Spring in Burlington Ontario

Spring in Burlington Ontario
Discover Burlington this Spring

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ban Summer Boredom with Burlington’s Adventure Activities for Locals and Visitors of All Ages.

Get Out in the Green and Enjoy the History and Heritage of your Backyard Treasures.

The Royal Botanical Gardens

Summer Sings and Swings at the Royal Botanical Gardens

It’s always beautiful at the RBG, but right now it is irresistible – with cool shady walks and gardens full of flowers at their summer best.

Learn to Love your Veggies in the 100 Mile Garden

Photo credit Barbara Orr
The Veggie Garden is an exciting addition to the RBG and promotes something which I support wholeheartedly – eating fresh, eating local and eating well.
These gardens, each one carefully designed and well signed, are both inspirational and beautiful – who knew that a salad could look so gorgeous? Visitors can read about the different kinds of vegetables and herbs that are growing here in a collection of themed gardens, as well as find recipes for using them.  But more than just something to look at and maybe try to duplicate, the gardens are positioned as a call to action. Visitors are asked to take the 100 Mile Veg Pledge which is a promise to use one locally grown ingredient in one meal per week for a year.  If 2000 people take and honour the pledge, 80,000 tonnes of CO 2 emissions due to transportation will be saved – the equivalent of burning 3.3 million litres of gasoline.  And of course, there are health benefits too.

But this is a beautiful place to visit too, nice and shady in the morning, and totally inspirational.  There are many suggestions for the gardener, ideas to steal for his own space, however small it may be.  There are suggestions of how to use planters and pots to grow vegetables and herb, with examples of different designs and different containers.  This is one of my new favourite places in the RBG.

Cook Those Greens!
If you are a foodie or a budding chef, plan to attend the Edible Weekend for classes in pesto making and herb drying in the garden on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Hit the Trails for August and July

There are more than 27 kilometres of walking trails, and a total of 30 different trails in the RBG and they are the prefect place for a hike in the summer months.  This is the time when new birds are merging from their nests, and wildflowers bloom alongside every path.
If you prefer a guided walk, try one of the free weekly Sunday Back to Nature walks that rotate between four locations, one for each week of the month, and conducted by RBG volunteers.

Garden Gnomes and Fairies
Indulge in a little wistful magic during the RBG’s Magic and Mischief weekend, which will include magical activities, costumes and more.  There may be pixies!
Summer Swings in the Gardens

Music and beautiful gardens make a natural partnership.  The RBG has a line-p of evenings running all summer that celebrate the marriage of natural beauty and gorgeous sound.

Hendrie Garden
Tranquil Tuesdays run every week from 6:00 pm to 8:30 and are the chance to enjoy classical music under a big white tent.  Or sit on the grass and sip a glass of wine and nibbles on appetizers while you listen.  You can stroll through the gardens with the discrete strains of the great composers as company.
Red Hot Jazz and Cool Blues moves the gardens into a more upbeat mood on Wednesday evenings during the summer, showcasing fine jazz and blues musicians, and they play rain or shine.

For the Kiddies

Day camp programs for kids 3 to 12 feature hikes, canoeing in Cootes Paradise, games, crafts, activities and daily explorations of ecologically significant nature sanctuaries covering over 1000 hectares of wetlands, fields and forests.  The programs include a new half day program for three and four year olds.  Day campers can make art in the garden, learn about the creatures that make their home in the park, create projects, discover nature, plant seeds, and generally discover the wonder of the outdoors.
So much more rewarding than a television screen or a computer monitor!
There’s almost too much to do, but one thing is sure – with the delights of the RBG right next door to you, you will never exhaust all the possibilities for natural fun this summer.
Check it all out at http://www.rbg.ca/

Halton County Radial Railway Museum

(Fun Fact:  The Bare Naked Ladies filmed a video here!)

Photo credit Barbara Orr
Oswald beams at me.  “Look carefully at the number on my badge, #147,” he smiles.  “When you get to the end of the ride at Meadowvale Station, notice the number on the badge of the person you meet there.”
That person is the Ice Cream Lady and she’s #147 too.  Turns out, she’s Mrs. Oswald.  Kind of romantic, isn’t it?
Oswald is a volunteer at the amazing and quirky Radial Railway Museum.  He and many others like him who have a passion for all things train related form the backbone of the museum and run its daily programs.
What a fun place this is!  I have no special interest in trains and I’m not the least bit mechanically inclined but this museum is just so compelling.  It is different from any other museum you will tour in Ontario.
There’s much to do, from riding the restored antique trains along the two kilometres of track, with a stop at the Meadowvale station for ice cream, to enjoying a picnic by the old rail station.  The station at the start of the run is a microcosm of a past era, with old typewriters, train memorabilia and a still operable telegraph.
There’s a large display barn where you can look at the many types of old trains that the museum has rescued and either restored or are in the process of restoring. The trains are surprisingly beautiful, far more aesthetically pleasing and ornate than the trains of today.  Many of them are open and you can walk through them and imagine what travel must have been like a hundred years or so ago.
There’s a gift shop and a snack bar for light lunches.
I ride to Meadowvale with Kevin.  He is an teaches at the TTC and volunteers at the museum on his days off. “I just love the history here,”  he tells me. “ I meet so many train aficionados like myself, and some of the older ones have actually ridden these cars when they were in service.  Their stories are wonderful to listen to. You would be surprised at the people who seek out this museum.  Just yesterday there was someone from Australia and another person from Europe.  Even our volunteers come a distance – from Kingston, even Michigan.”

The museum is open seven days a week during July and August, from 10:30 to 4:30.  For more information, call the museum at 519-856-9802.
Plan a visit here for a unique experience and great photo opportunities.

The Waterfront Trail Leisure Company

Stop in to this friendly bistro for a good cup of coffee, a gluten free muffin and few laps on the indoor bike.  Steve Whealy will be there, and if he doesn’t make you into a cycling enthusiast, I’ll be surprised.  His passion is contagious.
The WTLC has been in business here since last April, and its following just keeps growing, I think because it offers a valuable service to cyclists and tourists as well as providing a good meal for diners.
Bikes and Tours
The business offers a whole cluster of services.  Steve rents bikes, but not just bikes, - everything you could possibly need to go on a cycling excursion, from helmets and backpacks to tents, coolers and even prepared picnic lunches.
Photo credit Barbara Orr
He also creates tours for cyclers, custom designing them to suit each customer.  He knows the cycling details of the area inside and out and can advise on the best routes, the location of desirable stopping areas, the most cycling friendly inns and B&Bs – in short all you need to know for a bike trip in Niagara, Hamilton and Burlington.
He also rents tandem bikes and child ride attachments. 
Steve provides guided rides as well, and finds that the tour of Old Burlington is one of the most popular.  “I think that Burlington is the premier bike riding city in Ontario.”

The Indoor Cycling Room
For those who feel the need to do some cycling but are short of time or don’t want to brave the elements, there’s the indoor riding room.  Here you can take a relaxing – or challenging - ride, while scenes of Hawaii or the Grand Canyon make you feel as if you have just had a full blown cycling holiday.

Bistro Fare
The bistro provides locally sourced healthy food, with many of the dishes being gluten free. “I want this to be an inviting and welcoming place for people to gather and to dine,” Steve tells me. “Customers can sit out on the little patio for coffee or dine in, but I am most interested in providing good value and good service.”
And, for your added pleasure, there’s a small gallery of original art and photography that is available for purchase.
There’s something to please just about anybody here, and if you have a cycling trip in mind, this is the company, and the man, you must visit.
The shop/bistro/cycle centre is open seven days a week, from 8 am to 7 pm (although the closing times vary according to what is happening in town.  If things are busy and people want food and coffee or need to return a bike, he will stay open later.)
For additional information, check out the website, http://www.waterfronttrail.ca/.
The Waterfront Trail Leisure Company is located in Village Square at 2049 Pine Street between Pearl and Elizabeth.
Tel: 905/633-9852.

© Barbara Ramsay Orr, Guest Blogger
Barbara Ramsay Orr is a freelance journalist, author of the Frommer's Guide to the Niagara Region, third edition (2010), Day Trips from Toronto for Globe Pequot and a lifetime resident of Ontario. Her work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Chatelaine, Canadian Living, The Globe and mail and Readers Digest. She is the Local Expert on Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Wine Country for Nile Guides, and is launching a travel app for Niagara Falls and on International Wine and Food Festivals. She has been the food writer for Hamilton Magazine for more years than she wishes to admit. You can follow heradventures, tune in to her tweets @Orracle, or visit her Niagara Falls andNiagara-on-the-Lake Blogs. 

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