Hyperlocal Travel: Eating and Art to Fill Another Summer Close to Home

I can’t resist a good ‘series mission’ when I travel—A series mission is the attempt to visit or experience a collection of similar or related sites or events, either all in one trip or over time. 

I love the experience of well curated travel, so I was thrilled to find that Explore Waterloo Region has just launched the Art Fesco Table Trail, the ultimate hyperlocal travel mission, perfectly coordinated with the patio season. Since it’s our second summer of close-to-home travel, you have time to dive in. 

Art Fresco pairs 50 picnic tables with 50 different restaurants across Waterloo Region. They are distributed in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and each of the four townships. The tables were painted by 38 different local artists in 2020 and had their debut the same summer. 

This year, Explore Waterloo Region expanded the initiative to become the Art Fresco Table Trail. You can sign up for a Trail Passport, scout out the locations of all 50 tables, then get to eating! 

Whenever you arrive at one of the participating restaurants, the Passport app will allow you to check in. Some restaurants are offering special discounts or value-added features when you present the passport on your phone. 

“Once you check in, you’re entered into a weekly draw to win a gift card to restaurants that are on that trail,” Emily Lake, sales manager for Explore Waterloo Region, said.

Clever incentive to keep me exploring all the options.

At the end of patio season, Explore Waterloo Region will draw a grand prize winner from all entries: a staycation package valued at $1,000. 

While we’re on this series mission to support local restaurants and cafés that have been hardest hit during the pandemic, we’re also introduced to 38 incredible artists. Each table has a QR code that gives you the artist’s name, their inspiration for the table, their original drawings with their table vision, their social media handles and website, and links for the restaurants. 

Some of the participating restaurants are found along the Iron Horse Trail and Spurline Trail so you can bike or walk to your destination. 

I’m looking forward to another series mission this summer and the satisfied sense of accomplishment that comes with supporting local and exploring local, all while filling my belly. I’m also looking forward to trying out restaurants I’ve never been to before and learning more about the incredible artists that make our towns and cities more beautiful every day. 

Find all participating restaurants on the Explore Waterloo Region website