This is the Best Guide to London To Plan Your Ontario Summer Getaways
Now, for the most part when Ontarians plan their Ontario summer getaways, they usually choose a beachy, cottagy, or camping style destination. They tend to take the lion’s share of the interest, giving these guys the majority of their business in the summer months, and the mosquitoes a field day. But what about exploring unique and different cities? London Ontario was my choice to explore one long weekend this year. A city that is urban, busy, and factorial, many asked me “what’s special about London Ontario?” Well, my friends, lots. Here are my findings and recommendations for adding London to your itinerary this summer.
London Ontario Facts:
- Approximately 384,000 people call London Ontario home.
- Named after the original city in the UK
- London is on the shores of the Canadian Thames river!
- The original London Ontario village was found in 1826
- Many flock to London for educational purposes thanks to the University of Western
- Is the hub for Gothic literature
- Ryan Gosling was born in London Ontario!
- Justin Bieber was born in London Ontario though Stratford is considered his hometown
- Victor Garber – actor who appeared in many films including Legally Blond and the Titanic is from London Ontario.
- Eric Lindros – famed hockey player who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams was born in London Ontario!
- Beautiful Rachel McAdams hails from London!
- Tessa Virtue – half of the incredible Gold-medal ice dancing team with Scott Moir is from London Ontario!
- One of the world’s most incredible scientific breakthroughs happened in London Ontario.
London’s Gems for your Ontario Summer Getaways
The Banting House Museum
While in London, you must head to the Banting house. A national heritage site, it is the home of where one of the most incredible medical breakthroughs happened – insulin was discovered to help diabetes.
Run by Diabetes Canada, The Banting House is nicknamed the Birthplace of Insulin. Frederick Banting, who was originally an orthopaedic surgeon had a brainstorm in his dreams. The miracle solution for diabetics to have a longer lifespan came to him in his sleep.
Banting experimented with his brainstorm for several months. With the help of Charles Best, they got it finally purified to use on humans. Humans were first tested successfully in 1922 with a shift in life span for all those suffering from the incurable disease.
The volunteers will take you around the rooms and give you the pertinent information on how the idea was conceived in 1920, the background information on Banting, and details on his unfortunate premature demise in a plane crash at such a young age.
As you walk through the rooms, the guide will show you the different stages of Banting’s historical discovery, his contributions to WWI, and various details from his personal life. As well, take note of the famous diabetics recognized on the wall including Victor Garber and a famous cat. I asked about the obvious missing Mary Tyler Moore, and they advised that they would talk to Diabetes Canada to include her! She was a pioneer in bringing diabetes awareness to the world.
The Bed in the Banting House Museum
A super cool part of the Banting Museum is the bedroom. The bed is where Banting came up with the concept of insulin to save the lives of Diabetics for years to come. What is neat about it is that guests can lay on the bed!
Admission into the museum is $6.00 per person daily. After the tour, check out the gift shop! Proceeds go to Diabetes research.
Once outside, make sure you stop and take a look at the flame of Hope. It was lit by none other than Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother in 1989. They unveiled a statue of Banting himself and lit the flame of hope which will remain lit until a cure is found for Diabetes.
The Sifton Bog
After enjoying the Banting House Museum, change gears and head to a natural and beautiful conservation area in the city – the Sifton Bog. A protected natural ecosystem in the heart of London, and one to include in one of your Ontario summer getaways, the Sifton Bog is a nice mini hike within natural wetlands. Listen for the bull frogs, admire the ducklings swimming by, and see if you can spot turtles. I particularly loved seeing tadpoles swimming freely as the frog population truly has diminished over the last couple decades. Any way to keep them safe and preserve their livelihoods I am totally in favour.
Lunch at the Root Cellar
After enjoying the two attractions above, you must be hungry! Head to the Root Cellar. They have a huge variety of fresh foods, salads, vegan options and more. All the produce and ingredients are locally sourced and farm to fork. The smoothies, salads, and bison burger were our choices and they were absolutely delicious.
Want an alcoholic beverage? The Root Cellar is right near one of the local breweries! Ask for a list of their current selections.
So perhaps you are heading to the Grand Theatre for some fun theatrical entertainment. Or maybe you are simply looking for a great dinner spot in the city. Well, my recommendation is the flavourful and elegant Garlic’s restaurant. A restaurant that truly sticks to its name, all the items on the menu for the most part include garlic in some sort of way. If you like garlic, you will LOVE the menu, ambiance, and overall experience here.
The Roasted Garlic Bisque
This was one of the most flavourful and best soups I have ever enjoyed. I am a soup lover with it being one of my favourite things to eat (minus the cold varieties) and this one was flavourful, creamy, smooth, and the perfect start to my meal.
Slow Roasted Garlic Bulb
So this one was amazing. It is a slow cooked garlic served with crostini, fruit compote, and rosemary. When you take the cloves out of the bulb it is smooth, soft and absolutely garlic heaven. There is no turning back on the garlic here! Save many a breath mint for later…
The Braised Duck and the Pesto Gnocchi
The pasta served at Garlic’s is all made in-house! This makes it all the more appealing as it didn’t come from a box. The gnocchi in particular was spot on and I loved the parmesan and pesto. Hubby ordered the duck and said it was light, fresh, and as tender as you could ask for.
And now for the ultimate highlight- Dessert! Garlic ICE CREAM…
Yes. You read that correctly! The thought of garlic flavoured ice cream doesn’t sound all too appealing when you first think about it. It really was a tough one to convince me to try, but they do offer a small taster size portion so I went with that just to say I tried it. Considering all the other weird foods they are coming out with nowadays (baked bean Popsicle anyone!?) I didn’t think this was too far off. Besides, the garlic was caramelized so I didn’t think it would be too strong a flavour.
So there you have only a teensy fraction of things to see, do, and eat while in London Ontario. When planning your many Ontario summer getaways, aside from the usual Muskokas, Niagara Falls, and Algonquin Park adventures, stop in to London and enjoy some theatre, history, natural ecosystems, and the ultimate garlic ice cream.
Sights and eateries in London Ontario landed on our Heavenly Centenary Sights and Foodie Bucket lists! Follow along and tick off the experiences you have had too!
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