Tag Archives: Travel Guide

Newcastle, England – Photo Friday #13

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Welcome back to Photo Friday!

This week’s image was taken in the city of Newcastle, England, during my travels there in 2019.

It’s hard to wrap my head around just how in the world this bridge was allowed to be built so close to these buildings. I imagine this project must have faced huge backlash when it was in it’s early stages, especially from those living directly in its path. I mean, I guess it’s better than demolishing the entire neighbourhood just to put a bridge in. Don’t get me wrong, the bridge makes for an interesting sight, and definitely adds to the charm of one of my favourite cities in England, but I can’t help but think there had to have been a better option.

See you next week!

Newcastle, England. Tyne Bridge.
Newcastle, England (ca. May 2019)

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The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021

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For most, 2021 is shaping up to be a really great year to explore what’s in your own backyard. The Province of Ontario has so much to offer, which makes it hard to narrow down the list of things to see and do, and so to help, I put together a shortlist of my top 5 Ontario travel destinations to consider in 2021.

Tl;dr: Manitoulin Island, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Pickle Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, Niagara Falls.


1. Manitoulin Island

In my opinion, Manitoulin Island is one of the most underrated destinations in all of Ontario. I visited Manitoulin Island last year and fell in love with the place almost instantly. Surrounded by Lake Huron, dotted with a number of lakes, and covered by dense forests, the natural beauty of this place is just stunning. I recommend taking the time to hike the Cup & Saucer Trail, which offers a number of lookouts over the island, and navigates a northern section of the Niagara Escarpment.

Aside from the natural beauty, Manitoulin Island is home to around 14,000 people, a good portion of whom belong to the many thriving Indigenous communities on the island. This means if you’re looking to learn more about Indigenous history and culture, Manitoulin Island is the place to be.

To get here, you can take the ferry across from Tobermory, or drive along the north shore of Georgian Bay, west of Sudbury. If you’re doing the latter, I recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park to break up the trip.

Cup and Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Cup & Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island
2. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers some of the most iconic views in the entire province. Located an hour outside Thunder Bay, along the north shore of Lake Superior, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is one of those destinations I think the majority of Ontarians never get around to seeing, mainly due to its sheer distance from the southern portion of the province.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers over 100 kilometres of hiking trails, car-camping, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and of course a number of stunning lookouts and views you just can’t find anywhere else. If you’re willing to make the almost 15-hour drive from Toronto, you won’t be disappointed with what you find here.

Sleeping Giant//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

(Photo Source: Ontario Parks on Flickr)

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3. Pickle Lake

Pickle Lake is my one obligatory oddball destination on this list, and somewhere most people probably haven’t heard of. It’s also one of those places that’s more about the journey to get there, than the destination itself.

See, Pickle Lake is… kind of in the middle of nowhere. It has a population of less than 400 people, and is a staggering 22-hour drive, and 2,000 kilometres away from Toronto. So why would I include this as one of the top 5 destinations in 2021? Well as it turns out, Pickle Lake lies at the end of the northernmost point of the Ontario provincial highway system.

I might be alone on this one, but I just can’t help but think how cool it would be to say that you’ve driven to the most northern drivable point in Ontario. You might want to think about bringing an extra jerry can though.

4. Algonquin Provincial Park

Alright, back to reality with this one.

Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada, and one of the largest in the province as well, covering a staggering 7,600 squared kilometres. The best part? It’s only a 3-hour drive from Toronto; great for those looking to escape for the day or weekend.

Algonquin Park offers activities for everyone, and for all ages. Car camping, backcountry camping, hiking, fishing, guided tours, historical sites, and more. If you’re looking for it, chances are Algonquin Park offers it, which no doubt contributes to it being one of the most visited and popular provincial parks in Ontario, year after year.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Algonquin Park has to offer, make sure to check out some of my Algonquin guides here.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Provincial Park. The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
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5. Niagara Falls

Now, I know what you’re thinking with this one: “Niagara Falls? Wow, how original…”

But hear me out, when’s the last time you actually went to Niagara Falls? Those of us who are within driving distance of Niagara Falls tend to take for granted just how lucky we are to live so close to one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, something people travel from all over the world to come see. Most of the people I’ve met in my life have been to Niagara Falls at least once, but can’t remember when they went, or who they went with last. Just because you’ve been there before, doesn’t mean it’s not worth going again, especially when it comes to Niagara Falls. It could even make for a good Tim’s Run destination!

I mean, it sure beats sitting on the couch, right?

The Top 5 Ontario Travel Destinations in 2021.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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What locations would you add to this list? Where are you looking forward to visiting the most this year? Let me know in the comments below!


Thank you for reading! If you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! If you’re looking to connect, make sure to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail Guide – Algonquin Provincial Park

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Quick Look:

Name: Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail

Location: Km marker 42.5, Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Length: 1.4 km (0.87 mi)

Difficulty: Easy

Features & Points of Interest: Well maintained boardwalk, bird-watching, northern spruce bog, forested path, wheelchair accessible & kid friendly.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail Map – Algonquin Park (Source: alltrails.com)

Overview

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, located in Algonquin Provincial Park, is an easy, wheelchair accessible 1.4 km (0.87 mi) loop that follows a well maintained wooden boardwalk through a northern spruce bog and wooded area. This trail provides excellent opportunities for bird-watching and photography, and is the perfect place to enjoy a slow paced nature walk with younger children and seniors.

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
The beginning of the trail hovers above the bog
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
A small stream runs through the heart of the bog
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
About halfway through the trail, the boardwalk gives way to a forested path
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What do you need to know?

The Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail is one of the most accessible in all of Algonquin Park. While adventure seekers might prefer hiking somewhere else, this trail is a perfect place to go for a slow paced nature walk, take some photos, and enjoy the scenery with friends and family. The mostly flat grade, and relatively short length makes this a great choice for beginners, seniors, or those with younger children.

While the trail’s location is fairly far along the Highway 60 corridor, and a little ways away from the west entrance of Algonquin Park, the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail is well worth the trip, especially as a companion activity to the Visitors Centre, located half a kilometre away at km 43.

In my opinion, this trail is best enjoyed if used from late June until late October to avoid the swarms of bugs you’ll encounter during blackfly season earlier in the spring. However, as this is the perfect spawning ground for mosquitos, you might want to choose a warm, sunny day to hike this trail in order to avoid getting bitten throughout the rest of the summer months!

Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
Birds, turtles, beavers, and more can be found on this trail!
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
This section of the trail, which snakes through a grouping of spruce trees, is perhaps the most photogenic
Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail, Algonquin Park
While it’s scenic, beware, this is the perfect spawning ground for Mosquitos!
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How to get here:

  • From Toronto:
    • Hwy 400 –> Hwy 11 –> Hwy 60 –> Algonquin Park West Gate –> Km marker 42.5

*Be sure to stop in at the West Gate first to pick up your day pass*


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3 Days in Seattle, Washington

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In November of 2019, I went to Seattle, Washington for the weekend to watch my hometown Toronto F.C. take on the Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup. Arriving on a Friday night and leaving on a Monday afternoon, we had to make the most of our short stay in the city. Here’s a photo tour of 4 things we did in Seattle (plus some bonus activities), and my thoughts on our trip.

Hopefully you can used this as a basis to schedule your own weekend in Seattle, and if you have any questions after reading, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out!


  1. Visit Pike Place Public Market

The staring point for most first time visitors to Seattle, the Pike Place Public Market is a great place to spend the day. Opened in 1907, the history alone is something special and it’s only gotten better with time. Produce, specialty meats, fresh fish, hand-made crafts, and a wide variety of dining options are some of the highlights of what this market has to offer. We arrived around lunch time and satisfied our hunger at Jack’s Fish Spot with some classic and delicious Fish and Chips. For the coffee lovers, the first ever Starbucks is also located near here, but more on that later.

Pike Place Market is perhaps most well known for its’ fish throwing, in which customers are invited behind the counter to test their catching skills. Check it out in the video below:

When I think back to my weekend in Seattle, Pike Place Market is always a highlight of the trip. You could seriously spend the better part of a day here, and it’s in close proximity to the rest of the downtown core so it’s easily accessible no matter where you’re staying in the city. Of course, not everybody is the market exploring type of person, and if that’s you don’t fret; Seattle has much more to offer.


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2. Explore the Waterfront

I’ll admit that I’m a little bit biased on this one. I love the ocean, so any excuse to be near it is a opportunity to be taken advantage of. Seattle sits on Puget Sound, an in inlet of the Pacific Ocean, meaning that the sea is centre stage in the fabric of the city. The waterfront follows the Alaskan Way and is in close proximity to attractions such as the Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall, the Seattle Antiques Market, and the Seattle Great Wheel.

Aside from the numerous attractions, the waterfront also offers the best views of the Seattle skyline. I highly recommend taking the time out of your trip to explore this area. I mean if you’re coming all the way to the Pacific Northwest, you might as well see the ocean!


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3. Visit the Original Starbucks and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery

You can’t talk about Seattle without talking about Starbucks.

We drank way too much coffee during our weekend in the city. There’s basically a Starbucks, or some other local shop on every corner so you’re never far from a cup of joe. If you didn’t know, Starbucks first got its’ start in the city of Seattle in 1971 when it opened its’ first location near the Pike Place Market. While it has grown to become the largest coffee chain in the world, that same original store still exists to this day. Be warned though, there is usually an extremely long line at the entrance. When we were there, it took us close to an hour before we got in.

I suggest you keep in mind that this location is just like any other Starbucks location and sells the same drinks; you won’t find anything special here expect for the collectable mugs and novelty points.

To find some limited, and experimental Starbucks products, your best option is to head to the Starbucks Roastery Reserve on Pike street. Here you can taste a wide array of drinks and food that quite honestly is too elaborate to explain; it’s easier if you head to their website and take a look for yourself. You’ll discover it’s well worth the visit.


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3. Attend a Sporting Event (*When the COVID-19 Pandemic is Over*)

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the whole reason for us coming to Seattle was to watch Toronto F.C. take on the Seattle Sounders in the 2019 MLS Cup. While my beloved Toronto F.C. were defeated 3-1, it was an incredible experience and the local fans were nothing but kind hearted and hospitable during our entire stay. If by chance there are any Sounders’ fans reading this, I hope to see a rematch in MLS Cup 2020, this time with Toronto F.C. taking the title. Even if you’re not a fan of sports, there’s nothing more exhilarating than sharing a moment with a stadium packed full of 69,000+ people. (Now more than ever). Here’s a snippet of the atmosphere you can expect to see at a game:

If soccer isn’t quite your cup of tea, you’ll have a couple of other options: the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks who play at Century Link Field (pictured above), the MLB’s Seattle Mariners who play down the street at T-Mobile Park, and if you’re a hockey fan, you’re in luck because it was recently announced that the city of Seattle will be gaining an NHL team in the 2021-2022 season. They will be fittingly called the Seattle Kraken.

After the game, be sure to head out to one of the city’s many top rated bars and pubs to finish off the night.


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4. Walk the city streets

One of my favourite parts about visiting a new place is wandering around and getting lost in the city streets, and Seattle is a great place to do just this.

During my stay, I thought Seattle to be a very clean, safe, picturesque and welcoming city. Our Airbnb was located in Capitol Hill, a neighbourhood known for its nightlife, diversity, and cultural presence. We spent much of our first night wandering the streets and exploring what the area had to offer and continued to do so as we walked everywhere we went during our time in Seattle. I’ve always felt its best to avoid public transit unless absolutely necessary as that’s how you get a real feel for where you are. This is also how you discover the hidden gems of a city, and those places you might not read about in any blog, guide, or news article.

Of course, if you’re looking for something more purposeful to do, I also included some bonus activities that we didn’t get to do during our weekend in Seattle.


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Bonus: See the Space Needle, go to a museum, or visit a Park

The Seattle skyline fading away in the distance

Given our limited time in Seattle we had some compromises to make. If we had more time, or substituted one of the activities I mentioned above, there are some more things we could have done. The Space Needle, the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture, and Gas Works Park are all excellent options to explore when planning your own visit, and all things I’ll be sure to check out when I return one day.


Seattle is a fantastic city; one of those places that makes you feel right at home. There is so much to do and see, and while it requires more than a weekend to experience it all, I hope this guide was helpful in giving you a starting point to plan your own trip to this gem of the Pacific Northwest. Once again, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave me a comment below!


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

Enter your email address below to subscribe and stay up-to-date on my latest posts!

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