Toronto Star

Reasons to daydream

Staycation ideas for a post-pandemic world

- NINA DRAGICEVIC SPECIAL TO THE STAR This content was funded but not approved by the advertiser.

Retirees love to travel. Beaches, cruises, adventures, tours — the industry used to be a favourite for those who have just shed the workweek from their lives.

The pandemic has halted recreation­al travel, however, and a gradual loosening of restrictio­ns may follow in the coming months and into next year. But there will come a day when we can explore again — and while we wait, everyone deserves to daydream.

Staycation­s are an ideal option in a post-pandemic world: inprovince restrictio­ns are likely to be lifted first; local travel is cheaper; and we support our fellow communitie­s with tourism dollars.

When the time comes, consider all that Ontario has to offer in raw beauty and charismati­c towns.

Day drives

Day drives are a refreshing break — drive early, explore the scenery, and arrive back home in the evening. And they can involve relatively little outside contact.

There are some “spots that aren’t very far away from Toronto, but they feel worlds away,” says Christophe­r James Mitchell, co-founder of UltimateOn­ After travelling the world and living abroad for years, Mitchell returned to Ontario and decided to explore his province with the same passion as a traveller — thus the website was born.

Port Stanley: “It feels like an escape, like a great place to go when the sun is shining,” Mitchell says. “They have a lighthouse; they have an extended pier that gives you a nice view of the whole town. It’s a great spot to go in the early morning, go down to the beach, get some sun, walk around the pier.”

Must-visit spots — if open to visitors — include Broderick’s Ice Cream, Quai Du Vin Estate Winery and the Port Stanley Terminal Rail.

Kingston: When the province confirms travel is safe, Kingston’s colourful culture and exquisite architectu­re is ready.

Megan Knott, executive director of Tourism Kingston, says the UNESCO-recognized city has scenic driving routes through the city and along the water, including the Fort Henry National Historic Site, the sprawling Queen’s University campus and beautiful conservati­on areas.

“You can travel along the water and there’s around 20 sites to take in safely from your car,” Knott says, “or safely stop for a few moments to see it in person, have a bite to eat and get back on the road.”

Downtown restaurant­s are offering storefront takeout service, she says, so visitors can pick up a meal and enjoy a picnic in one of many city parks.

Short stays

Kingston: When it’s safe to stay longer, Kingston’s plans for street life are already in the works, including a downtown promenade to allow shopping and dining with recommende­d distances.

“We’re constantly evolving,” Knott says. “We call ourselves ‘Kingston: Fresh Made Daily’ — you can’t experience the same thing twice in Kingston.”

Everything changes seasonally, from culinary offerings and wine selection, to various cityand nature-focused attraction­s. Knott says Kingston’s artisans provide one-of-a-kind keepsakes and experience­s.

“We’re a city of makers and we’re very proud of that,” she says. “We try to keep the authentici­ty of Kingston by highlighti­ng the people that make that ambience what it is.” Erieau to Chatham to Pelee Island: “My wife and I usually stop at a place called Erieau,” Mitchell says. “It’s a really interestin­g spot that has two bodies of water on either side — they have a little park, a really nice pier, a beach, right on Lake Erie. It’s just a strange little land mass that feels unique.”

Drive to Chatham and spend the night at the Retro Suites Hotel — a regional highlight, according to Mitchell. “It’s a remarkable spot,” he says. “I’ve never stayed in a hotel like that in Ontario.”

Up next? Pelee Island for two nights to explore the natural beauty and unique culture — and of course that famous wine. “The island is just something else,” Mitchell says. “Pelee Islanders are a whole different breed.”

Perth: Recent retirees might love an opportunit­y for “a romantic weekend away,” Mitchell says.

“I would strongly recommend staying at a bed and breakfast near Perth called Clyde Hall,” he says. “It’s amazing, run by a couple — they ran a famous bakery for a number of years. I’ve never eaten so well in my life.”

Mitchell describes Lanark County as “gorgeous” and says Perth and other nearby areas are idyllic places to explore. “I would argue Stewart Park (in Perth) is the crown jewel there.”

Before you go

Wait for lockdown to lift in Ontario. Before travelling anywhere: check provincial and local regulation­s; plan your stops and call ahead; consult your doctor; and pack protective and cleaning supplies.

Visit UltimateOn­ or VisitKings­ for more informatio­n and ideas.

 ?? ISTOCK ?? Recent retirees might want to consider a romantic weekend away once travel is possible again.
ISTOCK Recent retirees might want to consider a romantic weekend away once travel is possible again.
 ?? RETRO SUITES HOTEL ?? Retro Suites Hotel offers a playful boutique experience.
RETRO SUITES HOTEL Retro Suites Hotel offers a playful boutique experience.

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