I spend most of my time writing about the Caribbean and Mexico at the tripcentral.ca head office here in Hamilton, Ontario. While I love dreaming about the white sand beaches of the tropics, what I enjoy just as much is the food, drinks, and music that make the vibrant island life even better. While we may not have ocean views in Hamilton, we sure have the heat, friendly people, Caribbean beats, and delicious drinks to create that cool summertime vibe. So while I won’t be making it on an all-inclusive vacation this summer, I’m happy to re-create that island experience with these 6 activities in Hamilton.
1. Indulge in a refreshing cone from Henry Brown’s
Since Henry Brown’s opened in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market last summer, we’ve had even more excuses to indulge in ice cream year-round. Cool off from the summertime heat with one of their unique flavours that will take you back to your last all-inclusive holiday, like banana rum brulee, chunky churros, or coconut sorbet. As a bonus, they always use organic fair trade raw sugar cane from the tropics in all flavours plus organic coconut milk in their coconut and chocolate sorbets!
2. Sip on tropical cocktails from Hamilton’s bars
Summer is here!!! Come celebrate on #OttawaSt with a #RhubarbLemonade. @sutopiasue made a rhubarb syrup and mixed it with fresh lemon juice and Hendricks gin. #woohoo #craftcocktail #eastend #latenight #tastytreats
A photo posted by Black Sheep Snack Bar (@blacksheepsnack) on
There is no shortage of places to get a tropical cocktail in Hamilton (Lake Road, Mezcal, The Tavern on George are some favourites). Unfortunately, you’ll have to skip on the swim-up bar, but we promise the drinks will be just as good, if not better than your last resort vacation. We love the Campari and Basil Mojito at the Black Sheep Snack Bar ($12). One dollar from each drink supports the YWCA Hamilton’s recipe for change.
3. Cook at home with Chris de la Rosa
A photo posted by Chris De La Rosa (@caribbeanpot) on
Chris de la Rosa is outgoing, funny, well-travelled….and, he can cook the most delectable Caribbean cuisine. Follow along on his YouTube channel to recreate classics like jerk chicken stir-fry, tacos, oven roasted curry chicken, and ham pineapple fried rice. Oh, and panko crusted fried plantains…mmm.
4. Get your swim on in Gattina Swimwear
A photo posted by G A TT I N A (@gattinadesigns) on
Even if you’re just swimming in Puerto Backyarda this summer, there’s no reason not to look cute while you do. Suit up in one of Natasha Gatto’s Gattina designs for your next barbeque pool party. Rock her gorgeous halter one-pieces or high-wasted bikinis in leopard print, peacock print, or feminine florals.
5. Attend the Hamilton World Music Festival
@imazuze_music will be performing at this year’s festival from 7-8pm on Sunday July 17th! You dont want to miss this one! About Ivan Mazuze: The Ivan Mazuze Quintet presents progressive African jazz at its very best. Saxophonist and composer Ivan Mazuze leads the quintet with a playful style. Their sound blends a southern African background with West African contemporary drumming and jazz harmonies. The quintet includes electric bass and improvisation on guitar, acoustic piano and saxophone, traversing the landscape between jazz and African music. His first album, Ubuntu, was released in September 2015. #HWMFestival2016 #GagePark #hamiltonworldmusicfestival #WorldMusic #hamilton
Matapa music and arts organization presents the Hamilton World Music Festival in Gage Park from July 15-17. The lineup includes the Hamilton reggae band Riddim Riders (the drummer is from Dominica and the lead guitarist is from Jamaica) as well as Bumaranga (Montreal/Colombia), Lil America (Hamilton/El Salvador), and Sergio Perere (Brazil).
6. Feed Your Soul With Some Salsa
SalsaSoul Productions, Hamilton’s salsa dancing event organizers, brings Caribbean music to our own backyard. From their Sweet Salsa Soirees to SalsaSoul Sundays to Cuban dance lessons, there are so many ways to get involved and have a ton of fun! Salsa on the Waterfront events at Pier 8 Park are free and take place July 19 and August 2, 16, and 30. They include beginner salsa lessons followed by social dancing!
Do you have anything to add to the list? Comment below!