If you’re dreaming of packing the car and setting out for a day trip to find the best foodie experiences in Ontario, we’ve got your back. Where else can you visit and sample products from craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries, cheese makers, and award-winning eateries that reflect the diverse flavours of Ontario’s Highlands?
Following a food and drink trail is not a shot in the dark where you head off into the great unknown, doing a deep dive into TripAdvisor to find a spot that’s going to offer you a fantastic foodie experience. We’re talking more than just your average visit to a brewery or restaurant, we mean an all-over foodie immersion where there’s a new gastronomic experience waiting with every dish served and every pull of the tap.
This year is the perfect time to explore the local (or local-adjacent) award-winning and awesome food and drink offerings that are all around us. So pack the car and set out on a culinary road trip adventure on one of these four foodie road trips that will get you somewhere.
*Remember to check in with each destination in advance to be sure there are no restrictions due to COVID-19 and make reservations whenever possible. Keep your distance from those outside your social bubble and enjoy the trip!
The Great Taste of Ontario Road Trip is Here
What? You haven’t heard of the Great Taste of Ontario Road Trip? No worries, this program is brand new but will become your go-to for curated itineraries that will tease your taste buds with single-day or multi-day road trips through Hastings County, Ottawa Valley, Lanark County, Frontenac County, and Haliburton Highlands. Whet your appetite with food and drink trails and itineraries, curated just for you.
A Wildly Authentic Foodie Road Trip – Hastings County
Hastings County is an agricultural centre which means you can sample edibles here that may be only days or hours from farm to plate (or glass). Delicious cheeses, flavourful ciders, award-winning wines, yummy baked goods, and yes, water buffalo meat and cheese all feature prominently on the Hastings County food trail.
- Potter Settlement Winery is turning the wine making industry on its ear with their Marquette wines.
- An espresso from Tinhouse Woodworking and Espresso Bar will perk you up while you browse for fun, artisanal finds.
- Charcuterie aficionados will love the selection of Italian cured and cooked meats and buffalo milk cheeses at The Barn Chefs.
- Discover all the ways you love cheese at Ivanhoe Cheese, just outside of Madoc.
- Taste a flight of Kings Mill Cider’s award-winning premium and hopped ciders.
- Taste what sets water buffalo meats and cheeses apart from the herd at Ontario Water Buffalo Company. Book a guided farm tour to see for yourself these gentle animals.
The Sip & Savour Trail – Lanark County
If you love to ramble through small towns and have a gastronomic experience, then Lanark County’s Sip & Savour Trail is there for you. Wander from the picture-perfect towns of Pakenham and Almonte, through the heritage streets of Carleton Place, Smiths Falls, and Perth and then out to the rolling hills of Lanark Highlands. Sample one-of-a-kind artisanal award-winning products along the way. Visit the website for the full itinerary and craft your own daytrip, two-day or seven-day visit here.
- Dairy Distillery’s vodka is made from dairy permeate, called Vodkow. These folks are the only ones in North America making vodka this way.
- Black Tartan Kitchen’s chef is Ian Carswell, who took gold in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party competition in Ottawa.
- Crooked Mile Brewery specializes in English-style brews while Stalwart Brewing produces robust, simple, and unique brews.
- Smiths Falls’ The Pickled Pig’s share-cuterie is a must-try for charcuterie lovers.
- Ugly Apple’s award-winning cider will introduce you to European-styled ciders – dry and uncarbonated.
Culture, Cafés, and Comfort Food – Haliburton Highlands
Whether it’s a fine dining restaurant tucked away in a rural hamlet or an award-winning micro-brewery, the Haliburton Highlands have their fair share of edible experiences. Take a road trip through densely forested terrain and pass through the communities of Haliburton, Minden, and many others. Stop and explore to see what foodie secrets lie hidden there.
- Stay and savour a gourmet, one-of-a-kind meal created by Chef James at Heather Lodge.
- The folks at Boshkung Brewing Company believe it’s ‘always beer o’clock,’ and who could argue with that? Try their award-winning brews while overlooking Mirror Lake.
- Savour a fine dining meal prepared by the renowned Chef Christoph at Rhubarb Restaurant.
- Find homestyle from-scratch breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Molly’s Bistro Bakery – don’t leave without trying one of their famous desserts.
Cheers to the Valley – Renfrew County
Dominated by the roiling whitewater of the Ottawa and Madawaska Rivers, the Ottawa Valley’s enduring spirit is seen in its craft alcohol and edible destinations. Pick a designated driver and road trip through the breweries and distillery, then refuel at a local eatery to combine the liquid and edible flavours of the Valley.
- O’Kenny Craft Spirits is making quality spirits including small batch craft whisky, moonshine, vodka, and gin.
- The logging puns are plentiful here – try hand-hewn ales and lagers created at Square Timber Brewing in Pembroke.
- Try Whitewater Brewing Company’s Farmer’s Daughter or Whistling Paddler ales for a refreshing twist that mirrors the Madawaska River.
- Taste the difference using fresh, spring water can have on brewing good beer at Cartwright Springs Brewery.
- Calabogie Brewing Co.’s location can’t be beat – stop by their Calabogie location on the shores of the Madawaska River and have a flight (or two).
Cheese, Chocolates, and Condiments in Frontenac
Outdoor and edible adventures collide in Frontenac County. Traverse one of their rail trails by bike (or fat bike in winter) and build an appetite you can slake at one of the foodie destinations that pepper the Canadian Shield terrain. Stop in Sharbot Lake and dream about what it would be like to live where in a cottage paradise.
- Cardinal Café + Shop in Sharbot Lake will have a pick-me-up of delicious coffees and desserts.
- Seed to Sausage’s cured meats will remind you why you love charcuterie. Try their chorizo salami or duck prosciutto.
- Order ahead from Back 40 Artisan Cheese for stellar sheep cheeses, along with local treats like Ludwig’s Fine Chocolate and David & Sons Fine Condiments.