Come Wander
Minden Hills, Ontario

If you grew up in the Highlands, comparing Minden to Haliburton was an amusing teenage pastime, worthy of epic (and rather silly) high school cafeteria debates. Of course, your loyalty always leaned toward the town in which you lived, which for me, was Haliburton. But now, living back in Haliburton after many years away, there are days that I seek out Minden’s understated warmth, unique charm and tranquil vibe.

If you don’t know a whole lot about Minden, it’s probably because this tight-knit, hard working community doesn’t have a lot of need to brag – the incredible spirit and unique moments around every corner speak for themselves. For long-time residents, the town’s attractions are self-evident, and many of its loyal seasonal visitors have been quietly coming back summer after summer for decades to relive old memories and seek out new adventures.

With its vast swaths of nature and a relatively small population, there are many places to hide in Minden if one does not wish to be seen. Rent a quaint cottage by the water and walk a local trail, drive to Panorama Park Lookout for a mid-day picnic, or take a dip in the clear, warm water at 12-Mile Beach during sunset.

But with Minden being recently recognized as one of the friendliest towns in the province, you may not feel like hiding out. Catch up with an old friend over a drink at the historic Dominion Hotel, or an award-winning craft beer and some homemade sausages (and if it’s a Tuesday evening, some Radio Bingo) at the Boshkung Social. Float down the Gull River on an inner tube with your shades on and watch the world go by. Drop by the famous Kawartha Dairy and witness kids squeal over a mind-boggling array of flavours while you make a mental note of the next kind you’ll have to try.

Wandering the Minden Farmers’ Market in the Municipal Parking Lot on a Saturday will give you an example of just where the town’s friendly title came from, with glowing smiles at every booth. You can get a sense of the community’s closeness by how slowly everyone meanders, frequently stopping for catch ups with one another. It’s the perfect place to break up the day with an authentic curry, Montreal style bagel or a rich espresso. You can also pick up some handcrafted jewelry, candles or scarves at the Artisan’s Market for prices you would never find in the city. From there, it’s just a couple of minutes to the Cultural Centre where you can check out the latest visual arts exhibition and stroll through picturesque Heritage Village. And if you’ve got little ones with you, the iconic River Cone across the bridge has a pirate ship play structure that, once visited, children tend to never forget. Even with big, beautiful Rotary park nearby.

There is nothing quite like celebrating the summer in Minden. The Haliburton County Fair has been held every June at the Minden Fairgrounds for over 150 years, and this year even boasts its first ever Comic Con. And on Friday evenings in the summer you can find people dancing in the streets for Music by the Gull – free rock, country and folk music concerts framed by the stunning backdrop of the Gull River.

A newer local tradition, now happening every August at the Wild Swan B&B Inn, is the Lantern Festival of the August Moon which offers authentic Japanese food, children’s games, traditional dancing, and the creation and release of lanterns into the Gull River to honour departed loved ones. The sight of the glowing lanterns silently illuminating the river at dusk is transporting.

For those who like to stay on the move, my pick for a leisurely drive out of town has always been Gelert road, which runs between Minden and Haliburton. It’s a relatively straight stretch of highway with farm scenery that looks like it belongs in a movie. While the hamlets of Lochlin and Donald have retained their cozy feel over the years, you can now stop to check out pottery and yoga studios, bakeries and antique stores, or take a walk in Snowdon Park or the majestic Dahl forest.

Over the last three years since I’ve moved back to the Highlands, I have been become increasingly aware that Minden’s buzz is building, dynamics are changing, and the community’s laid-back vibe may not be here forever. But for now, I’m happy that I can usually still find a seat at some of my favourite restaurants and cafes, or drive just a couple of minutes off the beaten path to find my own private nature wonderland. The feeling is a mixture of both familiarity and discovery – gladly received by anyone with a wandering heart.

Stories

Cheers to the Holidays

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5 Foodie Road Trips That Will Get You Somewhere

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 […]

Get on Board with Charcuterie

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Find Your Hygge Here

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Discover Historic Accommodations in Ontario

Spend the night in historic accommodations to take yourself to way-back-when, and get into the spirit of the community you’re visiting. These inns have stories to tell of the people who lived and breathed inside their walls.

Local Love: 9 Local Gift Ideas You Can Order Online Today

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Bringing Together the Best of Haliburton

Before Michael Schiedel-Webb came to live full-time in Haliburton, he had never made beer. Not once. Not ever. His first batch came from a really big home-brew kit, located in the living room of his cottage, in the middle of the winter. “It was minus ten, and we had to do some of it outside,” […]

Tales of Wilno: Exploring Canada’s Oldest Polish-Kashub Settlement

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Celebrate All Things German this October

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Tiny Cabins, Yurts, and other Glamping Getaways

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Top 7 Comfort Foods and Where to Find Them

When was the last time you bit down into something so warm and rich, cheesy and flavourful that your heart said “thank you!” and your belly said “more please!” The best comfort foods are rich and calorie-laden, and best enjoyed in a warm, cozy restaurant or at home on the couch in your comfies. These […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

5 Fall Drives to Enjoy with the Windows Down

When the forest has transformed from shades of green to vivid reds, fiery oranges and brilliant yellows, the road will begin calling, sending a gentle reminder that the days where you can head out on the road with the windows down are numbered. In fall you aren’t looking for a highway experience, you want to […]

Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

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Big Attractions in Ontario

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Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

Cider Season

Find these cideries on your next road trip through Ontario’s Highlands to discover a refreshing way to toast the apple harvest with a cold cider.

Best Highway 60 Hikes

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With Love, to Frontenac County

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With Love, to Haliburton Highlands

We are so lucky to come from a place that has it all: phenomenal views, rugged landscapes, abundance of trails, and infinite opportunities for recreation, all enticing you to leave your comfort zone and step into the wild. Here, endless forests meet cool, clear lakes and rivers to create incredible vistas that reach out to […]

With Love, to Lanark County

Lanark County is a land of sweet contrasts, where dense forests of sugar maple border lush, green fields and you’re as likely to come across a cyclist as a farmer on one of the region’s winding roads. Urban and rural unite here to create a region that’s as colourful and varied as the patchwork quilt […]

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Hastings County

The deep lakes and meandering rivers here are ripe with life, both on land and in the water. This land is known as a region rich with minerals, and we haven’t forgotten how our communities were settled by the gold rush, where miners flocked, eager to delve into the earth to unearth its riches. Thick […]

Cycle Haliburton

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Roots of Revival in Smiths Falls

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Bikepacking in North Frontenac

Imagine a weekend of backcountry camping in a quiet forest just a few hours from Ottawa or Toronto. As you settle down at camp, you think back to the fresh moose tracks you saw earlier that day and the amazing swim you had when you stopped for lunch. The scenery feels familiar but something’s different. […]

Bancroft Rocks!

For one of the best views of Bancroft, turn off Highway 62 onto Eagles Nest Crescent; turn right onto Eagles Nest Park Road and go up, up and then up some more. From the parking lot, take the Hawkwatch Trail; it won’t take long. You’ll find the lookout deck where you can see for yourself […]

Best Ontario #RoadTrips

Did someone say road trip? The mere thought of a road trip brings to mind the excitement of heading out on an adventure where you may not know where you will end up but you’re pretty sure the getting there will be half the fun. When you head out for the day the options are […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

This year the key to exploring is to keep it local; this is the time to explore our own backyards, and the regions close to home that have so much to offer us in the way of exhilarating outdoor experiences, fantastic food and drink, and blissful relaxation. If you’re exploring a new corner of Ontario’s […]

Secret Swimming Holes

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Hidden Gems Along Letterkenny Road

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Meet Me at the Drive-in

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Go Backcountry

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Live the Yacht Life

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Date Night In

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Dear Dads, We Love You

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This Fry’s for You

Challenge accepted: Take on the Great Potato Abundance of 2020 and put a dent in the local potato population.

An Ode to Poutine

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Summer Brews

Take a trip around Ontario’s Highlands to these micro-breweries to discover your perfect summer beer.

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High Tea Fit for a Queen

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Chocoholic Fudgy Cake (Yes, Please!)

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Before the Lake Wakes

Wake up lakeside with a steaming cup of coffee from a roastery in Ontario’s Highlands.

Baking with Beer

Great beer makes great food. Check out some great recipes to bake with beer with Chris Thompson from Whitewater Brewery Co.

Chocolate Marshkebabs DIY

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Just Breathe

Discover the beauty of mindfulness and allowing yourself to Just Breathe.

The Great Pizza-Off

Chow down on artisan wood-fired pizza at any of these gems across Ontario’s Highlands.

Spring is Calling

Hanging around the city when the scents of spring are tantalizingly tickling your nose is tough. This is when you yearn to get away from the slush, pack the car and head out for an almost-spring getaway to the countryside, where baby animals, maple syrup, G-rated fun, and fresh air are calling. Get out of […]

Spring Break

The sun is warm, the air smells like spring, and the birds are singing their special warm weather songs. It’s official; spring has sprung. After a long Canadian winter, spring getaways are a time-honoured tradition for families here in the great white north, and haven’t we earned a little fun in the sun? This is […]

Pause for Pi Day

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Mad About Maple

Maple syrup isn’t just for pancakes. Celebrate Canada’s iconic sweetener in all its forms in Ontario’s Highlands.

Breaking Bread

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Best Pancake Breakfasts

Escape the city for a hearty meal with pure maple syrup at these top places for pancake breakfasts in Ontario’s Highlands.

Sweet Maple Escapes

Discover sweet places to stay for maple adventures in Ontario this spring.

Jigging Through Ice

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Winter Just Got Awesome

Learn to climb or brush up on your skills with an epic ice climbing adventure at SOIceFest 2020 in Maynooth, ON.

Make a Toast (in Hastings County)

Tour craft drink producers for a chance to meet the makers, and get the inside story on what inspires them to make and sell their product. Oh, and sample delicious brews, too!

Ultimate Après-Ski Experiences

Meet up with friends after a day well spent on the slopes or on the trails. Discover these top places in Ontario’s Highlands to celebrate the Apres Ski!

The Best Baked Goods

Discover some of the best bakeries in Ontario’s Highlands and their tasty treats.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

If you can’t beat winter, join it with an epic dog sledding excursion through some of the most beautiful forests in Ontario.

Winter Jams

Warm up your winter with good music and good food, together, at the Sharbot Inn & Crossing Pub, in Sharbot Lake, Ontario.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

A Delicious Day Trip

Sip & Savour your way through the best food and drink spots in Lanark County.

The Perfect Scoop

Discover these top ice cream stops across Ontario’s Highlands to keep cool this summer on your road trip.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Discover these top ways to enjoy the strawberry season, when you let these farm-fresh berries shine on their own or in a variety of treats.

Farm Fresh Finds

Indulge your taste buds this summer with these 5 local finds at Farmers Markets through Ontario’s Highlands.

Valentine’s Day Treats

Treat that special someone this Valentine’s Day to a gift of sweets at one of these top places.

Moo-ve Over, Vodka

Discover Vodkow, the new beverage from the Dairy Distillery causing a stir in Almonte, Ontario.

A Day in Ormsby

Discover why Ormsby Ontario is worth exploring on your next road trip.

A is for Apples

Meeting cider kings and discovering great things in Hastings County.

Concerts with a Community

In September each year, the spirit of community comes alive all across Ontario’s Highlands when the Festival of Small Halls rolls in.

Roam If You Want To

Follow along with Chris from Travelling Mitch as he wanders through Haliburton Highlands and Hastings County on the Rustic Roamer Road Trip.

Where Am I?

Devour an Ottawa Valley tradition and feel your taste buds rejoice with Wes’ Chips in Arnprior.

Where Am I?

Discover the big things happening in the small towns along the Rideau Canal.

Top 4 Summer Treats

Top 4 summer treats that are worth the stop on your next Ontario’s Highlands road trip.

The Rustic Roamer

I’m a Rustic Roamer. I wander to discover authentic moments, to embrace the spirit of locals, and to understand the stories of the communities and countryside that I visit.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Maple Mania

Discover one writer’s quest to discover what makes Lanark County so sweet with Maple Mania.

Life is a Highway

Two wanderers explore 135 kilometres of hidden gems in Hastings County.

The Ultimate City Escape

Explore these three ways to escape the city, slow down, and absorb rural life in Ontario’s Highlands.

My Hometown: Haliburton

After years of travel, read the story of why Emily returned to Haliburton to officially call it her home.

Journal of a Foodie

Take a journey through Ontario’s Highlands on a road trip that will satisfy your inner foodie.

A Different Kind of Detour

Take the road less traveled through Ontario’s Highlands to these unique festivals that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Good Food, Great Company

The Good Food Tour, a delectable walking tour in Almonte the showcases a story and the local flavours.