Shop The South Shore: Discover Leamington & Kingsville
Kingsville and Leamington are two of Canada’s most southernmost towns and are absolutely dripping with charm and history. There is no better time in Ontario to stay close to home, so enjoy a staycation and shop local! With so many amazing places in Kingsville and Leamington to stay in, dine at, explore and shop through, why not plan a weekend there? Let’s dive right in with the best places to eat, drink, browse and buy at in the area and check off a few Ontario travel bucket list boxes in Essex County.
Start your first day at Colasanti’s Tropical Garden in northern Kingsville with a friendly game of indoor mini-golf with your travel companion. This 18 hole course is easy enough for all members of your family to get through. Then, bring out your inner child at the arcade. Collect those tickets from all of your wins and trade them in for a prize when you’re all played out and then enjoy a sit-down lunch in the tropical-themed dining area. Try the feature donut for dessert! You’ll want to allow some time to shop for home decor and plants here. Be sure to wander the seasonals, the cactus, bonsai, orchid and succulent displays. This is a place that’s hard to leave without a shopping cart full of seasonal cuteness that you can’t wait to get into your living room.
Did you know that Essex County’s premier olive oil and vinaigrette tasting bar can be found at Cindy’s Home & Garden? To be clear, this might also be the best place in southwestern Ontario to buy your olive oil. With over 60 different flavours of extra virgin olive oil, you’ll enjoy learning about tasting and pairing with your favourite foods and wines. After exploring the infamous olive oil and vinaigrette section in Cindy’s Too – be sure to visit the main and original Cindy’s store for housewares and seasonal decor, prints and gifts like the Canadian-made bath bombs. Cindy’s has been known to boast the largest variety of perennials in this part of the province. You will have to check it out and see for yourself.
You will be blown away by the variety of plants available all year round and of course with the seasonal selection at Anna’s Garden, Home & Wellness. While the ample supply of poinsettias is grown in Florida and shipped to Ontario, there are lots of locally planted and potted flowers and topiaries for the home and garden to choose from. Indoor or outdoor tropical plants such as the croton or an ornamental zebra plant would look great in your front vestibule in a decorative pot! This is where you can also shop for that fresh farm to fork produce for your dinner table. Anna’s works with local farmers to bring you the best of the area’s fruit, vegetables and herbs that are in season.
After spending the afternoon choosing seasonal home decor and getting your green thumb ready, check into the Best Western Plus Leamington, close to Point Pelee National Park. Good for couples getaways, families or work travellers, the hotel has a generous-sized pool with an arcade area and a rock climbing wall if you’re looking for more fun in your day. The lobby restaurant is open for breakfast and evening fare and has a bar should you want a nightcap. The rooms are quiet, come equipped with a coffee maker and mini-fridge to bring your leftovers and purchases throughout the day back too. You’ll find that the room is perfect, and the comfortable bed will give you a cozy place to rest your head. But… the day isn’t over yet!
While dinner at the hotel is really tempting once you’ve arrived, gather up the energy and head to Thirteen at The Inn for an amazing meal. Located on the shores of Lake Erie and inside the Seacliff Inn in Leamington, the super chill nautical vibes with upscale finishes enhance the contemporary vibe. Enjoy fresh cut meat, fish and superb service. Serving local whisky and vodka from nearby Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg and wine from Pelee Island Winery, you won’t be disappointed with the drink menu. Top tip from experience – start your meal with the French Onion Soup and pair it with the Pelee Island Riesling. Match made in taste bud heaven!
Rise and shine on day two in Kingsville and Leamington! Start the day, (post-coffee of course) with a trip to Point Pelee National Park – not more than 15 minutes from the Best Western Plus Leamington. If you go early in the morning, there will be fewer people. Here, you can wander the Marsh Boardwalk and look for any one of the 390 species of birds that have been recorded in the park. If you’re here when the park opens, the only people you’ll have to contend with for parking are the birdwatchers and naturalists that also aim to get an early start. Once you’ve strolled the Marsh Boardwalk, take a drive down to the farthest southern continental land tip in all of Canada. For excellent vantage points – hike to the top of the new tower or walk out to the tip. But be careful, the wind is strong and the water current can be vicious. Don’t tempt fate!
Warm up with a late breakfast or brunch treats at Lakeside Bakery Deli Cafe. The moment you open the door, you smell the fresh bread. If you weren’t hungry before you walked in, you most certainly would be then. The cafe is perfect for coffee, hot chocolate, croissants, muffins, macaroons all made in-house, sandwiches, soups or salads that you can enjoy by a toasty fireplace. Once you’ve had your baked goods fix, shop the bakery section for fresh items to take home as giftable for hosts with the most!
With some warm food in your belly, be sure you pay a visit to Pelee Island Winery on Seacliff Drive on the way back to Kingsville to shop for the best local wines. The Kingsville winery takes the consumer through the Vine To Wine process through interactive tours and tastings (must be booked in advance). Every one of the wines from Pelee Island Winery is here for you to sip, enjoy and buy. Maybe you’ll discover a new favourite red wine? Try the Lola Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend and see if you can resist taking a bottle or two home with you or at the very least buying a bottle as a gift for a friend.
Head into Downtown Kingsville and be sure to stroll along the picturesque downtown area. Find yourself at The Local Maker. This is a special place on Main Street where 30 local artisans bring their wares to sell and all work together to keep it running. One of the local artisans was working and she was more than happy to show us what she was known for. Shopping for your dog? Gifts for a classroom teacher? Handmade jewelry for a beau? Even something for a new Mom? Something to remind you of the hit TV show on CBC, Schitt’s Creek? Find it right here. It’s a very popular place – no less than 5 other customers came and went in a very short period of time on a weekday.
Consider a beer tour of the area on this day. If you are interested in a fully escorted tour where someone else takes the wheel, Grapevine Tours has you covered and will be welcoming back patrons in March 2022.
Straight across the street from The Local Maker is The Grove Brewing Company. This is a great stop for lunch on a weekday. If you’re doing this trip on a weekend, consider Kingsville Brewery and Taphouse… more on that location later! There are a lot of things to share about The Grove Brew House and the adjacent hotel. To start with, this is Essex County’s first brick-and-mortar brewery. And secondly, The Grove Brew House boasts quite a few of their beers on tap. A great tasting flight to try is the clean and crisp Paradise Lager, Private Beach Coffee Blonde and a special run of Sasquatch Small Batch – if it’s still on tap. They also make their own gluten-friendly, no-sugar-added hard seltzers. Cheers!
For a lunch alternative on the weekends, and almost kitty-corner to The Grove Brew House is Kingsville Brewery Taphouse. This is a great place to visit. Kingsville Brewery Taphouse is a member of the Barrels, Bottles and Brews trail which highlights 12 craft breweries and two distilleries in the Windsor Essex area. Experience the Windsor Essex barrel trail, the birthplace of whisky in Canada and makers of some of the finest vodkas and beer in all of Canada with a self-guided tour. Purchase a pass for 1 day, 7 days or a full year for your tastings. You can start here, in this former bank and get your passport stamped along the way. There are 5 beers on tap here – Light Eh! lager, Hefeweizen, Czech Lager, an India Pale Ale and a barrel-aged stout. Flights come in tastings of 4. Good luck figuring out which beer to leave out!
If you worked up an appetite in Kingsville, now is the time to head to Armando’s in Leamington for a Detroit-style pizza. Just as a heads up, it takes a half-hour to prepare this pizza, so if you’re hungry, plan accordingly! You could also go for one of Armando’s signature pizzas or create one of your own and taste for yourself why they’re so popular.
Start your third and final day in the Kingsville and Leamington area by fueling up with breakfast at the Best Western Plus hotel lobby. Cheery smiles, hot coffee and hearty food will fill you up and get you going on your way for a reasonable price and in a short amount of time. As the hotel is located in the south end of Leamington, it’s a good idea to pack up and check out prior to heading for a shopping excursion.
For those who choose to make the drive into Essex County from the bigger cities, come ready to walk a little slower and enjoy the slower pace small towns and shops have to offer. Here, the shopkeeper has a minute to speak with you and help you find what you are looking for. In Leamington, the sidewalks aren’t crowded and there’s always space for you at the restaurant.
For a big portion of your day, plan to spend it around the intersectional area of Talbot and Erie Streets in Downtown Leamington. Leamington was, for many years, the home of the H J Heinz factory, and is now famously known for growing the tomatoes that are made in French’s Ketchup, making Leamington, Ontario the tomato capital of Canada.
However, there is much more to Leamington than this fruit and commercial greenhouses!
Everything is this cute town core is very walkable. Parking on the street is free for two hours during the day and then again after 6:00pm, which might just give you enough time to pursue the shops.
Once parked, make your way to The Clothing Bar on Talbot Street West (currently only open from Tuesday to Saturday 10:00-3:00pm), to hunt for high end clothing for the upscale casual, mature woman. The Clothing Bar boats day to night capsule wardrobe looks, professional office wear and party chic. Check out Brunette The Label, a Canadian clothing line that boasts the Country Girl, Brunette and Blonde shirt captions. Need a blazer and jeans to go with the shirt or the ever popular casual bottoms to wear to your teleconference calls? You’ll find it all here. Top your outfits off with dazzling purses and fun shoes. The Clothing Bar will cover you for all occasions and events!
If you’re planning on taking some baked goods on your way home, get your sweets at Christine’s Bake Shop. Christine opened this location on Talbot Street East in August of 2021 after previously operating out of a church. She’s the namesake and master baker in this family run operation. Her son makes the tarts and cookies and his fiance chips in making the chocolate bombs – which are amazing by the way! Most products are made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients and local fruits and vegetables when in season. Baked goods can also make a great gift basket, which Christine can have customized for you and can take the pressure off of you preparing it!
Need some sparkle in your life? Family owned and operated Wharram Jewellery on Talbot Street West will drop your jaw with their gorgeous designs by Jessica Wharram. The shop was founded by her grandfather in 1955. And when we say this is a family business, Jessica’s sister works and proudly shows off the designs that are showcased right in the middle of the store when you enter. If you’re set on a certain piece, but hope someone will purchase it as a gift for you, be sure to make your own gift registry there, then send your certain someone(s) in to make the purchase for you!
If you’ve worked up an appetite by this point, pop into Crave Family Grill and Pub on Erie Street to get your craft beer and pub food fix. Local Lake Erie fish is on the menu as well as craft beer from all over the area. Word on the street is the tacos are customizable and the chicken fingers are pretty good!
After lunch, take your new found energy back to Talbot Street West to The Leamington Arts Centre. The Leamington Art Centre supports local arts and artisans through exhibitions and showcases throughout the year. One of the initiatives is an artisan market. Free for patrons to enter, this annual holiday arts and crafts show features over 20 vendors with wares of woodcrafts, driftwood, paintings on oil, watercolours, bath bombs, oils and scents, jewellery and hand-crafted seasonal decor. There are lots of holiday gift ideas and stocking stuffers to be purchased in this one spot!
And that’s a wrap on your three days in the Kingsville and Leamington area. From mini-golf to olive oil to the farthest southern continental land point in Canada to local breweries and bakeries, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy here.