With day to day obligations always pulling me this way and that, there’s a part of me that needs a break – that needs to spend a few days living a different life, embracing a slower pace, and getting recharged by connecting with others. Luckily, I discovered a few years ago that I don’t have to go very far to feel a world away from the city.
The small towns in Ontario’s Highlands always help me scratch that itch to get away. They offer a mix of old-fashioned charm, friendly hospitality, and natural beauty that I miss in the city. To truly embrace the different lifestyle celebrated in these places, I suggest going off the beaten path and getting to know the locals; there’s nobody I trust more for the inside scoop on hot spots and hidden gems.
My quest for insider knowledge is one of the reasons I love B&Bs. I know I’m technically a tourist, but when I stay at Bed and Breakfasts, I don’t feel like one. I feel more like a traveller –a wayward soul following a wanderlust –and more like I belong. My hosts have always been quick to share their local expertise and suggestions for things to check out in the area, and have graciously opened their homes and given me insight into their lives and communities.
I’ve stayed at lots of B&Bs and can’t wait to try more. Here are four places that are definitely on my list to visit.
Sunny Rock B & B: Natural Luxury
The quaint rooms in this log and timber frame lodge —out in the middle of the rocky, tree-clad Haliburton Highlands — sound like the place for me. I’ve heard that each room includes the melodic sound of nearby Scotts Dam Falls, and that opening the curtains each morning to peer out the window is often like turning on the Nature Channel. I’m hoping my visit will include a meet-and-greet with Justin Beaver, or even The Otter Boys, but am sure that with our without these famed characters, my hosts Sally and Jan will make me feel spoiled with hearty breakfasts, welcoming conversations, and a freezer stocked with Kawartha Dairy ice cream.
Clyde Hall B&B: Country Oasis
I’m a sucker for heritage buildings, and love the thought of spending the night steeped in history. I was surprised to learn that what looks like a heritage building at Clyde Hall Bed and Breakfast is actually a fully rebuilt structure that both looks and feels like something from the 1800s. Inside, the tall ceilings and detailed woodworking totally fit with the lushly luxurious interior. Tucked away in the super cute village of Lanark, this B&B is the perfect launchpad for an exploration of Lanark County. The Sip & Savour Trail sounds like the perfect way to tour the countryside, and all that’s left with this virtual trail is to decide where to start. I think I’ll wander from Lanark to Perth to Carleton Place and Almonte and then back again to rest and rejuvenate at Clyde Hall.
Limestone B&B: Heritage Charm
To me, there’s almost nothing more revitalizing than a windows-down drive. I plan to spend a road trip with my windows cranked low, hair blowing around, and music playing as I discover the country roads and rich heritage of Hastings County. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll follow the Arts Route to meet local artists and peruse workshops or if I’ll grab a map from the Marmora Tourist Centre to get a glimpse at the old way of life as I follow the Miner’s Route. Either way, I know I’ll be returning from my day to this 1860s-era stone home in Marmora. Perhaps the next day, if I can manage to extract myself from the long, covered verandah, I’ll roam the quiet Marmora streets, listen to the rushing Crowe River, and wander through some of the quaint shops.