Friday, July 6, 2018

Travel: Exploring London, Ontario

A Weekend Escape to London, ON

This summer, I want to explore and enjoy as much of Ontario as I can. We're so lucky to live in such a beautiful province that has so much to offer!

We kicked off this summer goal with a weekend in one of Southwest Ontario's larger cities- London.

I haven't been to London for about 13 years. I used to compete on a dance team and our annual competition was in London. However, since then, I've only ever driven through on our way to other destinations in Southern Ontario. It was about time I stopped to see what London has to offer - and verdict?  I was very happily surprised!

We found London has a nice combination of small town and big city vibes. You can definitely find quiet time as well as bustling night life here. Not to mention the up and coming culinary scene.

Below, I've shared from of my favourite places to eat and some fun things to do during a visit to London, Ontario if you decide to plan your own weekend escape!

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Hotel Metro, which is a boutique hotel right beside Convent Garden Market. We found the location to be perfect for us as it was walkable to Richmond Street and to many of the other places we wanted to go.


I also loved that the rooms were exceptionally spacious. We stayed in the Loft-style King room and it was perfect for us. I loved the high ceilings and exposed brick walls.

The room definitely had a special style and ambience. Despite the construction going on right outside, we heard nothing and slept very well on their extremely comfortable beds.

Black-out curtains are what we are used to at home, so they were a welcome change from standard hotel drapery. I slept like a baby and I'd highly recommend this hotel for comfort, location and ambience.

Where to Eat

The Bag Lady

The Bag Lady is the perfect place for brunch. It's a quaint vintage variety store and breakfast is served all day. The food here is delicious to say the least and it's affordable too!

We had the loaded Breakfast Burrito and the Breakfast Pizza - a thin and crispy crust, topped with eggs, veggies and cheese. It was all so delicious. I might have to go back for this!

DolcettoDolcetto is a lovely Italian restaurant with a relaxed and modern atmosphere. They serve great homemade pizzas, pasatas and other Italian dishes.

You can also find traditional brunch items on the menu on Sundays. We went for the Fico (Fig) Salad, Salmon Picatta with lemon, capers and angel hair pasta as well as the Portofino Pizza (mozzarella di bufala, house made spicy sausage, rapini and chilies.

The food here was great and especially loved their decor and patio.

Los Lobos

Los Lobos is a modern Mexican restaurant with a fantastic patio. If you sit outdoors, make sure you take a look at the wall art inside, it's outstanding! 

I loved the stuffed poblano pepper with rice, chorizo, salsa and cilantro. I'd also highly recommend their margaritas and tacos. We tried the pork belly, chicken thigh, cauliflower and carnita tacos - they were all delicious!

Hunter and Co

This was probably my favourite culinary stop over the weekend. Hunter & Co. offers a unique experience with chef-crafted dishes that are full of flavour. Personally, I loved the experience of dining here.

The menu is tapas style and they recommend ordering four to five dishes to share. Each dish comes out one at a time so you can fully enjoy and appreciate the flavour combinations.

I loved everything we ordered but my favourites were the stuffed boneless chicken wings and the cashew shrimp. The dishes were so delicious, I can see why this restaurant is always bustling! The service was also excellent and I'd highly reccommend dining here.

The Bungalow

The Bungalow is a low key restaurant with a family friendly vibe. We sat outdoors to enjoy the weather. This restaurant has been featured on the TV show, "You Gotta Eat Here" and I'd heard so much about the famous burgers that I decided to give one a try.

Hubby and I shared some grilled salmon with a salad and a lamb burger. I loved the long list of toppings available so you could get the perfect combo. I went with grilled pineapple, sauteed onions, tomato and jalapenos. The list of fancy and house made condiments was equally as long and impressive.

The burger was perfectly juicy - I'd say succulent even, and was quite honestly the best burger I've ever eaten. If you're a burger lover, I'd say - you gotta eat here.

The Tea Lounge

The Tea Lounge is a lovely place to stop in for an afternoon indulgence. They have over 150 varieties of ethically sourced tea. The owner, Michelle, also makes sure to pick the best quality leaves and teas to ensure that her customers maximize on the health benefits.

What I loved it that she also ensures all her suppliers, farmers and growers are paid fairly for their work. Got to love a company that has ethics at the heart of what they do.

We enjoyed the serenity of their porch and had a little down time as we sipped a beautiful blooming tea. You can also try their newly launched, lunch experience which includes soup, salad and a cheese board (or go for the vegan cheese board).

Our tea guide, Spencer, gave us a wonderful education about the proper way to pour and prepare tea. As a tea lover, I found this to be so interesting and loved learning more about one of my favourite beverages.

Haven's Creamery

Just down the road from The Tea Lounge is Haven's Creamery. They are a small batch ice cream shop and focus on bringing a high quality product to their customers.

I loved the ambience and the delicious ice cream which really hit the spot during the summer heat.

Roli Poli Ice Cream

If you're looking to try something different, you may want to stop in at Roli Poli's on Richmond Street. They specialize in hand rolled ice cream. Choose your ingredients (fruits, candies, toppings) and they are hand mixed into the cream.

 Then the cream is frozen on a stainless steel plate and rolled by hand. The result is paper-thin ice cream rolls which are then topped with fruit and whipped cream. 

Things To Do

There are so many ways to spend some time in London and I had the opportunity to explore quite a bit when I was in the area.

Richmond Row  

Richmond Street (also known as Richmond Row) is the main street for shopping and browsing in London, Ontario. There are over 200 businesses in this area including, but not limited to, clothing boutiques, health and beauty shops, restaurants, bars and pubs.

We spent some time walking up and down the street, admiring the rooftop beer garden at Toboggan and the churches we passed.

My favourite shop here was a peaceful botanical haven called "Grow and Bloom". I just loved the decor, ambience and the little home decor treasures that I found here!

London Libations Pedal Pub

One of the reasons I wanted to come to London for this weekend was to experience their brand new Pedal Pub. This is something I've wanted to try out for the last few years while on vacation but it never worked out. I was so excited to learn that this experience is now available in Ontario. The Pedal Pub is a giant bicycle that seats about 10 pedallers, 1 driver and 5 people who can just enjoy the ride. London Libations offers a two hour tour with stops scheduled at some of London's craft brewhouses.

The tour I was on stopped at Anderson Craft Ales and The London Brewing Co-op . We had 4-6 tastings at each stop.

Pedal Pub costs about $60 and was such a  fun experience. We rode with a group of friends who were celebrating a birthday. This is the perfect group activity. It was an exciting way to get from brewery to brewery and perfectly safe as a designated driver does all the steering.

Currently, there's a facebook contest going on, check it out for a chance to win passes for a London Libations Pedal Pub tour!

Budweiser Gardens

While visiting London, I had the chance to catch a show at Budweiser Gardens. But it wasn't just any show, it was my first Cirque Du Soleil experience! I saw a breathtaking show called "Crystal". It was a classic Cirque show with acrobats, jugglers, corde lisse and lots of stunts but it was all on ice!
Added to that, was the indoor snow fall, live music, incredible lighting and ice dancing. It was a magical experience!

If you're in town and Cirque isn't, you can always catch other shows at the Gardens. This summer, Shania Twain will be in town, as well as the Smashing Pumpkins. The Gardens will also host Keith Urban in the fall.

Tree Trekking

If you love physical activity, make sure to check out Boler Mountain for an amazing tree trekking adventure. It's an outdoor adventure park that consists of rope bridges, swinging tires, wooden platforms and swings that connect between trees.

Did I mention the park is suspended about 40 feet above ground? It's definitely an exhilarating way to test your strength and agility. I enjoyed channeling my inner Indiana Jones and trekking from platform to platform.

Don't miss the zip-line course which consists solely of zip-lines of various lengths. It's so much fun and will really give you that free-flying experience. If heights aren't your thing, Boler Mountain also has hiking trails and bike rentals that would suit anyone who'd rather keep their feet on the ground.

Covent Garden Farmer's Market

One of my favourite things to do in any city I'm visiting is to check out the local farmer's market. It's a great way to get to know a community and to become a part of it.

In London, I loved wandering through the rows of market vendors at Covent Garden Farmer's Market. It's a large indoor market in the heart of downtown London.

At the market you can find fresh local produce, craft batch condiments, gourmet jams and delicious cheeses. You will also come across bakeries, florists, homeopaths and Kombucha brewers. On Thursdays and Saturdays there is also an outdoor market featuring local artisans, wineries and growers.

Jill's Table

This is a lovely foodie stop with incredible local sauces, jam and honey. At Jill's Table, you'll find the perfect hostess gifts as well as some amazing kitchen tools and gourmet ingredients. You can also take a hands-on cooking class taught by guest chefs, each with their own areas of expertise.


Victoria Park

We stumbled upon Victoria Park as we explored Richmond Street and just loved it! It's a large green space in the middle of the city and was a great place for a stroll. If you're planning to visit with your family, Victoria Park would be a great place for a picnic and some outdoor fun for kids. Many outdoor festivals are held here, so definitely check out what's on in local events while planning your trip.

We had a great time exploring London, Ontario for a weekend. It's a lovely city with a great food scene and lots to do! If you have any favourite things to do or see in London, please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @angeliesood.

A special thank you to my friends at Ontario's Southwest and London Tourism for partnering on this post. As always, all views and opinions expressed are my own. 

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