October 3, 2020

By: Emilie Lapointe

Though it may seem more difficult to escape daily stresses and take a vacation right now, this unique global situation has presented us all with the perfect opportunity to explore our own neighbourhoods!

Planning a staycation this season is not only easy, but also safe as hotels and businesses have worked diligently to ensure that your experience is both enjoyable and your health is in safe hands.

One of the major benefits of a staycation is that once you find these amazing spots to eat, explore, play, etc., you can continue to enjoy your favourites all-year-round, as they’re in your own backyard instead of halfway across the world!

As a big fan of all sorts of travel, I’ve developed my own system of unpacking any destination. Here are the initial steps I take when searching for places to check out in any city I explore:

  1. Pinterest- Start by searching the name of the city. Pinterest is a great resource for finding hidden gems. Scroll through the pictures on the feed, read the headlines like “best patios” or “best restaurants” and click through the ones that catch your eye. Most of these resources come from travel bloggers or local bloggers who know their stuff!
  2. Instagram – Start with a simple location tag search for “Oakville.” Scroll through the many posts and notice any photos you like and the specific location tag they have – restaurants, parks, stores, attractions… Bookmark them! I made my own board in the Saved section entitled “Oakville” where I toss photos of spots I want to check out. The @VisitOakville Instagram is a great tool, as it is a curated feed focused entirely on things to do in Oakville.
  3. Google – Lookup the best places to stay, eat and visit. Play around with the keywords you use in your searches. Google is also a great tool to lookup places you’ve already earmarked from the above steps to read reviews.
  4. Maps – Take your list to Google Maps! Search each individual spot and save it as a pin so you can have a digital and compiled list and so you can visualize where everything is! This will help you come up with itineraries that are cohesive and make sense.
  5. Visit Oakville Website – The team at Visit Oakville is dedicated to showcasing all that Oakville has to offer with highlighting award-winning businesses, tips and tricks, and itineraries to help you along while you plan your safe visit!

Once you’ve done some digging, putting together an itinerary for your staycation is simple. Planning ahead during this time will relieve a lot of unease many might be feeling – make reservations and bookings, read the rules of each place beforehand, and come prepared! Visit Oakville already has a great resource available to show you how to explore Oakville safely. See more of their insider tips here.

My recent staycation

After enjoying a romantic getaway in Oakville recently, I was craving some time to myself to unwind and escape my home space. Unfortunately, like many others in this time, my home has also become my workspace. Being able to get out of your home, even simply for a 20-minute trip away, is rejuvenating. Let me give you a sneak peek at my most recent staycation in Oakville.

Where to eat

I don’t know about you, but food is one of the most important parts of travel for me! A good meal and good atmosphere can really elevate any travel experience and create lasting memories. I wanted a to-go option for lunch, as the fall weather in Oakville has been gorgeous and a good meal with the views of towering trees peppered with yellow, orange, and red leaves was too good to pass up.

I got a pizza from Pizza Pienza to go and set up a little pizza picnic for myself in Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

For dinner, I had to check out Maro’s in Kerr Village. The fresh, quick Middle Eastern fare was calling my name. Maro’s has a large patio and their indoor dining setup include very few tables with generous amounts of space between each one. Dining indoors at Maro’s felt very safe and it was delicious!

What to do

When I travel, my preference is to do a mix of both active and relaxing activities. I started my day by taking care of a part of myself that got neglected during the lockdown – my nails! Sweetie Nails & Spa in Kerr Village transformed my nails from stubby and basic to elongated and fun!

Don’t let the season or any unspoken rules dictate your nail colour choices – I saw a pastel green I loved and went for it!

After feeling like a new woman, it was time to soak in Oakville outdoors in all its fall glory. The Sixteen Mile Creek Trail is right in the middle of the city, but it feels like its own oasis nestled in between the city streets. The trail system is easy to navigate and with the dusting of the fall leaves along each path and the pockets of sun peeking through the multi-coloured ceiling of leaves, it’s a fall activity you can’t miss.

To finish off my day, I wanted to get cozy and watch a movie. Luckily for me my homestead for the night, The Hilton Garden Inn, was a short drive from the 5 Drive-In! While the drive-in is a quintessential summer activity, it is definitely something that can still be enjoyed in the fall. Make sure to dress warmly, bring some blankets and pillows, and stock up at the Diner on the theatre grounds!

I popped the trunk of my little VW Beetle, made myself a cozy nest and sat back with my snacks for the double feature! Check out what’s playing on their website updated weekly. They are showing a mix of newer feature films and some older classics for variety!

Where to stay

One of my favourite parts of a staycation is having a hotel to go to in between activities to relax and freshen up. Another bonus is that you don’t have to worry about getting home after such a full day. Having a night or two away in an environment other than homes and home offices will have you returning with a sense of that fresh start we could all use right now.

The Hilton Garden Inn was a perfect slice of Oakville vacation paradise for me. Every room and shared space (party rooms, pool and gym) are cleaned thoroughly and each room, once cleaned, is sealed with a Safe Stay sticker ready for you to unveil your clean home away from home. My room felt comfortable, safe, and had one of the most stunning bathrooms! With its marbled walls and floors and huge bathtub, I knew I would spend most of my downtime getting sudsy and wearing my fluffy robe!

The hotel offers guests the option to reserve time at the gym, pool and hot tub for some extra fun. Each space felt incredibly safe with sanitizer stations, social distancing reminders and masks being worn all around. Their party rooms are also available to rent and host events given certain COVID-19 restrictions. Check out their website to learn more and book yourself a room for some well-deserved R&R.

A few things to keep in mind

  1. Plan ahead – All travel, no matter how big or small, requires some forethought. During this time, make sure to do your research, book things ahead of time and pack smart
  2. Wear a mask – Bring your mask wherever you go! Even if you’re simply going exploring outdoors, have your mask in case spaces are more populated or you’re passing groups of people
  3. Be patient – We are all in this together and we are all trying to keep everyone safe. There may be more lines or steps to take to ensure your safety, so be prepared and flexible
  4. Capture these moments – Use a camera, your phone, a Polaroid… There’s beauty all around and you’ll want to be able to look back on these moments