Five one-of-a-kind weekend retreats that are worth the trek
Even the most dedicated urbanites require a respite from the frantic pace of city life every once in a while. And thankfully for coddled Torontonians, road tripping no longer means roughing it—or sacrificing your cultural credentials. These days there are tons of relatively nearby, totally unique destinations that offer swanky stays and artsy experiences. All you need? The luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee, a sense of adventure and maybe a buddy to cue up a cruise-worthy playlist.
The Drake Devonshire
The Prince Edward County offshoot of the Drake Hotel is the ultimate weekend trip for artsy west-enders looking to experience the hotel’s signature combination of tasty cuisine and quirky design aesthetic—with a side of exceptional scenery. Like Toronto, there’s never a dull moment: the schedule in the county is always packed with events like paint nights, yoga classes and vinyl swaps—literally evenings devoted to playing your own records and trading with other music aficionados. In addition to rotating artist-in-residence exhibits, they’ve also added a series of outdoor installations by artists like Trevor Wheatley, which make the place even more of an ideal Instagram setting. Plus, for oenophiles, visiting nearby wineries like Norman Hardie and Rosehall Run is a perfect way to take in other parts of the county
The Buffalo Farm
Started by a trio of Toronto siblings who’d had it with city life, The Buffalo Farm is a truly idyllic sanctuary—especially in the spring. Guests can stay in a yurt or tipi, both of which are outfitted like boutique hotels, with wood stoves, cozy wool blankets and king-sized beds topped in luxe linens. It’s definitely more of a “glamping” experience: charcuterie boards and fine wines fit in especially well, and the owners have even had guests shuck oysters for hors d’oeurves. Buffalo do occasionally wander by, and there are also few beautiful horses that add to the bucolic vibe.
Torontonians craving more of a zen weekend retreat can hop in the luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee for a four-hour drive to pampering paradise. This Quebec Spa, which is known for their weekend-long wellness re-set programs and extensive hydrotherapy facilities, looks like something out of a rustic fairy tale. Guests can roam the expansive grounds in plush white robes while hopping between steamy saunas (there are nine), invigorating cold plunges and bubbling hot tubs under trickling waterfalls. At the end of a weekend, city-goers will officially be as detoxed as possible and ready to tackle the office.
The Elora Mill Hotel
Not only is the charming town of Elora one of the most beautiful destinations in Ontario (think: rushing river, dramatic gorge and limestone swimming quarry), but it has a thriving arts scene, as well. Drive around in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and enjoy attractions like The Elora Centre for the Arts, which has two galleries that are always showing fascinating exhibitions. The space also hosts a variety of hilariously niche classes, including rug-making and canine portrait painting. Best of all, the town’s historic mill has also just finished an extensive revitalization and is now a super-luxurious place to stay. The view isn’t too bad, either.
The metropolis formally referred to as “The Hammer” is officially the coolest part of Toronto’s sprawling suburbia. We’re not asking any downtown residents to relocate, but we are recommending a weekend trip —especially for those who enjoy top-quality craft beer, mouth-watering food, stellar antique shops and magical waterfalls. In the spring and summer, the streets are bustling with outdoor festivals, like music fest Festival of Friends, ten-minute theatre series HamilTen, and the Liquid Art Festival, a hybrid beer and art extravaganza at Collective Arts Brewing. As for accommodations, there are plenty of extra-cute Airbnbs up for grabs.