Road tripping this summer? Don’t do it on an empty stomach. Thanks to the proliferation of self-guided culinary trails, you can choose from a tantalizing array of routes, serving up everything from xiao long bao in B.C. to seafood chowder in Nova Scotia. Here are a few well worth sampling.
British Columbia: Richmond’s Dumpling Trail, visitrichmondbc.com
The route: This tour of 20 local eateries, from high-end restaurants to casual food court stalls, offers a taste of Richmond through the sampling of a perennial favourite: the dumpling. From juicy Chinese siu mai to hearty Korean mandu, Richmond’s dumpling trail spans numerous regions, countries and cultures. Come hungry.
The detour: Work up an appetite with a brisk hike on the West Dyke Trail. Stretching six kilometres along the Strait of Georgia shore, this multi-use path winds through marshlands and meadows, with picturesque views of the North Shore Mountains and Gulf Islands.
The souvenir: Show off your love of dim sum with Nicola Quan’s adorable dumpling-themed T-shirt, screen-printed in Vancouver. $25, milknbabble.com
Ontario: Oxford County Cheese Trail, tourismoxford.ca
The route: The birthplace of the Ingersoll Mammoth Cheese, a 7,300-pound marvel that wowed visitors at the 1866 New York State Fair, this corner of Southern Ontario still boasts more than its share of award-winning cheeses. Oxford County’s cheesy past and present are the focus of this 24-stop route, which highlights the region’s best producers, as well as chefs, chocolate makers, craft brewers and other local artisans.
The detour: In addition to their goat milk ice cream in flavours like Coffee & Craft Brew and Wine & Dark Chocolate, Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life draws visitors with the promise of close encounters of the cute, four-legged kind. Book in for a baby goat yoga session, or take a stroll (and as many selfies as you can) with their herd of fluffy, friendly alpacas.
The souvenir: Shop Mountainoak Cheese’s Wild Nettle Dutch Gouda, a creamy, semi-soft cheese with the earthy, herbaceous flavour of nettles. $11, 100kmfoods.com
Quebec: Sip and Savour the Townships, easterntownships.org
The route: A fertile, scenic corner of the province, the Eastern Townships are home to a small but passionate community of organic farmers, small-scale winemakers and artisanal boulangers. Experience the best of the region in this two-day tour of the Townships’ postcard-worthy fields and forests.
The detour: Nothing caps off a weekend of eating and imbibing like a detox at the serene lakeside Balnea Spa, where you’ll find saunas, hot tubs and Turkish baths.
The souvenir: Pair Domaine Côtes d’Ardoise Vignoble’s fruity-floral Alsatian riesling with summer evenings and fresh seafood. $24, cotesdardoise.com
New Brunswick: Craft Beer Trail, tourismnewbrunswick.ca
The route: Canada’s only officially bilingual province isn’t just home to the world’s highest tides and longest covered bridge; it’s also home to a bevy of talented craft brewers. Lager lovers and IPA enthusiasts can easily plan their own trail, stopping at any of the breweries dotting cities like Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John (and beyond), with endless opportunities to explore other local attractions along the way.
The detour: Discover 3,000 years of Indigenous history at the Metepenagiag Heritage Park on the banks of the Miramichi River. Take a tour from one of the centre’s Mi’kmaq guides, or book ahead to spend the night in a canvas tipi.
The souvenir: Try Ganong Chicken Bones — a cinnamon hard candy with a dark chocolate centre (and no actual poultry, despite the quirky name). The confection has been a New Brunswick tradition since 1885. $15, ganongchocolatier.shop
Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Chowder Trail, novascotiachowdertrail.com
The route: As steadfastly Nova Scotian as the Bluenose II and Anne Murray, seafood chowder is the pride of many a roadside restaurant across the province. To experience this local delicacy in its many forms, plan your drive around stops at any of the dozens of restaurants on this trail, from Yarmouth to Cape Breton.
The detour: While the charming town of Wolfville on the Minas Basin is well known as the home of Acadia University, it’s also increasingly a destination for grape lovers. Whet your palate with a tasting at Benjamin Bridge, or take in the vineyard view at Lightfoot & Wolfville’s expansive patio.
The souvenir: Pick up a plaited mat, a staple in the wheelhouse of fishing boats throughout Nova Scotia. All For Knot weaves theirs from reclaimed lobster rope. $95, allforknot.ca
The Star understands the restrictions on travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But like you, we dream of travelling again, and we’re publishing this story with future trips in mind.