If you’ve ever driven along the QEW from Hamilton to Niagara, you’ve likely gazed at the stretch of Niagara Escarpment that runs parallel to the highway. Fall is a beautiful time to take a day trip detour to spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the scenic views and interesting stops located along this beautiful ridge.
While Niagara Falls’ powerful cascades may get most of the attention, the waterfall at Devil’s Punch Bowl Conservation Area supplies a more organic, but also impressive experience. The ancient gorge, carved into the stone as prehistoric glacial waters melted, is a stunning place to explore and a perfect place to snap a few fall selfies. The small fee for parking in the on-site lot is well worth the investment!
Exploring an ancient gorge has been known to work up an appetite. Fortunately, Punch Bowl Market and Bakery is right next door. In addition to the delicious baking you’ll find in the 150-year-old red barn, there is also a fantastic assortment of gourmet gifts and nostalgic toys for those who want to get a head start on their holiday shopping!
If you can exercise a little restraint, save your Punch Bowl Market and Bakery goodies to enjoy while taking in the incredible view at the Ridge Road Lookout. You’ll see the parking area on the north side of Ridge Road across from #338 Ridge Road. On a clear day, you can see right across Lake Ontario and make out the Toronto skyline.
The Erland Lee House (Museum) Home is perched on the brow of the Escarpment. Whether you’re a fan of architecture, Canadian history, or just looking for another killer view, this stop delivers! While indoor tours are not available at this time, visitors are encouraged to explore the grounds and gardens.
The Lee family, who lived on the property for 160 years, played an instrumental role in founding the world’s first Women’s Institute. The history of this important organization is quite fascinating. From the pasteurization of milk to bread being sold in bags and yellow dividing lines on roads, its impact carries on. Architecture buffs will appreciate that the home is an excellent example of Ontario Gothic revival architecture.
After treating your eyes to the museum’s view, treat your taste buds to a sampling of wines at Ridge Road Winery. The friendly staff will be happy to create a custom tasting based on your wine preferences. Pack a picnic blanket or lawn chairs and order a charcuterie box for some scenic afternoon sipping and snacking.
To up the cuteness quotient of your day, book an appointment to take a walk with some furry new friends at Alpacas from Eighth and Mud. You can also just purchase a bag of food and feed the alpacas if the walking experience isn’t of interest. Leave some time to browse at the on-site store, which offers a beautiful selection of alpaca yarns, crafting supplies, clothing, jams and jellies.
Next, get a taste for how apples go from bushel to bottle at Tall Post Craft Cider. This scenic orchard, nestled in Stoney Creek, offers a rustic factory-style cidery experience.
As your day begins to wind down, make a stop to pick up some fresh fall produce to enjoy at home. Murphy’s Country Produce, in Binbrook, offers a great variety of pick-your-own produce, including fall pumpkins and squash. There’s also a produce stand if you’d prefer to let someone else do the picking for you. Purchase some of their delicious jams, jellies and honey to help remember your day all winter long.
Wrap up your day at Fletcher Fruit Farms, a family farm that’s been operating for over 150 years. Sample their delicious hot apple cider and then fill your trunk with fresh fall apples and pears. With 21 different types of apples and eight different kinds of pears, it’s easy to find your favourites. If you’ve got questions about which apple makes the best pie or how to store fruit for the winter, this is the place to ask! They also grow pumpkins and squash and sell delicious local honey.
We Look Forward To Seeing You Safely
As the COVID-19 situation in Ontario continues to change, a minute or two of extra planning is an important step in ensuring hiccup-free fall adventures. Follow the latest travel guidelines for your community and any communities you plan to visit. Check with the places you plan to go to in advance to see if reservations or activity bookings are required. On the day of your trip, do a quick check to verify the places on your agenda are open and serving visitors in the way you’re expecting.
Don’t forget to share your pictures of your rural adventures with us by tagging them with #greatcanadiandaytrip.