Port Hope is close to Toronto!
Family road trips are always a fun time! Port Hope is the perfect get-away, as you get the small town experience and it is only over an hour away from Toronto!
My family (husband and 2 young kids under 6) and I were invited by the Municipality of Port Hope to discover the town. We visited on a weekend in mid-August 2018. The organizer of our Port Hope trip scheduled in our dinners and selective attractions, but overall, we were left to our leisure to plan our weekend. With young kids who still need naps, that was perfect for us.
It was my first time visiting Port Hope even though I have passed by the town many times on my way to visit relatives in Ottawa. I was surprised by the number of fun things to do in Port Hope, especially for families and so I want to share my experience with you. I have provided video footage and resources in the post to help you plan your trip. If you enjoy the videos, make sure to share them and subscribe to my videos on YouTube (subscribe here).
Fun facts about Port Hope
Port Hope is a heritage community situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario in Northumberland County
Port Hope is located 100 km east of Toronto and 155 km west of Kingston
The population is 16,500
Many areas of the old town, remain little changed from the days of Queen Victoria. Port Hope captures the essence of the small town from the late 1800s
The Ganaraska River runs through the town and you can see fish migrations during certain months of the year
There are 25 + unique restaurants
Every year, there is an event called “Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny” which is a 10 km race along the Ganaraska River to commemorate the 1980 flood that crippled Port Hopes downtown area
The remake of Stephen King’s “IT” movie was filmed in Port Hope
For those who are planning a trip to Port Hope, please do take my recommendations into account. If you do not have kids, the list is still relevant and worth reading.
Things to do in Port Hope for Families!
1. Stay overnight in Port Hope!
There are many accommodations from hotels, Bed and Breakfasts (B & B), and Inns in Port Hope.
Our family stayed at the Summerhill Manor Bed and Breakfast and Tea House located in a historic house built in 1852. Our bedroom was cosy, comfortable and clean, while keeping the historic feel. Host and owners Chef Ron Subden and Corrinne Fairbanks were friendly, accommodating and our breakfast was super delicious. They served our family a comforting breakfast that included frittatas, home fries and bacon, and really good coffee. Ron has been a chef for about 30 years and has worked at many establishments before taking over Summerhill Manor. Having our stay in the heart Port Hope’s downtown means that we could walk to many local shops and the theatre, and come back to our room when we needed to. We were able to fit in a nice nap in the afternoon during our stay.
Summerhill Manor B & B and Tea Room, 127 Walton Street, Port Hope, Port Hope, ON L1A 1N4, CA
For other Port Hope Accommodations, check out https://visitporthope.ca/stay
Summerhill Manor in Port Hope
2. Watch a show at The Capital Theatre!
From musicals, concerts and screen performances, getting tickets to a show at the Capital Theatre is a MUST! The theatre is one of the last fully restored atmospheric movie theatres still in operation in Canada. We watched the adaptation of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and was pleasantly surprised and blown away by the beauty of the theatre and the quality of the performance. The acting, singing and set design were impressive. I would even do a day trip to attend a show. If I had to choose only one attraction to visit in Port Hope, I would choose this.
Capital Theatre, 20 Queen Street, Port Hope, ON Canada L1A 2Y7
3. Check out the cafés!
Aside from shopping in the historic downtown, there are many cafés that serve housemade baked goods and quality coffee and tea. There is something for the whole family!
Sugar Dust Bakery 74 Walton St, Port Hope, ON L1A 1N3
Queenie’s Bake Shop- 6 Walton St, Port Hope, ON L1A 2Y8
Dreamer’s Cafe – 2 Queen St, Port Hope, ON L1A 2Y8
Port Hope Downtown
4. Dine where the locals dine!
Restaurants in Port Hope attract both locals and visitors from out of town.
We were treated to the two restaurants listed but I would happily return with my family. I can’t wait to try out more places in the near future and report back.
The Olympus Burger was an amazing burger joint in Port Hope! George Kallonakis, the owner of Olympus Burger played homage to his Greek roots by naming each burger after a Greek God with flavours to match.
The portions are big, the burgers are juicy, and the prices are incredible (all burgers are less than $11 each). And a huge bonus is that George uses fresh local ingredients. My husband had the ‘Apollo’ burger with a fresh beef patty, fried egg, and peameal bacon placed between two grilled aged white cheddar cheese sandwiches. It was pretty epic!
The stand out for me was the ‘Hades’ burger which had a fresh beef patty, roasted red peppers, jalapeños, chipotle bacon sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. I loved the heat and the flavour combination, with a juicy patty! This one was a winner!
The poutine was really good with lots of flavourful gravy and topped with cheese curds from a local cheese company called ‘Ivanhoe Cheese’.
There is also a “secret menu” that is posted online only. Check it out before you head to Olympus Burger.
Olympus Burger, 55 Mill St. South, Port Hope, ON, L1A 2S7
A great bar!
Talking about commitment to using local ingredients, owner Dana Hubbard of Local No 90 Bar + Kitchen sources ingredients within a 90-mile radius. The restaurant’s menu has local shareable plates include charcuterie and seasonal meatballs, and artisan pies. I loved my starter cheese plate that included raw cows milk, sheep cheese, Opa, a rhubarb compote, and violet jelly.
For the mains, the stand out for me over the artisan pie (pizza) was their featured items including the spicy mussels and the juicy rib eye sandwich!
Make sure to take a picture in front of the Port Hope mural inside the restaurant and have a drink along their large bar!
Local No 90 Bar + Kitchen , 90 Mill St N, Port Hope, ON L1A 2T2
For other restaurant recommendations in Port Hope, check out https://visitporthope.ca/dine. The menu online also indicates which restaurant has a children’s menu.
Local No 90 Kitchen + Bar, Port Hope
5. Check out The East Beach!
The West Beach is located by an industrial plant, but the East Beach is a great spot for families to enjoy the playground, sand and water. We found the waters a little rough during our visit, but we enjoyed that the beach was quiet and had plenty of sand for the kids to play.
The quiet Port Hope Beach
Check out my video with a recap of what to do in downtown Port Hope. Please subscribe to my channel with monthly videos.
6. Shop at Herma’s Fine Food and Gifts, a one-stop-shop!
This shop has everything you can imagine for quality gifts, kitchenware, desserts, and artisan food products under one roof, and even had stuffed toys for the kids. I had a great time looking at all the gadgets and products, and sampling the “Herma’s Signature Products” made in-house! The staff are friendly and knowledgeable including Herma (President), Gordon (Brand Manager), Chrissy and Cathy (Fromagier).
Chrissy and Cathy of Herma’s Fine Food and Gifts
Check out a tour of Herma’s Fine Foods and Gifts.
Herma’s Fine Food and Gifts, 316 Northumberland County Rd 28, Port Hope, ON L1A 3V6
7. Check out Transformers at Primitive Designs!
Primitive Designs is one of the top tourist attractions in Port Hope and I can see why. The retail gallery and gift shop imports exotic antiques and crafts from countries such as Vietnam, Bali, Thailand and Mexico. From furniture, tiki huts, paintings, wall decor, light fixtures, to huge giant robots; this store is like entering an exotic museum. A great place for family photos!
Primitive Designs is just so freakin’ cool!
Primitive Designs, 2762 Northumberland County Rd 28, Port Hope, ON L1A 3V6
See the transformers for yourself! Remember to subscribe to my channel.
8. Shmurgle with goats at Haute Goat!
Debbie Nightingale and Shain Jaffe owns the 200 acre Haute Goat farm, located about 15 mins outside historic Port Hope.
For the Haute Goat Shmurgling experience, I was expecting a tame afternoon with goats confined in a small playpen. Instead, it was pretty wild! Get ready to be out in the field with the Nigerian Dwarf Goats running wild (check out the video below to see what I mean!). The Haute Goat Shmurgle allows guests to chase, hug, smooch and snuggle the goats. I suggest bringing comfortable walking shoes like runners (there are lots of animal droppings). This is definitely an experience that everyone should try out!
Check out the video below to see our experience of the Haute Goat Shmurgle!
Haute Goat 1166 5th line, Port Hope, ON L1A 3V5
What other attractions to bring your kids in Port Hope?!
Witness the Fish Migration at the Ganaraska river! Between late March and early May, you can witness the annual Rainbow Trout (Steelhead) migration and between late August and early October, watch the Chinook and Silvery Coho Salmon migration through the river. I am hoping to spot the fish in action during a future visit.
Head to the Lavender Festival at Laveanne – From May 1st to October 31st, visit the beautiful and fragrant Lavender fields and gift shop.
Take the kids to the Port Hope Fair in September. They will have livestock, horse shows, tractor and truck pulls, midway, demo derby and many more events for various ages.
Take a driving tour of The Barn Quilt Trail which is a scenic trail of 23 heritage barns in Port Hope.
Useful Resources for Port Hope information:
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Disclosure: I was invited by the Municipality of Port Hope to discover the town. The accommodation, attractions to the Haute Goat and theatre, and the meal at two restaurants were complimentary. However, all the recommendations and opinions are my own. The post was not reviewed by Port Hope representatives ahead of time.
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