The smells of hay and freshly picked apples mingle with the shouts of children on the annual Erie Shores Farm Tour. An organized event between four very different, yet equally welcoming, farm facilities, the self-guided tour encompasses fall foods and a range of harvest-themed activities. Hillcrest Orchards welcomes visitors with attractions such as hayrides, a corn maze, and pedal carts, while staff at Dostall Farms lead their guests on a guided tour of their humane meat-processing facility, where animals are fed only grass or corn. The event ends with a prize drawing at Matus Winery, where staff also give a guided tour of the wine-making facilities, including the giant barrel where the winemakers sleep every night. To ensure participants don't lose their ways, Erie Shores Farm Tour provides a complimentary map and suggested travel routes between locations.
Customers at West River Kayak & Canoe take their pick from a fleet of kayaks, canoes, and standup paddleboards to cruise down the 27-mile Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail, a Class I–II waterway. Turtles, beavers, and deer make their homes along the banks and occasionally dart out to greet travelers as shale cliffs rear up in the distance. The shop's staff ensures that even boating newbies can wend their way through the picturesque scenery by offering introductory tutorials before each rental to impart the basics of paddling, from how to turn to how to rub two paddles together to make a fire for roasting hot dogs.
• For $9, you get one mezzanine ticket to The Fairy Forest on Saturday, August 20 at 2 p.m. (up to an $18 value). • For $11, you get one orchestra ticket to the "Season Encore Performance" on Saturday, August 20 at 7:30 p.m. (up to a $22 value).
The Athletic Club aspires to reach the upper echelon of fitness facilities, leading specialty classes within upscale workout environs. Limbs lengthen and spines straighten thanks to an extensive selection of yoga classes, including Anti-Gravity Yoga, which encourages participants to spite earthly forces while in inverted positions using an anti-gravity hammock. Dance fitness classes such as Zumba and African Movement fuse cardio movements to energetic rhythms. Core-sculpting and strength classes such as Cardio Barbell tone physiques without resorting to monster-truck-tire tossing competitions. Exercise enthusiasts can access the merits of cardio and strength equipment before and after classes at each location. Class schedules span seven days a week with early morning through evening sessions, and the Amherstburg club also offers a schedule of aquatics classes. Further amenities include childcare, along with a juice bar, steam rooms, and saunas.
Hannah and Gord Mitchell purchased their 52-acre farm more than 40 years ago, dreaming of slowly transforming the property into a winery. But their careers took them away from their homestead for a while, so it wasn't until 1991 that they first successfully established vines on their land. Yet when they did, the soil and plants got on well and the Mitchells soon found themselves with 35 acres of noble grape varieties, including chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon. Both their fruit and budget ripened, and in 2003 they finally began to build their own wine-making facilities. At the top of the list? A barrel-aging cellar and a 6,700-square-foot event patio.
Today, the winery holds regular property tours and tastings for visitors who want to try Sprucewood's wines. Situated along the shores of Lake Erie, the grounds also make a stunning venue for weddings and more casual picnics on the shore, many of which are regularly hosted by the Mitchells themselves.