The other week, my friend & co-worker Kelly and I both had the same day off. Since we don’t see enough of each other at work (ha!) we decided to spend our mutual day off together! We knew immediately what we wanted to do: a St. Catharines day trip! To the uninformed, St. Catharines is home to two vegan businesses that are absolutely, positively life changing and totally worth the 45 minute trek from Burlington. More on those in a minute, first we went to see some waterfalls!

St. Catharines Day Trip

Balls Falls

Balls Falls Conservation Area is home to several trails, a heritage community, and waterfalls! (duh). Kelly and I hiked the trails to both the Upper and Lower Falls and were unfortunately less than wowed with the scenery.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

The trails were wonderful, but the dry summer for the Niagara region meant that the waterfalls were reduced to nothing more than a trickle. Fortunately though, the abandoned mill and the heritage community made up for the lackluster waterfalls!

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

The abandoned mill was built in the early 1800’s and was used for wool. The ruins remaining today were really interesting to walk through and we tried to imagine what it looked like 200 years ago. The heritage community has several barns, a church, and other old buildings that were just oozing with character and charm.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

After all of that hiking, we sure worked up an appetite! It’s a good thing we did, because we were about to indulge in some seriously delicious food.

Rise Above

Rise Above is located in downtown St. Catharines on St. Paul street. It’s a fully vegan restaurant that specializes “in comfort foods, healthy choices, and fresh baked desserts”. Their menu is jam-packed with unique but familiar flavours they want their customers to realize that “going vegan does not mean sacrificing the variety or quality of food that they eat”.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

To start, we split the Sausage Pizza Rolls: Crispy spring rolls filled with house-made pizza sauce, creamy mozzarella cheese, and our signature Italian sausage.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

I ordered the Coconut Avocado Tacos: Coconut-crusted avocado with habanero mango salsa, cabbage, and roasted pepper sauce, in corn tortillas, with pico de gallo, refried black beans, and rice.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

And Kelly ordered probably one of the best things I’ve eaten this year, Pesto Grilled Cheese: Housemade creamy mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach basil pesto, on buttered and toasted whole wheat bread. I had this sandwich the first time I visited Rise Above (yes, this is my second St. Catharines day trip in an embarrassingly short time), and it is hands down one of the most delicious things I’ve had the pleasure of stuffing my face with gracefully eating. If When you go to Rise Above, you MUST get this grilled cheese sandwich. You won’t be disappointed!!

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

Beechwood Doughnuts

With full (& happy) bellies, we sauntered over to Beechwood Doughnuts. Beechwood has an almost cult-like following with customers visiting from far and wide. They’re a 100% vegan doughnut shop and their mission is to “prove that plant-based foods can be just as delicious as they are compassionate”. Sign me up!

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

Beechwood has a rotating menu of doughnuts depending on the day. A few of our fellow co-workers are also die-hard fans of Beechwood, so Kelly and I were sent to buy them some treats (as well as stock up for ourselves!). The doughnuts freeze really well, so it really was in our best interest to buy several at a time…

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

Since being introduced to Beechwood this summer, I’ve tried a few flavours. My favourites so far are Coconut Cream, Strawberry Rhubarb Fritter, and Cookies n Cream. Also, Beechwood has a BYO Container program which makes this plastic-reducing enthusiast very happy! If you bring your own reusable container for your doughnuts, you’ll get 10% off! Yahoo!

Apple Picking!

Our last stop on our St. Catharines day trip wasn’t actually in St. Catharines… (minor detail). We ventured to north Burlington to go apple picking at Frootogo Orchards! It was still early in the season for apples, so there were only a few varieties available: Courtland, Macintosh, and Gala. That didn’t deter us though! We happily filled our buckets with more apples than we could eat then wheeled our wagon to the converted barn to pay for them.

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

St. Catharines Day Trip | A Taste of Trace

Frootogo charges $1.70/lb for U-Pick Apples, but they also have bags of ready-picked available as well. I got almost 10lbs of apples and I’m currently in the ‘omg what am I going to do with all of these apples?!’ phase. I’ve already made a few things, but suggestions are (more than) welcome!!

Tell me, would you take a St. Catharines day trip? We also found a really cute local artisan shop downtown called Craft Arts Market. I wanted to buy everything there!!! With plenty to do, see, and EAT (of course!), I can see many more St. Catharines day trips in my future!