Clarington is the perfect place to escape from Toronto where the hustle and bustle of the city make social distancing a bit of a challenge. You’ll find this municipality, which is part of Durham Region, at the meeting point of Highway 401 and the 115, with the southern portion nestled along Lake Ontario.
Head north to explore winding, rural roads through many small hamlets like Tyrone, Enniskillen and Kirby, with acres of picturesque farmland, mature trees and ambrosial streets lined with shops stocked with local goods.
More urban communities can be found in Clarington too — such as Bowmanville, Courtice and Orono.
Because of its proximity to the GTA and access to major arteries including the completed 407 extension to the north, Clarington has grown and has quite a lot to offer, especially this time of year.
Here's how you can spend 36 hours in Clarington this fall.
You’ve got GO Transit to get there, and Durham Region Transit to get you around once you arrive, though expect to be wearing a face covering the entire time. For a more relaxed trip, you'd be better off with some wheels of your own, plus you'll be able to take advantage of those breathtaking countryside views.
There are a number of hotels and motels located in Clarington, though the pandemic has impacted the availability of many popular lodgings.
A B&B is likely your best option for a safe stay in Bowmanville (though keep in mind most places aren't doing the breakfast portion anymore), so head to The Hive Bee and Bee for a blend of privacy and nature.
This boutique lodging offers single room rentals or full-house rentals. If you're worried about crowding, be at ease: there's a maximum of 10 people in the house at a time.
It also sits on an 18-acre nature reserve replete with a forest, a stream, a spacious deck, and a shady front porch to laze around on after a long day of exploring. Full COVID-19 protocols are in place to ensure your safety.
10 a.m. - Hunt for treasures at the Courtice Flea Market
Assuming you’ve taken advantage of the breakfast portion of your B&B, you should now have the sustenance to take on the day, and your first stop should be to the Courtice Flea Market. This massive warehouse opens at 9 a.m. and is packed to the rafters with antique furniture and collectibles. Masks are mandatory here.
12:30 p.m. - Lunch in historic downtown Bowmanville
You’ve probably worked up an appetite, so head to downtown Bowmanville. This strip still boasts many of the original buildings, which adds to the quaintness. Also, there are a couple of delicious options for lunch.
Enjoy a hearty sandwich from Norm’s Delicatessen, piled high with corned beef and mustard on marble rye. Their hot table opens at 11 a.m. so don’t sleep on the perogies, either. Keep in mind they're doing takeout only due to the pandemic so it'll be an eat-in-your-trunk kind of deal.
2 p.m. - Experience art in an old mill
Visual Arts Centre is a public art gallery located in what was once a functioning mill. In fact, this building has an interesting history that goes back to 1814. At one point, the mill specialized in barley and was operating day and night until it burned down in 1904.
It was rebuilt but in the early 1950s business slowed and the mill went dark. The big red-bricked building became a drop-in centre from 1965 until 1973 when the town of Bowmanville acquired it for a buck and turned it into a space for contemporary art and workshops.
Opening hours are 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. (before that is for seniors and immunocompromised visitors). It's 10 visitors at VAC at a time with masks and hand sanitation required. Keep in mind that washrooms aren't available to guests at this time.
4:30 p.m. - Beer o’clock
Chronicle Brewing Co. keeps it exciting with a rotating menu of small-batch beers. You can stay for a drink in their taproom or on their patio, just make sure to make a reservation (even if it's last-minute). Or you can just grab a couple of cans to take home.
6:30 p.m. - Dinner on a heated patio
Keep in mind that Clarington isn’t really known for its wild nightlife but you came here to rest and recharge, remember? Keep things chill on a heated patio like the one at the Caribbean spot Starapples.
You can also hit up the The Old Newcastle House. Saturday nights here used to include live music but that's on hiatus for now during the pandemic so call to make a rezo on their socially distanced patio. It's a maximum of four people per group.
11 a.m. - Sip cider at one of Canada’s oldest working mills
Tyrone Mills was built in 1846 and still operates today (albeit with slightly shortened hours thanks to the pandemic), manufacturing lumber and producing flour. Plus, there’s a shop with maple syrup, honey, preserves and baked goods. You’ve got to try their apple cider doughnuts made fresh daily.
1 p.m. - How do you like them apples (or pumpkins)?
Clarington has an abundance of farms with rows of apple trees ripe for the picking. At Archibald’s Estate and Winery, which has been operating for over 20 years, you can pick-your-own apples and try an assortment of wines and ciders.
They're not doing indoor tastings anymore but are offering their "Outdoor Winery" on weekends until 4 p.m. Masks, sanitizing and physical distancing are required.
If it’s pumpkins you’re after, hit up Knox Farm. The Knox Family has been farming the land since 1832 and growing big orange gourds for the past 35 years. They're accessible right off the 407 just take the Enfield Road exit and bring your masks.
Pingles Farm is another one worth a visit. You can pick your own apples or pumpkins here too, but you can also get lost in a cool corn maze.
3 p.m. - Hit up a hot sauce horror cafe
It's the combination you didn't know you needed. Deadly Grounds Coffee is the spot for a late afternoon caffeine pick-me-up, and a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. Grab some skull-shaped cinnamon muffins and maybe stock up on spooky-themed hot sauce from Hurt Berry Farm Inc.
6 p.m. - Dinner at the lounge
After a day on the farm, you might want to sit down for a hearty dinner at Three-Six Kitchen. The focus here is fresh and local dishes with draft beers from local micro-breweries, just call to reserve.
Don’t worry if you’re not in the mood to dine-in, this restaurant also offers great grab-and-go meals. I mean, you could always take some grub back to your bed and breakfast and catch the sunset.
On your way home, make sure you pop into the Enniskillen General Store and grab one of the biggest Kawartha Dairy ice cream cones: the Big Baby. Built in 1840, this place served as the village post office and butcher shop in the 1900s.
Run by the Sheehan family, the shop still has all the old-timey vibes, but it also offers a wide variety of locally-made goods, like candles, cards, and there is a huge selection of both hot sauce (they have over 140 different kinds) and of course, what’s a country general store without ice cream?
by Staff via blogTO