2017 Year in Review

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Happy New Year! I can’t believe we’re officially into 2018 – the last bit of 2017 seemed to fly by, and we’re already halfway through January. I’m sorry I’ve been missing from the blog for the past little bit… balancing my full time job, blogging, Instagram and the holidays got a bit overwhelming for me in December. I decided to take some time off to really focus on spending time with family and friends, as well as to unplug for a bit to get back into a healthy and focused mind-set for the new year. With that in mind, I thought reflecting back on all the accomplishments, challenges, and fun I had in 2017 would be a perfect place to jump back in!

If I was to describe last year in one word, I would have to admit that “hectic” is the first thing that comes to mind. I spent a lot of time learning how to juggle my work (professional and personal) with my life – and while I’ve definitely started to get the hang of it, there’s still lots of room for improvement. 2018 will be all about balance for me: finding ways to be more motivated, efficient, and to make time to stand back and take care of myself when things start to get overwhelming. Although 2017 was a struggle at times, I also had some amazing experiences and made memories I’ll hold onto for years to come.

Here’s a quick recap of what I got up to in 2017:

I kicked work into overdrive

Apart from my full time job (I work in Digital Marketing for a print company in Toronto), I really focused on growing my Instagram last year! Thanks to the support of my awesome followers, I was lucky enough to be given many more opportunities in 2017 to work with some of my favourite brands, create content, and attend events I used to dream of being invited to. I would consider myself to be a quiet, more introverted person, so this really helped to bring me outside my comfort zone, to meet new people, and to even make a few new friends.

My best friend sent me to Coachella (!)

Coachella

As I’m sure many of you know, Lauren (aka LaurDIY) is someone I hold near and dear to my heart, and since going long distance with our friendship we haven’t been able to see each other as often. She surprised me in April by offering to bring me along with her to Coachella, and I nearly died of excitement. We took amazing Instas, celebrity spotted, tanned while eating avo toast by the pool, and spent some much needed quality time together. This was such a special and once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll never forget, and will always be grateful for.

Celebrated my champagne birthday

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I turned 24 on August 24th last year, something that people refer to as your “champagne” birthday. I’m hoping this means 2018 will be my year (fingers crossed!), and I had a great time celebrating with my family and my closest friends. I’m reaching the age where getting older is starting to scare me more than excite me, but I know I still have a few years to figure out what I’m doing. Your 20’s are supposed to be some of the best years of your life, right? 

My boyfriend moved home

As some of you might know, my boyfriend and I were long distance for two years while he attended school in London, UK, after having been together since 2011. This was a huge change for us and definitely a challenge at times, but we found a way to make it work. I was SO happy to have him finally move home to Toronto in September, and have been treasuring every bit of face time we’ve had since then. Skype dates are great and all, but having him around to give me hugs IRL has been incomparable.

I travelled more

Travel

2017 was the year for quick getaways! I *finally* was able to take a day trip to Tobermory, Ontario in the summertime (a place I’ve been dying to visit for years), and also went to visit my boyfriend while he was away for work in the summer in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale wasn’t a place that had ever been on my radar, but I actually loved it, even in the 40-degree heat! In the fall, my bf and I also spent a weekend in Montreal, which I think will be our new annual tradition.

Ended the year off right in Cuba

Cuba

If I could pick a way to spend the last week of every year, I would spend it on a beach, in a tropical location, with unlimited food and drinks! This is exactly how I ended 2017, with a trip to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. This was only my second all-inclusive vacation, and I had never travelled to Cuba before. The weather was amazing, the beach was stunning, and we didn’t end up having wifi, which was a blessing in disguise. Stay tuned for a full recap of the trip soon on the blog!

As for my goals for 2018, my blog and my Instagram are a huge source of joy and creativity in my life right now, and I would love to see that part of my life continue to grow this year. Part of that includes engaging more with all of you, showing more of my personality online, and getting to know you better. Whether that’s through comments and messages, Insta stories, or through video – I’m determined to find more ways to connect in an engaging and meaningful way.

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L’Oreal Paris EverPure Moisture System Review

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I’ve always struggled with dryness and heat damage when it comes to my hair. After I hit my awkward preteen years, my hair decided to rebel against the typical super- fine, stick-straight texture of most asian hair, instead turning coarse, frizzy and developing a natural wave. I absolutely hated that I couldn’t keep it under control, and started flat-ironing my hair at the tender age of 13.

Through the years I stayed dedicated to heat styling my hair each and every morning before school, whether I was after a pin-straight look, or perfecting my flat-iron curls. Fast forward to my first year of university, when I jumped on the ombre trend, which lead to even more hair damage.

I’ve still maintained the lighter colour on the ends of my hair to this day, but having since learned more about the different haircare options out there, I’m now always on the search for products that will help me reverse and protect my hair against dryness and damage. In recent years, all of the hairdressers I’ve visited have recommended I search for “sulfate-free” products.

That’s why I was so excited when I had the opportunity to team up with L’Oréal Paris to try out their EverPure Moisture System. The L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture line is specially formulated to be gentle on colour-treated hair, with no harsh sulfates, salts or surfactants that can strip, dull and damage hair. These kind of products are a gentler solution that can help with frizzy, coarse, and damaged hair (like my own), and will also help to preserve colour longer, as they don’t strip hair as aggressively as products that do contain sulfates. I’ve incorporated the products into my haircare routine recently and wanted to share my review of the system, as well as my results!

L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner

The EverPure Moisture system features rosemary oil, which has been long regarded as a natural remedy that can provide multiple benefits for your hair, including combatting dryness. I absolutely love the smell of both the shampoo and conditioner, which have more of a fresh, herbal scent than the typical floral/fruity fragrance of other haircare products I’ve tried.

The EverPure Moisture Shampoo gently cleanses dry hair to replenish moisture, adding shine and leaving hair feeling soft. Another role that sulfates play in shampoo is providing that rich, foamy lather that many people love. I’ve never found a sulfate-free shampoo that has properly lathered, until using this product. This made a huge difference in my experience and satisfaction with the shampoo, as it still gave me that super-clean feeling even though it wasn’t stripping my hair.

The conditioner from the EverPure Moisture line has a thick, creamy consistency. I usually only apply conditioner from the middle to the ends of my hair, as this is where I have the most dryness and damage. After leaving the product on for 2-3 minutes after using the shampoo, it left my hair feeling smoother and more manageable. Conditioning is one of my favourite parts of my haircare routine, because I feel like it’s the step that really infuses that soft, touchable feel.

L’Oréal Paris EverPure 10-in-one Elixir

I was extra excited to try out this product as I love to experiment with leave-in treatments – they’re just so easy! The product contains Indian Lilac, which is a great ingredient for hair to combat damage. The ten benefits listed for the elixir are:

  1. Nourish
  2. Hydrate
  3. Sooth
  4. Repair
  5. Density
  6. Smooth
  7. Texture
  8. Strength
  9. Softness
  10. Shine

Following the instructions, I applied the elixir on towel dried hair in sections to ensure it was evenly distributed, and then styled as usual. The product had a herbal scent that complemented the shampoo and conditioner nicely, and I definitely found it soothing! After styling, I noticed improvement in both the texture and appearance of my hair. I liked that the product didn’t leave my strands feeling heavy or sticky like other leave-in treatments I’ve tried.

Overall, I was impressed with the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture System and would recommend these products to anyone suffering from dry, damaged hair like mine. The idea behind the line is “caring for your hair without compromise (with no harsh sulfates, salts or parabens – plus it’s 100% vegan!), which is a concept I can definitely get behind. I’m always on the lookout for products that will help erase the years of heat and colour damage from my hair, and these will definitely play a permanent role in my collection! Learn more about the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture System here: http://bit.ly/2k9d7SW

A Weekend in Montreal: Loews Hotel Vogue Review

Loews Hotel Vogue Review

Making an annual fall trip to Montreal has become somewhat of a tradition for my boyfriend and I that I hope we’ll be able to continue for years to come! Only a five and half hour drive from Toronto, Montreal makes for the perfect weekend getaway, with historic charm and a thriving arts and food scene that we love to explore. I feel like we never have enough time to fully see everything we want to, which just means we have an excuse to return.

As we didn’t have much time in the city, we wanted to stay somewhere as centrally located as possible – close to everything we’d want to see, and with a good selection of restaurants and sites near by. We landed on the Loews Hotel Vogue, a chic luxury hotel situated in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. After a long drive on Friday evening we were relieved to arrive at the hotel, which provided us with complimentary valet parking (regularly $35/night). We were checked in by the friendly front desk staff and notified to our delight that our room had been upgraded to a Luxury King Suite! The hotel also provided luggage service to help us bring our bags to our room, which was a nice touch, especially after the long journey.

The Room

I was greeted with the sweetest gift when we got to our room from the Loews Hotel Vogue staff – a cosmetics bag, nail polish, and a bottle of their signature scent (that I’m absolutely obsessed with!), which they also use to make the lobby smell divine. The suite was more than enough room for our party of two, with a king sized bed, multiple desk spaces, a living area, two closet/vanity areas, and the best part, two full-sized washrooms with whirlpool tubs! I should also mention there were a total of four TVs in the room, with two of them located facing the tubs in the bathrooms – a dream come true for a Food Network fiend like myself.

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For me, the most important part of a hotel room is the bed – as I’m likely spending the day out and about exploring the city, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. I’m not over-exaggerating when I say the bed at the Loews Hotel Vogue was one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in. The pillows and mattress were marshmallowy soft, and the sheets always seemed to stay cool. The curtains also did an amazing job of blocking out the light in the mornings, when we wanted to catch an extra hour or two of sleep.

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Loews Hotel Vogue Luxury King Suite 11

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Other aspects of the room that I loved were the complimentary robes, the relaxing whirlpool bathtub, and the little vanity area that was perfect for doing my hair and makeup in the morning. I also adored the vintage Vogue Magazine covers hung as artwork above the bed, paying homage to the hotel’s name. During our first night, I also received a text message from a member of the staff making sure that everything was perfect with the room – something I’ve never experienced at another hotel and really showed an extra level of care.

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Loews Hotel Vogue Luxury King Suite 10

The Hotel

The Loews Hotel Vogue is elegant and modern, with subtle art deco touches. The lobby is decorated with beautiful hanging chandeliers, soft gold touches, and plush velvet couches, making for a truly luxurious experience. Amenities include a 24 hour fitness centre, knowledgeable concierge, as well as a complimentary coffee bar in the hotel lobby, as well as complimentary coffee and tea in the hotel rooms.

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Loews Hotel Vogue Lobby

La Société (which coincidentally has a Toronto based location that we’ve visited before) is the hotel’s restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as 24 hour room service. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to try the food, but we would have loved to order breakfast to the room if we had a few more days in the city.

We actually really loved the valet parking, as it made it super easy to jump in the car and go when we wanted to drive to other parts of the city. The parking came with complete in and out privileges, and only required we call ahead by 5-10 minutes when we wanted to use the car. Checkout was quick and painless as well, with options to check out via the phone or through the TV available.

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Location

The hotel was located next to both high-end (Tiffany’s, Holt Renfrew, Anthropologie) and affordable (Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville) stores, which was perfect for us as we love to shop! If you’re an art lover, the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal is only a five minute walk away, which features some awesome sculptures outside. There are also tons of restaurants close by – we dined at LOV located just up the street on Sunday morning for a healthier brunch and loved it. The only thing I wish there had been more of nearby were little cafes and bakeries. We only had one option to grab croissants and macarons from, which are a necessity for us, lol!

In terms of its location in relation to the rest of the city, we really couldn’t have asked for a better, more central hotel. It was a short 10-15 minute drive to other popular areas including Old Montreal as well as Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. Overall, I would definitely recommend the Loews Hotel Vogue the next time you’re planning a trip to Montreal. The top-notch service, attention to detail, and heavenly beds definitely get a winning grade in my books.

 

Bedroom Hack: DIY Throw Pillow

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My bedroom is one of the most important places in my life – it’s where I do work comfortably, where I hang out and binge-watch, and most importantly, where I get some rest at the end of the night. Personalizing it with my favourite cozy and cute touches makes it feel like home, and my own special space.

I’ve been having so much fun decorating my bedroom over the past few months since receiving my Bloom by Sleep Country mattress, but I’ve noticed that cute decor doesn’t come cheap. A throw pillow can range anywhere from $30-$80 depending on the store. One of my favourite bedroom hacks is DIY-ing decor using inexpensive materials you can find at your local craft store. This also allows you to personalize and customize your items (like the pillow I made) to match your exact preferences, style and aesthetic.

For this DIY I used transfer paper to iron on one of my favourite sayings, “the snuggle is real”, and also added a playful pompon trim around the edge to spice things up. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions to make your own!

What you’ll need:

DIY Pillow Materials

  • A cotton or cotton-polyester blend pillowcase (and pillow to stuff it with)
  • Transfer sheets that work with your chosen material
  • Decorative trim
  • Quick dry tacky glue (or another adhesion method, such as hot glue or a needle and thread)

You’ll also need access to a computer and inkjet printer, as well as an iron to apply the transfer.

 Step 1:

Look for inspiration for your design online! Pinterest is a great place to start, and there are a number of websites that offer free downloadable fonts and images. My favourite website to find fonts is dafont.com, and my favourite site for downloadable vectors is freepik.com.

Once you have a design in mind, you can either use something you find straight from the internet, or create your own using programs like Microsoft Word, or design software like Adobe Creative Suite. I chose to use a quote and simple eyelash illustration I created using my design software, but you could also print out your Instagram photos or pics of your friends and family as a fun, personal alternative.

Step 2:

Follow the instructions on your transfer paper to print out your design onto the sheets. You’ll be required to flip the image in your design program prior to printing, so it’s a good idea to do a test print on regular paper before using the transfer sheets.

TIP: Since you’ll be required to print on a specific side of the transfer sheet (the unmarked side), it’ll be important to determine which way your paper feeds into your printer so that you can load your transfer paper correctly. I marked my test sheet with an X on one side before it printed so that I could determine how the paper fed into the printer. After printing, my transfer sheets required 30 minutes to fully dry before they could be applied.

Step 3:

DIY Pillow Step 3

While you’re waiting for the transfers to dry, you can apply the decorative trim to your pillow. Iron out any wrinkles in the pillowcase and work on a smooth, hard surface. I used quick dry tacky glue to apply my trim, as I’m not planning to wash the case (it’s more a decorative prop), but use the adhesion method that works best for you.

 Step 4:

DIY Pillow Step 4

Once dry, cut out your transfers and arrange them on your pillowcase to get an idea of where you’d like them to be applied.

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Follow the instructions given on the package (mine instructed me to iron the item on a pillowcase on top of a smooth, hard surface, and to remove any water from the iron) and apply the transfers. Make sure to distribute the heat evenly, especially towards the edges and to make sure each section of the design receives the necessary amount of time under the heat to adhere.

Note: This was my first time using any sort of transfer paper, and I didn’t realize that even the part of the paper without ink will somewhat transfer onto the fabric (it leaves a subtle, clear coating). Knowing this, I would have cut the shapes of the words and eyelashes out more accurately to remove some of the extra space.

Step 5:

Once all elements of your pillowcase are dry, slip in your pillow and enjoy! I really loved the finished product and think it adds an adorable touch to my bedroom décor.

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DIY Pillow 3

Let me know in the comments below if you’re planning to try out this DIY for yourself! I’d love to see what you create 🙂

 

Terre Bleu Lavender Farm

Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Header

Back in the summer, my sister and I drove out to Terre Bleu Lavender Farm in Campbellville, Ontario after I had noticed a steady stream of stunning photos at the location popping up on my Instagram feed. A quick drive from Toronto, it was the perfect summer day trip and we had a lovely time exploring the fields and snapping photos. We arrived on the earlier side to avoid the crowds and were lucky to catch the farm on an unusually busy day for a Saturday.

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Terre Bleu Baby Lavender

There’s a $15 fee to enter the farm during peak season (June – August), which gives you access to a free guided tour and to the grounds. Upon entering, you’re greeted with a gift shop that sells lavender-infused gifts, including the baby lavender plants above. Other products on display included lavender oils, bath products, macarons, and even cheese! Definitely a cute spot to pick up some unique gifts for the lavender-lover in your life.

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Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Outfit 1

Terre Bleu Lavender Portrait 1

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One thing I’ll mention which I was not aware of prior to visiting – bees love lavender. Within the first 15 minutes of walking through the fields, I ended up getting stung in the backside (for the first time ever!) while trying to get a photo sitting in the grass. Luckily, one of the uses of lavender oil is treating bee stings, and the shop was more than happy to lend me some to treat my ouchie. The pain subsided within a day, but I’m definitely more wary of being stung after the experience!

Outfit details: Dress and western belt – Forever 21 / Espadrilles – Winners

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Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Outfit 3

All in all, the experience was definitely worth it, bee stings and all. The farm was so breathtakingly beautiful, and I loved the luscious purple colour and fragrance of the fields. I seriously felt like I was on location shooting the cover of my breakout country album lol! In addition to the main field near the entrance, visitors could also follow a trail through a forest to an additional field, featuring the famous yellow door you might recognize from Insta.

Terre Bleu Lavender Farm Instagram

To end the day, I sampled one of the farm’s lavender ice cream cones. Not only was it one of the prettiest cones I’ve had, it was surprisingly yummy – not overly floral like you’d might expect. I’d definitely recommend making the trip to Terre Bleu next year, and I hope to return as well!

DIY Floral Wall Hanging with Pompoms

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I’m a huge fan of decorating on a budget, and love to take on a DIY project in my spare time! If you’ve been following along since I received my Bloom mattress from Sleep Country, you know I’ve been playing around with my bedroom decor, especially with the bed as the new focal point of the room. After browsing Pinterest for ideas, I stumbled upon this photo of a gorgeous floral wall hanging. I absolutely loved the simplistic and whimsical look of it, like the flowers are magically suspended in mid-air.

I also noticed a few designs featuring pompoms and wanted to combine the two ideas. I’ve always enjoyed incorporating colours into my space, and thought this would be a fun way to bring life to the room, especially through the cooler months. This DIY took only a couple hours to do and I really love the end result! You could also substitute the fake flowers with real ones that have been dried if you’re after a more realistic look.

Check out the steps below to make your own and for photos of the finished piece.

What you’ll need:

Wall Hanging Materials

  • A large twig or branch (I found one in my backyard quite easily, but you could substitute a wooden dowel from the craft store if you have di culty finding one)
  • Fake flowers and leaves in a variety of sizes and types – I picked up five bouquets from my local dollar store for $1.50 – $3.00 a bunch.
  • Measuring tape
  • Clear fishing line or illusion cord for jewellery making
  • A needle
  • A pair of scissors

Instructions:

1. Remove the flowers from the plastic stems. Most fake flowers will pop o of the stem easily. Cut leaves down to size as necessary – I cut my faux eucalyptus leaves into 4” segments.

Wall Hanging Step 1

2. Roughly lay out your flowers in the formation you’d like them to appear on your wall hanging. This step helps with planning and to envision what you’d like the end result to look like – I didn’t end up using the faux roses as I felt the shape was too overpowering.

Wall Hanging Step 2

3. Measure out and cut pieces of fishing line to the desired length of your finished wall hanging, leaving some extra for tying. I wanted the longest string to hit at about 35”, so I cut 45” inch strings to leave extra space for securing the line to the branch

4. Take one of the pieces of fishing line and thread it with the needle. Use the needle to sew through one of the lines of flowers you’ve laid out, starting by poking up through the back of the petals, down through the front of the petals, and repeating as necessary. Use this method to thread the flowers onto the fishing line until complete. Repeat with all of your lines of flowers.

5. Create the pompoms for your wall hanging (steps below).

6. Thread your pompoms onto the fishing line using a needle.

7. Arrange the lines of flowers and pompoms as desired along the branch. Double knot the fishing line at the top of each to secure it to the branch.

8. To hang the finished piece on a wall, tie a thicker piece of string to each end of the branch.

Easy DIY Pompoms:

What you’ll need:

DIY Pompom Materials.jpg

  • A pair of scissors
  • A fork (small or large, depending on the size of pompoms you wish to achieve) • Yarn in the colour of your choice

Instructions:

DIY Pompom

1. Wrap the yarn around the fork approximately 40-60 times and trim. The more times you wrap the yarn, the flu er and more dense the pompom will be. I used both a large and small fork to create two different sizes of pompoms.

2. Cut a small piece of yarn and poke one end through the centre of the fork at the hole near the base of where you’ve wrapped it. Tie a tight knot around the wrapped yarn.

3. Slide the yarn of the fork and cut all of the loops, leaving you with a rough pompom shape.

4. Using a pair of scissors, trim the pompom into a neat sphere.

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Love this DIY? Let me know if you try it out in the comments below!

6 Hours in Tobermory, Ontario

Tobermory

Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I finally made the trip to Tobermory – a beautiful town along the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. We had been planning to make the visit for the past few summers, but had never been able to make the trip. This year, we finally set aside some time to spend a weekend there towards the end of June, and booked a campsite for a night at Bruce Peninsula National Park.

Tobermory is about a four hour drive from Toronto, and we hit the road around 9:00 am to get an early-ish start to our adventure. The forecast called for rain in the morning into the early afternoon, as well as cooler temperatures – so my bf was understandably wary of the drive. We actually encountered some hail along the way, so we were glad when the weather had cleared for the most part when we arrived.

After checking into our campsite, our first stop was a visit to downtown Tobermory to grab some lunch. The downtown area is comprised of basically one main street with a few restaurants and cafes, some little shops and a grocery store. We explored our options and decided on fish and chips for lunch at a restaurant called “The Fish & Chip Place.”

Tobermory-Fish-and-Chips

PSA: Do not, I repeat, do not get the fish tacos from this restaurant, though it claims to be “Home of the Tobermory Fish Taco”. I will spare your eyeballs from the photo evidence, but trust me when I say that these were the worst fish tacos we’ve ever eaten. The fish and chips (above) were tasty enough, and used local white fish from the area, but we learned after the fact that apparently the place to go is Shipwreck Lee’s Pirate Bistro – a sketchy looking all-you-can-eat place that we were too hesitant to try.

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After lunch, we headed back to the National Park to make the hike to The Grotto, Tobermory’s claim to fame. Luckily, as this year is Canada’s 150th, we had a Parks Canada Discovery Pass (which you can pick up at your local MEC or sign up for online), which entitled us to free parking.

The Grotto is a short and easy 30 minute hike from the parking lot, leading you to a beautiful shoreline area that you can explore. When we first made it to The Grotto, it was still quite cloudy, but shortly after the skies cleared making for a beautiful sunny day.

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What makes Tobermory so breathtaking is the crystal clear, turquoise blue waters of Lake Huron. I’ve never seen water this colour in Ontario, and was completely blown away! We were hoping to be able to go for a dip, but the water was absolutely frigid and just too cold to swim in. I think the water here is on the cooler side anyway, but would have been more tolerable on a hotter day than we visited. Only a few brave souls dared to take the plunge – and looked like they immediately regretted the decision!The Grotto

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The famous Grotto is actually an awesome wave-carved cave in Georgian Bay that visitors can explore. We had so much fun climbing the rocks and checking out the area!

Unfortunately once the evening hit, the temperatures dropped so low that we no longer wanted to camp out. After having some s’mores at the campsite, we packed up our things and hit the road to return home. I’d definitely like to return to Tobermory in the future, hopefully for a longer stretch of time!

Notes for next time:

  • Take a trip to Flowerpot Island: We didn’t have time to check out this site, but a friend of mine highly recommended taking the glass-bottom boat tour to this little island from downtown Tobermory. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful blue waters, with fewer crowds.
  • Visit later in the summer: A visit later in the summer would hopefully mean some warmer weather (no hail!) and being able to actually swim in the water.

Have you made the trip to Tobermory? Let me know in the comments below what your favourite things to see and do there are!