Want to make a day of it? The Amherst-Vermilion area is full of unique hidden gems to explore.
Just remember, if you plan on any side trips after berry picking, you MUST keep your berries chilled in a cooler or they will be ruined by the time you get home.
Here are some itineraries to try (or feel free to mix and match destinations for your own one-of-a-kind local adventure):
Fabric and Flea Market Treasure Hunt
A fun afternoon browsing for fabrics and hunting for flea market finds
Recommended days: Wednesdays and Saturdays
1. Start at Quilts and Kreations. Once a general store and stagecoach stop, this quilters' heaven has over 6000 bolts of fabric to tempt you, ranging from the latest designs to nostalgic repro feedsack prints. Like potato chips, you won't be able to buy just one.
2. Head on down to Jamie's Flea Market, the thrill is in the hunt! 200 indoor vendors and hundreds more outdoor vendors mean there is something for everyone here, no matter what your taste or budget. Grab lunch or a snack from one of the many vendors and munch while you browse. Open Wednesday's and Saturdays only. When you're all shopped out, drive a short way down the road to...
3. Krieg's Its the Berries. Stop by for a dish or cone of creamy homemade frozen custard (flavors change weekly) to refresh you before heading home with your loot.
A Homegrown Hike
Enjoy an al fresco picnic, then go river walking or take a stroll in the woods, followed by farmstand produce shopping and homemade frozen custard
Recommended day: any day
1. Make a stop at Brownhelm Country Market for cold drinks, picnic grub and freshly made artisan deli sandwiches. They've been serving up deliciousness since 1849! Then head down the road to...
2. Vermilion River Reservation: Nosh on your picnic goodies, play some disc golf, walk along the Vermilion River (you might spot a bald eagle or two) and skip stones, or take a hike on one of their easy trails (very kid friendly). We recommend the Bacon Woods Trail (.85 miles). You might get lucky and hear the barred owls who live there (listen for a "who cooks for you" sound). Take a side jaunt down the Sycamore Trail and snap a picture standing inside the giant sycamore tree with a hollow center.
3. Heading home, stop at Krieg's Farm Market for some homemade frozen custard (flavors change weekly) and other farm fresh goodies.
Carousel rides, a children's garden, bullfrogs, homemade ice cream, and to top it off, SPRINKLES!
recommended day: Wednesdays, Fridays or Saturdays (any day is fine, but the carousel only runs on Wed., Fri. and Sat. Check the park website for times)
1. Begin at Schoepfle Garden. Head on over to the Children's Garden and hop on the carousel. Climb through the flute-a-pillar, splash in the manmade stream, pump water and sprinkle some flowers, then clang some windchimes: this garden is made with kiddos in mind. Don't forget to take a stroll to one (or both) of the ponds (outside of the kids garden) and try to find some grandaddy sized bullfrogs (look, don't catch) and snap some candids in the gorgeous formal gardens too. Then pack up the gang and head back the way you came to...
2. Cool off with a coneful of Miller's Homemade Ice Cream. We're partial to the Salted Caramel, Lemon or Butter Pecan, but with this many scrumptious flavors to choose from, its hard to choose just one to love. If something more substantial is called for they offer burgers, wraps and salads too (kid menu available).
3. Stop off at Rex Gee's Orchard for some fresh picked fruits and veggies. Their cherries are mouthwatering and the peaches are pure nirvana. Say hi to the farm cat Bailey and farm pup Ty if you see them.
4. Wind up the day with a visit to Miller's Apple Hill. Grownups will enjoy perusing the dizzying array (at amazing prices) of bulk food items including spices, nuts, candies, whole grains, flours (gluten free options too) and baking mixes, but the kids will be all about the ENTIRE AISLE of nothing but sprinkles. Yeah, we said it, an entire aisle of sprinkles. Even dinosaur shaped ones.
A side note: it is very worthwhile heading back to this area in the fall when it is apple season. Think hayrides, pumpkin patches, u-pick apples and tons of family fun. We especially love Miller's Apple Hill's Pumpkinland for the kids and Rex Gee's bin sale where you can make your own custom blend of apples from their wide selection of varieties. Pie heaven.
A Foodie Feast
Mouthwatering barbecue, farm market freshness, handmade chocolates, imported olive oils and old-fashioned ice cream parlour treats
Recommended day: any day. Bring a BIG cooler for the goodies you'll bring home.
1. Brake at Your Pit BBQ for lunch. Brisket and pulled pork and ribs, oh my! Slow smoked the way it is supposed to be, this is barbecue to dream of, topped with your choice of 9 different sauces. Order a sampler platter to try a taste of everything or pick a favorite and enjoy a hearty portion of goodness. Don't forget to try the sweet potato hash. And the bread pudding (blueberry!). And the hush puppies. Oh, heck, just try it all. It's amazing.
2. Stop off at the Vermilion Farm Market and browse, browse, browse the oodles of imported specialties, freshly made sausages, local wines, Amish non-GMO popcorn varieties and too much more to list here. Bring home some of the Irish Potato Sausage and serve it up skillet-fried with potatoes and topped with cheese for a breakfast to die for.
3. Breeze into Brummer's Homemade Chocolates. They've been handcrafting their confections using the same recipes for over 100 years, and when you bite into one, you'll know why. Just don't blame us when you find yourself driving back here often for another chocolate "fix."
4. Walk around the corner to The Olive Scene, a "tasting emporium of the world's finest olive oils and balsamic vinegars." They aren't kidding. You'll be hard pressed (punny, huh?) to choose which one to buy with all this fabulousness to choose from, and the friendly service and tasting opportunities make this a fun destination.
5. Put a cherry on the top of your day with a treat from Big Ed's Main Street Soda Grill. Order up an old fashioned egg cream, phosphate or float (or if you have room, dig into a genuine, real McCoy, properly-made hand dipped banana split) and soak in the retro atmosphere.
A Day at the Lake
Get ready for a day of all-American, classic lakeside fun. Eat a diner lunch, hit the water in a kayak, canoe, or paddle boat (or take a scenic harbor cruise), and play some mini golf.
Optional add-on: an evening of craft beers, cocktails, and fantastic bar food (and maybe live music, if you're lucky)
recommended day: Saturday
1. Grab some grub. The Nest is a local hangout serving up clean-your-plate-good lunch fare and breakfast (we recommend the Fisherman's Platter) until closing (2:30 PM). Then head to...
2. West River Paddle Sports and rent a kayak, canoe or paddle boat. They'll provide you with all the necessary instruction and safety gear and set you off on the Vermilion Water Trail. Go for an hour or opt for a longer adventure, either way, it's a blast. Closed weekdays.
3. If paddling isn't your game, then opt for more leasurely water fun aboard the Mystic Belle, a paddle boat that explores Vermilion Harbor. The 50 minute tour will take you past marinas, docks, and working boatyards, and you'll glean some interesting historical tidbits about the "village of lake captains" too. Tours leave at 2 and 4PM, with an additional sunset cruise on Fridays and Saturdays.
3. All that paddling is hot work on a summer day, so head to Romp's Dairy Dock for a cool treat with old-school ice cream stand style. Then walk next door to Romp's Putter Port for a game of mini golf. Winner buys the next round of ice cream!
4. No kiddos in tow? Head into town and try 70s themed Woodstock for a groovy atmosphere, mouthwatering thin crust pizza (or a loaded sub) and craft beer, stop by Rudy's Bar and Grill for a to-die-for burger and shoot some pool, or finish off the day with a stop at Huggy's Social House. It has a feel good, boating town vibe that is tons of fun, and they make killer coffee and cocktails. They also stock every kind of impossible to find candy you remember from your childhood. If they still make it, Huggy's sells it.
A Romantic Rendezvous
A romantic day of wine tasting, sidewalk browsing, French dining and a beach sunset.
1. Start off at Paper Moon Vineyards for some wine tasting (continental style lunch fare including gluten free options also available) as you take in the beautiful view of a working winery. Then...
2. Head into town and hit the shops. Maybe you'll find an antique treasure or a piece of unique artwork to feather your nest. Maybe you'll have fun feeding each other handmade chocolates. Or maybe you'll just enjoy strolling the small town sidewalks and holding hands.
3. Book a table for two at Chez Francois. Do this WELL IN ADVANCE because the restaurant has limited seating and is in high demand. Relax in the romantic ambiance of lakeside dining and savor world class French cuisine made with exquisite skill, meticulous attention to detail, and only the finest, freshest ingredients (they use our berries!).
A note: Chez Francois has a dress code (jackets for men, no flip flops, etc) so prep accordingly. No sports jackets required for dining on the patio.
4. End your evening with a Lake Erie sunset at Main Street Beach, a short stroll from Chez Francois.
Small Town Shopping and Sweets
Enjoy small town Main Street shopping and a mom and pop diner lunch plus a trip to America's best bakery
(and maybe some chocolates too)
2. Have a mom and pop lunch. Amherst is loaded with local restaurants, so ditch the chains for some small town flavor. Try Your Deli (and bring home a tub of their delicious takeout chicken paprikash for an easy dinner that night), Sal and Al's (American and Syrian food), The Quarry Cafe or Blue Sky Restaurant for classic Americana goodness. Don't order dessert, though, because your next stop is...
3. Kiedrowski's Bakery, voted the best bakery in America in 2011. One bite of one of their rich, buttery, creamy, flaky, drizzled-with-just-the-right-amount-of-sugary-glaze SnoogleŽ pastries and you will totally understand why. Old world style European pastries are their specialty, and anything you choose will make you wish you had bought more.
4. If that isn't enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, plan one final stop and head down the road to Suzin L. Chocolatier. Their uniquely creamy and sweet gourmet chocolate recipe has won fans all over the US. Our favorite picks? The sponge candy (hands down winner, the stuff should come with warning labels it is so good) and sea salt caramel tortoises.
Did you know? ˝ cup blueberries can provide the same amount of antioxidants as 5 servings of other
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