Whether you’re wandering quaint towns and villages on a weekend or taking a mid-week break from the everyday, this road trip will have you connecting with friendly locals and experiencing the wonder of the unexpected in Ontario’s Highlands.

Rustic Roamer Wandering Road Trip

Take your time as you wind past sparkling lakes and lush forests before being welcomed home when you check in at Sunny Rock B&B. Head out for dinner at Rhubarb to indulge your taste buds and listen to the friendly chatter of locals. Bite into crisp, moist schnitzel, or dig into rich duck confit poutine and discover the local flavours that contributed to this hidden gem’s FeastON designation before returning to Sunny Rock to watch the sun set from one of the many decks.

two people talking and smiling at a restaurant table, each with drinks in their hand and a plate of food in front of them
Minden
Haliburton Highlands
From Toronto: 190km • 2 hr 33 min From Ottawa: 310km • 3 hr 45 min

Paddlers will love the Minden Wild Water Preserve.  With 100 acres, the park includes campsites with picnic tables and firepits.  When you're not canoeing or kayaking, take advantage of the 3-kilometres trail system on foot or on your bike.

Spend the day wandering the back roads of Haliburton County and listening to community tales from your knowledgeable guide during a Yours Outdoors experience. Sample local brews, tasty treats, and Italian delicacies –all with your own designated driver –during a Sip, Swill & Savour tour. The tour will allow you to experience some of the different flavours that make Haliburton a culinary destination, as you pop into Boshkung Brewing Co. for some suds and an appie, are served Italian treats and incredible stories at La Luna Del Nordo, and sample the beer variety at Haliburton Highlands Brewing before indulging in a tasty baked-with-beer treat at Sin A Bit Bakery.

two people sitting at a wooden table enjoying a flight of beer; they are laughing and clinking their drink glasses together

Looking for less liquid calories? Plan your own custom trip with a Stray Cats Tour to wander the backroads and hop from hidden gem to hidden gem with a local expert as your guide. Let the fresh foods and homemade treats at Abbey Gardens delight your taste buds; get your hands dirty and try your hand at pottery with local artists like April at Blackbird Pottery; discover a piece of history at Hawk Lake Log Chute, and uncover hidden treasures at Lambs and Ivy Collectibles.

Haliburton Highlands
From Toronto: 215km • 2 hr 55 min From Ottawa: 285km • 3 hr 15 min

Bancroft

Indulge in crispy fish (we recommend going all out with the tacos), golden fries, fresh salads, gooey paninis, and baked treats during dinner at Baked & Battered. Stop into Bancroft Brewing Co. on your drive to grab a growler and spend the evening at Banaaron Guest House enjoying how the handcrafted beer compliments the view from the guest house deck.

Looking for an evening outing? Check out what’s happening at The Village Playhouse to take in a show.

Bancroft
Hastings County
From Toronto: 245km • 2 hr 50 min From Ottawa: 220km • 2 hr 35 min

Bancroft, the Mineral Capital of Canada, is a rockhounders' dream. Must stop locations for all rock-lovers includes the Bancroft Mineral Museum and the Princess Sodalite Mine. Or take a trip down The Miner's Loop and walk in the shoes of miners long ago.

We’re firm believers that sometimes the best days of all are the result of having no plan. Spend this day winding your way down Highway 62 and enjoying the freedom to stop at roadside lookouts and picnic areas, or follow any signs that catch your eye.

Uncover one-of-a-kind finds at The Old Tin Shed in Bancroft before exploring the village of Coe Hill to bask in the incredible flavours of Italy woven into breads, preserves, meats, and desserts at The Barn Chefs. After that, sip on rich coffee from Tinhouse Woodworking while you wander through artisan finds and unique, functional décor.

a tin-roofed booth in front of two metal granaries with a wooden sign that reads "General Store"; the booth is full of plants, chairs, antique bicycles and farm equipment, and other paraphernalia. A field and forest are in the background.
Coe Hill
Hastings County
From Toronto: 230km • 2 hr 45 min From Ottawa: 245km • 2 hr 55 min

A visit to The Barn Chefs is well worth the visit to Coe Hill for their handcrafted Italian cured and cooked meats, sausages, fresh pasts, and ready-to-go meals, all locally sourced and sustainable.

Depending on your way home, stop into Madoc to satisfy your sweet tooth at Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc; sort through unique finds at Jillian’s Antiques and Things in Marmora; discover quirky products and cottage classics at the Unconventional Moose in Tweed. Alternatively, spend some time exploring rural life in Stirling with cool finds at The Apple Store, a sampling at Kingsmill Cider, and a pre-arranged guided tour or drop-in self-guided stroll to stretch your legs and meet friendly creatures at the Ontario Water Buffalo Co.

Looking for a longer visit?

If you’re looking to extend your trip to discover more authentic moments and hidden gems, we’d recommend heading east on Highway 7. Pop into Tweed to visit North America’s Smallest Jailhouse, discover worldly wares at Black River Trading Co., delight your eyes with the artwork at Quinn’s of Tweed, and be amazed by the talent of the performers during a Tweed & Company Theatre production.

an old brick building with antique white wooden screen door, with a sign overhead that reads "Tweed Jailhouse Visitor Information"

 Check out live entertainment in Sharbot Lake at The Crossing Pub, and tuck in for a cozy night at Sharbot Lake Country Inn. Wake to watch the sunlight sparkle over the lake outside your door before heading to Cardinal Café across the street for breakfast, a warm coffee, and a warmer atmosphere. If you’re in the area on a Saturday, take your charcuterie board to the next level by visiting Seed to Sausage and Back Forty Artisan Cheese, or even take place in a cheese making workshop.