Whether you’re roaming on a weekend or taking a mid-week break from the everyday, this road trip will have you following your curiosity and expanding your mind in Ontario’s Highlands.
Away from city light pollution, this is the chance to truly ground yourself while you let your mind wander The Milky Way, your eyes trace constellations above, and your imagination dream of the realm outside our planet. On a clear night, the sky is magnificent on its own, and with stargazing events hosted at the Dark Sky Viewing Area throughout the summer, you can increase your knowledge of the beauty above.
As you wake up at Bon Echo Provincial Park to watch the sun climb higher in the sky, witness the early morning mist dance across Mazinaw Lake, and see Mazinaw Rock standing tall and proud, you’ll understand why this location has long inspired many artists, most famously The Group of Seven. Spend the morning on the sparkling Mazinaw Lake during an interpretive boat tour. Get up close and personal with the majestic Mazinaw Rock, discover views that prompted famous artists to pick up their paint brushes, and explore the history behind more than 260 Indigenous pictographs that cover the Rock. Learn more about the geological richness of the area.
Make your way to Eganville to spend the afternoon feeding your mind and belly as you indulge in schnitzel and other authentic time-tested recipes at The Granary Schnitzel Haus. After your belly is full, continue your creative exploration below the Earth’s surface at Bonnechere Caves. Travel underground and watch lanterns’ light flicker against damp limestone walls while you hear the story of the rich geology of Ontario’s Highlands and the history that shaped the lives of the communities above.
Discover the rich flavours of the Kashubian culture that permeates the town of Wilno, the oldest Polish settlement in Canada, during dinner at the Wilno Tavern. Slice into jumbo pierogies, cabbage rolls, sausages, and more, and let the Polish flavours delight your taste buds.
Spend the early morning finishing your maple experience with the Deakins by discovering the forest’s story and the art of making maple syrup with Don Deakin.
Once you’ve got your sugar fix, travel to Barry’s Bay to spend time uncovering treasures and unique wares at Grumblin’ Granny’s, enjoying the scent of fresh roasted beans at Madawaska Coffee Co., and indulging in poutine with personality and homemade burgers at Charlie D’s. A unique creative opportunity would come up if you’re visiting during one of the Madawaska Studio Tour weekends, where you can meet local artists and artisans and uncover their unique gifts.
Next, pick up a permit at Kauffeldt’s Grocery and visit AquaRose Gems and Minerals to get your hands dirty during a self-guided dig at Beryl Pit Mine, or give owners Dave and Renee a call to book a guided tour of the Rose Quartz Pit.
As you wind your way back home, prepare to jump back into your every day with new knowledge, a satisfied mind, and your eyes wide open.
Looking for a longer visit?
If you’re searching for an even greater escape from the everyday and more ways to indulge your creative passions, extend the trip to Haliburton County and explore what makes this community a true haven for artists. Turn up the heat during a glass blowing workshop at Artech Studios, be inspired by great artists during a trip through the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, and enjoy the views and décor at Arching Pines Bed & Breakfast.
Wind through Hastings County and stop for a visit in Bancroft to expand your rock hounding knowledge at the Bancroft Gem & Mineral Club Mineral Museum. Take a detour to Maynooth, to have your creativity sparked by nature during a Brush with the North art workshop (or pick up a plein air art kit and set off to discover your own inspiring scene outside), and your taste buds delighted by craft vinegars at Hillsview Farm and Studios. If you’re travelling in August, don’t miss the chance to experience the Annual Rockhound Gemboree in Bancroft– Canada’s Largest Gem and Mineral Show.