This blog was submitted to Tourism Barrie by blogger MD.
I hadn’t seen my friend who lives in Barrie all summer, so she invited me to come up from Toronto to visit her. We decided I would take the GO train to Barrie and we would experience the beautiful city she lives in! I hopped on the train at Union Station at 12:20 pm on Saturday and got in to Barrie at about 2:00 pm at the Allandale Waterfront Station. To reduce our carbon footprint, we cycled to get from place to place and lucky me, I had my own personal tour guide. I was able to bring my bicycle on the train with me and transport it to Barrie without hassle. My friend is an aspiring photographer so she was able to document our adventure all day long.
We made our way onto the paved waterfront trail that is connected to the GO train station and wraps around Kempenfelt Bay for over 6 km. It boasts amazing views of Kempenfelt Bay, and is also lined with beautiful flowers and trees. Only 5 minutes into my trip and I wanted to stop, grab a book and just enjoy the breeze and view, but there was a lot more I wanted to see while in Barrie, so we’ll save that for another day.
After cycling for about 15 minutes and staring off into that beautiful Bay, I really wanted to jump in! Next time I’ll definitely be bringing my bathing suit and spending some time at the beach. Centennial Beach is Barrie’s most popular beach situated on Lakeshore Drive and the paved trail. This beach is a great pit stop because of its onsite washrooms, burger bar and beautiful water fountain. We were looking for a way to get out on the lake without having to jump in clothed.
… and there I found it ! Happy Paddling operates right on Centennial Beach, offering canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards for rental. We decided to rent a Tandem Kayak (kayak for 2) for an hour to get out and enjoy the water. We were able to give our legs a little rest and give our arms a workout instead. Happy Paddling had so many options for us, offering tours of the Bay and lessons for those less experienced with paddling. I really wanted to try stand up paddle boarding and added it to my list of things I’d like to do next time I visit Barrie.
We passed by Kenzington Burger Bar on Centennial Beach once we were finished kayaking. What an awesome location for a restaurant, the only one right on the waterfront. If you’re going to be spending some time at the beach you can stop here for refreshments and not have to worry about getting back on your bike until you’re finished.
We rode our bikes just over half a km along the path to our next stop, the Spirit Catcher, a Barrie landmark! The Spirit Catcher stands watch over the City as it towers above Kempenfelt Bay. Its wings were swaying in the breeze when we got there which was pretty cool to see. The Spirit Catcher was designed by Ron Baird, and represents the Aboriginal People of Canada. The design was inspired by the Aboriginal myth of the Thunderbird, a messenger who carries dreams and desires to the creator. If you’ve never been to Barrie, seeing the Spirit Catcher is a must.
As we made our way around the Bay, we found a sailing charter. We stopped to see more of this beautiful sail boat and met Captain Phil. Captain Phil operates Chances ‘R’ Sailing Charters, offering group and private tours on his 38’ Hunter. Chances ‘R’ is the only sailboat charter on Kempenfelt Bay and is a great way for you to see a little more of the Bay and all that is happening out on the water! All of the tour times were full for the afternoon, so next time we’ll be sure to book ahead and have an opportunity to sail on the Bay!
Our next stop was J’adore Fine Cheese and Chocolate at 111 Dunlop Street East, in Downtown Barrie to grab one of their to-go lunch boxes to snack on during our adventure. They have over 100 cheeses from all around the world but also have local cheeses and in-house handmade chocolates! They even have vegan cheese and many other local and organic products. A girls day out wouldn’t be complete without eating some chocolate!
The box they crafted for us was delicious. We opened it to find walnuts, grapes, dried figs and cranberries, strawberries, crackers, caramelized onion cheese from England, and Kaamps Original cheese from the Netherlands. I kept the box in my front basket so we could snack while exploring. Neither of us could pick a favourite cheese, they were all so good! The fruit and nuts were also a great touch.
No girlfriend adventure would be complete without shopping! I had to buy something at one of the shops that is unique to Barrie to remind me of my day here! I stopped at ZuZu Fashion Boutique and was pleased to find out they have many Canadian designers and producers. I bought an Elle and Belle bracelet, which was hand made in Barrie. I am so happy to have spent a day with so many unique experiences that couldn’t have been found anywhere else in the world.
We travelled down Mulcaster Street to hook back up with the trail and visit Barrie’s newest resident, the Sea Serpent. The Sea Serpent was created by Rob Baird, the same artist who created the iconic Spirit Catcher. With the cool breeze coming off the Bay, the wind made the sculpture twist and turn as if it was alive and swimming after us. I found it really neat that Barrie has these awesome structures on display, it truly makes Barrie’s waterfront distinctive from other areas.
We headed east on the path which took us onto the Oro-Medonte Rail Trail, a trail that follows an abandoned rail line. You can cycle the path 32 km into Orillia if you want to take a longer spin, but we cycled about 7 km down the trail just past Shanty Bay before we turned around to make it back to Dunlop Street just in time for the 5:00 pm brewery tour at Flying Monkeys.
The Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery has tours running every hour from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm on weekends and on weekdays at 2:00 pm. The ambience at the brewery is so unique. There are hand painted signs and furniture and old artifacts displayed all over the tap room. If you’re looking for a quirky place to grab a drink and/or a meal, this is the place for you! As part of the tour they allow you to sample a few of their beers as well, pretty cool considering the tour is free. I tried their “12 Minutes to Destiny” brew, a raspberry hibiscus pale lager. I definitely suggest trying one of their unique and original beers while you’re there.
We were in for a special treat that day as our tour was led by the head brewer Paul, who started out as a home brewer and has been now been with the Flying Monkeys as they have expanded. Paul is a wealth of knowledge on the brewery and brewing process. On the tour we learned that each one of their brew tanks produces about 22,000 bottles of beer, that’s 3,666 six packs for distribution. Although the brewery is small, they are able to produce enough beer to send it all around the world including Barcelona and Hong Kong. Paul had come in that morning at 6:00 am to start brewing, talk about committed. We also got to see exciting new additions to the brewery; they recently started canning their beer and now have expanded with a patio and full menu!
There are so many shops and restaurants located on Dunlop Street that are unique to Barrie. Boon Burger is a vegan burger café offering many options for people with special diets including dairy free ice-cream, YUM. Ripe Juicery produces raw, organic, cold pressed juices with local ingredients; they also offer fresh salads and bowls. We then passed by Janet Kemp another local ladies fashion boutique right on Dunlop! I’m already planning where I’d like to stop next time I decide to cycle in Barrie.
After sampling beer, shopping and cycling we were ready for dinner. We decided to check out Canvas and Cabernet. Canvas and Cabernet offers 2 hour instructional paint classes for non-experienced painters. Every week they offer different themed classes. A definite must try for an evening in Barrie.
I really wanted to continue trying local foods and my friend is Swiss and loves her cheese, so we decided to split a charcuterie board. The platter featured a cranberry bread loaf, prosciutto and ham, gluten free crackers, veggies, brie cheese, organic dried figs, oil and balsamic vinegar, peach and red pepper chutney, and roasted red pepper hummus. This was the perfect amount of food for the two of us. The fresh hummus and chutney were to die for. We were able to stick around and watch part of one of the paint classes. They sure did make it look easy and everyone’s piece was unique in its own way. I will definitely be returning here again, next time with a paint brush and glass of wine!
We then turned around and headed back to the GO Station to catch my train in time. I got back into Union Station at about 9:45 pm. Overall, I’d say I had a very successful adventure in Barrie! Lots of good food, great scenery, unique shopping and all by low impact means of transportation! It was so nice to spend time with and old friend and now I have a list of things I’d like to do next time I visit: stand up paddle boarding lesson with Happy Paddling, a sailing excursion with Chances ‘R’ Sailing, a burger from Kenzington’s Burger Bar, dairy free ice cream from Boon Burger, shopping at Janet Kemp, and an art class with Canvas and Cabernet. See you soon Barrie!