Enjoy Stratford with your Valentine

Stratford Kitchen

Take a cooking class with your Valentine at Stratford Chef School. (Courtesy Terry Manzo Photography)

STRATFORD, ONTARIO – In a city like Stratford every day feels like Valentine’s Day and that’s why this gem on Lake Victoria is one of my favourite romantic destinations. With so many restaurants, foodie trails, artistic adventures and spas – not to mention its famous theatre – Stratford’s biggest problem is that there are too many choices for couples.

If you’re looking for some ways to celebrate your Valentine throughout the year, Stratford is a wonderful place to start.

Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail: The cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once said “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”.

Mr. Schulz was a wise man and on that note, the Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail is the perfect way to add some sweet insurance to your romantic getaway. This self-guided tour allows visitors an opportunity to visit several establishments while enjoying sweet creations along the way. Among just a few things you will discover are hand-made truffles, chocolate honey and chocolate teas. Friends and families will love this trail but it’s just what the doctor ordered for couples.

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You and your love will suffer chocolate overload at Rheo Thompson Candies. (Courtesy Stratford Tourism)

These passes, which can be purchased at the Visit Stratford office for $25, allow for six stops at any of the 25 participating restaurants or shops with each establishment offering their own unique chocolaty treats. The Chocolate Trail Pass is offered year round. It’s valid for three days from date of purchase.

Some of my favourite stops on the trail include Rheo Thompson CandiesBoar’s Head PubOlive Your Favourites and Small-Mart General MercantileTea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar is another stop you will enjoy, with a wide range of chocolate-themed tea selections. If you’re lucky you may even get to meet Karen Hartwick, a local legend and Canada’s first tea sommelier. Feeling truly adventurous? Stratford’s only upscale adult store, Sinvention, is also curiously on the chocolate trail and it goes without saying that I had to find out why. Sinvention offers the popular ‘Chocolate Pecker Pops’. You get the idea.

On Vacay.ca: Give an encore for chocolate in Stratford

Two other trails worth checking out that are equally enjoyable for couples are the Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail ($30 plus HST) and Savour Stratford Maple Trail ($25+HST, available during March and April).

Stratford Theatre: What a wonderful idea for a date and the timing couldn’t be better! Tickets for the 2017 season of the Stratford Theatre – which celebrates Canada’s birth with special productions exploring the theme of Identity – are available. This year, Stratford Festival will examine the history of Western Odrama from the ancient Greek classic Bakkhai to two new Canadian plays commissioned by the Festival. Works by Shakespeare including Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Timon of Athens will also be featured. Other works will include The School for Scandal, Guys and Dolls and HMS Pinafore. Actors to watch in the 2017 season include Brent Carver, Seana McKenna and Graham Abbey. The season will open Saturday, April 15 and run until October.

Stratford Gallery 2

Gallery Stratford always has interesting exhibits going on throughout the year. They also offer several art classes for people of all ages. (Rod Charles/Vacay.ca)

Gallery Stratford Art Class: If you’re looking for a artistic way to enjoy time with your Valentine a visit to Stratford Gallery is just what you need. Stratford Gallery has classes going on all the time for people of all ages. These classes include life drawing, sketching and soapstone sculpture. Prices vary.

Get cooking and tasting: One way to celebrate love with your Valentine are brand new couples and group cooking classes. Stratford Chefs School (192 Ontario Street – 519-271-1414) offers custom cooking classes, which can be arranged at the new Stratford Chefs School Kitchens on Ontario Street. The program is brand new so there isn’t much information on the website but you can contact them for more information. Cooking classes tend to run $75 per person.

Looking for something more on the dessert side of things? Book a chocolate making workshop with chocolatier Derek Barr at Chocolate Barr’s Candies or Rheo Thompson Candies. Another option is a tea tasting with the Karen Hartwick at Tea Leaves Tea Tasting Bar.

Another way for couples to get their hands dirty – in a tasty way – is Puck’s Plenty. Go out in the woods, forage for greens and enjoy a lunch prepared using some of your wild edibles ($70) with Peter Blush. Not only is this an invigorating walk but it’s also entertaining and educational. When it comes to healthy greens Peter knows his stuff, and you will be surprised how much edible and delicious food there is in green spaces around your community. Click here for a list of culinary ideas for couples.

After an entertaining cooking class – or morning of foraging – wind down with a cup of tea. Reserve a table for two for a High Tea at Revival House ($45, $25 children under 12), which is partnering with Bradshaws. This is offered monthly on the last Sunday of every month.

On Vacay.ca: Star chefs grace Stratford Culinary Fest

For those who are only interested in keeping it simple and going to a restaurant Stratford won’t disappoint. Pazzo, Mercer Hall Inn, Bijou, Monforte, Revival House and Red Rabbit are just a handful of restaurant choices.

Spas: A tried and true solution for any couple hoping to enjoy some quality together time. After a full day of eating, foraging, walking and drawing you will probably need a good soak. For a full list of Stratford spas, click here.

Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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