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True North Living » Travel » Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel » Discovering Ontario’s Southwest: Your Guide to Responsible Tourism
Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel

Discovering Ontario’s Southwest: Your Guide to Responsible Tourism

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Discover how to enjoy a relaxing, responsible vacation in Southwestern Ontario by supporting ethical local businesses and protecting the environment.

While the terms “responsible travel” and “sustainable tourism” are currently experiencing a popularity boom, the ideas behind them — supporting ethical local businesses and protecting the environment when you travel — are things you may have been familiar with for a while. Southwestern Ontario is a natural fit for those wanting to travel sustainably and willing to pledge to do so. A relaxing and responsible vacation is within reach. And planning it might be even easier than you think!


Simple actions can make your holiday in the southwest area of Ontario better during your trip and keep it a place you can return to again and again. Look for dining experiences bearing the Feast On certification, indicating the business has committed to sourcing Ontario-grown food. That means jobs for local food producers and a smaller carbon footprint for transportation. Prior to booking your accomodations, review their website to look for information on environmental policies, such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and water conservation practices, as well as how the accommodation supports local communities, including fair wages for staff, sourcing local products, and community engagement initiatives. Exploring by bicycle, using an electric vehicle (there are plenty of spots to charge up in the area), or joining a group tour are all simple ways to reduce your personal carbon footprint.

Helping the region to thrive

Giving your tourist dollars to more sustainable, local producers is easy in Southwest Ontario, because there are so many. When planning your itinerary, include agritourism experiences like a visit with the goats and alpacas at Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life, a meander through lavender fields and apple orchards at Apple Hill Lavender, and a stop for farm-fresh milk and cheese at the Golspie Dairy. If chocolate milk doesn’t tempt you, wine from Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards or a bite and some suds from the Charlotteville Brewing Company might be more to your taste. Active types (and those less so) will find fun at Long Point Eco-Adventures, while a friendly spot to lay your head at the Walnut Grove Bed and Breakfast or Homegrown Hideaway means you can drift off knowing you’re supporting responsible local tourism businesses.

The people and small businesses of Ontario’s southwest are happy to welcome visitors to experience all their home has to offer. Please help ensure the region can continue to be enjoyed by future generations by visiting to start planning your responsible getaway and to sign the Responsible Travel Pledge.

Combine the shorelines of Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake St. Clair offering up world-class freshwater beaches, the rich biodiversity of the Carolinian Forest region with some of the most productive farmlands in the province creating a rapidly evolving wine and culinary scene and the friendliest communities on the planet and you get Ontario’s Southwest! Now that we’ve let you in on the secret, it’s time to come and discover it for yourself. See how local businesses are encouraging sustainable travel to inspire your next trip. 

Escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the charm of Udderly
Ridiculous Farm Life. Here, amid the rolling hills and  pastoral scenery, you can leave behind the stresses of modern life and embrace the simplicity of country living. Our farm offers more than just a glamping getaway; it’s an opportunity to reconnect with nature and gain insight into food production and sustainable farming practices.

At Udderly Ridiculous, we’re committed to sustainability, employing innovative methods to care for our land and animals while minimizing our environmental footprint. Our approach to agri-tourism is equally innovative, providing enriching experiences that prioritize animal welfare and environmental stewardship. From hands-on encounters with our animals to education on food systems, every visit to Udderly Ridiculous is both enjoyable and informative. Plus, with our Gift a Goat™ program, you can feel good knowing that a portion of your experience supports families in need around the world, promoting independence and sustainability in developing countries. Come join us at Udderly Ridiculous Farm Life and experience the joy of farm living in a whole new way!

At Charlotteville Brewing, we take pride in crafting a variety of award-winning beers that delight the palate, complemented by delicious food that enhances our brews. Our brewery offers a serene, safe, inclusive, and respectful environment where guests can savour high-quality, artisanal fare. As a living wage employer, we provide a comprehensive benefits package, reinforcing our commitment to the well-being of our staff.

Sustainability is at the core of our operations; we’ve undergone a thorough environmental assessment to achieve the Sustainable Tourism Silver Certification with GreenStep Solutions. Our annual action plan focuses on enhancing our sustainable purchasing policies, measuring and reducing our carbon footprint, and educating guests about sustainability practices. Visitors can explore our organic farm and learn more about our dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainable brewing practices by visiting our webpage. We strive to create meaningful experiences that not only satisfy but also inspire a greater awareness of sustainability issues and better practices.

Long Point Eco-Adventures is the ultimate starting point for adventure in Norfolk. Offering a blend of activities, glamping, a brewery, and the scenic Marshview Patio, it’s a one-stop shop for an authentic local experience. The Marshview Patio collaborates with local partners to support Norfolk County’s agricultural community, serving delightful dishes like perch tacos and Chef Shelli’s MVP fries.

Committed to sustainability, Long Point Eco-Adventures partners with ALUS Norfolk, the Long Point Biosphere Region, and Priority Place to create eco-friendly experiences that encourage engagement with nature. Full of unique offerings and with over 90 km of free hiking and biking trails for the community to explore, Long Point Eco-Adventures is the place where all of the adventure in Norfolk begins.

The Golspie Dairy, located just outside of Woodstock on a picturesque farm that has been in the family for 150 years, features an on-farm processing plant specializing in fresh dairy products and small-batch artisan cheeses. Open seven days a week, our self-serve vending machines allow customers to fill their own containers with farm-fresh milk and pick up award-winning cheese and chocolate milk.

We prioritize the quality of our ingredients and the craftsmanship of our production, ensuring that our finished products are an exceptional representation of our landscape. Committed to sustainability, we aim to use reusable and compostable packaging whenever possible, reflecting our dedication to environmental responsibility.

Why stay at the Walnut Grove Bed & Breakfast? The countless 5-star reviews
highlight the meticulous attention to detail and the passion that Bob and Leslie bring to ensuring a memorable guest experience. Located in the heart of wine country, Leslie, a chef, sommelier, and winemaker, and her husband of 37 years, who serves as sous chef and jack-of-all-trades, offer an unparalleled stay. Committed to sustainable tourism, they support the community by sourcing locally, growing many of their own vegetables, and maintaining a five-acre pollinator garden with native trees and plants.

Guests can choose from three luxury suites in the 122-year-old farmhouse, a pet-friendly suite, a chalet in the woods, a heated inground pool and hot tub, and enjoy a koi pond with a pergola and fire pit, all set within ten acres of beautiful land. The property also features bee hives and practices organic farming, contributing to environmental health through carbon sequestration and supporting native pollinators. A candle-lit dinner featuring local produce enhances the experience, embodying the couple’s dream of providing luxury accommodation in a serene, rural setting.

Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards is a sustainable winery and restaurant, beautifully surrounded by thriving vineyards and an ambitious afforestation project. With over 7,000 trees planted and a wetland created, the vineyard is a testament to environmental stewardship. Certified sustainable under UN standards, Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards is dedicated to ensuring the longevity of its lands, the business, its staff, and the surrounding community. This commitment not only enhances the natural beauty of the area but also promotes a sustainable future for generations to come.

Homegrown Hideaway offers a unique glamping and special events experience just outside of Port Dover, featuring Prospector Style tents that provide a cozy, hotel-like retreat in the woods. Guests can enjoy the Summer Concert Series, showcasing local musicians and beverages every Wednesday night in the charming barn throughout the summer. The Hideaway prides itself on forming local partnerships with great, sustainable businesses, and offers a Wildcraft Tea experience where beginners can learn to forage tea in their own backyards. Committed to preserving the land they steward, Homegrown Hideaway operates with a philosophy of living simply and savouring life’s small joys, reflecting their dedication to sustainability and a harmonious way of life.

Visit Apple Hill Lavender to explore the enchanting rolling lavender fields and heritage apple trees nestled in the scenic Norfolk County. In the Carriage House Boutique, you can shop for small-batch, sustainable products, crafted with care for both quality and the environment. Apple Hill Lavender is proudly committed to the Biosphere Sustainable Program, fully embracing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with a dedicated focus on environmental, economic, community, and social sustainability. Recognized as one of Norfolk’s Amazing Places, this designation by the Long Point Biosphere highlights Apple Hill Lavender as a key player in sustainable tourism, celebrating its UNESCO Biosphere reserve status and fostering connections between people, nature, and culture.

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