Instead of hopping on a flight I’ve been sticking more and more to local attractions and getaways in Ontario. I have a long ‘must visit’ list of places I’ve had my eye on in Canada and St. Jacob’s, Ontario is definitely near the top. I’ve seen how charming it looks from posts of friends visiting the farmers market or picking up some antiques and being only about an hour and a half away from Toronto, it seemed like the perfect weekend getaway.
I was so excited to be able to partner up with Staybridge Suites Waterloo who offered us a complimentary stay in the heart of St Jacob’s Market District. First off, let me say what a perfect location the hotel is in to fully enjoy St Jacob’s for the weekend as its only steps away from the famous St Jacob’s Farmers Market and Outlet Malls. Staybridge Suites is also a short 5 minute drive away to St. Jacob’s Village area.
Travel and stays have been a little different during the pandemic and Staybridge has made us feel safe and comfortable by using disinfectants to deep clean rooms and common area’s and by offering Grab & Go breakfast boxes to promote social distancing amongst guests instead of their usual breakfast buffet. Check in was a breeze and there was a safety barrier installed at the front desk to promote social distancing between guests and staff.
Their rooms are clean and spacious and even offered a kitchen, which is perfect - we were able to store our purchases from the market in the fridge to keep them fresh throughout our stay.
The beds were comfy and the bathroom was spacious with more than enough room to comfortably store my makeup, hair straighteners etc... One of my biggest pet peeves is a bathroom without a lot of storage space, especially when you're sharing the room with someone else.
Some other fun perks of staying at the Staybridge is their large ground floor pool with splash pad for the kids, and free onsite laundry machine access that really help out guests that are staying long term! It really reminded me of an upscale apartment building.
The friendly and helpful staff were able to give us some great recommendations on what to do in the area, and I'll be listing some of my favourites.
St. Jacob's Farmers Market
This was our very first visit to the market and WOW, did it blow us away. It's so much bigger than I thought it would be (it's actually Canada's largest farmer's and flea market!) and we were kept busy for hours browsing each stall and picking up some tasty snacks. Everyone told us that we needed to pick up a box of the market's well-known apple fritters from Fritter Co. We only realized how popular they really were when the line-up for their stall snaked all the way outside the market doors! It was definitely worth the wait, and it was cool to see the apples being peeled, and cored and fried right in front of you. Each box served is super fresh and still warm by the time you take your first bite.
If you wanted to stop here for a lunch break, they have a selection of ready-made meals for you to enjoy on distanced picnic tables by Peddler's Village.
We also picked up the most amazing summer sausage from the Mennonites local farm's, fresh lemonade, cheese bread, peppers and torta's! We had to stop ourselves and save room for our dinner reservations later that evening, but it's so easy to get caught up in all the delicious items the market has to offer!
The market is currently open Thursday and Saturday year-round from 7:00am to 3:30pm. Please note that face masks are currently mandatory for any indoor parts of the market.
Anna Mae's Bakery and Restaurant
Staybridge recommended this amazing restaurant to us and we are so glad they did, as it ended up being one of our very favourite stops! Anna Mae's is a Mennonite restaurant in the heart of Amish country. It was about a 25-minute drive from the hotel, but it goes by quick with all the beautiful scenery and spotting the horse drawn buggies in the local community. The eatery was featured on 'You Gotta Eat Here!' and the spotlight was on their famous 'broasted' chicken. What's that!? Their fresh marinated chicken gets pressure fried so that it gets a crispy coating on the outside but still says tender and juicy on the inside. No doubt about it, we were trying the broasted chicken!
The portions here are unreal (we walked away with some leftovers for a midnight snack back at the hotel) and our chicken was served with our choice of sides (mashed potatoes and carrots, please!) and some of the best bread rolls we've ever tasted! Be sure to save room for dessert because they're well known for their delicious selections of pies and cakes. I indulged in a slice of fresh peach pie (that I'll be dreaming about for weeks!) and my husband devoured his banana cream pie. It was super filling and very affordable. Our whole meal came to right under $40 for the both of us.
Hot tip: Be sure to make reservations, as there was a lineup outside the door! Also, be sure to visit their bakery on the way out, we took home some oatmeal cookies!
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
This butterfly conservatory is an indoor oasis! Walk under waterfalls, watch colourful birds fly from tree to tree or run across your path, have a butterfly friend land on your shoulder! I felt like I was in a whole other world. Staff were knowledgeable and friendly and were happy to educate us on a wall of butterflies emerging from their chrysalis (50 had already 'hatched' that day and were handing upside down from their cocoons drying off). The gardens were so well kept and little snacks were left out for the butterflies to nibble on so you can see them up close.
There are also two exhibit rooms filled with creepy crawlies (think cockroaches, scorpions and giant spiders!) for you to explore and a collection of butterflies from around the world of every colour and type.
Waterloo & Block 3 Brewing
I am always excited to visit a brewery and see what they have in store.
Block 3 Brewing was located less than 10-minute drive from the Staybridge Suites. There were many tables spaced far apart and patio seating to help with social distancing.
We got a flight each to try and taste as much of the different types of beers on tap as we could. My favourite being 'Black is Beautiful' (limited edition) and 'Fickle Mistress' ( a dry hopped sour). The inside of the brewery was really beautiful and a great place to meet and catch up with from friends. It was also located in St. Jacobs Village, so you can go and explore shops and sights on foot after a pint or two. Did we mention that they're dog friendly as well?! What a bonus. Be sure to stop by their bottle shop on the way out.
My husband is the biggest fan of Waterloo Brewery's grapefruit radler, so stopping here on the way back to Toronto was a must. The food was fantastic (pear and brie flatbread and dill pickle roll ups) and I really loved trying their new strawberry rhubarb radler. It was nice to sit on the modern patio and enjoy the sun. It was a perfect way to end our trip and grab some radlers to bring back home!
These were just some of the many stop options you have in St. Jacob's and we are already planning our next trip back to see even more! We would like to thank Staybridge Suites for their wonderful hospitality and introducing us to one of our new favourite weekend destinations.
Until next trip!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.