7 Reasons to Visit Essex County, Ontario
Located in southern Ontario, Canada, just over the border from the United States sits the charming Essex County. This region, the southernmost in Canada, is mainly known for the thriving city of Windsor, but Essex County offers visitors more than the bright lights of Windsor. With several municipalities to explore, postcard worthy towns, stunning lake views and gorgeous landscapes, a Canadian island (Pelee Island), an award-winning EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast) Wine Country and welcoming locals, Essex County is the perfect Canadian getaway!
Looking for more on Essex County, Ontario? Read Motorcycle Ride through Essex County, Ontario.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Essex County, here are my top seven reasons (in no particular order!) to visit this wonderful area of southern Canada:
The city of Windsor offers visitors art and culture, historical landmarks, over 210 parks, miles of riverfront walking paths with views of Detroit, shopping, entertainment and world-class gaming at Caesars Windsor. We spent only a few hours in Windsor, grabbing lunch at Bubi’s Awesome Eats, exploring the Walkerville District (the historic town that Hiram Walker, owner of Canadian Club Whisky, built for his workers) and touring the Canadian Club Brand Centre.
2. Lake Views:
This lucky region boasts miles of lake shore, with two lakes (Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie) and several rivers that provide gorgeous water views. Whether driving alongside winding lake-view roads, strolling charming lakeshore towns or exploring waterfront parks, the views of the water will refresh your senses!
3. Charming Bed & Breakfasts:
To be honest, prior to this trip to Essex County, I had never stayed at a bed & breakfast! Not knowing what to expect, I was a little nervous about staying in someone else’s home! After meeting the lovely owners of both bed & breakfasts, my nervous thoughts disappeared! We stayed at two charming and historic houses, Katharine’s B & B in Tilbury and The Doctor’s House B & B in Harrow.
Katharine’s B & B:
Located in the quaint town of Tilbury, Katharine’s B & B resides on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood. Our hosts, Doug and Kathy, welcomed us with open-arms and gave us a tour of the historic home. Built in 1897, the beautiful brick Victorian home offers three guest rooms, each room has an in-suite bath, internet access, cable television and a full-service breakfast! Our cozy room was the perfect retreat after a long day of riding on the motorcycle! We woke up to a delicious home-made breakfast and had a lovely chat with Doug. Our stay at Katharine’s B & B was delightful!
The Doctor’s House B & B:
Located in the small, agricultural town of Harrow, The Doctor’s House B & B was built in 1936 by the town-folk for the town doctor. This historical home has been lovingly preserved and has only had three owners in its lifetime. The current owner and our delightful host, Melanie, greeted us and gave us a tour of the gorgeous brick home. The home offers four guest rooms, one room has an in-suite bath, while the others have a shared bath. We stayed in the “master suite” and had the entire house to ourselves! We turned off our devices and reveled in each other’s company. The Doctor’s House B & B is self-catering, but breakfast packages are available. Our stay at The Doctor’s House B & B was the perfect country retreat!
4. Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island:
If you love the outdoors and want to visit the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, then you need to visit Point Pelee National Park! It is Canada’s 2nd smallest and most diverse national park with more species of plants and animals than any other national park in Canada (stop by the Visitor Centre to learn more about the numerous plant and animal species that call Point Pelee home).
Although the park captivates visitors with its beautiful natural landscapes, the highlight of the park is standing at the southernmost tip of mainland Canada! Visitors can either hike (approximately 30 minutes one way) to the tip or take the free shuttle (just a few minutes ride) to the drop-off point near the tip. We opted to ride the shuttle to the drop-off point and then walked the sandy path a few minutes out to the tip. Once the trees cleared, we were surprised to be the only people on the beach! Being a very windy day, we watched the waves crash ashore and snapped loads of photos to document our visit to the southernmost tip of Canada! For me, the neatest part about our visit was watching the two currents of Lake Erie collide into one another!
Before leaving the park, we explored the park’s marsh, walked around the boardwalk that encircles the marsh and climbed to the top of the observation tower for a birds-eye view!
*Point Pelee National Park is a designated International Monarch Butterfly Reserve and is an important bird area. The park welcomes bird-watchers year-round, but particularly during the spring and fall migration!
Pelee Island is the southernmost point of Canada. Visitors can take a 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland (or from Sandusky, Ohio) to Pelee Island. Home to charming B & B’s, beaches, restaurants and Canada’s largest estate-owned winery (Pelee Island Winery), visitors are invited to relax and enjoy island time! We didn’t get to visit Pelee Island during our weekend getaway, but I’m hoping to return soon to explore the island!
5. EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast) Wineries:
With the unique geographical location of the Lake Erie North Shore Region and a unique climate, this area provides ideal conditions for growing vineyards. Located on the 42nd parallel, the same latitude as northern California and the Mediterranean, the rich soil of the region produces award-winning wines.
The Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) is a collection of nearly a dozen wineries along the Lake Erie and Pelee Island coasts. Whether taking a wine tour or a self-driving tour of the region, visitors will be delighted to find delicious award-winning wines and gorgeous landscapes. To enhance your wine tour, I would suggest you purchase a Passport to EPIC Wine Country ($10 CAD). Ten participating wineries offers complimentary tastings, food and wine pairings and souvenir wine glasses for EPIC passport holders only! Plus, if you collect 5 stamps from participating wineries, you can enter a drawing for a chance to win a VIP Wine Country Experience!
Being on the motorcycle, we only visited three wineries; Mastronardi Estate Winery, Pelee Island Winery, and Viewpointe Estate Winery. But with gorgeous vineyards, beautiful lake views and delicious wines, I can’t wait to return to EPIC Wine Country to explore more of the wonderful wineries in Essex County!
6. Shopping Local:
Throughout Essex County, eclectic small businesses share unique treasures and a love for their community! Stroll the charming streets of the small towns to find antique shops, clothing boutiques, home décor shops, garden centers and many more local stores to peruse. Essex County is a shopper’s paradise!
Eating at local restaurants is one of the highlights of visiting somewhere new! With a plethora of local restaurants, you won’t leave Essex County hungry! Whether eating ethnic food in Windsor (one of Canada’s most diverse cities), savoring the deliciousness of locally grown produce or enjoying a farm-to-table meal at a locally owned restaurant, foodies will love every bite of their culinary experience in Essex County!
We enjoyed great meals at several local restaurants during our visit: Bubi’s Awesome Eats (in Windsor), Parkside Grill at Rochester Place Golf & Resort (in Belle River), Mettawa’s Station (in Kingsville), Colchester Bar & Grill (in Colchester), Billy’s Taphouse (in Essex) and dessert at Dairy Freez (in Essex).
These are just a few of the many reasons why I loved my visit to Essex County! With charming towns, beautiful Canadian landscapes, delicious dining, local shops and markets, award-winning wineries and welcoming locals, Essex County is a delightful weekend getaway in southern Ontario!
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A special thanks to Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island! I was an invited guest of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island. As always on Ohio Girl Travels, all opinions are my own!