5 Things to Do on the Most Canadian Road Trip Ever
Hint: it’s all in the beautiful Ontario region of Kawarthas Northumberland
Get your plaids and fishing rods in order—it’s time for an Ontario road trip! Here are five compelling and oh-so-Canadian reasons to visit Kawarthas Northumberland, plus all the must-see stops along the way.
1. Maple syrup festivals and other liquid gold activities
What is a Canadian road trip in the spring if it’s not soaked in maple syrup? Check out one of the many devoted festivals, such as Maplefest at McLean & Buckhorn Berry Farm in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. You’ll get to eat pancakes, listen to live music and see how the sap-to-syrup magic happens. At Warkworth Village’s Maple Syrup Festival, you can go for a sleigh ride, watch log-sawing competitions and take a free shuttle bus from town to the sugar bush.
You should also plan a visit to Curle’s Maple Products & Museum in Northumberland County, which has been family owned and operated since 1862. You’ll explore grounds that have over 150 years of maple syrup history, and you can stock up on maple butter and countless other treats. The Roost, a family-run farm in Kawartha Lakes, also offers maple syrup tours in the spring. There’s definitely no shortage of sweet activities across the region—get all the info here.
2. Hands-on arts and culture experiences
See the largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft in the world at The Canadian Canoe Museum, a national heritage centre in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Explore the history and craftsmanship of artifacts built by Indigenous peoples from across North America and around the world. Discover the Museum’s interactive and family-friendly exhibits, or opt for a hands-on, behind-the-scenes tour of an artisanal workshop.
At the Whetung Ojibwa Centre, there’s often an artist working on-site amongst all the carvings, masks, pottery, paintings and intricate beadwork. With floor-to-ceiling displays of Indigenous artwork from Curve Lake First Nation and across the country, this is no ordinary gallery and gift shop. Before you go, sign up for a workshop, where you can learn how to make a talking stick or discover the art of storytelling and drumming.
You can even build your whole trip around these hands-on workshops. Discover over 50 sites along the Kawartha Lakes Arts and Heritage Trail, featuring artist studios, historic walking tours, museums and more. And check in with the Gamiing Nature Centre for forest-focused lessons and walks.
To discover arts and culture experiences across the entire region, click here.
3. Epic and abundant year-round fishing
Kawarthas Northumberland boasts some of the best multi-species fishing in the province. You can try ice fishing through one of the many resorts that provide huts and equipment. Later in the spring, however—when the ice has melted, water levels are high and the fish are hungry—is prime time to drop a line. Be safe, get some tips from this blog and check fishing zone regulations here because some species are not in season until April or later. The region is also home to year-round activities and informative resources at the Hunting & Fishing Heritage Centre at the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
4. Renowned birdwatching in beautiful parks
Early May is birdwatching season. The Carden Alvar Provincial Park in Kawartha Lakes is one of the top five birding spots in Ontario and an internationally recognized Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. You’ll spot bluebirds, sandpipers, nighthawks and many more, plus the unique grassland habitat is home to rare and endangered species such as the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike. You can even book a multi-day nature photography experience that’s focused on capturing shots of rare birds and wildflowers.
Farther south, Presqu’ile Provincial Park in Northumberland County is another not-to-miss spot. With at least 338 species sighted and great interpretive programs Presqu’ile also ranks amongst Ontario’s top birding destinations.
Major songbird migration often peaks just before Victoria Day, the perfect time to take yourself and your family on a birding trip. Get info here about all the birdwatching options throughout Kawarthas Northumberland.
5. The sweetest local culinary scene (including all the butter tarts)
Now, this is a farm-to-table experience. Make reservations at South Pond Farms for the perfect seasonal lunch or a workshop, then explore the trails around the grounds after your feast. Before you leave, pop into the gift shop for jams, salts, baked goods and more.
Don’t fill up though, because you’re about to embark on a butter tart extravaganza. The gooey, sugary centre and flaky crust are the raison d’être for the legendary Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour. Taste the iconic Canadian dessert at more than 50 bakeries, cafés and restaurants. To help inspire your itinerary, watch the Meet Our Bakers video series.
End your day sipping an award-winning, locally-created craft beer, wine, cider or spirit at one of many locations along these craft beverage routes.
Ready to go?
Check out kawarthasnorthumberland.ca for all the info you’ll need to start planning.
Image credit: Justen Soule; Fred Thornhill; Michael Hurcomb