Your Holistic, Explorative Guide To Downtown Burlington, ON

At the time, looking out onto the waterfront with our dairy-free ice cream and being shielded in the shade of the willow tree, my friend and I declared it a great idea to hop on our bikes and ride the three-hour trek from home to downtown Burlington. Fast forward a week or two, sitting with another friend on the pier, roasting in the heat of the sun and burning on the scorching black bench which stung as it stuck to our thighs, it struck my mind that the idea may, perhaps, be an ambitious adventure better left for fall.

In contrast to biking, this Tuesday we found ourselves taking a slow and leisurely stroll through the area to scout out the holistic haven that resides here. From secretive village squares, to plant-based eateries, authentic olive oil sampling and waterfront views, this is your holistic explorative guide for a day trip to Burlington.
 new guide

TASTE

 1) Kelly’s Bake Shoppe

401 Brant St

Conventional Diner (CD) approved

lettuce love
2) Lettuce Love Cafe
399 John Street
  • Holistic Highlights: gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, plant-based
  • The sister store to Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, run by the same two passionate women. I had the pleasure of eating here with my family upon graduating last year. The curry bowl with chick peas and split avocado fries were both good dishes.
  • What to watch for;
    • Though vegan, many of the items on the menu are soy based, so make sure to converse with your server. It may also be a good idea to call ahead and make reservations as it is a small venue and was very busy the night we stopped by. Though not a favourite amongst my non-health-nut family, I enjoyed my meal.
grad
3) Rawlicious 
496 Brant Street
  • Holistic Highlights: 100% raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, plant-based
  • A cozy location tucked in amongst the stores, Rawlicious is 100% raw food, desserts and all. Definitely geared towards health enthusiasts. I tried this back in Toronto where my friend and I both thoroughly enjoyed and raved about our raw sandwiches on dehydrated garlic bread with coleslaw and Thai dipping sauce for the raw spring rolls!
raw
4) The Olive Oil Dispensary
2003 Lakeshore Rd
CD Approved
  • We savoured mini samples of fig balsamic vinegar paired with infused bergamot olive oil as we stumbled upon this nook nuzzled amongst the surrounding shops. Walk in to find large barrels equipped with spouts specifically for taste testing as you please. Skip the white bread samples and drink directly from the mini cup, mixing together a balsamic and high quality oil of choice, the flavours stand out on their own.
  • Holistic Highlights:
    • Each, unflavored, olive oil is certified “extra virgin” meeting the highest standards of quality and taste. All olive oil we use in our everyday kitchens should be extra virgin to help ensure its potent health benefits.
olive oil
5) SPENCERS!
1340 Lakeshore Rd
CD approved
    • Just to see this sleek, black building with its balcony overlooking the water and pool of model sail boats, brings back fond memories of our special meals here. Featuring sustainable seafood and an earth to table menu with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients, it is a semi formal venue geared to be high quality and an affordable dinning experience.
    • On my birthday a few years ago, I was thrilled to have a tour of the kitchen and back rooms by the executive chef, and could personally attest to the cleanliness and care of this restaurant. Though we no longer know the head chef who left to pursue his cider business, and I have not been back since, I still highly recommend this restaurant for fine dinning and exquisite views.
    • What to watch for:
      • The menu is often revamped based on the ingredients available at that time of year and to keep the experience fresh each time you visit. However, this makes it hard for me to pinpoint one dish for you to enjoy. Don’t be discouraged by the gluten or dairy, you still have plenty of fresh choices to choose from and cater around. Holistic Life Hacks;  Check out the menu online or call ahead of time to discover your options!

EXPLORE

 

magazine

 

1) Walk the store fronts of Brant street, especially Centro
437 Brant Street
  • You wont find many of your conventional, commercial stores here. Instead you are whisked into whimsical gardens, vintage boutiques, kitchen stores and rustic home decor.
  • My personal favourite store to browse is Centro. Grabbing your attention with a green garden setting in the alleyway beside the boutique with mosses, cacti and herbs. Venture inside to find all of your future home inspiration from rustic wooden dishes and platters, hanging cactus planters, fresh food cookbooks and plenty of trinkets.
  • I stopped in this last time, to pick up a beautiful copy of Pure Green Magazine.
pure green
2) Stroll the pier and waterfront
  • Watch for festivals! I have been here when it was bustling with beer festivals, tranquil in the mid afternoon’s heat (when everyone else was wisely taking shelter in the air-conditioned shops), and even caught wedding photos being taken; the clear sign of a beautiful backdrop! And to my fellow rock enthusiasts, they host the annual Sound of Music concert coming again June 11th-19th 2016 (the lineup is released in May).
3) Take a walk into the mansion neighbourhoods 
  • Ah Burlington, you sure know how to build them. Though many of us may be looking for houses with geothermal heating, lush vegetable gardens, and moderate sized homes, the surrounding mansions are quite something to feast your eyes on! When facing the waterfront, walk left along Lakeshore Road and keep walking until you know you’ve come to the right houses. Feel free to stroll the subdivisions that jut off to the side, it is usually well worth it!
4) Locate the Artists Walk Village Square
  • I have been to Downton Burlington a handful of times over the years and never had I stumbled upon this. Tucked away along an alleyway amidst the strip of pubs and bars, you’ll find a 19th century inspired inner village. Much of it is dedicated to business services but there is a gazebo and Parisian inspired restaurant that gives it a European feeling in the heart of Canadian culture.
 I have to admit that now, as I am sitting, writing to you in the comforts of  an air conditioned home, the summer bike trip seems rather appealing once again. But whether you take the day to bike your way to Burlington (there are many beautiful bike paths through the area!) or take the high road, do be sure to experience all it has to offer. It really is a special little destination for a mini road trip and afternoon ACTIVEists stroll.
In a series of explorative events,
Suzanne Eden

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