By James GraingerSpecial to The Star – read the full article here.
The Elora Gorge, a two-kilometre strip of natural beauty along the Grand River, is one of those landscapes that exhausts superlatives. Rapids speckle the shallow black water and trees seem to float atop the towering limestone cliffs like bright green balloons.
Not to be outdone by Nature, the village of Elora, with its stunning clifftop views and 19th–century architecture, makes its own claim on the eyes.
The hub of that thriving village is the gorgeous (forgive the pun) Elora Mill Hotel and Spa, a luxury getaway spot that opened in 2019 in the lovingly restored and renovated 175-year-old mill.
Even Jocelyn Maurice, The Mill’s managing partner, can’t say enough about the scenic views that surround the hotels. “You can sit the second-floor café and look out over the gorge or have a manicure-pedicure while overlooking the gorge,” she explains. “Everyone gets prime view.”
The rooftop hot tub and pool also overlook the gorge — as do, of course, the The Mill’s two restaurants, which are overseen by chef Jonathan Gushue, formerly of Fogo Island Inn, who choreographs a constantly evolving menu sourced from local ingredients and artisanal food producers.
But, as Maurice stresses, the panoramas are just an entry point to the full Elora experience.
“You’re not just coming to the hotel to lie back and relax,” she says. “You need to fully experience the surrounding nature.”
Guests are welcome to use the on-site bicycles (or snowshoes in the winter) to tour the 100-acre conservation area and nearby trails, while local outfitters provide all you need for tubing, paddleboarding, and canoeing adventures on the Grand River — you can even zip-line through the abundant foliage.
Here, Maurice shares a few of the village’s other can’t-miss spots.
Elora Brewing Company
107 Geddes Street
Launched in a humble garage by four beer enthusiasts, the Elora Brewing Company now comprises a craft brewery, retail store, and gastro pub, all housed in a former hardware store. The brewery boasts three regular offerings — two IPAs and a crisp lager — and an intriguing cast of seasonal rotations, including their popular Lodestar sour ales.
Elora Distilling Company
102 Metcalfe Street, Unit 4
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If spirits are more to your taste, the Elora Distilling Company specializes in handcrafted gins, vodkas, and liqueurs that blend local ingredients wherever possible. The distillery and store are housed in a heritage building that exceeds even Elora’s exacting architectural standards, and you can sign up for a cocktail class to up your mixology game.
Blown Away Glass Studio
6506 Wellington Road 7
Tim and Katherine McManus are the award-winning creative team behind the stunning glass creations on display at Blown Away Glass Studio. You can watch impressive glass-blowing demonstrations or sign up for classes in which you might make your own whiskey glass, paper weight, or ornament.
The Wild Tart
61 Metcalfe Street
The British afternoon high tea is a carb and sugar lover’s dream: finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries, and fruit, all served on towered china plates alongside pints of black tea. The Wild Tart offers a scrumptious take on that tradition in its stunning patio garden, with dainties created by Michelin-starred-resto alumnipastry chef Marc Collyer. If you don’t have time for the full tea experience, you can still purchase Collyer’s creations in the pastry shop.