Summer Destination ~ Burlington Beach, our own hidden gem!

A wide swath of creamy sand, calm greenish blue waters framed by rolling sand dunes, big beautiful trees and a waterfront trail that goes forever. As the sun warms the land and a hint of Summer promise touches us, our love of adventure and natural beauty comes back home. We have so many lovely hidden gems in Ontario and our thoughts inevitably return to our own gorgeous little paradise in Burlington, Ontario.

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Nestled at the most westernly point of Lake Ontario, Burlington is blessed with a kilometer long, light sand beach tucked among century old trees and connected to a vibrant and friendly downtown area within easy walking distance. To explore the whole area you may park either in the downtown core or as we did at the base of the CN liftbridge and canal. From here you can walk, hike, rollerblade or walk the rest of the area. Burlington has an active & lively community and the path is always in use no matter the season.

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Walking is definitely our method of choice as you can really get in to explore all the great nooks that are found along the way. Tiny dirt pathways and wooden promenades veer off the main paved path every so often and they are worth exploring! Shady spots with beautiful views wait for your private family picnic. Catamarans line the beach creating visions of tropical destinations.

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Walking up the beach which is a protected natural area, you are greeting by visions of the wide crescent beach winding up to the skyline. Summertime brings hundreds of beach goers to its shores with almost as many boats linked up enjoying the heat in the shallow waters. A large buoyed area and a slow sandy entry to the water makes it a fantastic place for families. You can smell the myriad of BBQ lunches being cooked up in the shady grass areas of the bordering park and hear children’s squeals of laughter as they enjoy the refreshing clear waters.

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Near the middle of the beach, is where Burlington Beach Rentals resides. The beach shop is contained in the beautiful historic Pump House and has everything you could ever need to enjoy a day at the beach including towels, sunscreen & beach toys. Whether you’ve come prepared to enjoy the day or not, Burlington beach Rentals is there to make life easy for visitors and locals alike.Just behind the building, on the beach ready for your enjoyment “Beach Spots” consisting of either muskoka chairs, sun loungers and great little SPF50 blue and red colored huts dot the beach and are for rent by the day or hour. Reminiscent of a tropic holiday, they strive to bring the vacation experience home. Complimentary wi-fi is included for all their guests. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous paddleboats and stand up paddleboards are ready and waiting on the shore!

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You can’t find a better way to spend an afternoon than by taking out of their water rentals and enjoying the sights and sounds from the water. Bring a picnic lunch and take it with you, the paddle boats have cup holders and space for a small basket!

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If you’re staying in the area longer they also have beach yoga classes at sunrise & sunset. Full moon social’s every month along with lots of other fun events and activities! Conveniently right next door a small concession is ready to feed your hunger and even satisfy the sweet tooth with yummy ice cream. Showers, change rooms, bathrooms and a playground round out this busy and fun spot.

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Heading farther up the beach, the massive trees start to over hang the water and limestone rocks jut out of clear waters making for picturesque stops. Eventually you round the curve and head back up on the path that leads into Spencer Smith Park. A tiny round protected bay can be found at this junction and if you’re lucky swans can be seen bobbing in its protected waters.

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Spencer Smith Park leads into our downtown core and is a gorgeous large park that lines the majority of the downtown area ended with a large curved pier that completes the scene. Here is where the great city holds numerous awesome festivals throughout the summer months. Sound of Music is Canada’s largest, best and free outdoor music festival held yearly in June. Thousands of fans flock to the area to hear well known and local talent fill the park with music. A full listing of summer events can be found here. On quieter days you can enjoy the reflecting pond surrounded by benches and sometimes home to fancy R/C ships that sail on its surface. Right next door a new playground and large splash pad are ready to entertain the kids for the whole afternoon.

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Following the boardwalk you eventually find yourself staring at the large delicately curved pier that is now the crowning glory of the park. Beautiful in the daytime but even more so at night. This is one of our favorite places to watch the sunset. As the daylight slips colored beacons light up the night sky from its edges.

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No visit to the Burlington waterfront would be complete without a stop in the lovely downtown area. Absolutely full of fine dining, wonderful outdoor patios and great shops all within a few blocks. A small town, friendly feel with big city amenities. One of the things we love most about being here is the awesome vibe of the city and its people. You are always welcome and you will always enjoy your visit!

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If you haven’t recently visited this gorgeous city…it’s time to come back and see what you’re missing 😉

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Taste of Burlington Winter Launch ~ Food Porn to warm a winter’s night!

We had excitedly awaiting this fabulous sold out event since purchasing tickets in December! Pictures and delicious scents had drifted down the beach during last Summer’s launch and we were pretty stoked to be able to attend this Winters event at the new Burlington Performing Arts Center. We were not disappointed 🙂

From the time we wandered in through the massive glass doors, we were welcomed with smiles & a listing of all the wonderful restaurants participating in the event by the girls from Tourism Burlington. Coats were checked and we were ready to investigate all the mingling, delicious scents coming from the different stations.

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Over 30 Burlington restaurants gathered in one spot, creating their signature dishes for lucky attendees to savor and delight in. Where else could you so easily find a new favorite or rediscover an old haunt with a fresh new twist? To help wash it all down we were also joined by Cameron’s Brewing company who offered up a light & smooth Lager & full bodied tasty Auburn ale.

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We spent the next 2 hours wandering between the different stations, indulging in so much fabulous food that we could barely get home at the end of the night. Even trying to limit ourselves to a little bite here and sharing a plate there…the portions were fabulous for a tasting event and we were too full to try all 32 dishes..the shame 🙂

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Thanks to the pamphlet we were handed, we were able to keep track of our most favorite offerings to share with you today. Due to full tummies and a pork allergy we weren’t able to get to everyone but it all looked fabulous!

Amaya Express- 490 Brant St   Serving: Leek & Parsnip fritter, butter chicken & rice

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Perfectly done, light seasoned rice with the perfect amount of spice and flavor to the butter chicken. Fritters were nicely crisp & and a nice contrast. Our bellies were very happy with our first tastings and we will be visiting them for a great Indian dinner sometime soon.

Beaver & the Bulldog 2020 Lakeshore Rd  

Serving : Mediteranean sliders with creamed herb goat cheese, cucumbers, brushetta mix  & red pepper hummus

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What a flavor combination!! Loved the way the flavors came together…soo good!

Queens Head Pub 400 Brant St   Serving : Sweet potato donuts & espresso

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Sweet potato donuts?! Yes and they were delicious, perfect amount of sweetness with a creamy filling…a must try if you have a sweet tooth. The acidity of the espresso to accompany was a great touch.

Rib Eye Jacks  4045 Harvester Rd  

Serving : Wonton Nachos with pulled beef, white beans, chedder, pico de galo, green onions & chipolte

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What a fantastic twist! Loved the interplay of flavors, a tiny bit of savory taste. Would be a great choice for almost everyone to try…we almost went back for another.

Stone House  3106 South Service Rd.  Serving: Beer braised short ribs with truffled turnip puree

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Omg…the short ribs just melted in your mouth and the truffled turnip puree was amazing!! I must admit, my mouth just started salivating just thinking about it again lol  A must try!

Test Kitchen    455 Brant St.       Serving: Tuna Canapes

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This was definitely my top pic for presentation last night! Total food porn and even though I’m not much of a raw fan…the flavors were amazing and we loved the crunchy bits mingled with buttery fresh tuna. This restaurant is all about trying new things..they “Test” new recipes with their patrons for 6 weeks and join the normal menu only if they are adored. If not…on to the next dish!

Turtle Jacks   900 Maple Ave & 1900 Appleby Line     Serving: Award winning Ribs 

Somehow managed to not get a pic of these “to die for” fall off the bone ribs. Maybe because we were too distracted by the generous portion and mouth watering flavors on a plate. If you’re a rib lover and haven’t tried these…Go, go now!

West Plains Bistro   133 Plains Rd. E    Serving: Curried cauliflower soup with dried mango, raisin & almond garnish

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Loved the flavors and especially the addition of raisins into this exotic soup. I’ve been experimenting at home with similar flavor combinations and really enjoy the subtle curve in flavors.

The Naked Sprout  4040 Palladium Way  

Serving: Prima Donna Primavera   Spiraled zucchini, tossed in a sun dried tomato marinara sauce, garnished with tomatoes, kalamata olives & a cashew meatball sprinkled with Brazil nut parmesan. 

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I was skeptical when trying this initially but it turned out to be my most favorite dish of the evening…and it was vegetarian! The spiraled zucchini tasted like amazing fresh noodles and the sauce was to die for.The flavors combined made for a most fabulous treat and we will definitely be bring our vegetarian daughter with us to dine & discover what other fabulous things they have cooking over there. Beautiful presentation and table set up…kudos ladies!!

Spencer’s at the Waterfront    1340 Lakeshore Rd       Serving: Ice wine marshmallow s’mores

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We saw these delicious looking morsels as soon as we got there but saved tasting them until last. With a cup of Lakeshore coffee House French Vanilla organic roast in to perfectly compliment it, the tiny bit of room in our bellies was immensely satisfied with the choice. As delicious as it sounds, with smooth & velvety chocolate ganache melding the flavors it rounded out a fantastic night of food porn. Hoping they might deliver some of these down to the beach this Summer! ( Hint, hint lol)

Lakeshore Coffee house also had their popular Guatemalan coffee to sample along with jars of all their tasty fair trade choices to help patrons to appreciate the delicious aromas. We’ve always loved their coffees and cozy shop right downtown. Make sure to stop by and sample something on your way to walk the lake or just to sit by their beautiful warm fireplace when you’re done!

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From beginning to end, it was a wonderful event. Everyone was friendly and hospitable taking time to interact and explaining their dishes. It was a treat to talk to some of the chefs and see the passion in their eyes when they talked about the food they created.  The crowds loved every minute and everyone went home full & happy having discovered at least one new favorite dish. Congratulations to everyone involved on a fantastic event!

Taste of Burlington Winter runs from February 16th – March 9th and offers a prix fixe lunch ($15/20) and dinner ($30-40) at all participating restaurants. Reservations are highly recommended! Visit their website at http://www.tasteofburlington.ca for more information and to book your food porn experience now!