When it comes to food tourism and culinary trails, these are the experiences that we consider industry best practices.
Windsor Essex Pelee Island, Ontario
Barrels Bottles & Brews is a newly-created beverage trail in Windsor and Essex, Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The region is the birthplace of whisky in Canada, and has been ushering in a new generation of craft breweries and distilleries to keep the tradition alive.
The Trail affords visitors the opportunity to experience the history of Canadian whisky and prohibition, as well as enjoy locally brewed craft beer and small batch, ultra premium spirits. Visitors to the region can acquire a free Barrels Bottles & Brews Trail passport and receive stamps at each location they visit, ultimately redeeming a fully stamped passport for a featured Trail takeaway.
Collingwood & Blue Mountains, Ontario
Launched in 2009 to showcase the apple producing process of Grey County (including Collingwood, Blue Mountain Village, Beaver Valley and Meaford), The Apple Pie Trail™ features 30+ participating businesses that offer an apple-themed experience. The Trail has expanded to also feature accommodations, tours and events.
Excursions that pair Trail members with other attractions in the area (e.g. custom cooking classes with a visit to the Scandinave Spa, hiking and wine tasting packages) have also been developed to enhance the Trail offerings and encourage repeat visitations to the area. The Apple Pie Trail™ has received a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence and was the recipient of the 2011 Culinary Experience Award at the Ontario Tourism Awards.
County Clare, Ireland
The Burren Food Trail invites visitors to become involved in the regional Burren food story and meet the local business owners who are passionate about producing exceptional local food and experiences. Each Trail participant must sign a Burren Food Trail Customer Promise, which includes a commitment to educating staff about the food story, promoting sourcing on menus, and providing information on other food events and experiences to customers. Each member restaurant also offers a Burren Food Trail Signature Dish, which is called out on the trail materials and promoted in-house. The trail is ‘open’ year-round, but from April to October, trail organizers offer a rotation of themed food events – billed as Burren Food Trail Mondays. Past events have included a kayaking trip that includes a gourmet picnic, afternoon tea services and chocolate making demonstrations.
Oxford County, Ontario
Designed to celebrate the rich dairy and cheese-producing heritage and variety of cheese being made in Oxford County, the Oxford County Cheese Trail gives food tourists a compelling reason to visit the region.
The Cheese Trail features businesses of many different types, all of whom are united in their passion for showing off the local cheese and dairy industry. From cheesemakers to farms, pubs to artisan shops selling locally-made cheese boards, the Trail is successful in that it has brought together a group of like-minded businesses that might normally be competitors to work together around a common theme and showcase the region as a whole. Collectively, the Cheese Trail creates a richer regional narrative to attract visitors, benefitting everyone involved.
Prince Edward County, Ontario
The Taste Trail, in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, was established in 2005. It is a tour route featuring wine and culinary highlights of the county, allowing visitors to easily discover and experience the best food and drink the county has to offer. From farmers’ markets and artisan shops to wineries and restaurants, the Taste Trail is a delicious exploration of the county’s culinary delights.
The Taste Trail, which spans the entire county, incorporates 24 businesses that meet set criteria and pay an annual fee of $1200. The criteria include: being open 8 months of the year or longer, posting their hours of operation publicly (and adhering to them), carrying sufficient insurance, and promoting their unique taste offering to the consumer.
The Taste Trail program is delivered in both official Canadian languages (English and French). It has permanent route signage (through the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works), a website, an annual print guide, as well as a marketing and media relations program.
The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) delivers the Wine Route to its member wineries. The route crosses the province through key areas that WCO services including Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, Twenty Valley, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Beamsville into Toronto and Prince Edward County. The Wine Route Planner allows visitors to easily research, plan, and ultimately customize their visit to Ontario’s wine country.
In addition to promoting the Wine Route in their annual Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide, they have a mobile website and an integrated marketing and PR campaign. The Travel Guide also features supporting businesses along the route including accommodations and restaurants.