Cutting pizza

A Taste of Bruce County: The Best Itinerary for Fresh Produce and Local Farm Stays

When you think about Bruce County, a few things most likely come to mind: the twinkling blue waters of Lake Huron, the pristine beaches and wondrous places to explore nature. Did you know that Bruce County is a fabulous foodie destination too? It’s the perfect destination to sample farm fresh produce, visit unique food shops and try the local specialties.

For this Bruce County itinerary called, “A Taste of Bruce County,” you’ll find our recommendations on the best farm stays and visits, must-sample food and drink and where to rest your head at night. This trip combines delicious food, wellness, the great outdoors and ample opportunities to unwind and enjoy the scenery for which the region is best known. This itinerary is best enjoyed during the spring, summer and early fall.

A Taste of Bruce County Itinerary: Day 1 (Wednesday)

On this foodie focused trip of Bruce County, you’ll make your way up to Walkerton through the communities of Mildmay, Lucknow, Ripley and Kincardine

Start your trip at The Mildmay Cheese Haus. They carry over 200 kinds of local and imported cheeses. Their specialty is a naturally aged cheddar up to 19 years old. Another great find at Mildmay Cheese Haus is Stone Bridge Flour, which is premium, stone-milled flour that’s grown in Ripley, Ontario. From their farm to your table, Stone Bridge Flour will elevate your freshly baked bread and desserts. 

Also in Mildmay, Harley’s Pub & Perk is a locally owned and operated coffee shop, pub and catering business. Stop by for breakfast or lunch, a cup of coffee or perhaps a home cooked meal to bring on your trip (must be ordered in advance).

Next, pop over to Armstrong’s Home Bakery in Lucknow. Pick up some hot dog buns, freshly baked pies or any of their local fare to enjoy during the rest of your trip. If there’s a sweet treat that you must try, it’s their butter tarts, which many claim are the best ones they’ve ever had!

Next, shop at Pine River Cheese to stock your cooler with locally produced cheese and dairy products from this artisan dairy producer. Pine River Cheese also has a small restaurant with pizzas that the whole region enjoys, so this is a great place to stop for lunch or a quick bite.

Spend the rest of the morning or afternoon in the town of Kincardine admiring its gardens, lighthouse and picturesque downtown streets. Go for a walk on the beach boardwalk and perhaps spend the afternoon on this expansive sandy beach. Don’t miss stopping at Best Friends Bakery for freshly made donuts, artisan bread, butter tarts and seasonal products. 

Make your way to Walkerton, which is where you’ll spend the night. Check in to your accommodation at Saugeen Riverbank Campground, whether you decide to stay at a campsite or at one of their roofed accommodations. There are bunkie cabins, yurts, and their newest overnight option, a biodome. Rent a kayak on-site for a couple of hours or take advantage of their river tubing rentals. They’ll drop you off up the river at Maple Hill Dam, and you’ll float back down on the beautiful Saugeen River over 1.5 to 2 hours.

For an alternative place to stay, stop at Essentially Lavender and stay overnight at one of their bunkies. Take a tour of the lavender farm, shop at their lavender boutique, walk the trails of this 96-acre property and spend some time taking memorable photographs of you and your travel buddies. There are three glamping cottages where you can unplug and unwind for the evening.

If camping or glamping is not your style, consider spending the night at the Chepstow Inn. Built in 1869, this beautifully renovated property is the oldest operating hotel in Bruce County. Enjoy a unique and comfortable suite in this charming, 150-year old coach house. 

Have dinner at 519 Table and Pour, a farm-to-table restaurant in Walkerton that supports local farms and small businesses. This restaurant provides meals using ingredients from local producers and businesses like Ralph Pitt’s Produce, Prestige Food Products, Mildmay Cheese Haus, Walkerton Meat Market, Grey Matter Beer Company, Three Sheets Brewing, Outlaw Brew Co., Tobermory Brewing and more.

A Taste of Bruce County Itinerary: Day 2 (Thursday)

From Walkerton, you’ll be exploring the shores of Lake Huron today, eventually making your way to Hepworth to spend the night. Start the day off right with coffee and breakfast at Green Bean Pantry. From there, drive up to Paisley to shop at Keyzer’s Fruit Farm. They grow the fruit right at their farm, and you can purchase what’s in season (blueberries, plums, apples and more).

Two kids enjoying ice cream

Also in Paisley, Happy Hive Bakery offers savoury and sweet treats, from doughnuts and brownies to personal pizzas and bagel sandwiches. A trip to Paisley wouldn’t be complete without stopping by Tomboi Ice Cream. You’ll adore their artisanal ice cream in dozens of unique and specialty flavours. They also have non-dairy ice cream varieties made with coconut milk or soya milk.

From there, head up towards Port Elgin and Southampton to Hi-Berry Farm on Highway 21. They offer farm fresh produce grown on their 200 acre farm. They only sell what they grow, so you’ll only be able to purchase the freshest fruits and vegetables around. It’s the ultimate way to “shop local!” Please note that Hi-Berry Farm is open between May and October.

Spend the late morning and early afternoon in Southampton. Visit Offshore Bakery in Southampton for sweet treats, freshly baked bread, pies, loaves and more. Next, check out the Southampton Marine Heritage Market for handmade wares, locally grown vegetables, fresh cut flowers and tempting baked goods from over 40 vendors. From the market, it’s also possible to book a sightseeing tour to Chantry Island.

The Marine Heritage Market is only open on Fridays, so here are some alternate ideas should you visit any other day of the week. The Southampton Olive Oil Company is a family run business with handmade artisanal oils that you can try before you buy. The Southampton Arts Centre is a gallery that exhibits local art from over 50 artists from in and around Bruce County.

In the late afternoon, drive up to Sauble Beach for the Lakeview Vendors Market. It takes place every Monday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a beloved local farmer’s market, vendor’s market and flea market all rolled into one. After you’re done shopping at the market, stop by the Casero Taco Bus for some of their delicious tacos and Mexican fare. If possible, you can add some time to enjoy the beach or perhaps one of Sauble Beach’s famous sunsets.

Spend the night at the Hepworth Hostel in the town of Hepworth, Ontario. This heritage building was established in 1893 as a roadside inn, and its traditions are continued as a small and unique hostel. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi, the outdoor firepit, and breakfast is included.

A Taste of Bruce County Itinerary: Day 3 (Friday)

After breakfast at the Hepworth Hostel, it’s time to head up to the town of Wiarton for the third day of this Bruce County foodie adventure. Our first stop is the Wiarton Farmers’ Market, taking place in the middle of town from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Wiarton Farmers’ Market connects you to authentic local growers and producers. Shop for more groceries for your cooler, delicious baked goods, maple syrup, honey, preserves and even plants for your garden. Spend some time in the quaint town of Wiarton for its picturesque main street, beautiful waterfront parks and boutique shops.

It’s time to go for a hike in Wiarton! Spirit Rock Conservation Area offers an easy, three kilometre loop that takes you past the site of the Corran, a crumbling ruin that was once the site of a stately 17-room stone mansion. It also features an impressive view from the top of the Niagara Escarpment, as well as a spiral staircase to the waterfront.

Just north of Wiarton in Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation (Cape Croker) is the Jones Bluff Loop, which is part of the Bruce Trail. This is a lengthier and more challenging hike than Spirit Rock. This 8.5 kilometre trek offers beautiful scenic lookouts, and it takes about three to four hours to complete. Once you reach the lookout point over MacGregor Harbour to admire Cape Croker in the distance, you’ll quickly realize that this hike is well worth the effort. 

Spend the rest of the day at Purple Valley Hideaway Farm, which is also where you’ll be spending the night. This is a classic bed and breakfast, as well as a spiritual retreat location. You can request a guided spiritual retreat if you’re looking to rejuvenate your mind and body. Stay in one of their three rooms and enjoy a home-cooked breakfast using fresh ingredients from their own farm.

There are fantastic activities for foodies and lovers of locally produced food. You can be a “farmer for a day” and learn all about what it’s like to be part of a working farm in Bruce County. Purple Valley Hideaway Farm has sheep, goats, chickens, bee hives and vegetable gardens. There is always wood to chop, animals to feed, grass to cut, compost to turn, hives to inspect and produce to pick and preserve. 

You can also try your hand at foraging on the farm. This 100-acre farm provides plenty of opportunities to forage for wildflowers, herbs, mushrooms and more. You can also go foraging beyond the farm in public spaces where foraging is allowed.

A Taste of Bruce County Itinerary: Day 4 (Saturday)

In the morning, visit the Lion’s Head Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (Victoria Day to Thanksgiving). There are local farms, local producers, artisans and live music on the beach. There are more than 25 regular vendors and a rotating list of guest vendors with specialty products, prepared foods, baked goods, produce and plants. Some other great spots in Lion’s Head for a bite to eat include The Taste Kitchen and Rachel’s Restaurant.

Feeling adventurous? Go mountain biking at the Mountain Bike Adventure Park for an exhilarating ride. Feeling more like relaxing? Soak up the peaceful surroundings at Georgian Bay beaches. There are pristine waters and swimming locations at Cape Croker, Hope Bay and Lion’s Head

Spend the night in Lion’s Head. On the Cliff Bed and Breakfast is a boutique, adults only retreat perched high on the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. Enjoy stunning vistas of Georgian Bay, and you’ll be less than 200 steps away from the Lion’s Head Nature Reserve trails. Another fantastic accommodation option in Lion’s Head is the Lion’s Head Beach Motel and Cottages. Stay at one of their cozy motel units or one of four well-equipped cottages. 

Lion’s Head is located within a UNESCO Protected Dark Sky Preserve, which makes it the perfect destination for stargazing. Just look up to the night sky and witness the brilliant Milky Way galaxy. If you’d like to learn more about astronomy, head up to Bayside Astronomy in Lion’s Head on Friday or Saturday evenings in the summer. This is a free program that allows members of the public to learn about the importance of our dark skies and to view the dark sky through their telescopes.

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