Top things to do in Burlington, Ontario

Welcome to the best kept secret of the Toronto Blue Jays! Burlington is on the fringe of the Greater Toronto Area, but it’s slowly becoming recognized as a great dining and shopping area that’s…

Top things to do in Burlington, Ontario

Welcome to the best kept secret of the Toronto Blue Jays! Burlington is on the fringe of the Greater Toronto Area, but it’s slowly becoming recognized as a great dining and shopping area that’s also well worth exploring.

Big Ben Tavern

Big Ben Tavern – Burlington, ON $142 is a big deal in Burlington. The Big Ben has a spectacular view of the city from the rooftop, some killer food and even serves up a fantastic whiskey flight.

Back on Ontario Street, the cast of the big blue blazers, trading gizmos and swishy haircuts go back to the old world. Photographs of a guy tossing together a hot dog in a coal chute or people have their hands in wheelbarrows full of manure used as sawdust are all over the walls of the Big Ben. When you’re in town, the other big busy haunt is the Guns N’ Roses Boutique (630 Ontario Street). A little off the beaten path is Indigo (780 Ontario Street) and the Good Earth Market (680 Ontario Street). And when you’re serious about music, go to The Riverview Café (755 Ontario Street).

Olive and Raven

Olive and Raven at the Save-On-Foods Centre

The Save-On-Foods Centre is located at 2610 Highway 407 East and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Burlington. On the first floor of the shopping centre there’s a modern yet cavernous first floor space called Olive and Raven that’s owned by Lisa Chapman. Lisa is also the brains behind Cruella and Lunchbox Pops here in Toronto, and she runs a very successful café empire. Through her two other cafés, she’s helped turn Burlington into the destination that it is today.

Gadget-friendly Olive and Raven is all about easy entertaining, ambiance and excellent food. It’s at the centre of the foodie world in Burlington. If you can get to Olive and Raven you’ll want to drop what you’re doing and eat there every day. She starts your meal with breakfast by the river and moves on to a hot plate lunch or a tasty afternoon tea.

Stop in the Olive and Raven gift shop that also sells some gourmet grocery items and clothes. The shop also has the best store window in town. You can get an idea of what the café and store are all about by checking out the café’s site. It’s got coffee, tea, food and children’s clothing in it. Many the items are actually made in a tiny local shop run by Lisa’s sister Nicole Brabourne. The café has one of the biggest pickle boards around Burlington and I like their beautiful biscuit maker. Order a hot soup, cookies or bread from the bakery, called Blue Bird, and walk out with a cinnamon roll and some tea.

Serious Indulgence Spa

When you’re making a trip to Burlington, you want to make it count. A lot of the city is quite pedestrian friendly, but there are some hidden gems to check out if you want to get some serious indulgence done. For me, that’s where the super luxe spa Serum and Energizer Spa comes in.

Serum and Energizer Spa at the Thinkers Tower

Open every day but Sunday, the spa is in a grand Victorian building with amazing signage, too, and is a short bus ride from the city centre. I like the spa’s craft cocktails and great boutique tea and I love their body treatments. I just love getting my skin mopped up from the steam room with something creamy and soft and also getting a good massage on the spa’s signature “the massage warrior”. It’s available in the men’s and women’s hot tubs and that feels great.

Serum and Energizer Spa at the Thinkers Tower is on 10 West Overbrook Avenue and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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