Lanark County is the perfect staycation destination for anyone from the Ottawa, Kingston, or Toronto region – not too far away that you can’t make it there in just a few hours (at the most) but close enough that you won’t spend the majority of your trip asking “Are we there yet?”

This summer, Lanark County’s charming, small-town communities centred around the Mississippi River and the Rideau Canal, can offer the perfect community-hopping itinerary where you can see and do it (almost) all in just a few days. Read on to find out where to go, stay, and what to do while you’re here.

What to Bring:

You’ll want to pack your walking shoes, hat, and camera. A bicycle would also be a great addition to this trip!

3 Days of Shopping, Dining and Exploration in Lanark County

Start Here: Almonte

Almonte is the perfect place to begin your journey in Lanark County! Only a 30-minute drive from Ottawa, Almonte has it all: artistic scene, food and drink, and plenty of cute little shops to weigh down your arms before the day is out.

Lanark County
From Toronto: 360km • 4 hr 30 min From Ottawa: 52km • 50 min

Dr. James Naismith, the founder of basketball, was born in Almonte, where the original homestead still stands today.  Visit the Dr. James Naismith memorial statue on Mill Street, and get your picture taken with this Canadian legend.

Time Spent Here: Plan for a full day (six or more hours) spent in Almonte; you won’t regret dedicating the extra time to really explore this fun and artistic community.

End Your Day: Almonte Riverside Inn

Riverside Inn is a historic inn located on the shore of the Mississippi River and is an easy walk from downtown Almonte.

  • Dine downtown or you can also keep it simple and eat at Loom Bistro, right in the inn. These folks are known for their delicious fish tacos.
  • If you’re still hungry after dinner, pick up an ice cream from the Almonte Ice Cream Shop and enjoy in the riverside gazebo beside the Mississippi River.

Start Here: Almonte Riverside Inn

Waken refreshed from a good night’s sleep in one of the Riverside Inn’s six fully restored rooms.

  • Enjoy a breakfast of champions at the inn or make the short walk to Baker Bob’s on Little Bridge Street to pick up some fresh basked goods.
  • Equator Coffee Roasters makes a mean latte or cappuccino, and their cinnamon buns are a must try.
  • Stop at Tea and Cake for a nice cuppa something delicious or a light lunch.

Next Stop: Carleton Place

Just as in Almonte, the Mississippi River is the focal point of this historic waterside town located only 30 kilometres from the city of Ottawa.

Carleton Place
Lanark County
From Toronto: 360km • 4 hr 30 min From Ottawa: 53km • 50 min

Park the car and still explore Carleton Place!  The Chamber of Commerce rents out bikes from its downtown office for $5 a day.  Call ahead and reserve to make sure one is available, and grab the free local cycling map to guide your trip.

Time Spent Here: Plan on at least three-to-four hours spent in Carleton Place. If you want to extend your stay, check out the historic and majestic Grand Hotel on Bridge Street.

Next Stop: Smiths Falls

At the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site sits the vibrant town of Smiths Falls. Here the Rideau Canal is front and centre, and you won’t run out of things to do or see.

  • Park at Lower Reach Park and stroll along the path bordering the Rideau Canal waterway.
  • For more outdoor adventure, hike or cycle the 102-kilometre Cataraqui Trail from the trailhead off Lombard Street.
  • Compete in a game of checkers while you quench your thirst with a historic brew from 4 Degrees Brewing Co.
  • Do some shopping in one of downtown Smiths Falls’ boutique shops like Willow & Co. for women’s clothing and accessories, or Pearl’s Gem or Elizabeth Interiors for home décor.
  • Savour an ice cream from The Pickled Pig, made with sweet, Ontario-made ice cream.
  • Visit the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario to learn more about the community's railroad history.
Smiths Falls
Lanark County
From Toronto: 340km • 4 hr 17 min From Ottawa: 80km • 1 hr 10 min

Since Smiths Falls was once a hopping railway hub, it's only natural that it's home to the Eastern Ontario Railway Museum.  And what's more unique, you can stay overnight in one of the Museum's caboose cars.  Knock that one off your bucketlist!

Time Spent Here:  Arrive in Smiths Falls by noon to ensure you have time to see and do it all (and eat it all!) before check-in to your hotel.

End Your Day: The Hotel Rideau

Check in to one of the historic and recently renovated Airbnb rooms at the Hotel Rideau and use this as your launchpad for exploring the community of Smiths Falls.

  • The night scene in Smiths Falls is rocking – head to Bowie’s for fantastic cocktails and live music, Smiths Falls style.
  • A night stroll along the Rideau Canal will be breathtaking and worth the effort.
  • Enjoy a nightcap or hot toddy at The Vault Pub & Eatery, across the street from the hotel.
  • The Post Office is a brand new cocktail bar, located in an iconic and beautifully restored historic building in downtown Smiths Falls and is the place to go for an evening cocktail. 

Start Here: Smiths Falls

Wake up to your last day and head downstairs to C'est Tout Bakery to pick up a cup of coffee and some baked goods for a light breakfast to fuel your day.

Last Stop: Perth

Make the short, 15-minute drive to Perth for your final day exploring Lanark County.

  • On Saturdays, the Perth Farmers’ Market at the Crystal Palace in downtown Perth is worth a visit.
  • Don’t miss seeing the Mammoth Cheese in downtown Perth, a replica of the 22,000 lb cheese made for the World’s Fair in 1893.
  • Stroll through Stewart Park, the crown jewel of Perth, and be sure to detour past the statue of Big Ben, the world champion horse that rode to fame with Perth Olympian Ian Millar.
  • If you’re not all shopped out already, swing past Fall River & Co. for fashion, home décor, and even some local fudge to add to your baggage.
  • Stella Luna Gelato Café in Perth has all the gelato, fudge, nuts, bagels, pastries, smoothies you will need  to keep you going.
  • Don’t head home empty handed! Visit Perth Pie Co. for a fresh or frozen pie to take home with you.
  • Lunch locations are plentiful here – try Michael’s Table or Gather for homestyle, made-from-scratch dishes.
Lanark County
From Toronto: 320km • 4 hr From Ottawa: 85km • 1 hr 10 min

Perth is known as one of Ontario's prettiest towns, and once you visit you won't want to leave.  As a town older than Canada itself, it boosts over 100 designated heritage buildings, with boutique shops, specialty stores, and restaurants to suit your tastes.  Rent a canoe and explore Perth from water on the beautiful Tay Canal.

Time Spent Here: Plan for five or more hours in Perth – there is really so much to see you may want to tag on another day to your trip! If so, the Perth Best Western Parkside Inn & Spa can be your go-to accommodation.