A Walkable Port Hope

Welcome to our Big Backyard!

Cultivate Big Backyard

Hi, my name is Jeff Bray and I am the co-founder of Cultivate Festival. That's me and my daughter doing the tour right up there. We are a Northumberland family and we love where we live!

Our festival was born out of our appreciation for what is going on in our “ Big Backyard”. We are surrounded by wonderful farms, great restaurants, award winning breweries and world class markets. It’s also one of the most beautiful places on the planet during the fall. So here we are - celebrating greatness. Thank you so much for supporting! 


Whether you are taking it all in on foot, by bike or in your car, I am confident you are going to have a great time checking out our favourite places, tasting new food and drink and becoming more familiar with our Big Backyard. 


By this time, you have probably picked up your backpack and you are ready to hit the road! If you haven't refer back to your confirmation email for all the details.

We’ve got a lot of great suggestions and some wonderful routes, but this is all about you. Take my advice or experiment on your own! Try new things and get what works for you. Gather along the way and finish it all off with an extravagant picnic, or taste as you go. There are many ways to enjoy it.


However you decide to do it, let us follow along. Share your tour with us on social media for a chance to win. Tag Cultivate Festival on Facebook or Instagram with the #cultivatesbigbackyard for your chance to win weekly prizes including tickets to our secret winter concert series (shhh), an overnight staycation and plenty more. 


Have the best time and say hello to everyone for me along the way. 




A Walkable Port Hope

Cultivate Big Backyard

A great way to take in Downtown Port Hope! Make your way through the streets and take your time. Soak up the most historically preserved downtown in all of Ontario. On this walk you’ll make your way over the Ganaraska River, home to the brilliant and natural salmon and trout runs. At the right time, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s also been crossed on tightrope by infamous Port Hopian, The Great Farini. Check out the plaque on the Northeast side of the Walton Street bridge. 


The Capitol Theatre is one of the last remaining atmospheric theatres in North America. Go say hi and see what’s on tonight. World class theatre in the heart of Port Hope! 


On the east side of the Ganaraka River, straight across the road from Ganaraska Brewing is iconic Canadian author Farley Mowat’s Boat Roofed House


If you are looking for the perfect location for a picnic within walking distance, you’ll be satisfied anywhere along the river. Memorial Park, home to Cultivate Festival and the historic bandshell, is just south of the Capitol Theatre and has a great playground for the kids, too. 


If you want to hit the road, head over to the Waterfront Trail. There are tons of places to set up with beautiful views of Lake Ontario. The treasure, however, is at the end of the trail when you reach Gage’s Creek. A sandy beach, a ton of wildlife and peace and quiet. 


At the top of town, you can hit up the fish ladder. Even if they aren’t running, it’s a great place. On the east side is Molson’s Mill, an old mill that was in operation for the Molson Family’s beer empire back in 1851.


Or, if you want to head north, check our Richardson’s Lookout. On the right day, you can see for miles, all the way down to Lake Ontario. While you are out that way, head over to Haute Goat for some farm love. Alpacas, goats, horses and more stunning views. It’s Port Hope’s most popular tourist destination and it’s well worth the drive. 




Happenstance Coffee Pub - 135 Peter St, Port Hope


Happenstance filled a void in Port Hope a few years back. We were desperate for freshly baked bread and espresso based beverages. They have delivered. The options are plentiful, but I typically lean to a well done americano and a ham and cheese croissant. If you’re organized, order ahead on weekends and grab one of their famous breakfast sandwiches (downtown Port Hope only). If you are feeling really adventurous, put together a pizza kit with their sourdough pizza dough and homemade sauce. We do this weekly and our kids LOVE it. Finally, bread! Depending on how you want to set up this tour, bread could become the perfect conduit for many future choices. Sourdough for days!


Little known fact - While I don’t want any credit, I pushed owners Nick and Erin to open a coffee shop for ages when they first moved here. You’re welcome!



Suntree Marketplace - 19 Ontario St, Port Hope


Previously called Tradewinds, Suntree Marketplace has been a staple of downtown for decades. Owners Karen and Jules took over about 8 years ago and brought into 2021 in style. My kids love coming to shop there and taking the tiny carts through the isles. I am a huge fan of Campbellford’s own Empire cheese and Suntree has the best selection around. I go for their award winning extra old cheddar or, depending on my mood, a bag of fresh curds. You can also stock up on Millstone (Cobourg’s finest bakery) bread on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as well as  Headwaters Farm bagels on Thursdays and Fridays. These are the best bagels this side of Montreal! Do not miss these bagels! 


Little known fact - Jules does some acting on the side - you can see his finest work in this classic KFC commercial here


Food Inspired - 33 Walton St, Port Hope


Food Inspired is pretty new on the scene and they have already made themselves a pillar of Port Hope. They have an interesting selection of cheese and charcuterie as well as takeaway meals. I love their stock of County Bounty Soda, especially the Strawberry Basil! They also make a perfect picnic antipasto, with just a little bit of heat and a ton of flavour. 


Little known fact: This is perhaps the most beautiful bit of Port Hope architecture. The Gillette building was built in 1845 and has been home to many law offices, a coroner and a grain merchant, just to name a few. 


Ganaraska Brewing Company -  33 Mill St South, Port Hope


Ganaraska Brewing Company just opened. It’s been years in the making! They may only have a couple of options at this point, but you can trust they will be great! They will have a little something for everyone, including food, so don’t feel like you need to have a beer - but, it sure sounds good to me! All of the beers pay homage to the history of Port Hope. I would suggest the Hazy Rapids New England IPA. Take it up to the rooftop patio and pair it with a view of those rapids. If you look straight over the river, you can see the Memorial Park bandshell - the home of Cultivate Festival, and a great picnic location. 


Olympus Burger - 55 Mill St S, Port Hope


Olympus Burger is on fire. Once awarded the “best burger in Canada”, the place is always busy. The service is friendly and the options are unique and fresh. The owner, Giorgos, is the king of hospitality. My daughter loves the Junior Olympian - a burger just her size, and of course the milkshakes. As a family, we happily make our way through the burger menu, but we ALWAYS get the Olympus Fries - hand cut fries, greek dressing and feta cheese - a greek poutine! Count me in. 


Little known fact. When I was a kid, this place was Scott’s Chicken Villa (KFC). We had many picnics from here! The once rotating chicken bucket still stands above the signage. I’ve been encouraging Girogos to start serving buckets of burgers as an homage. Maybe you could do the same?


I hope you had the best time! Don't forget to share your experience for a chance to win weekly prizes! Tag Cultivate on Facebook or Instagram and use the hashtag #cultivatesbigbackyard. 


If you have no need for your backpack, return it to where you got it and we will donate $5 to Green Wood Coalition, a radically inclusive, street-level organization based in Port Hope.


Disclaimer - We recommend taking the tour between 11am - 2pm, Wednesday through Monday. Having said that, the certificates don't expire. You can do this at your own pace! However we strongly urge you to check out the participating businesses hours of operation. These places are small and independent, so things can change quickly.

There is no g
uarantee that my suggestions will be available. These are small, independent businesses and things change. They will always have delicious options though. 

Cultivate's Big Backyard is proudly sponsored by: