Ours to Discover

Ours to Discover: Oakville...Spend time visiting a neighbour

A drive to Oakville is a great way to experience a day trip away from Toronto

By Kathy Buckworth Wheels.ca

Feb 14, 2022 5 min. read

Article was updated 3 months ago

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About this series: Wheels wants to inspire you to get ready to explore — but only if COVID-19 conditions make it safe to do so. This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province, ands show you why Ontario is “Ours to Discover.”

It’s rare to find a place that exudes a small town feeling, but has all the amenities often only found in larger urban centres. Nestled next to the sprawling city of Mississauga, Oakville is a haven for high street shops and gourmet restaurants, with a huge variety of walking trails and harbourfront views that are hard to match.

In the morning: As long as it’s not rush hour, the drive from Toronto west along the Queen Elizabeth Way is easy and should take less than an hour. Turn off at one of the exits and head south into the heart of Oakville.

I recommend using the most easternmost exit at Ford Drive, which will allow you to take Lakeshore Road East (which turns into Lakeshore Road West). Cruise into the heart of downtown and continue past the many stores (for now) until you reach Bronte Harbour, turning south on East Street and west on Ontario Street. This drive will take about 20 minutes from the QEW, but it is well worth it as you pass some of the impressive houses located on the picturesque shore of Lake Ontario.

Park at the harbour and take a stroll along the lake through the Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park. Admire the boats docked at the Outer Harbour Marina and be sure to snap a selfie next to the iconic lighthouse.

[caption id="attachment_165369" align="alignnone" width="2560"]Ours to Discover A woman enjoys a morning walk along the waterfront promenade in Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, as snow flurries begins to fall. The marina slips are empty with the onset of winter, but the colourfully painted Muskoka chairs that still line the park pathways are reminder that spring officially arrives in just over two months at 5:37a.m. on March 20.[/caption]

If it is open for the season, stop by the Bronte Boathouse for brunch or an early lunch. Get a seat on the large deck outside, if you can, and enjoy the sights and sounds of being near the water. During the warmer months, don’t forget to hit Duckie’s Dairy Bar for an ice-cream dessert.

Stroll around the area, heading west on Ontario Street and up Bronte Road. At the intersection of the two streets, you’ll find the Bronte Butterfly Gazebo, where you might just stumble across one of the many weddings that are held there throughout the year. Walk along the boardwalk before returning to your car to drive into town for some retail therapy.

In the afternoon: Besides a multi-level parking garage and several open lots, there is usually street parking available on Lakeshore Road East. The latter is right near the many clothing, coffee, home furnishings, food shops and restaurants found downtown. Do some window shopping, stop in for a latte and enjoy a lunch.

Stores include highly curated consignment shops like By Consignment (for amazing deals on designer duds), or Tocca Finita for the latest women’s fashions. Don’t forget to pop into The British Grocer for your Cornish pasties, Curly Wurlys and maybe even some haggis and black pudding.

[caption id="attachment_165366" align="alignnone" width="2560"]Ours to Discover Oakville Museum[/caption]

After lunch, and some shopping, head to the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate to learn about the history of this lakeside community. Currently open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the estate was once home to the founders of the town, the Chisholm family. It features restored rooms, an exhibit on the community’s Black history and “The Underground Railroad - Next Stop Freedom” presentation.

[caption id="attachment_165368" align="alignnone" width="2560"]Ours to Discover Oakville Follow it up with a visit to the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre, a 12-acre property that includes an 1826-built house and a barn from 1827 that has been turned into a unique space to exhibit art by well-known and emerging artists. Classes, concerts and workshops are also held at the centre.[/caption]

In the evening: Your dinner choices in Oakville are varied both in terms of price and cuisine. If you have the kids with you, The Works Craft Burgers & Beer will hit the spot with its patty selection, while Colossus Greek Taverna is a big family favourite for its menu of authentic dishes. If you’re looking for a gourmet meal, Oliver’s Steakhouse is renowned for its choice cuts and seafood offerings. You can also venture to Cork’s Restaurant, which serves Spanish, Portuguese and American tapas.

By the time you finish your dinner, it might just be getting darker outside. Within 10 minutes of Oakville’s centre is the 5 Drive-In. You’re in for a treat if it’s open. Located on Ninth Line, the theatre screens a variety of movies throughout the year.


For the drive

Learn more about the community with the #OurOakville Podcast, which can be downloaded from oakville.ca. Each episode includes conversations about creating a sense of community in the town.

COVID-19 need to know

Ontario is following provincial COVID-19 guidelines. Some attractions and businesses may be closed or operating at a reduced capacity. Consult the provincial website (ontario.ca) for the most up-to-date information and contact individual businesses ahead of your trip to confirm how they’re currently operating.

Drive guide

  • 10 a.m. Leave Toronto

Drive west on the Queen Elizabeth Way

Take the Ford Drive South exit

  • 11 a.m. Bronte Harbour

  • Noon Boardwalk

  • 1 p.m. Lunch and shopping

  • 2:30 p.m. Oakville Museum

  • 3:30 p.m. Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre

  • 5 p.m. Dinner

  • 7 p.m. 5 Drive-In

Note: times are suggestions only