7 Gems in Ontario You May Not Know About
It’s a new era in travel. Canadians are looking for outdoor spaces and restorative nature trips. But they also want to be comfortable and come home with great stories to tell.
That’s why Landsby, a new travel company founded by veteran Canadian travel operator Jason Sarracini, has developed a series of rich, rewarding trips Canadians can take at home. No passport required. And, often, not even the need to book a flight.
They’ve got fantastic options in Ontario that will appeal to adventure lovers, foodies and romantics looking for a getaway with that special someone. You can paddle your way along the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake or pilot a houseboat along the historic Rideau Canal. You can stay in a cabin that smells of sweet pine and get a forest tour from a First Nations guide, or you can stay in an historic inn and live the high life by sampling their walk-in showers and curated minibar. There’s even a cheese trail in southern Ontario, where you can snack on artisan cheeses and talk with the folks who make them.
Here are some of the great options.
Six Nations Forest Tour and Paris, Ontario
Less than 90 minutes from Toronto, this program allows guests to explore a beautiful section of Carolinian forest with a knowledgeable Six Nations guide. Chiefswood Park is right along the Grand River, and they’ve got plenty of canoes and kayaks so you can explore one of Ontario’s most majestic bodies of water; watching birds soar overhead as you roll past thick forests and, in summer, bursts of colourful wildflowers. The bright, rustic cabins at Chiefswood smell of sweet pine and have covered front porches, kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. In addition to enjoying nature, you can stroll the streets of Paris, Ontario, one of the provinces most picturesque small towns.
Length: Two Days
Houseboat Adventures on the Historic Rideau Canal
Leafy forests, deep blue water, cheerful towns and one of Canada’s most historic waterways await folks who try a houseboat holiday on Ontario’s Rideau Canal. The Rideau, which connects Ottawa with Lake Ontario, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest continuously-operated canal system in North America. The boats have fully equipped kitchens with a fridge and a gas oven, plus dishes and utensils. They also have hot showers, bed linen and other amenities. Steering these babies is a breeze, but they’ll give you driving/piloting instructions and a practice run before you head out on the water.
Length: Five Days.
Live the High Life in Historic Kingston
Another great Landsby offering is a night at the Rosemount Inn in Kingston, one of Ontario’s most historic and attractive cities. The Rosemount Inn is a stately building made of handsome, crème-coloured stone with wood and wrought iron trim; the sort of place you might find in a romantic British novel. The Inn has 11 guestrooms and suites, some with a hot tub, as well as modern bathrooms with walk-in showers, luxurious amenities and a carefully curated minibar. Landsby packages include a romantic, in-room couples massage. Landsby also can set you up with culinary experiences in Kingston, as well as visits to the majestic 1000 Islands or to Prince Edward County for some wine-tasting.
Length: Three Days
A Glamping Getaway
Folks who really want to get away from it all will fall in love with the glamping units near Wawaitin Falls, southwest of Timmins. This isn’t camping but glamping, a word that combines glamorous and camping. Your walls will be thick canvas, but you’ll have lovely, hotel-like amenities, including a comfortable bed and room service. You can take a pontoon boat ride, kayak on pristine waters or explore Wawaitin Falls, one of the most beautiful cascades in Ontario. Feast on wild trout with blueberry sauce or rich bison brochettes. Amenities include picnic tables, a boat launch and a fire pit; perfect for a night under the stars of Northern Ontario, with nary a city light in sight.
Length: Three Days
Ottawa Cycling Trips
If you’re more of a city dweller but still like to be active, try Landsby’s cycling trips in the Ottawa Region. The Ottawa and Gatineau twin cities have an excellent, 600 km-long, connected cycling network, allowing for awe-inspiring views over the legendary Ottawa and scenic Gatineau rivers, and along the tranquil Rideau Canal. Landsby uses an experienced local operator with guides who are knowledgeable and passionate about Canada’s capital. Electric bikes are available if you want a helping hand. Ottawa is famous for its amazing museums and also for a terrific craft beer scene. Try shopping in the trendy Glebe area or in the buzzing Hintonburg neighbourhood.
Length: Four Days
Say Cheese in Oxford County
Woodstock is the Dairy Capital of Canada, and that means amazing cheese. You can explore several tasty stops along the Oxford County Cheese Trail and chat with engaging cheesemakers. Later, take a walk through the mysterious old trees in the Nith Forest with an expert guide and learn about wildlife and ancient folklore from early Canadian settlements lost in the forest, as well as a vanished First Nations Tribe. Woodstock is known for its amazing old homes, with expansive gardens and craftsmanship seldom seen in today’s construction world. You’ll be staying at Chateau La Motte, a gorgeous home built in the Queen Anne Revival style with a great covered porch, an enormous turret, a servant’s staircase and quirky rooms with slanted ceilings. They also make a terrific breakfast.
Length: Three Days
The Canadian Canoe Route
Experience the true wonder of this most Canadian of watercraft with a fabulous, hands-on (literally) experience that takes modern explorers from Toronto to Ottawa, or vice versa. This journey takes you to the rising and falling hills of the majestic Ontario Highlands, with its glittering lakes and rushing rivers. You’ll learn the history and legacy of the canoe, a First Nations gift to the world, and learn to paddle in flat water. If you’re up for it, you can try a whitewater paddle, too. Packages include two nights at Madawaska Kanu Centre, two at OWL Rafting and two at Elmhirt’s Resort, a wonderful family place on Rice Lake with tons of space and great food and wine.
Length: Seven Days