This week I visited third generation Heeman and Chief Daymaker, Will Heeman. The family farm was founded in 1963 after his grandparents immigrated from Holland. When Londoners think strawberries, they think Heeman’s, but they are a LOT more than just berries. The family owned and operated business pride themselves on being able to offer everything for your green thumb at an affordable price! Their kind and knowledgeable staff (who stand out in orange) will be sure to help you find everything you need. Bring your kids and dogs! Have fun on the hill while checking out some fish and wildlife around the pond, or enjoy a coffee or famous strawberry sundae at the Berry Beaner! Don’t take our word for it, let your taste buds tell you why local is better (and tastes better).
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am-5:00pm
Neighbourhood: Downtown 122 Carling Street (map) http://www.marienbad.ca/
Neighbourhood: Downtown London 595 Richmond St. (map) https://joekools.ca/
Joe Kool’s is a Richmond Row staple, serving hot food and cold drinks over the sounds of sports games for over 30 years. Joe Kool’s offers sports bar classics like burgers, pizzas, and nachos as well as a variety of domestic and imported beers, including a selection of beers from their Richmond Row neighbour, Toboggan Brewery. With over a dozen screens throughout the restaurant, you’ll easily be able to see the game from any table in the place. Sports fans have used Joe Kool’s as a gathering place for decades, and nothing can change that. The atmosphere is vibrant with cheers of elation and groans of disappointment whenever a team scores. Joe Kool’s itself does not have a public stance on who wins the World Cup, so everyone should feel welcome. Just keep it civil if you get seated next to a family cheering for the rival team.
Neighbourhood: Downtown London 268 Dundas St. (map)
Neighbourhood: Fairmont 706 Haminton Rd. (map) http://reidosleitoes.com/
Neighbourhood: The Coves 1 Cove Rd. (map) http://germancanadianclublondon.com/
Neighbourhood: Downtown, Masonville & White Oaks 660 Richmond St, 88 Fanshawe Park Rd. & 1070 Wellington Rd. (map) http://jackastors.com/
Driving Arts, Culture & Business in Downtown LondonTonight is going to be fun: you and your best friends have tickets to a big event that you’ve been anticipating for months, and you know that it’s going to be a blast. This is your town and your scene, after all. Your evening starts at a downtown pub with a round of a few local craft beers, where overnight parking is just a stone’s throw away. Afterward, you and your crew hit one of the many available dinner options. It’s busy, but fortunately you made a reservation in advance. A few hours of banter and catching up with one another sets the stage perfectly. You each enjoy a five-star meal including steaks, tapas, and a bottle of Ontario wine. Eventually, you and your friends have to settle your tab and make tracks to get to your seats on time. And so, in anticipation of the evening’s main event, you waste no time in walking only a few blocks to Budweiser Gardens. That’s right… You’re not in Toronto. You’re in London, Ontario, taking part in the city’s quickly growing cultural and entertainment scene that brings more and more people to its hip downtown area every year. The lights in the Gardens go down, and your evening’s entertainment is about to begin!
The VenueIn the heart of the city’s downtown core, Budweiser Gardens stands alone as London Ontario’s premier large-scale entertainment venue for sports, live music, theatrical performances, and more. Originally opening its doors as the John Labatt Centre (named after the founder of Labatt Breweries), the complex was renamed in October of 2002, and is home to both the London Lightning basketball and London Knights hockey teams, offering seating for over 9,000 fans per game. Consistent with the city’s longstanding mission to support the vibrancy, culture, and growth of its downtown neighbourhoods – while at the same time preserving as much heritage architecture as possible – the facility was originally intended to incorporate materials from the Talbot Inn, a 19th century hotel that had previously occupied the site for over 125 years. Though the plan to preserve the original structure for the centre’s northeast facade turned out to be largely unfeasible, the end result has done well to blend in among the older, yellow Chicago-brick buildings found throughout downtown, especially given its considerable size. What bricks could be salvaged from the Talbot Inn now make up the walls of the Talbot Bar & Grille restaurant found on the Gardens’ second level. In their quest to deliver event programming that holds something for everyone, the designers at Budweiser Gardens made accommodation and accessibility a top priority. From comfortable standard seating, to the boxes and VIP sections, to multiple accessible entrances and viewing areas, the venue is fully equipped to satisfy its diverse audience’s needs and provide an exceptional experience every time. To help attendees plan their night out and find their way around the facility, the Budweiser Gardens website offers loads of information and interactive features, including downloadable maps that show the locations of the various amenities on each level. These include, but are not limited to, gates and box offices, escalators, elevators, washrooms, food concession stands, bars, ATMs, merchandise booths, and, of course, the restaurant. Each event is also staffed by friendly and courteous ushers, security personnel, and customer service reps who are happy to answer any questions from patrons and help them find what they’re looking for. “I love the fact that I don’t always have to go to Toronto to see the bands I love”, insists frequent concert-goer Erik Jenner of Springbank Drive. “It’s just a short walk from where I live, which keeps things simple. I was just there for the Queens of the Stoneage show, and it was awesome. They always run things tightly on schedule, and getting to your seats is easy, so there’s no endless waiting around. What’s more is that events always seem to end right on time too, so it’s no hassle if you want to make plans with friends for later.”
Buying TicketsThe event listings and calendar on the Gardens’ site are simple to navigate, quickly and clearly showcasing what’s coming up in the Gardens’ impressive schedule. From regular sporting events to some of the biggest rock’n’roll tours in the world, picking your pleasure is the only hard part. From there, you are taken directly into the ordering process, complete with colour-coded seating charts for the different sections of the venue, and pricing for each. Any special conditions (e.g., a maximum of 8 tickets per customer) are featured in bold red text to help avoid confusion. Once your order is added to your cart, you have an opportunity to see the total cost of your order and how it breaks down before checking out. But don’t wait too long… Your booking will time out after a few minutes, so get your choice of seats while you can!
Group ExperiencesAccording to the Budweiser Gardens website, anyone can attend an event as a group! Group bookings are entitled to discounts on select events, preferred seating options, and additional attention from staff who will be on hand to ensure that your evening out together is a magical and memorable experience. Group ticket sales are also made available for select shows – even before they go on sale to the general public! Budweiser Gardens will also drop the per-ticket service charge, and even provides incentives for the organizers of group bookings which may include tickets for other events, gift certificates, and merchandise (depending on the number of seats booked).
Dinner PackagesCertain shows have dinner packages available with event viewing from the Talbot Bar & Grille located within Budweiser Gardens. Select menus are listed on the website enabling patrons to customize every detail of their meal, guaranteeing that a perfect evening will be enjoyed by all.
Premium Club MembershipsBudweiser Gardens rewards regular attendees for their loyalty. With a Premium Club Membership, you can take advantage of regular season tickets to all London Knights games, the chance to reserve your seats for all the hottest events before general tickets go on sale, member parking at the Covent Garden Market across the street, invitations to all Premium Club member parties, and more. The Premium Club is currently full according to the Budweiser Gardens website, but there is an online form that can put you on the waiting list today.
Presale & Promo CodesThe Garden’s ecommerce portal also supports promo codes that offer discounts to certain groups for specific events! Check online to see what’s currently available. Want to catch that big upcoming tour? Follow their social media channels to be the first to take advantage of great deals when these offers go live.
Planning Your NightBudweiser Gardens instantly became one of the major cornerstones that characterizes downtown London’s newly dubbed ‘entertainment district’ due to the wealth of options that are available to the public, allowing them to customize the perfect experience with a focus on what they want to do. And options are abundant.
AccommodationsFor the convenience of many out-of-towners that come to in to London for games, shows, and events each year, Budweiser Gardens is nestled among a number of amenities that meet their unique needs for parking, food, and accommodation. Nearly twenty separate paid parking lots surround the facility, with plenty of free street parking in nearby residential neighbourhoods. “Honestly, I often prefer going out of town to see some of the same things that I could potentially see closer to home”, offers Toronto’s Danielle Kenedy, a live music and hockey enthusiast. “Sometimes it’s nice to not have to deal with Toronto’s congested downtown traffic or exorbitant parking fees and see a new city at the same time. It’s also great to be able to catch a touring band in a slightly smaller and less overwhelming venue that still has all the perks. I saw Green Day at the Budweiser Gardens a little while back. The sound was fantastic and there seemed to be great stage visibility from every area of the venue. I’m not that tall, so this is kind of a big deal for me.” Roughly a dozen hotels to suit various budgets are available to event-goers in the downtown core alone. This is complemented by an ever-growing number of upscale and competitively-priced Air BNB options in both homes and condos for those who want to have a truly unique experience, and not have to worry about getting back home the same night.
Driving Business DowntownCommunity feedback from nearby business owners is universally positive, given that events at Budweiser Gardens bring a great amount of overflow traffic into their places of business. There are numerous sports bars nearby where fans can grab a great meal and a drink before puck-drop, ideal to serve a large and diverse public in search of exciting evening entertainment with friends and family. “You can’t get a seat in here on game night” says Gord Pellett, manager of The Squire Pub & Grill. Having the Gardens right here is extremely good for business.” Gord is also excited to see the area develop further with the city’s plans for Dundas Place, which are currently underway. “It’s a little painful right now with all the roadwork, but we’re very excited for the finished product. A pedestrian area like that is going to bring even more foot traffic into the downtown core, and will enable cafés and bars to set up outdoor patios and feature live music of their own. With the Gardens right at the end of the stretch, it will be the perfect scene for people to plan a fun-filled day in anticipation of seeing a spectacular event in a world-class venue at the end of it all.” Another business owner, Jocelyn de Groot of zen’Za Pizzeria, says that having the Gardens across the street is absolutely ideal for their business. “It’s really helped us connect to countless new faces who have since become regular customers”, she explains. “It’s definitely made us feel a part of the scene down here. Not only do we feed countless attendees both before and after events, but we’re even known now to many of the performers and athletes that routinely come around. We have a wonderful open-door relationship with the management at the Gardens so we can simply call them up and ask how many tickets they’ve sold on any given night. This lets us ensure that we’ve scheduled enough staff. Many bands will arrive at the venue and will ask for a good pizza recommendation, so we’re constantly running pizzas over there. It’s been really great for us.” Bob Usher, CEO of Covent Garden Market, is thrilled to have the Gardens as a neighbour. “When the city began reinvesting in the downtown core we were very much the flag-bearers of that initiative. Of course, we can’t do it alone. While the Market caters to all kinds of daytime interests and activities, the Gardens gives people another reason to stay downtown and spend their evening here. We’re proud to partner with Budweiser Gardens in supplying parking for their preferred members and look forward to working together in supporting downtown London.” Though it has existed for barely more than a decade, it seems impossible to imagine London’s downtown area without the prominent presence of Budweiser Gardens. Our downtown has come a long way thanks to the value it brings to our culture and nightlife, alongside the countless unique businesses that work together to make it a fun and exciting part of town. The area continues to change and evolve, most notably with the imminent completion of Dundas Place. The end result will be a stylish community scene that supports downtown businesses, reduces congestion, and offers something to satisfy everyone, regardless of their tastes or interests. Make a day of it! Do some shopping. Enjoy some great food. Socialize with friends and strangers alike. And reserve your seats to the next awesome event happening at Budweiser Gardens, so that you, too, can live and experience everything that the new downtown London has to offer.
Whether you’re aiming to flaunt your beach body this summer or looking to improve your fitness to lengthen your life expectancy, a gym membership is likely one of the first steps to reaching your fitness goals. But with so many different fitness goals – slim down, bulk up, improve cardio, etc. – picking a gym can be difficult. Some gyms are catchalls and can service any need to some extent, while others are highly specialized in a certain area. Taking this into consideration when you’re deciding on your new gym membership will make you happier with your experience and more motivated to actually go and work out. Luckily, there are a bunch of locally owned and operated gyms and fitness centres, each with their own specialties and focuses to match the type of workout you’re looking for. Any of the options on this list are fantastic for someone, but maybe not for everyone, so make sure to look through all of them and find the one that suits you best.
Neighbourhood: Downtown London 241 Oxford St. E (map) http://www.hi-ignitionfitlab.com/
Hi-Ignition Fit Lab will get your butt in shape! With talented trainers, top of the line equipment, and a broad range of classes, they have everything to get you fit in no time!
The gym is a boutique-style fitness centre, dedicated to helping you reach your fitness goals, whether it be losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving flexibility. They’ve got classes for everything from yoga to high intensity interval training (HIIT), so not matter what you’re looking for, you’ll have a bounty of options at Hi-Ignition.
The gym, which is conveniently located downtown, has three floors, each with their own specialty. On the ground floor is the personal training room and a cardio space, perfect for one-on-one or small group sessions with your trainer. On the second floor, you’ll find all of the stationary bicycles and a group fitness room, which hosts Bosu, TRX, and other HIIT training. On the third and top floor, is the Spirit Lab, your destination for yoga, meditation, barre, and pilates.
We did a #BusinessOfTheWeek with owner April Crake way back in 2017, check it out here! She’s passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable about fitness, and definitely someone you can trust to take care of you on your fitness journey!
Neighbourhood: Glen Cairn 962 Leathorne St. (map) https://fitclubbootcamps.ca/
FitClub Bootcamps was easily the most recommended gym when we asked for your favourites on social media. The public’s support for FitClub was so immense, we definitely had to check them out. FitClub runs on the boot camp model, hence the name. They host hour-long sessions of circuit training a few times per day, ranging from the crack of dawn 5:30 am sessions to after-work workouts at 6pm. Every day is different though, so make sure you’re signed up and attending at the right times. They even have an app for both Android and iPhone to help you schedule your workout sessions which is incredibly handy. There are also opportunities for personal training, either one on one or small groups. Going for smaller groups allows your program to be more tailored to your goals and will better suit your pace without pushing you too hard or being too easy and wasting your time. For the truly dedicated, FitClub also offers access to their “Inner Circle,” which includes features such as nutrition and supplement guidance and unlimited personal coaching online. While this may not be for everybody, they think of it as a way to give yourself an extra sense of motivation to stay healthy and active. With the tightknit and incredibly supportive community growing, both in the gym and on social media, FitClub Bootcamps has quickly become a fantastic spot to get your sweat on.
Neighbourhood: Old East Village 1025 Elias St, (map) http://powerhousetraining.ca/
Powerhouse Training Systems lives up to its name in every way. This Old East Village gym is easily the most physically demanding gym on this list, pushing an emphasis on being greater than average. Their approach utilizes a combination of open gym and structured training sessions, either strength training or dynamic work, in small groups. This style of training gets the attention and coaching of personal training and the motivation and morale of training in a group, as well as the benefit of being a fraction of the price of personal training. Powerhouse may not be for every person, and they know that. They pride themselves on catering to an upper tier of fitness, beyond the everyday need to stay fit. Their style of training is intense, modeled after the kinds of training that professional athletes do and they don’t hold back. Their relentless approach to fitness has brought over 40 CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) and NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) athletes into the gym to use their programs over the last couple of years. That’s not to say that you have to be an athlete, but you do have to be ready to train like one. Training at Powerhouse takes dedication and perseverance, it’s more than just heading to the gym for an hour on the treadmill. For some, it may be excessive, for others it could be exactly what they need to excel in their fitness goals.
Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1175 Hyde Park Rd. (map) http://rev3k.com/
Rev3K Fitness Refined is an all-around facility that realizes fitness is more than just physical exercise. The programs at Rev3k offer entire lifestyles to help improve your nutrition, motivation, and, of course, your physical fitness as well. Owner and coach, Leija Koeman, is a former Dutch Olympic athlete turned fitness instructor, sharing her training, knowledge, and experiences with the London community at their Hyde Park location. Their training style combines Olympic training, modern circuit training, anaerobic pathways and metabolic conditioning. Koeman has multiple programs to target people’s various goals, whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength and muscle mass, improve your cardio, or some combination. The various programs involve different circuits and offer nutrition guides to help you meet your goals and make sure you aren’t reversing those gains with every meal. There’s also a program for kids to ensure they’re up and active this summer and throughout the school year. Rev3K also has a “cardio cousin” on Windermere, which offers spin classes multiple times per day. The classes are conducted in the dark, lit only by candles. They believe that this environment allows you to lose yourself in order to push past barriers – whether physical or mental – and exceed your own expectations. If you’re looking for a gym that helps all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, Rev3K is a great one stop shop for all-around fitness.
Neighbourhood: Hyde Park 1695 Wonderland Rd, (map) http://combinefitness.ca/
Combine Fitness, up north at Wonderland and Fanshawe Park Road, is a premiere training facility for developing and enhancing adults and youths alike. Their variety of classes and extended programs makes them suitable for most people looking for something new in their fitness regimen. The name “Combine” stems from the structure of their classes. There are seven varieties, each with their own combination and ratio of cardio, resistance, weight, and core training. For instance, if you want a heavier emphasis on cardio, the Classic Combine class offers a 50/50 split of cardio and weights, or Combine Boxing has a 70/30 split of cardio and strength training. Depending on what you’re looking to get out of your workout, any of these seven programs could be the one for you. For the athletes out there, Combine also offers specialty programs tailored to improving your fitness in a way that will also improve your game. They offer programs for football, soccer, hockey, and volleyball currently, with plans to implement basketball and track and field programs in the future. They’ll even train your whole team at once because what helps boost team morale more than a hard workout? Whether you’re an athlete or just looking to get fit, Combine Fitness has all the best elements of other gyms combined into one package and is worth checking out.
Neighbourhood: Soho 180 Simcoe St. (map) http://www.andfit.ca/
ANDFIT is one of the most specialized gyms on this list, being a women’s only gym with dedicated classes for pregnant women and new moms. Owner and operator, Andrea Merucci Hsiung, has multiple certifications that contribute to her success in this niche market, including a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies and Psychology, a certification in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and of course, a certification as a personal training specialist from the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals. All of this education has cumulated in ANDFIT, a fitness experience tailored for women to build strong bodies and minds. ANDFIT’s mother focused classes include both pre-natal and post-natal yoga, mom and baby strength classes, and stroller boot camp, a six week program with two classes per week, which takes place in Springbank Park for a nice change of pace. But don’t feel excluded if you currently don’t have children, there are plenty of options for classes. Women’s Bootcamps, Strength Lunch classes, and Sunday Sweat Sesh classes run regularly, and regardless of your parental status, you’re welcome to join in and get your sweat on. Andrea’s goal is to create a group of women supporting one another and acting as motivation to believe in a happier and healthier self, and from the look of things, she is succeeding. The ANDFIT community is growing rapidly with no signs of stopping, so get into a class while there’s still space.
Neighbourhood: Berkshire Village 460 Berkshire Drive (map) https://joinfcf.com/
Forest City Fitness is the only 24 hour gym on this list. This place never closes. Weekends, holidays, you name it, they’re open. Since they use key fobs to access their facilities, they never have to close! The ease and convenience of a 24 hour gym is not lost on anyone. Go whenever it suits you, even if that’s 3AM. Forest City Fitness offers more than just open gym time though, there are also a number of classes scheduled throughout the day, some of which are irregular to say the least. They offer gym classics such as bootcamps, Core and Strength classes, and beginner yoga, but they also offer oddities such as Kangoo Jumps class and POUND Rockout Workout. The former being a workout aided by Kangoo Jumps rebound shoes, a high end version of Moon Shoes from the 90’s, but for adults. The rebound shoes reduce 80% of the impact of a typical workout on your body’s joints, allowing people with bad knees and other joint issues to still get active. The latter uses the power of music to get you moving, but not just listening to Eye of the Tiger and other pump up jams at loud volumes – you make the music. Using lightly weighted drumsticks, the POUND system turns drumming into a full body workout, incorporating cardio, conditioning, and strength training with yoga and pilates-inspired movements. For the intrigue of completely new styles of workouts, as well as the convenience of a gym that’s always open, Forest City Fitness could be the perfect fit for your exercise needs.
Neighbourhood: Downtown 238 Dundas St. (map) https://bpmfitness.ca/
At BPM Fitness, their number one goal is self-love. In their eyes, working out shouldn’t be perceived as a punishment or a chore, it’s a way to prove to yourself that you are worth putting in effort for. Self-love is a motivator to stick with diet plans, fitness regimens, and other healthy habits that take work – you do it because you believe you’re worth it and are proud of your accomplishments. BPM offers group classes and personal training with their fitness staff, working with you through circuits of high intensity exercises, a routine they call “burn, build, and bike,” that will dissolve those pounds and shed those inches off your waist. Despite the high intensity, the trainers never feel like drill sergeants that are there to demean and punish, instead they are supportive and knowledgeable, helping you succeed and feel the right kind of burn when you exercise. With plenty of classes throughout the day and an app to help you schedule your upcoming workouts, finding the right time to get out to their downtown location and sweat has never been easier. The environment at BPM Fitness is a great way to get into exercising if you’re just getting back into it or starting a workout regimen for the first time. The BPM team is inviting and supportive to keep you motivated through their intense workouts. For a positive experience from bottom to top, BPM fitness will get your heart pumping with good vibes and exercise.
BeautyWhen thinking of ideas to landscape your swimming pool area, you will want to create a beautiful space that that you enjoy spending time in and showing proudly to others. Each part of your décor should naturally compliment and flow with the other aspects of your sanctuary. All the colours, textures, patterns and placements should combine to create a visually breathtaking area. There are many ways you can add the wow factor around your backyard pool. Installing the right fixtures including tiles, patio stones, furniture, ornamental pieces, lighting and foliage will create a visually appealing place that is both attractive and functional. When shopping, pick accents that will add beauty to your environment. Some products can create other problems that you want to avoid. Plants are a must have in yard décor. Your foliage can be planted anywhere including around the fence or pool to create additional privacy, along walkways to provide a natural border, and in pots to fill in spaces and add a splash of colour. But picking the wrong shrubs can attract unwanted guests turn your yard into a messy disaster. Steer clear of sap or nectar producing greenery that attracts insects. Avoid choosing shedding bulbs that lose their leaves or petals. These plants only add debris in and around your swimming pool. Also steer clear of prickly thorns that can injure to unsuspecting guests. If you are planning on installing shrubs close to your swimming pool, try to pick hearty bushes that can tolerate the chlorine and other water-based chemicals. The colour of your furniture should compliment the rest of your set up. Opt for contrasting hues that stand out, but do not clash with the rest of your area. Chairs, benches, and other outdoor settees should be set up in different locations throughout your yard, so your guests have ample room to sit comfortably. Wooden decks, patios, stepping stones, tiles, and marble slabs are used to hard flooring surfaces, paths and a supportive area around your pool walls. The hard tops are not only attractive foundations, but they also help to keep your environment clean. Installing the right patios, decks, and walkways is important because they are permanent features that lay the foundation for the rest of your décor. It is essential to choose products that balance your layout so each part transitions smoothly into the next. Remember, you cannot camouflage bad tiling so take your time choosing the right materials and patterns. There are plenty of accent pieces that can be installed to help add appeal to your private space. Waterfalls and fountains are must have’s in pool landscaping this year. Setting up a lighted waterfall with the water cascading into the pool creates a glorious focal point around your swimming area. Planters, statues, and other contemporary furnishings fill empty spaces while adding the right final touch to your outdoor room.
PrivacySpending time in your yard is not enjoyable when everyone can see what your doing. Your pool area is your own personal retreat, so it is important to set up your area with fixtures that will guarantee your privacy. To keep the prying eyes from watching your every move, install fencing, lattice walls or trees around the outer rim of your place. There are several options available to select from that are made to compliment your area. If you share an exterior wall with neighbours, replacing it might not be an option. Planting lush bushes along your side is a great way to increase your privacy while hiding unattractive siding.
SafetyInground pools are great features to have in your backyard, but they are not without risk. When planning your backyard landscaping, you must keep safety for yourself and others in mind. The tiling around your swimming area should not only be attractive, but also slip resistant to reduce the risk of falling when the area gets wet. The types of foliage you choose is also important. Avoid plants with thorns so your guests do not prick themselves. Bug attracting greenery can be hazardous because they increase the risk of getting stung or having an allergic reaction from hungry a bees or wasp sting is higher. Stay away from plants that increase the risk of injury. When choosing lighting, beware of electricity near water. If needed, hire an electrician to install the light fixtures around your space so they are done safely and properly. Some wiring might be installed underground. This should be done first so you do not have to rip up your grounds later.
ShadeAs fun as the sun is, staying directly under it for too long is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be unsafe. Burns and other heat related injuries can occur if you and your guests cannot escape the blazing rays. Therefore, part of your pool landscaping plans must include shaded areas. Gazebos are great structures that offer protection from the heat and create a permanent focal point in your decorating schemes. These solid outer spaces also offer the perfect place to install an outdoor kitchen or barbeque area, so you have everything to fully entertain your guests. When a permanent building is not an option, portable large outdoor patio umbrellas are also great features. The moveable coverings let you choose where and how you are going to set up your shaded area, so you and your guests will always have a protective area away from the sun’s harsh glare. Swimming pools are the perfect backyard accessory to have during the hot summer months. With the right landscaping ideas, your can create a great environment to relax, have fun, and entertain others. Creating a beautiful space will also increase the value of your property. Landscaping your inground pool area takes thought and planning to make sure it is done right so you optimize your yard to develop your own private oasis.
Ribfest & Food Fests
New Years Eve in the Park
Pride in the Park
MOVIE NIGHT IN THE PARK
LIGHTING OF THE LIGHTS
The RopesThe central feature of The Factory in terms of getting the heart pumping is the ropes course. At 75 feet high and with 145 feet of ziplines, the rope course at The Factory is the highest and largest indoor rope zone in North America. The ropes in this course are spread between two towers standing on opposite ends of the old factory floor; between them, there are 88 separate obstacles that range from the fairly easy to manoeuvre to the nearly impossible to pass. Once you make it through these obstacles, the tops of the towers contain the zip lines, strung above the fray. You can ride back and forth on the ziplines to your heart’s content and believe me, once you get the taste of it that rush through the air with the adventure spreading out below you is an experience you’re going to want to take in again and again If you somehow get your fill of zipping through the air like a special forces operative, this section of The Factory also features an attraction of the death-defying daredevil in all of us: free-fall jumping. For beginner jumpers, or for people who think of heights in the same category that they think of spiders or the electric bill, there is a 39-foot jump that will provide all of the thrills with none of the memories flashing before your eyes. Beyond that, though, there is a 65-foot free-fall jump the staff call the Shift-Ender, which isn’t perhaps quite as ominous as it sounds. There is, in fact, something incredibly freeing about standing at the top, looking down into the void, and forcing your body to just jump. There’s no need to worry about global affairs, or the changing workplace, or that nagging voice that keeps you awake at night telling you to stop drying your work socks on the radiator: there is just you, the restraints, and all of that delicious empty air beneath you. Speaking of the staff, they really are a cut above at The Factory. You never feel rushed as you’re getting set up, or as though you’re just another numbered customer that they have to go through to get to their coffee break. It’s incredibly obvious that for them, this is not just a job but a passion; they’re patient, kind, and will thoroughly explain the answers to any questions you might have until you’re both comfortable and satisfied. They’re professionals in terms of customer service, sure, but it’s also apparent that they’re professionals in terms of the offered attractions as well. They don’t just work there, they play there – there’s a reason they call that gorgeous 65-foot drop the Shift-Ender, after all. It’s clear that this was part of the founding vision of The Factory. General Manager and part owner Dan Cassidy, in a press announcement to the CBC, mentioned an attraction called the Battle Beam, which would involve those giant staffs resembling Q-tips that were first popularized on American Gladiators. Cassidy’s joke was that all staff debates would be solved on the Battle Beam, but there’s a sense that it’s only a half-joke, since the staff is deeply embedded into the adventure. They know everything that’s going on: the rope course alone requires them to go through over 40 hours of training so that they can safely and easily ensure that you’re having the maximum amount of thrill-seeking adventure per visit. Health and safety is quite naturally a big concern, and to this end The Factory has partnered with Waterloo-based Med-On-Site to provide the perfect balance between highly trained medical staff and flexible coverage. The safety system also involves a state-of-the-art RFID system that tracks guests through the facility, ensuring that no one wanders into areas that would be unsafe to venture into and also ensures that even your rambunctious thrill-jockey children won’t get lost or hurt.
The TrampolinesOf course, The Factory offers more than just the rope course for working up a good sweat. Another key attraction is the massive trampoline park – here is where the Battle Beam that Dan Cassidy mentioned resides, and a whole lot more. There are 20,000 feet of trampolines on The Factory floor, and if that doesn’t solve your need to grab serious air then nothing will. It’s not just trampolines, either, but the way The Factory has put together these trampoline attractions. Have you ever wanted to slam it just like LeBron, if not his teammates? The basketball slam attraction will have you shooting your way to NBA stardom in no time. Do you want your jump time to encompass a kaleidoscope of flashing lights, sounds, and bouncing? The interactive lights attraction will fulfill those artistic pop-star visions that are dancing in your head. Ever wish that Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller made an all-out sequel to Dodgeball? The glow dodgeball attraction has your back: it’s dodgeball, on trampolines, that’s also glow in the dark. If that doesn’t get your athletic competition saliva flowing then maybe the Meltdown will catch your attention. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Wipeout you’ll know exactly what the Meltdown is all about; even if you haven’t, it won’t take you long to catch on. It’s a block with two long arms sticking out of it; the block rotates at multiple different speeds and it’s your job to jump over the arms and ensure that you remain upright. It’s one of those things that sounds simple but when you’re doing it on a trampoline it becomes a lot more challenging. It’s also one of the most fun challenges to take on as a group: start with a collection of people and watch them dwindle as they fall victim to the spinning arms.
The Ultimate Warrior CourseIf the trampoline park isn’t hands-on enough for you, The Factory also features a full Warrior Course so you can live out all of your American Ninja Warrior fantasies. The Ultimate Warrior course consists of 38 stationary obstacles, including rings, ladders, nets, swinging steps, cheeseboards, log rolls, sweeper arms, and spinning discs. For those who have a need to compete to the edge of their endurance, the Ultimate Warrior course is the perfect test, and it even features the ability to run the course against friends. If you want to dial it down a little bit from that height, there is also the Adrenalator, which tests the racer’s endurance as they try to outrun a huge treadmill. For those looking to capture some of that movie star glamour, there is also the Stunt Airbag, which let’s you free-fall 15 feet onto a gigantic inflated airbag. These options bring some diversity to the physical activities on offer at The Factory while still keeping the heart-rate pumping. The adventure isn’t the sole province of adults, either. The Factory features a 5,500 square foot play area for children under 12. The playground features an intricate series of tubes as well as a miniature rock-climbing wall for the budding daredevil ninjas out there. A separate area is available for infants and toddlers, with small slides and padded play areas to stimulate interaction in the youngest. It’s not just standard physical play either; there are games available on interactive touch screens and 10 different scavenger hunts to keep things continually interesting.
GAMING FUNThe Factory isn’t just a playground for those who like to defy gravity and move to the limit. It’s also the home to cutting-edge entertainment that combines media and technology with human interaction. The arcade section boasts over 100 games, putting it in direct competition with London’s other state-of-the-art arcade, The Rec Room. In addition to the games, however, the arcade section also features a Lazer Maze where you can live out your spy infiltration fantasies, and another trampoline game where you bounce and try to smash as many ninja stars as you can in a 90 second time frame. Not content with merely tacking on an arcade like so many other places do, The Factory has gone the extra mile to ensure that the entertainment they offer is cutting-edge. To this end, The Factory has implemented an entire Virtual Reality section, featuring top-of-the-line HTC Vive VR headsets that provide a full range of motion for the ultimate immersion into whatever program you’re in – and there are a lot. The Factory’s VR section has over 700 different VR “experiences”, ranging from action-packed shooting sequences to team-based athletics to more refined, artistic experiences. The VR room rotates through 50 or so per day, so you’d have to go fairly often to get the same set of experiences twice. Plus, with 24 pods to park yourself in it’s not just a solo experience – this is something the entire workplace can get together and enjoy. At the risk of sounding like Billy Mays, that’s not all! The Factory also offers a series of interactive escape rooms powered by London’s premier escape room company, Mystery Escape Rooms. If you’re a beginner to the escape room experience, MER’s facility at The Factory features a 25-minute mini-escape room to get you acclimatized to how it all works. If you’re already in the know, then there are 7 different experiences for you to take in, depending on your group size, comfort level, and time constraints.
THE BOTTOM LINEIndoor adventure isn’t something that you need to go far from home to seek out; you can push your endurance to the limit right at home in London, Ontario. Whether you’re looking to work out to the extreme or get in some good competitive group fun, The Factory has exactly what you’re looking for. This new growth in London’s historic Old East Village proves London’s status as a city of forward-thinking entrepreneurs looking to match the city’s gorgeous vistas with the best in entertainment for people of all ages and skill levels.
Neighbourhood: Carling Heights
1080 Adelaide St. North (map)
226 Piccadilly St. (map)
ROLI POLI ICE CREAM CO.
484 Richmond St. (map)
If the classic scoop just doesn’t do it for you anymore, look no further than Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. This year-old business on Richmond Row offers rolled ice cream, a trend originating in Thailand that has blown up across North America recently. Rolling the ice cream is a hypnotizing process that Roli Poli will do before your very eyes. They pour the liquid base onto a super-chilled slab which freezes it almost instantly. With quite a bit of elbow grease and a specialized metal spatula, the ice cream is spread and the toppings are incorporated, until finally it’s rolled into tight cylindrical tubes of frozen goodness and placed in a cup with more toppings. It really is something that needs to be seen, words just can’t do it justice. If the theatricality of it all isn’t enough, flavours such as Apple Pie – vanilla ice cream, apple fritters from our friends at the Fritter Shop, caramel, and cinnamon sugar – or Avo-licious – an interesting sweet application of the avocado – will definitely bring in a crowd. They are always coming up with new flavours and combinations to consistently blow your mind on return visits. Roli Poli offers three different bases depending on your preference or dietary restrictions: cream, yogurt, or coconut milk. Or perhaps your dietary restriction is simple pickiness and rolling up ice cream goes against your values. In which case, Roli Poli offers classic hard scooped ice cream in a variety of flavours. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, fully vegan, or stuck in your ways, Roli Poli has got you covered. For a bit of a twist on the old ice cream formula, Roli Poli Ice Cream Co. is a trendy, fascinating spot to still fill that cold and sweet craving.
LONDON ICE CREAM COMPANY
43 Baseline Rd W. (map)
DOUBLE DECKER ICE CREAM
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
900 King St. (map)Winning the unofficial award for most unique ice cream venue in London, Double Decker Ice Cream is served out of exactly what the name implies: a double decker bus parked on Wellington Road. The bright red decommissioned British bus is hard to miss when you drive by, acting as the only advertising done by the company. From the bus, you’ll be served Shaw’s ice cream, a dairy based out of St. Thomas that just celebrated its 70th anniversary in business. They proudly boast that their ice cream’s first ingredient is 100% Canadian cream, always fresh. For their anniversary, they have introduced a few throwback flavours like Cherry Vanilla – a 1950’s style classic – and Saturday Morning Cartoons – a blast from the past that “tastes like that sweet milk rippled with a golden graham cereal swirl.” Other spectacular offerings include cones, sundaes, and ice cream sandwiches – where you can pick both the flavour of the ice cream and the cookie flavour. For example, for total cookie overload, you could go for the Double Stuffed Cookie ice cream sandwiched between classic chocolate chip cookies. Double Decker is a great place to bring your kids, with rock bottom prices and plentiful options, you won’t be breaking the bank to give your family a great summer treat. You could even bring a pint of your favourite flavour home for under $10. Plus the big red bus is a great spectacle for the kids. For a completely original experience, nothing parallels purchasing delicious ice cream from the side of a double decker bus.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS:Festivals: Throughout the summer, there are plenty of festivals held in Victoria Park that have entire rows dedicated to food and desserts. Whether you get a scoop on top of your funnel cake, or in some other crazy concoction, there are plenty of opportunities to grab some ice cream. Sunfest is coming up at the beginning of July, so head down and keep an eye out for an extra special cone or sundae on those festival weekends. Chil: Although technically speaking, Chil offers no ice cream, frozen yogurt could be considered close enough by the common person. Chil is a pay-by-weight frozen yogurt spot just off of Richmond Row on Hymen Street. Their variety of flavours and toppings is so expansive, it borders on entrapment, where most people will end up piling on more than they had anticipated and pay the consequences. For the absolute beast of a dessert though, it’s more than worth it. Make sure to look around downtown until you find one of their many coupons strewn around every bulletin board and lamp pole. You could end up getting a great deal on your fro yo. Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones: Found in the Covent Garden Market in the heart of downtown, Taylor Sue’s Cups and Cones serves up more than just their titular cups and cones of ice cream. They also offer other frozen delicacies such as frozen yogurt, slush, and smoothies. For a bit less guilt, you can feel safe in the knowledge that this ice cream is healthy, as they can add protein, whey, and other healthy nutrients upon request. The Scoop: The Scoop is a classic scoop shop with a couple locations in London – one on Hyde Park and another on Wellington. Like Double Decker, the Scoop offers Shaw’s Creamery to great praise from the local community. Despite being barely more than a shed, the Scoop will often have a line down the steps full of people just waiting for a classic cone. While it might not be something to travel miles for, it’s a popular spot among locals if you’re in the area.
WHISTLING DICKS BARBER SHOP
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
760 Dundas St (map)here.
LONDON FLOAT THERAPY
215 Fanshawe Park Rd. (map)here.
ANDERSON CRAFT ALES
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
1030 Elias St (map)
For the beer drinking dads, Anderson Craft Ales is a great gift idea. London has an abundance of breweries within the city limits, but Anderson is definitely one of our favourites. Their Old East Village brewery is also open to the public, which makes the gift more than just a six-pack of their fantastic IPA. Their small batch, handcrafted, premium beers are incredibly popular among locals, and have spread in restaurants, bars, and LCBOs (only the IPA so far) across the province. They even won the silver medal in its category at the Canadian Brewing Awards, beating out over 200 competitors. The taproom and tasting room overlooks their open concept brewery, so as you sip one of their excellent beers, either permanent or a seasonal brews, you can watch their process. They also have a shelf of board games for your enjoyment, as long as everyone can keep their cool during a game of Monopoly. Don’t forget to grab a souvenir from their retail store as well. A hat, t-shirt or pint glass with Anderson’s stylishly minimal logo would accompany the case of beer your dad is taking home perfectly, and of course acts as a reminder of what an excellent gift giver you are, even after the beer has disappeared. To sneak a peek at the brewery and get more information about their products, head over to our Business of the Week we did with them last summer, found here.
ILLBURY + GOOSE
Neighbourhood: Old East Village
884 Dundas St (map)
ROCK THE PARK
Neighbourhood: Downtown London
Harris Park (map)
BARACOA TOBACCONIST CIGAR SHOP
Neighbourhood: Old South
173 Wharncliffe Rd. (map)here.