Grand Bend, those two words evoke images of bikinis, bathing suits and 20 beaches stretched along 66 km of Lake Huron. Home to some of the bluest water in the Great Lakes it’s not called the Blue Coast for nothing. Most think that a Grand Bend getaway is just for the summer months, but I am here to tell you there is more to do here than catching a few rays while laying on a beach. I escaped here for mid-autumn escape and spent my time wining and dining through the region. Sipping wine and cider from Southwest Ontario’s newest wine region and eating at some great spots that are open year round. I even found a newly opened coffee shop with a large selection of Gluten Free treats. If you’re up for an adventure come to Grand Bend.
Let’s begin the adventure with two wineries and a cidery all within a 20-30 minute drive from the main beach in Grand Bend.
Alton Farms Estate Winery 5547 Aberarder Line, Plympton-Wyoming – I always love to start with the best and in this case, Alton Farms is also the first winery to open in the region. It is a small winery, but as we know great things come in small packages. Owners Marc and Anne Alton purchased the property in September 2005 and haven’t looked back. Today they produce between 13 to 17 different wines each year with my personal favourite being the 2015 Cabernet Franc.
The tasting room is located in the lower level of the house and tastings cost $5 for a flight of three wines. Of course, you will probably end up buying a bottle or two and then the tasting fee is waived.
Dark Horse Estate Winery 70665 B Line, Grand Bend – Located within the city limits of Grand Bend itself, Dark Horse Estate Winery is currently making wines from grapes sourced from the Niagara Region. They are doing this to allow the 17-acre vineyard to mature. In short time you will be able to enjoy wines made less than a 15-minute drive from the beach.
Owners John and Sue Ann Rasenberg don’t seem to do anything small as you will see when you visit the winery. The tasting room is massive and can handle any size party you could bring with you. Aside from making wines, I see a lot of fabulous events and functions being held here. Perhaps a winemakers dinner after a day at the beach?
Twin Pines Orchard 8169 Kennedy Line, Thedford – Looking for something other than wine to enjoy doing your visit? How about trekking to Thedford and visiting Twin Pines Orchard for some award-winning cider. From dry to sweet there will be a cider here that you will fall in love with I guarantee it.
If you’re curious where the apples come from just look around you. The 50-acre farm has 40 acres dedicated to apple orchards that include 15 heritage and speciality cider varieties. Another 10 acres is set aside to grow fruits and vegetables completely grown without pesticides or herbicides. If you pick up a jam or preserve from the farm shop you will know exactly where the ingredients come from.
Ok, now that we’ve enjoyed some local wine and cider it is time to explore the culinary scene of Grand Bend.
Schoolhouse Restaurant 19 81-Crescent St, Grand Bend – Are you ready for school? Once the area schoolhouse (1874) it is now THE place to go for good honest home cooked meals in Grand Bend. I popped in for lunch and devoured their famous Meatloaf. Smothered in fresh gravy and served up with your choice of sides it was better than the one I make at home. Oh, the Mac & Cheese is delish as well.
Highway Girl A Finer Food Shop 15 Ontario St S, Grand Bend – When I arrive in a new to me city or town the first place I look for is a coffee shop and Highway Girl came highly recommended to me as the place to get a great espresso. Lucky for me they opened up less than a month before I arrived in town because they do make a wicked espresso. What really stands out though is the fine selection of baked goods and treats they offer. This includes an array of Gluten Free treat including this Chocolate Doughnut that literally melted in my mouth. SO GOOD!
Midori Sushi 29 Main Street, Grand Bend – Craving a bit of sushi? Midori Sushi is just a short walk from the beach and very generous in their portion sizes. For the town of Grand Bend, Midori offers a nice variety of options, even for those that don’t normally eat sushi.
What a busy day. I think I’m ready for a good nights sleep.
Oakwood Resort 70671 Bluewater Hwy, Grand Bend – The Oakwood Resort is a short drive from Main Street yet has a very private and secluded feeling to it. There are a variety of accommodation options at the resort I ended up booking a 1 bedroom suite in the Oak Lodge.
After checking in and parking my car I am ready to sink into my bed and relax. The room is quite spacious and has a separate sitting area with a mini bar and sink area including a fridge.
The private bedroom comes complete with a fireplace and flat-screen TV. First thing I do is turn on the fireplace and pour myself a glass of wine from a bottle I purchased at Alton Farms Estate Winery.
The next step was to fill the spa-like jacuzzi tub and go for a good and relaxing soak. Calgon take me away.
My only regret about staying at Oakwood Resort is that I didn’t have more time to explore the Spa, indoor pool and beach.
If the summer crowds that gather in Grand Bend are a bit much for you seriously consider an autumn or spring adventure here. As you can see there is more than a fabulous beach here.