Port Dover is known for it’s infamous Friday the 13th biker-fests, but the Port Dover I know and love has a lot more to offer than just row after row of Harley’s.
I’ve been coming to Dover since I was a wee lass, when the sport shop by the beach was still a shitty 5 pin bowling alley; when beach shop was still Whitecaps, the best in fro-yo ever (they used to put a mini marshmallow in the bottom of your waffle cone- it kept all the melty-ness from dripping)…and before you start scratching your temple and doing the math I’m talking about the beautiful decade known as the 80’s.
Family friends used to own a cottage in Buck’s, and now I’m lucky to return to visit my Aunt and Uncle who have a house just outside the ‘downtown’ area.
But our family of Roachs needs a bit of space, and maybe a bit of privacy and well, sure a pool doens’t hurt either! We scored one of the cutest little cottages from Wilson Family Cottages which has a fantastic location just on St George street, maybe a 3 minute walk to the beach. Our mini blue cottage was well equipped with a full kitchen, two bedrooms, full bathroom (k, no tub, and the shower was kinda iffy), a TV we never turned on and nice extras like fans in the bedrooms, muskoka chairs outside, and a decent sized living area to sprawl out in.
The main draw for us other than location was the pool. Lake Erie is amazing, don’t get me wrong. But after a few hours frolicking in the waves the novelty wore off for my eager almost 8 year old who grew tired of not being able hurl herself cannonball style into the water. Wilson’s has a perfect sized (gated) pool, surrounded by more muskoka chairs and had a great social family friendly vibe- my kids made pals instantly, and my hubby and I felt safe sitting poolside (or also doing cannonballs) while they swam the days away.
In town, there’s loads of places to grab a bite. Some are a bit dodgy and dated, don’t expect any big chains at all, so leave your Starbucks card at home. Nifty noshings like crisps, candies and other fave British eats and treats are a safe bet and The British Shop right on Main Street. We scored a few Tangos, a packet of cheese n’ onion crisps and a sleeve of wine gums. Lunch is served!
Must try is an Arbor Dog, also on Main Street. Giant hot dogs and hot and greasy fries taste even better sitting outside, and this place is a stone’s throw from the lake. Word to the wise, vinegar (malt of course) comes in spray bottles that resemble something a janitor wields. Wash the wieners down with their ‘golden glow’, or my fave the peach glow. We gorged then came back later for ice cream-both soft serve and and conventional…cotton candy flavour was a particular fave.
Burning off all those calories in the water and road, I got out for a decent 5K run, around all the little side streets, the lighthouse and of course the treacherous sandy beach. Port Dover has their own run shop, The Runner’s Den is also conveniently on Main (there’s not much that isn’t on Main) and it is totally worth a gawk. Part run shop, part bike shop, part training program these guys have it all from shoes to gear to those little gel packs that you’re supposed to use for long runs (but I just can’t be bothered). They run programs for swimming, running and biking too.
Dotted around town are cool fixtures like the creepy broken down carousel, palm trees that mark the beach, old school see-saws in Powell Park and the genuine small town laid back vibe that is unmistakeably Dover.
Try: perch tacos, arbor dogs, pizza from the Shed.
Skip: the Subway or jam packed Timmy Ho’s. Dover has loads of place on the main strip, so stick local!