“You’re going where?”, my friend asked with a perplexed look on her face. “Mississauga,” I said. “But why? What’s in Mississauga?”. Ah, dear friend, a lot as it turns out. For the travel deprived and cabin fevered amongst us, Mississauga happens to be the perfect place to dip your toes back into exploration.
As someone who writes about travel, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about its return post-pandemic and where I would end up first. While staring at the walls in my house, I waxed philosophical about what travel is and should be, and questioned what need it fulfilled in me. I promised myself that should the opportunity to explore again arise, I would embrace every opportunity with the same unbridled enthusiasm. So when Tourism Mississauga asked if I would be interested in exploring what their region has to offer, I said, “How’s tomorrow look?”
That’s the first thing you need to know about Mississauga, it’s always ready for you. No need to stress about manoeuvring through an airport and navigating Covid protocols in a new country. For those of us in Ontario, it’s an easy drive in the comfort of your own car. Finding a place to stay is easy and there are endless choices available.
For our brief stay I chose The Waterside Inn in the Port Credit neighbourhood. This hotel is within walking distance of everything in Port Credit, so on our first day I was able to park the car and forget about it. We booked a two bedroom suite that came with a fully-equipped kitchen (perfect for late night snacking) and an expansive balcony overlooking Lake Ontario. A boutique hotel with only 94 rooms, we felt as if we had the place to ourselves even though it was fully booked. No matter where you choose to lay your weary head after exploring, Tourism Mississauga has an #ItPaysToStay promotion right now that LITERALLY pays you to stay when you book a minimum two night stay in any hotel listed on their website.
When in the Port Credit neighbourhood, you’ll find more activities than you could possibly participate in during your stay, so be sure to scope out your top picks ahead of time. With easy access to Lake Ontario, water lovers can rent paddle boards and kayaks through Port Credit Adventure Rentals, while land lubbers can explore this neighbourhood easily on foot, or rent a bike to go further faster.
For us, we were eager to fulfill two needs. One, to eat out again and two, to be social. Mission accomplished. Instead of choosing just one restaurant we decided to do a variation of the four course meal trend we started in quarantine, only this time we didn’t have to stay in the car. With zero plan and grumbling stomachs, we started at Posta Italbar Cucina simply because of proximity to The Waterside, and were not disappointed with wicked bruschetta made with fresh burrata and calamari done to perfection.
From there we strolled over to the Shore Grill and Grotto for edamame, crab stuffed mushrooms, and a side of LIVE MUSIC. Sigh. Live music, do you remember that? It had been so long for us that we found ourselves tearing up listening to the musicians on stage throw up one sing-a-long classic after the other. Surrounded by people revelling in the same experience, it was hard to pull ourselves away but we’re no quitters and so we headed to Door Fifty Five, grabbed a table next to the DJ and noshed on wings. With Covid protocols in place at each place we visited we never felt unsafe. If we had bigger stomachs and more time, our restaurant tour could have gone on forever. I’m a little sad we didn’t have a chance to visit El Jefe but they had a two hour wait without reservations, so when you plan to go, book this one ahead of time.
No night is complete without dessert though, and no visit to Port Credit is complete unless you visit Eva’s Chimneys. I’m now ruined for all other ice cream going forward after trying one of these delicious baked pastry filled cones. I couldn’t resist trying The O.G. (vanilla ice cream inside a warm pastry cone with strawberry drizzle) and my daughter never met anything with Nutella she could resist, so she had The Dream Cone. With gluten-free and vegan options, Eva’s has something for everyone, which was pretty evident, since almost everyone walking down Lakeshore Blvd. had one in their hand. Trust me, don’t miss this place.
Day 2 of our mini-break in Mississauga brought rain, and while I was sad not to experience all the green space Mississauga has to offer, I was only slightly disheartened because….. SQUARE ONE. The largest shopping centre in Ontario and the second largest in Canada, Square One is more than a shopping destination, it’s a foodie’s dream and a rainy day mecca.
The Food District is a culinary trip around the world with foreign delights such as Jamaican patties, Japanese cheesecakes, and French macarons; no passport required. Grab your meal and head outdoors to dine al fresco on The Square, a new dining experience that allows you to eat your meal and grab those all so important Instagram shots.
Sadly we missed Sugar Rush at Square One, but you can take advantage of this temporary experience now until September 6th. Buy your tickets in advance, bring a fully charged phone and, if you absolutely can not stand to leave your pandemic pooch behind, check out the dog friendly days here.
Before you head off on your next #MySaugaSummer adventure, leave the car parked at Square One and stroll over to Celebration Square. Here you’ll find swings built for two, perfect for resting your weary feet after exploring over 2 million square feet of shopping. The events calendar is easily accessible on your phone, and on the off chance you have some room left in your stomach, you’ll find food trucks lining the outside of the square.
More to Explore
Mississauga often gets lumped in with Toronto but think of it this way; Toronto is the big spoon and Mississauga the little spoon. They are perfectly compatible and fit together snugly but can stand alone just perfectly. There is enough to do and explore in Mississauga that you can easily spend a couple of days getting to know it’s unique areas a little better.
Streetsville has been dubbed “The Village in the City” and it is Cute with a capital “C”. The streets here are lined with historic buildings and you’ll find a ton of boutique shops and delicious eateries here. Be sure to check out the events calendar before you go as it seems there’s always something happening in this hip ‘hood.
Yet another vibrant and not be missed neighbourhood is found in Cooksville. Filled with multicultural shops and dining establishments, it’s a perfect mirror of Canada’s diversity.
The Great Outdoors
It seems counterintuitive to tell you to head to the city to spend time in nature, but here we are. One of the things that struck me as we explored Mississauga was how green it was. Cities are typically concrete jungles, but Mississauga appears to have struck a delicate balance between urban growth and nature. Between its easy access to Lake Ontario, and over 500 parks, 400Kms of trails and conservation areas to enjoy, Mississauga also happens to be a perfect place to forest bathe.
For more information about visiting Mississauga be sure to check out the #MySaugaSummer page for a full listing of events and places to visit.
Disclosure: Thanks to Tourism Mississauga for inviting my daughters and I to come stay and play and experience our own #MySaugaSummer. While I have been compensated for this post, all opinions are mine.