If there ever was a hidden gem it is our discovery of Wakefield, Canada: the small, quaint, charming water-front town just 40 minutes north of Ottawa. What started as an almost accidental discovery - turned getaway weekend - was absolutely one of our favorite trips this year. In fact, I will call it official that I had the best meal of the year at a local restaurant just a few minutes’ walk from our houseboat on Saturday night, yes houseboat. We are excited to break down the trip and encourage all to get this gem on the calendar – ASAP!
So, firstly, I discovered Wakefield through Airbnb of all things. Most of the time Lex and I pick a destination and I later check out hotel and Airbnb options to build the trip, however, now and then when I am having trouble coming up with an idea I check out Airbnb and book an inspiring property and then we fly there. That is exactly what happened when I checked out the Airbnb pre-populated list of popular boats to stay on in North America. The unique and cozy “River Den” caught my eye and we booked almost immediately. One of the other driving factors was just how easy it is to get to Wakefield. Ottawa has plenty of flight options and Wakefield is a quick 40-minute drive north.
The house boat was a fun way to enjoy the river and we love camping, so it fit the bill. Would highly recommend, but if you want to have a few more amenities you could certainly book one of the local Bed and Breakfasts, or a popular local-favorite, the Wakefield Mill, all exuding quaint Canadian country charm. One of the great things about staying on the boat was the proximity to truly FANTASTIC restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and bars. The first night we kept it casual and hit up Nikosi for our Poutine fix. We had a great meal, and truly enjoyed the cozy, country, river-front ambiance of this gastro-pub. With a bar meets lodge feel, the cocktails were unique and delicious. And stop by Patisserie La Toque, a super-cute bakery, pastry shop, and gift shop just a block away from the boathouse. Lex splurged on a lemon-cake for us for the weekend! Desert paired with a number of board games and a roaring fire at the boathouse made for the perfect finale to each night!
Night two we were on to the main event – The Village House 759. It’s no surprise that The Village House is the best reviewed restaurant in the area, in fact, some travel from Ontario to Wakefield specifically for the coveted kitchen. Wow, just wow! The food and service does not disappoint! I like to consider myself as semi-well traveled and let me tell you – this is the best short rib I have ever had! Exploding with flavor! Everything on the menu was terrific, we split a number of appetizers and were ouuhing and ahhing all night – if you go to Wakefield for one reason, go for the short rib! We had such an amazing dining experience we hit it again for brunch on their outdoor terrace the following morning, every bit as incredible by the way.
Other loose ends of note to round out the best Canadian weekend ever - the nightlife was a kick, let me say that we thoroughly enjoyed the live entertainment at Kaffe 1870 . Drink the night away and rock out (depending on the band) all while enjoying close river proximity and a unique local vibe. And you can't miss Café Molo, a coffee shop located right across the street from the boathouse that serves the best macchiato and latte you could imagine; this place is so cool, it also serves as a vintage-thrift-shop that is obviously curated with a menswear, womenswear, accessories, and shoe collection. Peruse the vintage finds while waiting for, or sipping your coffee! Another great find, and Lex's favorite, Patisserie La Toque, not only for the sweets but the great gifts! We went home with two of their signature, hand-crafted ceramic mugs each adorned with their painted fox-face graphic! Lastly, the farmer's market. On Saturday morning we stumbled upon the Wakefield Market, full of local product, handmade goods, kombucha, live music, crafts, and so much more.
The great thing about Wakefield is by the end of the weekend you will not only know or recognize many of the locals, you’ll be one of them now!
And sometimes it's the little things that make for a simple weekend away just the sweetest getaway, so we have to mention the sights! Like Wakefield's historical covered bridge; just a short drive from the center of town and surrounded by a number of wonderful hikes, read up on the history and construction of this unique bridge and take it all in with views of the town across the water. There's also the Mill, located within Gatineau Park take a ride up (about five minutes from the boathouse) and you're surrounded by plenty of hikes and winter activities.
Another reason to love this getaway... spa day! Yes, spa day. The largest spa in North America, Nordik, is located just 15 minutes away. Do it!! We spent four or five hours relaxing there on Saturday afternoon and wish we had more time. It’s everything you ever dreamed of in a spa – countless hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, a beer garden and a yurt – to mention a few highlights, I won’t ruin the rest. I would leave the better part of a day for water bound festivities, you won’t regret it.
Lastly, spend an afternoon at the Marble Quarry! The quarry is just 5 minutes drive from the Airbnb and you will find hiking, zip-lining, swimming, bungee jumping and more. I missed the bungee jumping this time around but can’t wait to hit it next time we are in town, it’s the highest jump in Canada!
Lex's Wardrobe styled by Lex & Lynne | Bridal Wardrobe and Men's Shoes styled by Lex & Lynne Bridal | Professional photography by Tracy Fledderus of Grace & Gold Studios | Cake inspired by Lex & Zach's wedding cake by Patisserie La Toque