a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Jun, 2013

(Another) Road trip to Almonte

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa|travel talk

I’ve written about Almonte before, and I’m already looking forward to going back. This place is a MAGNET for me, for lots of reasons. There is a lot to love here. Shall I count the ways?

  • It’s a relatively short drive
  • there is fabulous shopping
  • … and history
  • and it’s very scenic.

Now that I’ve done it twice in recent memory I can lay out a good game plan if you’re planning your own visit. Here’s how I’d like to do it the next time we go.

First stop: obtain fuel in the form of coffee. Equator Coffee brews up the best latte I’ve probably ever had. AND they roast their own beans. AND they are fair-trade. They’re located in a strip mall right beside the highway before you get into old Almonte. It is really worth pulling over.

Second stop: the Mill of Kintail. My youngest and I took this small side trip because she was working on a project about Dr. James Naismith and we thought it’d be cool to see the exhibit at the Mill. Bonus for us: it happens to be a gorgeous spot, just ignore the directions on the website because they’re wrong. The Mill also didn’t come up on my GPS. Just follow the roadsigns in Almonte. (I wasn’t worried AT ALL.)

We stopped at the site of his boyhood home right near one of the last turn offs to the Mill:

This is where Dr. James Naismith grew up

Pathway to the old homestead

It’s pretty cool to think that basketball was born here, isn’t it? (You can read more about Dr. Naismith here.) I hope the people who live there weren’t too freaked out by our roadside picture-taking.

From here we continued to the Mill. I recommend parking in the lot closest to the road (parking costs five bucks – bring change!) and walking to the mill for the full effect. We took the trail by the river. And I’m glad we did. It’s only about a 5-10 minute walk and worth every second.

Riverside trail to the Mill of Kintail


It’s a very easy walk, even if you don’t wear the proper footwear. Ahem.

Improper footwear

I’ve never actually been to the Mill of Kintail before. It’s a pretty cool building with a rich history:

The Mill of Kintail

The Mill of Kintail

It’s a fairly quick stop and admission is by donation. The Naismith exhibit contains photographs, documents, a large rock (long story), and biographical information about Naismith… along with this puppet:

Puppet version of Dr. Naismith, inventor of basketball

The rest of the house is a neat little slice of history too. It’s the former summer home of Robert Tait McKenzie, an artist and sculptor. Don’t forget to peek upstairs.

Upstairs in the Mill of Kintail


Once you’re back outside, follow the trail along the river towards the bridge and you’ll be rewarded with some pretty views:

Following the river behind the mill

View of the Mill of Kintail

If you walk for another five minutes you’ll find a small river study area, which includes some small nets with which you can catch things in the water if you are so inclined:

Following the river behind the mill

We spotted a massive snapping turtle, and lots of cool bugs in the water:

Following the river behind the mill

A note for next time: BRING A PICNIC!

We soon made our way back to the car – stopping to peek at a cute little chapel along the way – and drove back to the village of Almonte.

Street parking is free and plentiful. We used the rest of our time to browse the main drag. There’s a lot to see, if you know where to turn your head:

Things to see in Almonte!

There are a lot of very cool little shops in Almonte. Standouts for me: Doree’s Habit (Sarah scored an awesome t-shirt), and the Tin Barn Market. The antique shops are totally worth a browse too.

Antique shopping in the village of Almonte

Smitten with the Tin Barn Market

From the Tin Barn Market

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the doctor himself:

The doctor is in

Where to eat in Almonte? Good question. My date and I chose THE SUPE (a.k.a The Superior) for the diner vibe. We liked it.

My date for the day!

I had a perfectly decent pea soup and grilled bacon and cheese sandwich and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. There are lots of other places to eat here too but I’m sure this is the best deal in town. Next time I might try the Heirloom Cafe just for something different. (Here are some reviews on Yelp.)

Before we left I snapped a quick pano of the river. It was getting a bit rainer by then and it was time to go home, but I’ve promised myself I will return. The mode of transportation I choose however, is up for question. Lana Stewart (a.k.a. Modal Mom) has written a blog post about a recent bike ride to Almonte. Question is, dare I do it?

10 Responses to "(Another) Road trip to Almonte"

1 | Lana

June 12th, 2013 at 2:05 pm


I’d stick with the car. : )

2 | andrea tomkins

June 12th, 2013 at 2:27 pm


Haha Lana! Note taken. :)

3 | spelunky

June 13th, 2013 at 9:14 am


The Robert Tait McKenzie sculptures at the Mill of Kintail are amazing. One of Almonte’s best kept secrets. Check the Mill’s operating hours before you go.

4 | andrea tomkins

June 13th, 2013 at 1:29 pm


Good point spelunky! They might have odd hours. Always worth checking before heading out!

5 | George Yaremchuk

June 14th, 2013 at 9:59 am


Hey – it’s even better when u live here! :^) A couple of ideas:
– I like the coffee at Palms in downtown (Americano). For some reason the machine there makes a better brew and the vibe is less “industrial” IMHO
– If u wanna bike in, try turning off the rail trail before Appleton Side Road (like Ashton Station Rd->Golden Line) and take the back way in onto Old Almonte Road and in through the subdivision. Less busy than Appleton Sideroad, and party hard packed gravel – decent on my road bike at any rate… (stay off Dwyer Hill Rd and Hwy 49!)

6 | spelunky

June 17th, 2013 at 1:04 pm


Update: Almonte is still my fave day trip. We were there on Saturday. There’s a new art gallery called General. Sooo many nice things in a really cool setting. Almonte and area has several amazing artists. Oh and I scored at the Antique store. Sweet deer antlers for good price. Woot !

7 | andrea tomkins

June 17th, 2013 at 1:29 pm


Good to know! I will definitely check it out next time I go. Thanks for coming back and filing a report! :)

8 | Jen Hughes

June 17th, 2013 at 10:27 pm


Good for families to know when visiting the Mill of Kintail: there is also a pretty decent playground! Our kids go to daycamp there for a week each summer, and love it. :)

I love Almonte. Nice and close to me. I know a lot of the shop owners too. Next time you’re there, check for a brand new shop opening soon called Hello Yellow featuring lots of handmade goodies.

9 | A new patron AND a giveaway: Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival in Almonte >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 24th, 2013 at 4:49 pm


[…] couple weeks ago I wrote about our most visit to Almonte. To summarize: we really enjoyed ourselves. Almonte has all the elements of a great road trip: […]

10 | Hilary

June 30th, 2013 at 3:02 pm


Love Almonte! We always eat at the Heirloom Cafe when we go – it is good and it’s nice to wander around looking at the art afterwards or while you wait for your food to arrive.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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