Escape to Northumberland County
For a sweet little road trip
Anyone who has ever taken a road trip along the 401-highway corridor between Toronto to Cornwall knows just how many beautiful spots there are to stop on the way. The lake provides travellers with fantastic scenery, unique locations for a picnic, and beaches to frolic in. There are so many cute small towns & small cities dotted along the lake with so much to offer and pull-offs to relax at; that you can make this drive into a complete vacation.
Northumberland County Gems
Port Hope is a town full of charm and nostalgia, and a visit to this lovely little waterfront town will take you back to a simpler time. You will find a thriving downtown business district with great dining options from pubs, upscale restaurants, bistros, and diners. A historic theatre in the heart of downtown is a major attraction, as are the parks along the river – including the Farley Mowat Park. On any given sunny day, you might see couples and families enjoying a relaxing afternoon in the park at the bandshell, perhaps having a little picnic on the grass. There are several unique attractions in Port Hope you might want to experience. Some of our favourite attractions are:
- Primitive Designs is a truly unique shopping experience that is part roadside attraction and part home decor store. A Roguetrippers’ must-stop destination.
- The “IT” movie filming locations tour is a leisurely self-guided tour you can enjoy, that will also help you discover more of the town.
- The Fish Ladder – where you can watch salmon and trout swim upstream for spawning. There are several spots to check out on this self-guided tour (even if it isn’t fish migration season).
Cobourg is just one of the beautiful towns you will find in Northumberland County, along the north shore of Lake Ontario. The town of Cobourg is full of history, gorgeous buildings, quaint shops, superb dining, and beautiful parks to enjoy. The beautiful sandy shores of Cobourg Beach, Victoria Park, the marina, and the lighthouse are all major attractions for visitors to this lovely town. The historic landmark buildings are well preserved, and they give a timeless façade and architectural uniqueness to modern businesses. Explore the waterfront trail, stroll the beach boardwalk, relax in the park, do some shopping, or do a self-guided architectural tour of the town’s historic heritage buildings. There is a reason Cobourg is called the “Gem of Lake Ontario”.
Did you know a Hollywood icon was born in Cobourg?
Butter Tart Quest Roadtrip
We love a road trip…. And we love butter tarts. So, what could be better than combining the two? We always do our best to include butter tarts in every road trip – and a road trip through eastern Ontario makes this very easy. Especially with the area’s Butter tart tour. On a journey through Northumberland County in eastern Ontario, we got off the highway in Port Hope to explore the town. After a visit to Port Hope, we decided to take the more scenic road to our next stop: Cobourg.
Betty’s Pies & Tarts
If we had never gotten off the highway and taken the more minor roads, we might not have discovered this local gem in Northumberland County. Located halfway between Port Hope and Cobourg, Ontario, on County Road #2, Betty’s Pies & Tarts is a delightful spot to pick up some tasty treats for your road trip.
The bakery is in a converted portion of a residential home, but don’t worry, you won’t miss it. The big sign out front will catch your attention and draw you in. It is a very homey atmosphere and décor inside. When you walk in, you might even think you have stepped into (some lucky person’s) grandma’s kitchen after a day of baking.
We picked up a 6-pack of butter tarts – two each of plain, raisin, and pecan. We also ended up ordering a mixed box of their other tarts because they were all so enticing – butterscotch, coconut, lemon, and others.
Everything they make has that rustic hand-made appearance that truly appeals to us. The tarts get your mouth watering the second you lay eyes on them. These are amply sized tarts, over full of the fantastic golden-brown filling you crave.
The hand-rolled pastry is very thick, flaky, and tasty. It has a ‘dry’, but not dried out, texture. Simply meaning, it does not taste greasy, oily, or wet. This is the perfect kind of pastry for a butter tart – it does not overpower the flavour of the butter tart. It is solid and can contain the filling nicely, without crumbling, getting soggy, or losing its pastry integrity.
The filling on the plain tart was way too runny for my liking. The minute I cut into it, it ran out onto the plate, leaving the tart pastry empty. I had to scoop the filling back into the crust to enjoy it as a tart. The filling was very buttery and (very) gooey, with a great brown sugar & butter flavour. It was not overpoweringly sweet – just sweet enough.
* I have seen other people post photos of the buttertarts and they appeared to have a more gentle ooze. So, I am sure this was an anomaly.
It was a decent experience. The flavours of the crust and the filling were both fantastic. Unfortunately, the runniness of the filling significantly diminished our enjoyment of the plain tart. If I had eaten it on the go, the filling would have poured out all over my hand and clothing. You will need a plate (not just a napkin) to eat this butter tart, and do not eat it on the go. If you are one of the many butter tart lovers who enjoy a runny butter tart- this is going to be very appealing to you. The flavour is very good – you do not want to miss a drop – so be prepared.
- The pecan and raisin tarts did not have the same issues. The filling on those tarts was a thicker consistency that still provided a good amount of ooze. You could eat these on the go without concern.
Beyond the butter tart
There are so many baked goods on display, the variety of items available to you might become overwhelming for the uninitiated. A plethora of tasty delights (and aromas) await you when you walk through those doors. Every single item in the store is gorgeous and enticing, freshly made, and enormous.
We came for the butter tarts to include them in our ButterTartQuest, but we left with so much more. As we were on a road trip, we had to choose items that would travel well and not spoil along the way. Whoopie pies, tarts, cookies, and squares rounded out the medley of fabulous treats we purchased for our drive.
These tarts travel well.
Next time you find yourself looking for a great Ontario Road trip destination, consider Northumberland County. With so much to see, do, experience, and taste – you won’t be disappointed.
*note: All butter tart reviews are the opinions of Roguetrippers only, based on our experiences and personal preferences. Your opinions may vary.
Do you know a great bakery making what you think are Ontario’s Best butter tarts? We would love to hear from you. Let us know about them, so we can plan a future road trip to check them out and include them in our #ButterTartQuest.
Contact Roguetrippers with your suggestions.
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