes to explore the area, this retreat is a haven for relaxation. It’s also located on the beachfront on Lake Erie and is within walking distance to multiple wineries. 
  • The Grove Motel: A charming motel-style hotel just steps away from Colchester Beach. Enjoy cozy accommodations and don’t miss out on their delicious coffee at the onsite Joe. Hot+Cold café. They also have pushbikes and electric bikes for rent, which are perfect for winery-hopping. 

Wineries to Visit:

Windsor-Essex is renowned for its rapidly growing wine and distillery scene. These are a must-visit:

  1. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery: This is one of the few wineries in Ontario that are beachfront. They offer stunning views Of Lake Erie as well as a diverse selection of award-winning wines. In the summer months, they offer beach chairs and jugs of sangria along their sandy shores, making it the perfect place to cool off on a summer day.
  2. North 42 Degrees Estate Winery: Known for their attention to detail and commitment to quality, North 42 Wines produces exceptional vintages that reflect the unique terroir of the region. They’re connected to Serenity Lavender Farm, so you can walk amid the fresh lavender while enjoying a class of their sparkling rose. There is an incredible restaurant, Bistro 42 onsite that has a beautiful dining room floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the vineyards. Don’t miss their signature Bordeaux-style blends!
  3. Viewpointe Estate Winery: Nestled amidst rolling hills and picturesque vineyards, Viewpointe Estate Winery offers a tranquil setting for wine tasting that overlooks Lake Erie. Be sure to try their popular Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Franc, as well as their infused summer cocktails (hello Miami Vice!).
  4. Colchester Ridge Estate Winery – CREW: With a focus on sustainability and organic farming practices, CREW Winery produces premium wines that capture the essence of the region. Take a guided tour of the vineyard and enjoy tastings in their rustic tasting room.
  5. Oxley Estate Winery: This family-owned winery is known for its handcrafted wines and laid-back atmosphere. Relax on the outdoor patio and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside while sipping on their signature Chardonnay. We loved that they offered “music pairings” with their wine, so you can jam to songs that compliment the glass you’re drinking. 
  6. VIN Winery and BREW Microbrewery: Explore the art of winemaking at VIN Winery, where you can participate in hands-on blending sessions and create your own custom wine blend. They also produce their own beer and ciders. It’s located in the middle of a wooded sanctuary, and has a beautiful brand new wedding venue (I can only imagine the beautiful woodsy weddings here). Don’t forget to visit their charming boutique to purchase your favorite bottles to take home! 
  7. Wolfhead Distillery: Not a fan of wine? No worry- you can explore the art of craft distilling at Wolfhead. Here you can sample a range of spirits including vodka, whisky, and gin. Take a tour of the distillery and learn about their innovative production techniques. They also offer a massive outdoor patio with a stage, where in summer months they have concerts. Their restaurant is highly rated (don’t miss their portobello mushroom fries), so you can easily have a whole day experience here.


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A post shared by Claudia & Kaan Nieroda (@claudiandkaan)

What to Do:

  • Spa Treatment at Estate of Health: Indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments and hydrotherapy sessions at a beautifully renovated historic mansion. It’s such a beautiful and relaxing environment, with an incredible selection of herb infused teas. 
  • Mini-Golf at Ure’s Country Kitchen: Enjoy a fun-filled day of mini-golf with family and friends, and enjoy their home-cooked meals in the restaurant. 
  • Water Sports at Lungovita Beach Retreat: Grab their kayaks and head out on Lake Erie.
  • Shop at Blimeys British Store and Gift Shop: Explore local shops and pick up unique souvenirs to remember your trip by.

Where to Eat:

  • Paglione Estate Winery: Savor wood-fired pizzas paired perfectly with their exceptional wines.
  • El Diablo Kingsville: Delight your taste buds with mouthwatering Mexican cuisine, including mango margaritas, homemade bao buns, and churros. This is a must!
  • The Wreck at Colchester Harbour: Enjoy casual dining with breathtaking beachfront views and unforgettable sunsets. Pro tip: Sit on the upper deck for the most panoramic lake views.

  • The Goose Kitchen + Bar: Indulge in elevated pub food made with locally sourced ingredients in the heart of Kingsville.
  • Green Heart Kitchen: Enjoy breakfast and lunch to go, all crafted from locally sourced, fresh ingredients. They have an incredible lunch program where they cook lunches for local schools. 

Whether you’re a wine enthusiast, a beach lover, or simply seeking a relaxing escape, Windsor-Essex offers something for everyone. So pack your bags, uncork a bottle of wine, and prepare to experience the best of Ontario’s California. We had such an incredible stay here and truly find this region super underrated. Say cheers to unforgettable memories in this picturesque paradise!


Original Blog Written by Claudia and Kaan of The Lost Two 

To explore more of EPIC Wine County head to visitwindsoressex.com/wine and plan your next palate-pleasing escape!


Discover a wide array of unique creatures while birding in #YQG including the Great Blue Heron! Our region has recorded over 247 species in the Ojibway Prairie Complex. Explore birding hotspots with our W.E. Bird Trail Digital Pass! #YQG #WindsorEssex #DiscoverON #DiscoverYQG #DiscoverCanada #OntSouthwest

📷 @acinyqg

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Need a pick-me-up? Why not try a cup of joe from @cafe_amor_art! Cold brews, hot brews and specialty drinks, our coffee culture has all of it and more! ☕ #YQG #WindsorEssex #DiscoverON #DiscoverYQG #DiscoverCanada #OntSouthwest #coffeeculture


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This Saturday join us for a FREE event at the @dwfmarket. Join us for Farm In The City when we bring the farm life to Windsor - featuring tractors, animals, seed planting, face painting & more. Check out weheartlocal.ca for details - or join us Saturday May 25th from 9-2 at the Downtown Windsor Farmers Market. Thank you to our partners including ECFA, @librocu, ADM Agri-industries and @thehivepelissier

Exhibitors scheduled to be there include @ballybrightfarm @ctmhv @johnrparkhomestead @sarahparkshorsemanship @southpointequipment @ontariofarms @downtownwindsor & more

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