Coffee, cake, and community spirit make me very happy to visit the Lucky Bean Cafe in Montague, Prince Edward Island.
Every now and then when I travel, I come across a little cafe that I love so much, one that makes my travels so much better, that I can't help but write them a bit of a love letter here on the blog. Remember when I found the latte of my dreams in Maun, Botswana? Prepare to meet its Prince Edward Island match, so to speak: the Lucky Bean Cafe in Montague
This charming, delectable little spot has become my go-to cafe whenever I'm leaving or entering PEI via the nearby Wood Islands ferry terminal. It's too good not to share! If you're taking a family trip in the area, or perhaps hiking the Island Walk and need a little fuel, or you simply just want a darn good latte on Prince Edward Island, this is your spot.
I should note that the Lucky Bean has a second cafe in Stratford, PEI, which I haven't visited yet - another spot to add to my travel list! All the photos used in this post are from Lucky Bean's Facebook page (and used with permission). As I never seem to have my camera with me when I go, I appreciate having access to their images.
Whether you're in Montague for several days or just blazing through on route to the ferry, here are nine things you'll appreciate about this cozy cafe.
My favourite cozy things to do in Yarmouth include watching artists work by the seashore, visiting a lovely cafe, and shivering over ghost stories.
The small town of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, seems purpose-built for coziness. Between the delightful views of the harbour, the fresh seafood served in local restaurants, and the area's strong cultural connections, you have a recipe for a snug visit and amazing travel memories. I had visited the area before as many people do, during a short stop after taking the ferry over from Maine. I had never spent significant time in the region until this summer when I attended a conference in Yarmouth. It was the perfect way to check out the community's homiest spots and I'm happy to share my favourite cozy things to do in Yarmouth so your visit can be equally as nice.
If you want to explore Georges Island National Historic Site, here's how you can do it on your own, with a tour, and even with a picnic! Plus: What to expect on the ferry.
Once upon a time, Halifax, Nova Scotia, wasn't just known as a lively city for music, travel, and seaside fun. It was first and foremost a military port. Halifax was on the frontlines of defending Canada from foreign attack. It's a role that thankfully never had to be enforced but for centuries the city has been soaked in military preparations. Now one of Halifax's oldest fortifications, Georges Island National Historic Site is open to the public and I was fortunate to explore it myself.
Georges Island sits in the middle of Halifax Harbour. You can see it from almost any point in the city - I had superb views from my room at the Westin Nova Scotian- but visitors were prohibited until 2020. My friends and family jumped at the chance to visit when the Parks Canada site opened during the pandemic and their reviews were GLOWING. Locals absolutely love this destination and they're extremely proud of their city's history. As they should be!
The main attraction on Georges Island is Fort Charlotte. Fortifications here date to 1750 and include an underground tunnel system. While Georges Island has never been attacked, Fort Charlotte and the surrounding area has been used for important military operations over the centuries. Two thousand French soldiers were imprisoned here during the Seven Years War and an estimated 1,660 Acadian civilians were detained during the Expulsion. During the American Revolution, privateers were held prisoner in Fort Charlotte and, during World War II, an anti-aircraft was stationed there.
Visiting today is decidedly peaceful experience and a wonderful way to get to know Halifax better. Here's what to expect and how you can explore Georges Island National Historic Site.
Axe throwing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, is easy for everyone.... except maybe not for anti-adventurists like me. This is what happened when I stepped on the axe throwing platform at the Boxing Rock Brewing Company.
Have you ever signed up for an activity you're a little unsure about it and the organizer tells you not to worry, that they've never lost someone/ had someone capsize/ had someone utterly fail? It's a heartening speech designed to bolster low confidence and soothe the very nerves that lead to shaky performance. And thus far, it's proven true for me.
Until now, folks. Until now.
This is what happened when a confirmed anti-adventurist (that's me) took on one heck of a crazy challenge (that's axe throwing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia) and utterly failed.
Rogers Interzip zip line connects Ontario and Quebec and offers unparalleled views of downtown Ottawa and plenty of thrills. But would this anti-adventurist be able to take the ultimate leap of faith?
There are many reasons a person might decide to step outside of their comfort zone. Perhaps they want to test their limits, experience life to the fullest, or make an incredible travel memory. Or maybe, just maybe, they want to show their husband that they don't know you as well as they think they do.
The latter was me. In an effort to make Ryan think "Hmmmm.... Maybe I don't know Vanessa all that well. She is far more enigmatic than I gave her credit for" I found myself on what is billed as the world's first interprovincial zip line.
Yes, fellow anti-adventurists. I went zip lining. On my wedding anniversary. All so I'd appear just a smidgen more inscrutable than normal to a spouse who knows me very, very well.
These are my favourite cozy micro-adventures and things to do in Charlottetown, PEI's capital city and all round amazing travel destination.
As Canada's smallest provincial capital city, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is just made for cozy adventures. But it's not just the size of this 40,000 strong city that makes it so snug and inviting. Charlottetown's pretty seaside location, impressive architectural history, and prominent place in Canada's political, cultural, and social fabric make for an irresistible combination for visitors. This is where you want to be if you'd like to celebrate the meetings which led to Canada's confederation in 1867, to honour the artistic legacy of Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery, or simply feast on homemade ice cream, rich lobster rolls, and damn fine coffee. With no shortage of things to do in Charlottetown, I've focused on the coziest experiences I've enjoyed in more than 30 years of visits and I have a feeling you'll love them just as much as I have.
After nearly nearly two years of research, we're finally ready to crown a winner! These are Ottawa's best chicken wings.
My quest to find Ottawa's best chicken wings began in the early summer of 2020, when restaurant patios were just beginning to reopen - temporarily, as it turned out. I revelled in the simple joy of sitting outside and ordering the kinds of foods that always taste better from a restaurant. I loved every bite of those meals but it was the chicken wings that made the strongest impression. They were so delicious! Had chicken wings always been this crispy, this juicy, this tasty? I was so enamoured that I decided to try as many wings around the city as possible.
I envisioned myself as a kind of Ottawa chicken wing hero, giving the public the kind of much needed independent wing assessments they've long craved, all while delivering sub-standard wings the evisceration they've long deserved. Little did I realize it would be a hobby that would hold me in good steed through many a lockdown.
I thought I was ready to fly with Santa Claus - but was I? The plane was small - and the naughty list loomed large!
Every writer dreams of an exclusive celebrity scoop and I got one to top them all: Santa Claus! Not only did the head elf himself give me the inside scoop on what he loves about Ottawa but I also got to spend some time with him in his very own plane. That's right - Santa doesn't just fly a sleigh but he also offers 15 minute aerial tours of downtown Ottawa in a vintage Cessna 172 in conjunction with Ottawa Aviation Adventures as part of a program in support of the Ottawa Food Bank.
There was just one tiny complication. The plane is tiny. Santa is all-knowing. And I'm a big ol' scarde-y cat. An Anti-Adventurist, if you will. Would my notorious stomach hold up in a vintage aircraft? Would my nerve hold up if Santa started grilling me about whether I was naughty or nice?
Ottawa bakeries showcase a delicious side of the city! These are some of my favorites.
I know bakeries. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's tracking down baked goods. And eating them. I am VERY GOOD at eating baked goods.
It's not just the obvious deliciousness I enjoy. Bakeries are a fun, accessible, affordable way to explore a destination. I have vivid memories of my very first backpacking trip in Europe, way back when before the common Euro currency was in play. I was determined to use up all my coins before I crossed borders (rendering them all but useless). As such, I soon became very adapt at buying the exact thing at a bakery that corresponded with the precise amount of coins left in my pocket. I still remember a train station apple pastry procured in France moments before I hoped on a train to Italy! The sweet filling was almost as satisfing as the knowledge that I had used every spare cent.
It's this kind of deep seated bakery love that had me jumping at the chance to investigate Ottawa bakeries. I know first hand that my local favourites make treats every bit as delicious as those fancy French spots that had me carefully counting my pennies all those years ago and I am eager to spread the word about just how much creative baking talent is right here in our hometown. Some of these destinations are long-loved special spots that I can't believe more people haven't heard about yet, while others are new to me, discovered this year as part of the #Invite2 campaign. And some, I must confess, aren't strictly bakeries per se but more like cafes that specialize in their own baked goods. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants. And so does my stomach! I'm sure you will love these sweet destinations as much as I do.
PS: Of course, this is but a tiny sampling of the bakeries the city has to offer, focusing on the places I know well. I hope this is a list that will only grow over time!
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