Leave the hustle and bustle of Toronto behind and escape to Ontario’s feel good town – rich in history, beautiful beaches, shopping and culinary tours! In the 1900’s Cobourg was a prime destination for wealthy Americans when a car ferry connected Rochester to Cobourg. Many built summer homes here and came to enjoy yacht races and pavilion dances! Many of the these stately homes and pavilions can still be seen today and add to the charm and character of Cobourg.
Just a 1 hour drive east of Toronto on the 401, exit 474 at Division st and head south for about 10 minutes, following the signs to downtown. At the bottom of Division st, you will find two public parking lots and from here everything can be explored on foot.
Or if you prefer, sit back and relax and leave the driving to someone else and take the Via Rail which offers several trains per day from Union Station. Taxis are readily available upon your arrival into Cobourg.
One of the highlights of Cobourg, is its famous waterfront with one of the best beach (blue flag certified) in Ontario. Kick off your shoes and relax on the soft sandy beach and go for a dip in the calm, blue waters. For the little ones there is a splash pad and play equipment with monkey bars and climbing structures. Or take a stroll along the boardwalk from the beach to the marina. A popular stop for boaters from Canada and the USA.
Where the marina ends at Hibernia st, turn right and you will find the Cobourg Ecology Garden, great for bird watching and discovering native plants, flowers and bugs.
If you feel like being active, consider renting a paddle board, canoe or kayak for the day from Green Canoe Outfitters just a short walk north at 90 King St West. For something a little out of the ordinary, OM SUP located at Breakers On The Lake Inn (94 Green st. just two streets east of the beach) offers paddle board yoga classes. Or, Cobourg tourism rents bikes at their kiosk on the boardwalk during the summer. Prices are $15 for a half day (four hours or less) or $25 for a full day. The rental includes a lock, helmet and map of trails and the main sights.
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After all that sun, sand and adventure time for a bite! The beach canteen offers quick snacks and ice cream or you can enjoy a picnic lunch in Victoria Park. A 22 acre park adjacent to the beach which offers picnic tables and plenty of lawn space to throw down a blanket under a shady tree and take a break from the sun. A great spot for a group get together, birthday party or romantic siesta.
If you prefer to try one of Cobourg’s great restaurants, a short walk up Division St., just south of King St. you can find Craft Food House offering locally sourced, healthy meals with a lovely outdoor patio. Or another local gem located at 8 King St, just above Victoria Park on the north side is Corfu Grill, a long established family restaurant serving delicious mediterranean food.
With your stomachs full of delicious food, take a stroll along Cobourg’s historical downtown King St., where you can find many unique shops selling vintage products and reclaimed treasures.
For the music lovers, at the top of Victoria Park there is ZAP Records. A quirky and unique record shop no music geek should miss. A little further down at 26 King St say hello to Katherine O’Mally Greer owner of With All My Art, a treasure trove of arty, chic and funky furniture, accessories and decor.
If you enjoy art and history be sure to make a stop at the beautiful and stately Victoria Hall located in the center of town on the south side. Built in the 1850’s and opened by the Prince of Wales, it is considered to be one of Ontario’s great treasures. It now houses the Art Gallery of Northumberland, the Grand Concert Hall and the James Cockburn room. In July and August, they offer free architectural walks on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays.
Still craving some more history? Then be sure to take the short walk to 141 Orr Street and the Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre, an historic old building where you will discover a lot about Cobourg’s history, including the importance of their early railroads – there’s an outdoor operating model railway on site. Nearby, back on King Street, is the Marie Dressler house, birthplace of the 1930’s Academy Award winning actress.
If history isn’t your thing, consider taking a culinary food tour with Tracey Gainforth, an avid foodie, food writer and event planner of Northumberland Culinary, to learn some history while tasting some sweet and savoury treats. Tours are available on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons for about 2.5 hours. Walking tours $25 per person or cycling tours $30 per person.
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After all that shopping and history you’re sure to have worked up an appetite, so before making your way back to the city treat yourself to a special dinner. See what Chef Andrew Stewart and his team are preparing in their gourmet pub at 92 King. They offer a stylish menu and a great selection of local craft beers and fine wines. If you are interested in some finer dining or a romantic dinner a short drive or walk north on Division St,. at the corner of University you will find the iconic Woodlawn Inn, one of Cobourg’s boutique B&B properties and fine dining restaurants.
When to go
Seasonally the best time of year to visit is between May and October when you can truly enjoy all the wonderful outdoor activities and festivals available. Here is a list of some of the festivals happening to help you plan the best time to go.
2018 Cobourg Festival Dates (subject to change)
FARMERS’ MARKET Fresh, local fare every Saturday morning behind Victoria Hall from May to December
BUSKER & ART FESTIVAL: Street performers from around the world, fine food sampling and a bouncing castle from June 17 & 18
COBOURG HIGHLAND GAMES: Scottish dancing, strong men, and the pipes and drums on June 15 & 16
SUMMER WATERFRONT FESTIVAL: Harbourfront art and artisans tents, entertainment and family fun June 30 to July 2 – Canada Day Weekend
SIDEWALK MUSIC FEST: Downtown shopping event of the summer August First weekend (Dates TBA)
SANDCASTLE FESTIVAL: Pro sculptors compete at the beach August 4
RIBFEST: Meat-lovers! Finger-licking secret recipes August 17-19 in Victoria Park
For more information – Cobourg Tourism
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