Fall is less than a week away on the calendar, despite the lovely warm weather we’ve been enjoying! And it’s an enchanting time of year!
Cooler temperatures, crisp leaves and bright colours – bursts of yellow, orange and red dotting the landscapes around the country signal that one of the most spectacular seasons in our part of Ontario is arriving. Fall, no matter your age, still somehow signals the chance to start anew. The season almost urges you to slow down, savour quiet moments, dig into harvest foods and discover new experiences.
So, take a moment to plan the perfect respite between summer and winter at your cottage, and enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons in your locale, whether it be hiking, apple picking, enjoying bonfires. However, you don’t need a cottage to enjoy this season, just a willingness to get out in nature and enjoy the fresh weather and surroundings.
The Cottage Culture team dug into what enjoyable fall activities come to mind for each of us, and share a few of our favourite ways to safely embrace autumn this year.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."
- Albert Camus
Orchards are now open for apple picking at Ontario farms, and to our way of thinking, nothing signals the coming of fall like biting into a crisp fresh apple that you picked with your own two hands. Peak picking stretches right through September and October, so find an orchard open for picking near your cottage and take the family apple picking for the day. Couple that with a full day of farm fun, like corn mazes and wagon rides, and you have an ideal day outing with the family.
Then what could be better than baking your apple pies after picking the ingredients with your own hands? Here are just a few area orchards open for picking: Apple Land Station, Thorndale; ; The Red Barn Fruit Farm, Arkona; Smith’s Apples and Market, Port Elgin; Maxwell Apple Orchards near Collingwood; Meleg’s Lakeview Orchard, Kingsville; Thiessen Orchards, Leamington.
Always check to see that visiting and picking is allowed. Otherwise choose to visit the numerous area orchard markets who’ve done the work for you! Also check open hours before you head out.
We are fortunate here in South Western Ontario to have access to two Great Lakes for our fishing enjoyment. Local experts suggest that fishing in the fall is when you may be most likely to catch the biggest fish. If you don’t have you own boat, there are a number of fishing charters leaving rom ports all along the Lake Huron shoreline, leaving from Sarnia, Kettle Point, Port Franks, Grand Bend, Goderich, Kincardine, to name a few. Charters also serve Lake Erie, departing from Erieau and Colchester. You can enjoy the last fishing moments of the season (until ice fishing begins!) and impress your family with your fresh catch.
There are so many beautiful spots to hike in the fall, it’s difficult to capture them all. For me, one of my favourites is hiking along the shores of Lake Huron, Georgian Bay (or Lake Erie), when you get to a viewpoint and see stretches of crystal blue waters along side pops of bright colour – think the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath, with over 900 km of main Trail and over 450 km of side trails. Accessible to explorers of all ages, the Bruce Trail connects you to the wonders of the Niagara Escarpment – cobble beaches, open meadows, waterfalls, rocky crevices, old growth forests and awe-inspiring views. While another recommends an enjoyable hike closer to home, in Rock Glen Conservation Area, where you can wander through a forest filled with rare trees, soak up waterfall views, and enjoy a scenic gorge in this area. You can even go fossil hunting! And still another, hiking along the Elora Gorge, suggesting that if you are only going to visit a small number of charming towns in southwestern Ontario this fall, then you might choose Elora. Not only is it a lovely little town full of colourful places for strolling, but a hike through the Elora Gorge Conservation Area in the fall will wow you with brilliant fall foliage. If you take the trail through the park, you can catch sight of the over 70 foot cliffs that line the gorge – truly a visit for your bucket list!
Cocktail hour at the cottage in the summer, whether on your dock, or deck, is hard to beat. But, have you ever thought about sitting outside in cozy sweaters with thick blankets draped over your outdoor lounge chair, sipping mulled wine or warm cider? You can watch the sun go down, and see the rays light up the surrounding colourful foliage, then see the stars come out. You’ll be wishing you’d thought of this sooner.
We have our favourite mulled wine recipe to share with you, here.
The Best Mulled Wine Recipe
The best traditional mulled wine recipe with brandy, apple cider, and mulling spices. This hot spiced wine is festive, easy, and perfect for parties!
While we can’t state authoritatively that this is the most traditional mulled wine recipe (there seem to be as many variations of mulled wine as there are European cafés in which to sip them), we’ve made enough batches to say with confidence that this is the best mulled wine recipe.
Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This recipe scales easily. Feel free to increase the batch size by as much as your slow cooker or pot will hold.
TO MAKE ON THE STOVE: simmer the wine, apple cider, orange zest and juice, and spices in a large pot or Dutch oven the stove over low heat for 30 minutes, instead of heating in the slow cooker. Do not let the wine boil Add the brandy and serve.
TO STORE: Let your slow cooker mulled wine cool completely, then pour it into an airtight storage container and place in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm mulled wine in a large pot on the stovetop over low heat, or pour leftovers into your slow cooker and reheat on LOW until warm.
Notes on the Ingredients:
Spices. Cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and star anise are the mulled wine spices. Even if you don’t love anise, the flavor here is subtle, well balanced, and gives this spiced wine an extra note of flavor that you don’t want to miss.
Ground spices not recommended, as they will float on top of the wine and not incorporate properly.
Brandy. The final edge this spiced wine needs to reach its peak
A lot of people underestimate how enjoyable evenings are at the beach. While we enjoy bonfires on the beach right through the summer, we find that now, as the temperatures cool down, there is nothing more special than enjoying a bonfire. Firepits are an excellent way to avoid any issues with legality of having a bonfire in your location; they also raise up the level of the fire to help keep everyone warm. Cottage Culture staff would be happy to show you their sturdy Iron Embers firepits.
The following checklist of items will ensure you create the perfect bonfire experience;
However you plan to spend your time this fall at your cottage be sure to savour the moments, it's the little things that create the largest memories!