There was a time when Brighton, Ontario was known primarily for it’s apples. Nestled around the edges of the Presqu’ile Bay, you’ll still find the town to be agriculturally focused, but it has blossomed into a tourist destination where even the most stoic pie-hater (if that exists) can easily find a niche to suit. While apples are still a major commodity of the area, it also boasts prime shopping (and crazy antiquing), quaint dining experiences and plenty of options for frozen treats to top off a day at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.
Lola’s Coffee House, a favourite local haunt, is the prime spot to grab a latte and fresh scone (seriously, don’t miss the scones) and plot out your day. You’ll find it mellow and relaxing on rainy mornings, and if you happen to be around in the evenings, you just might catch some local musical talent if you’re lucky. Add some of the handmade crafts available for sale and some take-home coffee and tea, and you could make a day of just hanging out at Lola’s. In fact, there’s no reason not to!
There’s more to see in Brighton though, and if you take a gander across the street, you’ll find your interest piqued immediately. The Blue House is located adjacent to Lola’s in an historic 1903 home. Gifts and decor are abound, and if you venture further, you’ll discover the Upstairs Gallery, home to local artists’ watercolour, acrylic, oil and sculptural pieces.
A few stops further down on Main Street, you’ll find End of the Thread Antique Emporium – what was once an antique shop in it’s own right has taken on a new persona in recent years. End of the Thread now offers quirky and quaint new decor, specialty soaps and foods, plus an in-shop coffee bar. At the very back, once you’ve allowed yourself to be distracted this way and that by covetable retro finds, you’ll arrive at one of Brighton’s best kept secrets – the ice cream bar accessible from the storefront, or from around back. In keeping with the vintage vibes of the shop, there’s a gorgeous pastel patio out back on summer days – make sure you go on a nice day for prime Instagramming…
Coming up on lunchtime, I’d be hard pressed to say that there’s a better place to grab a bite than Dougall’s on the Bay. With a seafood-influenced pub fare menu, there’s something for everyone – especially the craft beer lover, which is always a pleasant surprise in a small town! Just outside of the downtown core, Dougall’s has a great craft beer selection and an even better patio to enjoy it on, as you watch the boats (and swans!) on Presqu’ile Bay.
Back in town, you can round out your day trip with more boutiques – browse around Magnolia Cottage for vintage and shabby-chic French country lovelies, and owner Carole’s well-curated selection of 50’s sundresses and breezy cotton pieces.
And finally, if you’re feeling like you’ve reached your limit of fried fish, beer and ice cream (as if that happens), you can grab a healthy refreshment for the road at Sunflower Health Shop & Services. Maryanne will blend you up a superfood smoothie as you browse her vast selection of natural products (including many Bay of Quinte area artisans and suppliers like Northumberland Soapworks and Pyramid Farm and Ferments).
Take your smoothie across the street to the park for a perfect end to a beautiful day. Exploring downtown is a completely unexpected way to see Brighton – its vibrant core holds its own against the appeal of spending the day at the beach (though that’s not a bad idea either) and there’s plenty to discover each time you return!