Road trip season is not upon us just yet but that hardly stopped me from ridesharing, so it didn't stop me from going to a very friendly town. Almonte is a small village with just under 5000 people living there and growing steadily which is, in part, due to the festivals that take place there but mostly due to the beauty of the people and the nature which is celebrated there.
Running through Almonte is the Mississippi River which freezes over the winter but in the summer people can kayak or canoe across and even jump off of one of the biggest bridges, which used to be a train crossing but has since been abandoned, in the village. It makes the summer's heat worth it just to plunge into the nice, clean water for me but that's because I don't have the patience to fish where as many do in Almonte because for many in the little town sustainability is important.
If you still are wondering why else you should visit Almonte, there are so many boutiques that have such an interesting selection like Hello Yellow, The Tin Barn Market or Crush Marketplace. Be sure that before you go, however, you stop by the best coffee shop in town for a fair trade, organic coffee at Equator Coffee Roasters where the staff are as friendly as can be - I should know, I used to work there! Depending on the season, there are many events that take place too like the Harvest Festival where local artisans and artists pieces are shown off to the public, one of the stops is Equator due to the art they post from local artists. It makes the stop worthwhile especially during the fall.
After a coffee and a bit of shopping, tuck in for a nice meal at one of the two best restaurants in Almonte. The Mill Street Crepe Company, is just as it sounds a creperie, which is perfect for a brunch. Be sure to get a window seat to people watch the friendly people of Almonte. My personal favourite is the croque monsieur or if you've got a sweet tooth, be sure to try the Nutella crepe. What can get better than Nutella and carbs? Not much, really! However, if you are hankering for dinner or something a little less niche, The Heirloom Cafe and Bistro brings fine dining to small town Ontario in the best of ways. Owner and Head Chef, Richard Kletnieks has an open concept kitchen and is extremely personable with the patrons - just as the waitresses are. My favourite dish is the Atlantic sea scallops because I'm a sucker for a nice charmoula. Be sure to try one of their house cocktails too!
Between all that shopping and delicious food, you'll see that there is a bronze statue of Dr James Naismith. Why would the creator of basketball be featured in a town so small? Well, he was actually from Almonte - a point of pride for many people in the village. His likeness is in the centre of the main street, be sure to snap a selfie with him. Nearby is one of the oldest buildings in the town, the town hall where you can actually rent bikes for the day inexpensively and learn just a little bit more about Almonte's history from under General Juan Almonte, the namesake of the town. This and more can be found in Old Town Hall, a place that is visible throughout almost all of Almonte.
If you happen to make your way to Almonte in winter, it's cold sure but totally worth it because the hiking trails that are beautiful in the summer are even more so with snow all around. My favourite routes are at the Mill of Kintail, a conservation area a short drive away from the town centre, where you can bring snow shoes or cross country skis and embrace the beauty of Eastern Ontario all around you.
If the cold isn't your forte, there is a museum in town as well to do with the history of Almonte and the way it was built through the textile industry. The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum is a definite must-see for any visitors. With this and everything else you'll be able to see why Almonte is the friendly town.