Tourist In Your Own City
By Steph Seguin | December 17, 2021
When was the last time you got to be a tourist in your own city? The last time you really got to experience all the charm that is right under your feet? Teaming up with Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island gave us an opportunity to do just that! As native Windsorites, we have always reveled in our local shops, wineries, parks, near-by beaches, bike trails, and so much more. Not to mention, a classic night on the town, Windsor-style, that can’t be beat. With its electric atmosphere, many touring Americans, and an endless choice of restaurants, clubs, pubs, bars, and even a Casino, Windsor has not been known to disappoint when it comes to nightlife.
Since we are now a family of 4, our typical itinerary has changed dramatically. The nights on the town have become days full of adventure which are all family oriented. Bonding time spent together as a family, whether that be taking advantage of the parks and bike trails, visiting the beaches, walking along the Windsor Riverfront, or a day out shopping. Now that our girls are 9 and 8 we like to try and expose them to all that Windsor has to offer. We have just done a local tour of the Amherstburg & Windsor attractions unlike any we’ve ever done before.
Come along, I’ll show you what we did….
First, we started at Wolfhead Distillery, the first premium craft distillery in Windsor Essex. Inspired by the local history of rum running and prohibition, the owner Tom Manherz began as a third-party bottling facility, which led to him to building a premium craft facility. Wolfhead offers a full menu in the cutest dining room, from which you have a gorgeous view of the distillery. Between the fully stocked gift shop onsite, and the tastefully done Christmas decorations, the atmosphere was perfect. We were able to sit and relax with the girls, colour, laugh, drink, and eat. The staff were all very welcoming, and accommodating. Our server didn’t get annoyed once when we kept asking for napkins to clean up spills. She came over with a smile every time! The food was absolutely delicious! As a matter of fact, I haven’t stopped thinking about the Portobello Fries since. Go get yourself some. Trust me!
Continuing our tour, the next stop was Terra Green Gardens. The sweetest little shop that wakes your senses up immediately with the spa-like smell of homemade locally crafted candles, and scented bath products. There are so many sweet, small, but extremely thoughtful gifts to be purchased from this place. We were drawn to this store as it features all locally crafted products. Terra Green Gardens really goes to the limit to showcase many local vendors products, and in and of itself supports our local economy. The staff was extremely kind, helpful, and welcoming to not only our family, but all the patrons in the store. It is definitely worth a stop in, especially around the holidays.
River Bookshop is a true testament to the possibilities and dreams a renovation can allow. The outside of the building is a work of art – literally. It is so intriguing from the street view. Once inside, this space is truly one of the most charming, comfortable, friendliest places we have ever visited. From the books that simply engulf you when you walk through the door, to the friendly staff, to the huge selection of unique puzzles and games. It just keeps you engaged, and entertained the entire time. The girls grabbed a book and made themselves at home in the sweetest little spot specially designed for kids to hang out in. We had been meaning to visit this shop for ages, so we were PUMPED to finally be making it happen! I’m pretty sure that by the end of it, our youngest Nola had been given a job offer. I guess she’s all set for when she’s older.
Since we were right in the River Bookshop, we took a peek upstairs at the brand-new pop-up shop – White Woods Home. We were NOT disappointed. The girls found the fireplace and sat down with a book to read. Talk about hospitality, Esther, was quick to hand us each a cup of warm, homemade apple cider that was easily the BEST we’ve have ever had. Such a welcomed treat on a very cold day. We then got the full tour of all of the products available. We quickly learned that size does not matter when you are Esther. There literally was something for everyone in this shop. I mean EVERYONE! From beautiful soaps, and tea towels to spices, cookware, and any customizable box you could think of. This is 100% the spot you want to start your Christmas shopping. Go and see Esther at White Woods Home. She is the most gracious host and so extremely knowledgeable about all the products in the store. I wish I had started my Christmas shopping there.
Note: White Woods Home is now open for business.
We headed into Caffeine & Co. for a quick sugar and caffeine boost before heading out to explore the Amherstburg River Lights Winter Festival. This shop is so darling. A huge variety of sugar cookies and treats sure to give you that kid-in-a-candy-shop vibe. Our girls certainly were excited to stop in here, I will say that. They had a gluten free selection which is so greatly appreciated when you are trying to take your child that has celiac out for a meal and treats! It was the perfect stop to get us warm, cozy, and stocked up on sugar that we could walk off in Kings Navy Yard Park while enjoying the beautiful lights. Such a perfect way to spend an hour or two!
Armando’s Pizza for dinner never disappoints. The girls were so excited to be able to go to a restaurant and have pizza. Again, they offered a gluten free crust so it was the perfect spot for our entire family to eat and make sure everyone was happy. Our server was literally the most respectful and kind young man. He was so attentive to the girls and just genuinely happy to bring us anything we needed and take care of us. I don’t know about you, but a good server can make or break an experience even if the food is amazing. Armando’s did outstanding in both categories. Would highly recommend this as a great family dining idea!
BRIGHT LIGHTS WINDSOR
Finally, we capped off the night with a visit to Bright Lights Windsor, including the Night Market and vendors. The market was bustling. There were so many great local vendors to make sure your belly was full, your sweet tooth quenched, and you could even check a few things off your Christmas list. There was an extra special booth set up this year called ‘YQG Hearts For Hope’, where visitors had the opportunity to purchase a heart, decorate it with a message of hope, and hang it on the magnetic wall for display. Funds raised from the campaign will benefit Transition to Betterness, UHC – Hub of Opportunities, and The Salvation Army. The girls were very excited to each put a heart up, and were we honoured to be able to give back to these fantastic local charities.
Note: The YQG Heart For Hope feature is not occurring at Bright Lights Windsor in 2023.
W.E. MADE IT: HOLIDAY MARKET
As we entered the Bright Lights, the first thing we heard was Christmas music which created the most festive and fun atmosphere. The girls would sing along as we walked. They were so excited to explore a new theme on every turn. The light display is incredible! It’s absolutely stunning with all the new sections, and extremely easy to navigate with the kids. So many thoughtful displays, including a true north homage to being Canadian. Gotta love that EH? We enjoyed wandering around together as a family, and have gone previous years with friends. We saw many couples walking along holding hands, or with their fur babies. It is such a great winter activity to get you out of the house at night to enjoy the fresh air. We look forward to visiting every year!
The entire day was full of new experiences, in new shops/restaurants, meeting new super friendly people, filling our bellies with delicious food and treats, and really visiting our home-town in a new way. Each shop employee was so extremely excited to have us and truly appreciative of the business. Supporting local has always been very important to our family. Windsor has so much to offer in every season, but in the colder weather it can be a struggle to find activities to do as a family. This tour will keep you entertained in the winter months. Don’t miss out on all the beautiful light displays with your people. They will not disappoint!