As 2021 draws to a close, the travellers in your life are most likely continuing to keep their adventures local. Luckily there’s a LOT to choose from in Ontario. Whether there’s a retired wanderer, an international adventurer, young family, or new traveller on your gift list, this Ontario Travel Gift Guide is the 1-stop shop to inspire ideas for everyone.

This gift guide is going to be a living document that I will add to as I expboerience new tours, try new products, and read new books. If you gift or try any of them, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

Disclaimer:
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EXPERIENCES

Toronto Bicycle Tours

How It Works

Toronto Bicycle Tours is a BIPOC locally-owned small business that provides year-round 2-wheeled tours. As of October 2021, there are 4 small-group tours to choose from: Heart of Downtown, Island Tours, Downtown + Island Combo, and the 15-neighbourhood bonanza, Round the City. Tours range from 2 to 12 people, which is ideal for flexibility and pacing. Prices range from $22.50 – $60.50 + tax for children and $75 – $150 + tax for adults, depending on the route you choose. The length ranges from 3.5 – 7 hours, so make sure to bring water (I love using my Vapur collapsible water bottle) and a snack for the road. Definitely wear or bring layers to dress appropriately for the weather. To learn more about each of the tours, check out this post I wrote on my experience with Toronto’s Best Tour!

Toronto Bicycle Tours City Biking
Photo Taken by Terrence at Toronto Bicycle Tours

This Gift is Perfect For

Toronto Bicycle Tours has options for nearly everyone who wants to see the city in a new way. Whether you’ve got a 1-year old child, or are an adventurous 81-year old (the oldest rider they’ve had!), able to ride a bike or not, visually impaired, or have physical ailments, there are options available. Their fleet includes road bikes, e-bikes, seats for the little ones, and so on. They’re also in the process of widening their accessibility options to include paraplegics, so keep an eye on the website for updates.

Discount Code

Use discount code “TravelWTMC” to receive 15% off of any Toronto Bicycle Tour.

STROLL Walking Tours

How It Works

STROLL Walking Tours is a female-owned small business that opened during the pandemic in 2020 and has been hosting phenomenal outdoor tours ever since! I think I’ve been on about 7 of these tours already. Safe to say, each one has been an absolute delight and a highlight for me throughout all of these pandemic months. Juanita Metzger, the owner, and her engaging and knowledgeable tour guides are fantastic. Their enthusiasm and passion for local history adds to the excitement of learning something new about a familiar place. Tours can be booked as private groups or you can join a public tour, all of which are small in size to provide the best possible experience. They run rain or shine year-round and range in themes from Berlin Ablaze to the 1918 Pandemic to the brand new St. Jacobs tour.

Juanita Metzger Owner of Stroll Walking Tours on 1918 Pandemic in Kitchener

This Gift is Perfect For

This gift is perfect for locals in Waterloo Region who want to learn more about the spaces we inhabit on a daily basis! It is also an excellent gift for visitors to KW, business associates here on work trips, parents and their kids, or really anyone who enjoys the outdoors and is curious about history.

Discount Code

Use discount code “STROLLWITHTMC” to receive 10% off of public tours. If you have any questions, contact Juanita at letswalk@strollwalkingtours.com.

Guess Where Trips

How It Works

Guess Where Trips is the ultimate tour company for Canadian day trips. Want to know the best part? You purchase a trip based on a theme without having any idea where you’re going! These trips are addicting. I’ve been on a handful already and purchased 5 more that I’ll probably enjoy in the spring and summer.

Some trips are year-round and others are seasonal like their Festive trips. It’s possible to purchase both hard-copy, sent to you via snail mail, and virtual itineraries. The old soul in me appreciates the surprise and excitement of receiving and opening mail, which is one of the reasons I love these tours. Each itinerary is curated by the owner, Jessica, and various travellers (like yours truly!) to ensure that each stop is memorable.

This Gift is Perfect For

These trips are perfect for just about anyone. There are child- and pet-friendly options available and themes range from adult bevvies, flower fields, or butter tarts, to waterfalls, weird spots, hikes, and hauntings. Even the Type As in your life will love this surprising gift. If you go on the waterfall tour, I’d love to hear what you think – I created it!

BUZZ Tour Co

How It Works

I went on a Buzz Tour to Norfolk County back in December 2018, sharing the experience on Instagram and writing a blog post about all of the yummy spots scattered around the area. You’d think it sounds a bit odd to go on a wine tour in the winter, but it was excellent! Crowds were small, we didn’t feel rushed to sip or shop, and it helped me plan return trips for warmer months.

The spirited owner, Christine, is a very enthusiastic tour guide who loves introducing people to Norfolk County’s flavours, whether the group is 4 people strong or 25. Often referred to as Ontario’s Garden since it’s the best place in the country for several crops to be grown, it’s located along Lake Erie’s north shore and includes many well-known summer destinations like Turkey Point, Port Dover, Long Point, and Simcoe. There is also a ghost town named Normandale.

This Gift is Perfect For

If you like beer, wine, or cider, these trips are a great taste tester of what Norfolk County has to offer. It’s also nice to be driven around so you can really sample the various wineries and breweries! Of course it goes without saying that participants need to be the legal drinking age and at this time covid measures are in place to keep everyone safe in the van that transports you around. If you’re looking for a way to gather friends or family you haven’t seen in a while, everything is taken care of for you, including trunk space for all of your take home goodies.

Discount Code

Use Discount Code “travelwithtmc” to receive 5% off of tours with up to 7 people.

A Winter Getaway

How It Works

I realize that Northern Ontario is currently underrepresented in this post, but this is one gift idea to get the ball rolling. Windy Lake Provincial Park is located approximately 40 minutes northwest from Sudbury and is an amazing place for a winter wonderland getaway. Every winter activity imaginable is at your finger tips, from snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, to star-gazing, ice fishing, and more. Your recipient doesn’t need to be a pro at any of these to enjoy. In fact, I had never ice fished before (though I’d been bugging my cousin and brother to take me for YEARS!), hadn’t been cross-country skiing since a field trip when I was 12, and the same was probably the case for snowshoeing. The park rangers set you up with everything you need for ice fishing and all you have to do is show up, dressed warmly, and be ready to enjoy a day out on the lake. If you want to learn more about everything there is to do, what the accommodations look like, and how to book a cabin or yurt (yes, YURT!) for the weekend, visit the blog post I wrote about a winter weekend at Windy Lake Provincial Park.

Winter Weekend at Windy Lake Provincial Park Already a Pro at Ice Fishing

This Gift is Perfect For

Anyone who loves winter, no matter their age, will absolutely love this gift. And, if you get to join them, there will be the wonderful added bonus of making memories together! Oh, and I should mention that while I haven’t been there in the summer, I’m guessing it’s an amazing time of year to visit too – just in case your recipient is a fair-weather friend.

PRODUCTS

Vapur Water Bottle

How It Works

I love love love my rollable Vapur water bottle. I’d never heard of them before purchasing one for my round-the-world trip back in 2017 but I’m so glad I bought it. They come in different sizes, from 0.5L to 1.5L and roll up into the smallest and lightest package imaginable. There’s also a carabiner attached so you can hang it outside of your backpack or bag like in the picture below. It stands on its own when there’s liquid inside and flattens and rolls when empty. It’s great for being on the go or in the car and you never have to worry about whether it will fit in the cup holder or not because it will mold to fit the shape of the container. The “anti-water bottle” is reusable, BPA free, and dishwasher safe. I’ve had mine for 4 years and it’s still going strong.

Toronto Bicycle Tours Photographing Toronto Cityscapes
Photo Taken by Terrence at Toronto Bicycle Tours

This Gift is Perfect For

Anyone who drinks water, wants to minimize their ecological footprint, and doesn’t want to lug around a clunky water bottle.

Butterpot Maps: Personalized Travel Maps

How It Works

Butterpot Maps is a super creative small business. Jacqueline designs bespoke push pin maps on all sorts of surfaces, from postcards and prints to Christmas ornaments, tea towels, pillow covers, and embroidery maps. Even the handmade push pins are customized! Some of the requests for designs she’s made in the past include planes, beer steins, bicycles, cameras, camper vans, footprints, moose, and more! Fun Fact: She’s made over 50 different push pins to date!

This Gift is Perfect For

These maps are perfect for the hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, sports fans, winos, and all-around travellers in your life! Jacqueline has maps that cover all of the Canadian national and provincial parks, wineries, MLB parks, and so much more. There are also generic provincial (or state) and national maps available.

PS: Stay tuned to the Travel with TMc Instagram for a giveaway!

Railway City Brewing: Merry & Bright Vienna Lager

How It Works

You may see “beer” and think “how is that travel?” but my mind is already spinning with how you could take your beer-loving friends and family on an adventure to St. Thomas and then surprise them with a 6-pack of Railway City Brewing’s Merry & Bright Vienna Lager under the Christmas tree. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! If you’re not too sure where St. Thomas is or what to do, I’ve got you covered with the top fun things to do in the southwestern Ontario city. Want to take your itinerary to the next level? (Of course you do!) There’s a huge outdoor gallery trail which includes a colourful elephant treasure hunt (no animals harmed, I promise) and you could finish at the Brewery!!! Come on – what’s a more epic gift than you planning a day trip, with a treasure hunt, and ending it with a pint and some take-home drinks?

This Gift is Perfect For

If you’ve got a craft beer afficionado in your life, this is a great option. And really, that itinerary above has you in first place for gift giver this year.

Mintier

How It Works

Mintier is the world’s first all-natural oil-based sugar free breath mint that lasts up to 1 hour! The bottle is 30 ml, which equates to about 120 “servings” and also means it’s the perfect travel-size item for your carry-on. (No one likes sitting beside someone on a plane or train or bus with bad breath, am I right?) The company is Canadian and co-founded by a fellow traveller and family friend, Rhaelyn Gillespie, and her business partner Jessica Sheppard. Needless to say, it’s very exciting to see these women creating a fabulous new product and building their own company as well.

This Gift is Perfect For

This gift is perfect for anyone with a mouth. Cheeky, eh! A few more details to note about this travel-sized breath freshener is that it’s made with only 6 ingredients and is vegan, gluten-free, and keto-friendly.

Discount Code

Use Discount Code “MINTIERTMC” to receive 15% off of your first order. Yahoo!

BOOKS

There are a thousand travel books I could recommend, though I think I will be making a complete guide of those for another post. For now, here’s a sample of some of the amazing travel and travel-themed books I’ve read, as well as one that’s soon to be added to my bookshelf. You can also check out some other book suggestions I make in my 2019 goals review and 2020 goals review. Happy armchair travelling!

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide

Typically I only suggest books I’ve read, however this one is high up on my “to buy” list. Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide screams intrigue to me. I listen to the Atlas Obscura podcast and receive their emails and love them both so I can only imagine how awesome this book is. I kind of wish it came with samples!

Gastro Obscura

Top 160 Unusual Things to See in Ontario

If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll know that I embarked on a mission to visit all of the Top 160 Unusual Sites in Ontario as a pandemic project. I made it to 25 last year and have seen about 30 in total, some without even realizing they were included in the book! It’s been a lot of fun to follow this book and create new adventures and I know you’d like it too. There are geological wonders, ghost towns, historic buildings, and more. It’s a great way to see the province and discover places you might not know otherwise. If you’d like to read more about the Ontario 160 project, check out the series here.

Ontario 160 Adventures with Travel with TMc in St. Thomas Ontario

Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins

I found this book at Words Worth Books in Uptown Waterloo and devoured every page of it. The author, Joanna Rickert-Hall, is a local historian who’s pulled back the curtain on the fringes of society. Waterloo You Never Knew: Life on the Margins covers 18th and early 19th century rum-runners, sorcerers, gravediggers, cholera victims, and former slaves in Waterloo Region and will leave you wanting more. Thankfully Rickert-Hall has been working on a new book!

Waterloo You Never Knew

The Island of Sea Women

This book takes place on Jeju Island, a place I once lived and then fled from 5 months later. Four years later in 2019 I returned to the island, still not knowing enough about the complex history of the island. The Island of Sea Women introduced me to this place in a way that living there as a foreigner couldn’t possibly achieve. Lisa See is a beautiful writer and her novel had my chest heaving with sadness several times and simultaneously appreciating the beauty of the place and wanting to book my next trip back. It is a must-read for anyone who’s been to or wanted to visit Korea – or even Japan for that matter. Even if you don’t have a connection to Korea, the story of the Haenyeo (female free divers) is simply incredible.

Island of Sea Women

To Wrap Up

I hope this post was useful in helping you find something to gift someone special in your life. If you enjoyed it, please consider sharing it with friends, family members, Facebook groups you’re a part of and so on. Every little bit helps for the small businesses in our communities.

If there are tours or items you think should be included, send me an email!

Don’t forget to check back as new items and tours will be added throughout the month and after Christmas too.

Looking for Winter Travel Ideas?

If you’re looking for a ideas for winter adventures, in addition to the post on a northern Ontario weekend at Windy Lake Provincial Park, I’ve also put together 7 Festive Ontario Road Trips for you to check out in December. They’re a great starting point to help you build your winter getaway itineraries. Happy and safe travelling!

About TMc

 

Me having a seat in front of one of the famous Brighton Bathing Boxes in Australia!

Heya! I’m Tara (Tar-ah)! Welcome to Travel with TMc where you’ll find quirky language tidbits, travel hacks for Canadians, and stories from the road. I hope you enjoy!
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