What is better than a road trip? Mr Anderson and I went on quite a few adventures in our time overseas, including quite a few road trips. Keep an eye open for our travel reviews for those adventures.
Now that we’re back home, we are going out of our way to spend time with family and friends and revisit all the places we have missed in the last two years. That means lots of road trips as we rediscover these places and spend some great quality time with the ones we love.
So just recently, we had a ladies’ day down to Sparta here in Southwestern Ontario. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s this adorable little village just outside St Thomas. Mom and I started going there ages ago for reasons I don’t even remember and it’s been our little tradition for most of my life. No summer was complete without a trip to Sparta and its many wonders.
There are many amazing things to see in this road trip full of whimsy, but I’ve narrowed it down to four main must-sees, all either at or near the “main” village intersection at Sparta Line and Quaker Road:
Sparta House Tearoom
No day-trip to Sparta would be complete without a meal at the Sparta House Tearoom. In fact, this is where we held our engagement party! Built in the 1830s, it has been owned and operated by Norma and Ken Roberts since 1996.
Its walls are decorated with every teapot conceivable (and ones you’ve never dreamed of!) and its menu is filled with traditional British classics like bangers and mash, ploughman’s lunch and – my favourite – chicken pot pie. The food has always been delicious, but it was delightful being back in a British establishment after our travels.
The Tearoom also hosts great events such as Downton Abbey and Coronation Street theme parties and Mystic High Tea & Tarot Readings. Every Sunday is a traditional English roast and you can book high tea if you wish. The Tearoom is an absolute staple of Sparta.
Anything Used & Sparta Country Candles
I could spend hours upon hours of the day wandering around the wonderful treasure trove that is Anything Used. While you can find a million and one whimsical finds throughout the many nooks and crannies of this converted general store, Sparta Country Candles is probably the biggest draw.
These homemade candles are potentially one of the best things I’ve ever smelled in my entire life. I have been obsessed with these candles for as long as I can remember; I even love just wandering the room, sniffing and enjoying the wide variety. Their most popular scent is the Spartaberry and that’s generally our favourite as well.
This visit, I was delighted to see they also have what they call “potpourri hearts” – baggies of little wax hearts in their delicious candle scents that you can melt in any burner. It was such a great price that we grabbed three baggies: Stargazer (which we’re currently melting), Victorian Gardens, and Cookie Crunch (which smells as delicious as you’d hope).
If you visit Anything Used, make sure you grab some fudge on your way out. It’s so delicious, it might not even last the car ride home!
If you’ve ever gone walking through the forest and stumbled upon a bird playing Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings on the piano…you’re probably at Winter Wheat.
Winter Wheat is a magical place just up the road (Quaker Road, to be exact) from Sparta’s main village area. It’s very hard to describe to people just exactly what Winter Wheat is; it really is a place that you need to experience for yourself.
We first came to know Winter Wheat as the home and shop of folk artist Lucy Ogletree. Not only did we fall in love with her art (to the point where I refused to leave the country without buying some of her postcards to bring with me), but absolutely adored the tranquillity of the peaceful grounds. Around the woods and gardens we found all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures, including angels and snowmen, bees and the odd Canada goose.
Every time we go back, there is something new to discover. Since I left for England, more buildings have even been added! There are so many quiet places to curl up and relax, so many amazing pieces of art to discover, and a shop full of wondrous handmade birdhouses, jewellery, and artworks to keep us coming back time and again.
Steed & Co Lavender Farm
One of the more recent finds, Steed & Company Lavender Farm is already one of our favourite places. We had been visiting Sparta for many years when we went on a Girls’ Day Out that included the lavender farm. (The farm is technically located in Aylmer, but it’s just a few kilometres down Sparta Line from Anything Used and the Tea Room.)
The lavender farm itself is gorgeous, but the real draw is the store. Anything and everything that lavender could be used for – they’ve got it! Mr Anderson is not a good flyer, so before heading to England we picked up some calming balm and pillow spray to relax him. (Thank goodness – this was also super handy when we were sat in the airport on our way home last month and our flight was delayed; Mr Anderson was not calm about the proceedings until I covered him in lavender and told him to breathe deeply.) They seriously have everything you can think of – deodorant, food products (the lavender jelly is to die for!), bug balm…the list goes on! This time, we picked up some jelly, honey, and body butter, and also noticed that they serve lavender ice cream on site!
Have you been to Sparta, Ontario before? If not, what do you think your favourite part of a road trip to Sparta would be? Let us know in the comments!