My family likes to take one big family trip throughout the year, but we tend to leave our Summer’s free for day trips and outings around Ontario. If you haven’t taken the time to explore the Kawarthas, what are you waiting for??
Where in the world is…
Kawartha is a Huron Indian word meaning “bright waters and happy lands and this is definitely where you will find both! The “Kawartha’s” is a general term for a big big area! So where am I talking about when I invite you to the Kawarthas?
Just 90 minutes east of Toronto, the counties of Northumberland and The Kawarthas, plus the city of Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes make up what is fondly referred to as the Kawarthas. The Southern border is Lake Ontario, the eastern border is Prince Edward County, the northern border is Haliburton, and the western border is Durham. With more than 134 lakes and a cottage country lifestyle, the Kawarthas have something for everyone, from water sports, to hiking, theatre to music festivals, you’ll find it all!
The Great Outdoors
The Kawarthas are a four season destination, being a popular area to take out the snowmobile in the winter time or enjoy a little ice fishing! It might seem odd, but it’s not an uncommon site at all to see cars driving along Chemong Lake in the winter time! In the Fall, the landscape changes to a gorgeous blanket of orange, red and gold and it’s the best time of the year to head to one of the many hiking trails or take in a Fall fair with the family.
But Summer is really when the Kawartha’s come to life and tiny villages can double in population thanks to the cottagers who flock to the area to relax lakeside.
The Trent-Severn Waterway is famous for boaters and will take you through a series of locks including Lock #21, the Peterborough Lift Lock. This lock has bragging rights to the world’s highest hydraulic lift, rising 65ft in height. Not only is it popular for boaters, but in the wintertime it is turned into a very long ice rink and it also sets the scene for some very spooky ghost stories!
The Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of recreational trails. When fully connected, the Trail will stretch 23,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. You’ll find a good section of the trail in the Kawarthas for cycling, jogging or walking.
Next to cottage life, the best way to experience the Kawartha’s is camping! There are a number of fantastic campgrounds and provincial parks in the area, some of our favourites include: Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Balsam Lake Provincial Park, Sandbanks, Bon Echo and of course, Algonquin.
Cobourg Beach is a fun way to spend the day, but don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path every once in a while to find some real gems to explore! You never know what you will find!
The Kawarthas are vibrant and thriving in music and theatre! During summer months The Peterborough Musicfest brings musical acts to Little Lake every Wednesday and Saturday night from late June through to the end of August. This year catch favourites like Fefe Dobson, Sloan, Spirit of the West and Honeymoon Suite perform under the stars by the lake, and the best part is – it’s free! Grab some drinks on the lakeside patio at the Holiday Inn and then make your way over for some good tunes!
There are many unique theatres in the area including Westben in Campbellford, which is a magnificent 400–seat timber-frame barn theatre. But my favourite is the 4th Line outdoor theatre in Millbrook. 4th Line Theatre presents Canadian plays, written by and about Canadians, from small town stories to broad national sagas. The setting is gorgeous set amidst rolling country side and the acting is superb! You won’t be disappointed!
You’ll find all the regular chain restaurants in the Kawarthas, but look closer. Take a chance on an eatery that you may not be familiar with and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised! If you can, it’s best to reserve a table, especially on a weekend, because a lot of downtown restaurants are small and very busy. Hot Belly Mama’s and 38 Degrees are great choices in Peterborough, but if you are looking for something special, you can’t go wrong with Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake.
Many small towns operate a Farmers Market once or twice a week and you may be surprised to find that they make their own beer and wine in the region as well! Kawartha Country Wines, outside of Buckhorn recently won a Gold Medal, International Award of Excellence for their wine and Church Key Brewing, near Campbellford offers tours!
Photo Credit, KawarthasNorthumberland
It’s not a trip to the Kawartha’s without a visit to the Riverview Park and Zoo! Located just north of downtown Peterborough, the zoo attracts over a quarter of a million visitors a year! The zoo features 27 exhibits, with over 48 species on over 55 acres of land. Competing with the animals for main attraction is the amazing play ground structures that offer fun for all ages from babies to big kids and is even home to an 80 foot slide! There is plenty of land for picnics, a little train ride ($2 fee) and a fun splash pad on site. Admission to the zoo is absolutely free! It’s the perfect spot to spend the day and it’s open year round!
Go HERE for more information to plan your trip to the Kawarthas
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