Riders Say Tomato in Leamington, Ontario

Posted in: Destinations, Trips, & Rides | September 27, 2011


Motorcyclists love to visit places that are ever so slightly off the beaten track. The destination for a ride must also have some elements that make it unique so that arriving is something of an event in itself, because even more important is the fact that the route to that destination must be interesting, scenic, challenging… In fact, if you are looking for all of the above, you will absolutely find it in Leamington. But guess what? This area has been a favourite destination for Ontario motorcycle riders for a very very long time.

Ontario as a whole has a spectacular variety of scenic, overwhelmingly beautiful natural regions. Leamington is unique in a number of ways. Most notably, the town borders Point Pelee National Park, a wildlife refuge barely fifty kilometres south of Windsor, Ontario that has been a prime destination for bird watchers in particular for decades. Each spring the park is full of migrating song birds; the area is a treasure trove of unique species. The smallest of Canada’s National Parks, this area attracts over 300,000 visitors annually. Due in part to the fact that this is the southernmost tip of the entire country and due more importantly to the effect of being almost entirely surrounded by large bodies of water (the Great Lakes), the climate is very moderate and has mild winters generally.

A great time to visit Leamington is the third weekend of August (mark your calendar now) for the Leamington Tomato Festival. Those of us who can’t imagine a world without ketchup are infinitely grateful to the extremely productive farming community of the region who provide us with all kinds of tomato products.  This region is the Home of Heinz, with more commercial greenhouses per square mile than anywhere else in the province.

But these Leamington people don’t stop at producing fine condiments and keeping the “T” in BLT sandwiches. No; they seem driven to exhibit a wackiness that is probably part of the allure for us motorcycle types. That wackiness is exhibited in things like a propensity to stomp on tomatoes at every opportunity during this annual festival. If there’s an unsquished tomato lying around and a children’s plastic swimming pool in the vicinity, you can rest assured that the socks will be off in a flash and that that tomato will be paste before you can say pesto.

We suggest, however, that instead of scraping bits of tomato from between your toes, you should check out one of the excellent restaurants in the area. The Pelee Dinner Theatre gives you the excellent option of combining an evening’s entertainment with a good meal, always a fun way to spend some time. And you know that the perfomance at the dinner theatre will be excellent, because these actors would always have the looming fear of flying tomatoes spurring them on to put in their best performance.

However, for a lot of us, a day of riding works up an appetite that can only be sated by a nice thick steak (medium rare) and/or some grilled jumbo shrimp, or lobster… so you really need to know where to find Thirteen Russell Street Steak House and Jordan’s Favourite Eating Place.

Where to stay in Leamington? There’s lots of choice, from a considerable selection of Bed and Breakfast establishments to a wide range of Hotels and Motels. These Comfort Inn type of motels are always clean and comfortable in areas like Leamington, where tourism thrives and the service is friendly and efficient. Also important is the fact that you don’t pay big city hotel prices. Bed and Breakfasts are highly competitive as well; the best thing to do is to check out accommodations online, ahead of time, for location, rating, and any other details that are important to you. Never assume you will find accommodations easily; all kinds of events can result in instant non-vacancy situations, so try to make reservations ahead if at all possible.

Most importantly for the motorcycle tourist, the local roads are a paradise of beautiful rolling countryside. You can log many hours of riding in this area and never get bored with the scenery, and you will always be relatively close to the comforts of civilization. This area is a short ride from Windsor, and an easy jaunt from Golden Horseshoe towns and cities such as Toronto, Kitchener, etc. So set aside an autumn weekend to explore the Leamington area, enjoy the fall colours, and take in some of the local offerings.


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