Perth – A Peaceful Refuge In Eastern Ontario

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Guest post by: Marisa Baratta
Just when I thought my husband and I were running out of places to visit, he found Perth.  Perth is a small town about a four-hour drive from Toronto and one hour away from Ottawa.  It’s in a part of the province known as Ontario’s Highlands.  For us, it was the Perth-ect (I tried) place to stay for a relaxing vacation filled with beautiful nature spots, a pampering spa experience and peaceful towns to explore – not to mention there are so many lovely lakes along the way!

Where to stay
There are some lovely bed and breakfasts in this part of Ontario but we ended up staying at the Best Western Plus Perth, which instantly became one of the highlights of our trip.
I was already looking forward to seeing our hotel; what won me over were the idyllic photos of a pond surrounded by comforting trees and an inviting path perfect for peaceful walks.  And the photos did not disappoint – after dinner at the hotel, my husband and I took a walk alongside the water, and came back every day to enjoy the peace, serenity and natural beauty of this town called Perth.
The stunning backyard is only one of the many reasons to love this hotel.   The Best Western Plus Perth is located a couple blocks from the Gore Street, the main street in Perth, making it easy to explore on foot (plus parking is free!).  Our room included a spacious lounge area with a television and one of the most amazing bathrooms we’ve seen at any hotel – with heated floors!  It was such a clean, luxurious, homey room; we were sure to take advantage of the fact that you can order a meal from many of the nearby restaurants and have it delivered to your door.

Get pampered at the spa
Another major Perkth (I’m really trying): we planned to get our first couples’ massage during this trip and found out that the spa we’d chosen – Parkside Spa – is located inside Best Western Plus Perth.  Could the planning get any better than that?  We enjoyed a view of the pretty pond before being treated to a one-hour massage, which we both agreed was one of the best massage experiences we’d ever had.  We later learned that a massage treatment includes access to the pool, sauna and hot tub, so bring your bathing suit!

Explore the main street
While we spent a lot of time enjoying the hotel grounds and could easily have spent hours at the spa, we also wanted to explore the town.  Gore Street is a long street lined with shops – think clothing and especially books!  We visited several used book stores and a very lovely independent book shop, all within a few blocks of each other.
My husband and I enjoy visiting old houses, so one of the draws for us was the Perth Museum, located inside the historic Matheson House on Gore Street.  We were handed a booklet to direct us on our self-guided tour of the house.  It operates on a pay-what- you-can basis so if you’re interested in history and would like to enhance your adventure in Perth, I recommend dropping in.

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Food
For me, food is a highlight of every vacation (nay, every day).  Visiting Perth really made me realize why so many people say that Toronto is multicultural – we didn’t find a lot of variety in terms of food options in Perth, aside from Italian, Canadian, American and Chinese.  In my case, this almost didn’t matter as I absolutely loved Mex&Co, a Mexican restaurant on the main street with a patio overlooking the water.  Can you imagine enjoying scrumptious Mexican food next to a sparkling body of water?  In our case, we did have to imagine because it rained, but that didn’t put a damper on our lunch date.  Because of the rain, we dined indoors, which was pleasantly decorated Mexican style.  We ordered a delicious plate of nachos, followed by a vegetarian burrito for me.  I confess, I came back the next day to order takeout – it’s that delicious!

Nearby towns
You can probably tour Perth in one day – maybe two if you spend an afternoon at the spa.  But Perth is also a great home base if you’re looking to extend your trip by visiting some of the nearby towns.  In one day, we visited Almonte, Merrickville and Carp before dining in Perth.  One of the reasons we chose Perth was to visit the Diefenbunker, which we’d wanted to visit on a recent trip to Ottawa – yet another reason to consider Perth to be a Perth-ect (you probably saw that one coming) place to stay.  Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker had it built in 1959 during the cold war, and it has since become a historic museum hosting public tours both in English and in French.

Almonte highlights: Mill Street Books, a lovely bookstore and board game shop, and Café Postino, an Italian restaurant.  I don’t normally enjoy Italian food at restaurants because I can eat it at home, but Café Postino offered us satisfying meals that tasted as good as they looked, all in a very appealing European-style setting.  I chose cheese cannelloni while my husband opted for the lamb burger.  If you love chocolate, take note: the friendly woman at Mill Street Books recommended a nearby chocolate shop called Hummingbird Chocolate Maker, where they make quality homemade chocolate.

Merrickville: Unfortunately several Merrickville shops were closed when we got there, but I immediately spotted plenty of shops that were of interest to me.  If you enjoy Christmas decor, soap, tea, ice cream or books, there’s something here for you!
Whether we were walking by the water, exploring a town or appreciating the luxury of our hotel, we got to enjoy something that has really come to characterize Perth for me: it truly is a peaceful, comforting place to stay!

Marisa Baratta is a travel writer and author.  See more of her work here: https://www.clippings.me/marisabaratta or follow her on Twitter at @marisabaratta.

Have any photos or videos of your visit to Perth, Ontario that you would like to share with us?  Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.

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