Come Wander

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out. 

The hill spills beneath the runners of your toboggan, plunging into a darkness made even deeper by the sparkle of snow beneath the moonlight. Your nose is cold but your mittened hands are warm, and your heart is pumping in anticipation of careening downhill at breathtaking speeds, cutting through the silence of a wintry world.

Or maybe you are perched high on ice skates, and push off to glide across a smooth sheet of ice, the wind at your back. The air is so cold that each exhalation spreads small puffs of breath into the wind.

This winter, it’s time to rediscover the joy of sledding or skating beneath a starry sky or warm beams of sunlight. Check out these spots to sled and skate in Ontario’s Highlands, and remember to BYOS (bring your own sled or skates).

Outdoor Shinny Rinks

Skating outdoors during the winter is practically a Canadian tradition. The outdoor shinny rink is where kids and adults congregate in the long evening hours to shoot a few pucks or practice their turns. Grab your skates and thermos full of hot chocolate and head to one of these outdoor rinks for some good old-fashioned and Canadian fun.

  • Smiths Falls Rink of Dreams
    150 Elmsley St. N., Smiths Falls
    Located beside the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre, this rink is big enough you won’t need to worry about bumping into anyone. Push yourself through the wintry air, then walk or drive to downtown Smiths Falls for a cup of hot chocolate from The Vault Eatery & Pub, or a hot toddy from Bowie’s. Washrooms are located inside the community centre.
  • Pond Skating at Calabogie  
    30 Barrett Chute Rd., Calabogie
    Skate beneath the stars at one of the most scenic winter spots in the valley, Calabogie Peaks Resort. The pond is located directly behind the hotel. When you’ve had your skating fill on the pond, warm up with a meal at the FeastON certified Canthooks Restaurant inside the resort.
  • Coe Hill Outdoor Pavilion
    2100 Hwy 620, Coe Hill
    The pavilion is covered, which is a nice addition during inclement weather, and Coe Hill is a cute small community just perfect for an old- fashioned skate outdoors. Wander down the street to the Hideaway Primitive Grill and pick up a stick-to-your-ribs meal that will warm you from the inside out.
  • Village of Haliburton  
    76 Maple Ave., Haliburton
    The outdoor rink in Haliburton was made from an old skate park, and it’s being put to good use since its opening in 2018. Skate outdoors in the village of Haliburton for a small-town experience, and don’t forget to chip in and shovel the rink if needed using the shovels available. Warm up afterwards with Maple Avenue Tap & Grill’s pad thai and a bowl of homemade soup.
  • North Frontenac Rink 
    6598 Buckshot Lake Rd., Plevna
    Canadian Shield terrain is the backdrop for the community skating rink in Plevna. Get out and play a game of shinny or put in a few laps. Helmets are encouraged and the rink is open for use until 11 p.m.

Fun Sledding Hills

Sledding is a time-honoured winter tradition that’s cheerfully upheld each year by generation after generation of Canadians. The breathtaking journey downhill, where your stomach drops a split second after your sled, is worth the trudge back up the hill afterwards. Bring your sled, crazy carpet, or tube and enjoy this family-friendly outdoor activity.

  • Gemmill Park in Almonte
    182 Bridge St., Almonte
    This is an epic sledding hill where every community child has hurtled down at some point in their lives. Washrooms are nearby at the Almonte Arena, and parking is available directly in front of the sledding hill for easy sled transport. The hill is close enough to downtown that you can make the trek afterwards to warm up with a hot drink and a cozy meal. Try Joe’s Italian Kitchen for a rustic wood fired pizza.
  • Tubing at Mount Pakenham
    577 Ski Hill Rd., Pakenham
    Tubing at Mount Pakenham is a family favourite for all ages, and a nice alternative to skiing. At the end of the day make the short drive to the village of Pakenham to Centennial Restaurant, known for their pizzas, the perfect gooey and cheesy après-sled meal.
  • North Hastings Community Centre (Bancroft Arena)
    103 Newkirk Blvd., Bancroft
    The toboggan hill beside the community centre will offer fun for the whole family, with the community centre nearby in case you need to go inside to warm up or use the washroom. Refuel with one of The Granite’s hearty pasta dishes before heading back to the hill for more fun.
  • Glebe Park in Haliburton Highlands 
    289 College Dr., Haliburton
    Glebe Park has it all for outdoor adventure – situated on 175 acres of wooded land and rolling hills the property has trails for walking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. In winter you can use the Nordic ski trails, snowshoe, or sled on the toboggan hill. Before or after your downhill adventure, leave some time to wander through the on-site Haliburton Sculpture Forest.
  • Ma-te-Way Activity Centre
    1 Ma Te Way Park Dr., Renfrew
    This is a one-stop-shop for winter and summer outdoor activities. Sled on the on-site toboggan hill until you’ve run out of steam then transition to skating on the outdoor rink. Kung Po House Chinese Cuisine will fill your belly at the end of a long day outdoors – try their famous hot and sour soup and rest easy knowing it’s MSG-free.

Stories

Thinking of Camping in 2021? Read This.

The ground may be covered by snow right now, but we’re still dreaming of the warm weather and the camping season to come in the wild places in Ontario’s Highlands. Camping reservations have recently opened at provincial campgrounds across Ontario and if last year was any indicator spots will book up fast. You can book […]

Ontario Snowmobile Loops & Trips

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you have been longing to cruise along snowy trail where the winter forest towers over you and the rush of the frosty wind fills your ears, this is the year to get out and explore the landscapes close to home. COVID-19 has made […]

Coming Home

Discover the story of Sarain Fox and her journey home to the Ontario’s Highlands, relieving memories of ice fishing and snowmobiling along the way.

Shinny Rinks and Sledding Hills

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  The hill spills beneath the runners of your toboggan, plunging into a darkness made even deeper by the sparkle of snow beneath the moonlight. Your nose is cold but your mittened hands are warm, and your heart is pumping in anticipation of careening downhill […]

Fall in Love With Winter

Unique winter experiences in Ontario’s Highlands that will give you something to brag about.

Light Up the Holidays

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the holiday decorations go up in December the whole world begins to shimmer with magic. Every car ride or stroll is filled with wonder as we drink in the night filled with sparkling holiday lights of all colours. For the next […]

Recharge in the Snow

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Brighten the Darkest Months

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  When the days start getting shorter and the sun becomes something you crave more than chocolate, you know you are entering into the darkest months of the year. It can be easy to feel a little down and dreary at this time […]

5 Foodie Road Trips That Will Get You Somewhere

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  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, […]

Get on Board with Charcuterie

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You’ve heard the word and maybe you’ve even seen Instagram pics of colourful charcuterie boards, and if you’re lucky you’ve sampled this meaty treat yourself (in case you wondered, it’s pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree). Charcuterie is originally a French word that literally translates to […]

The Skinny on Fat Biking and Other Extreme Winter Sports

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you were sad to pack away your bike for the winter, are lamenting the loss of beautiful weather for an early morning run, or regretting all the days you could have been churning through whitewater this summer but weren’t, we have […]

Discover the Beauty of Winter Camping

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You waken to the sound of new snow drifting onto the top of your tent or cabin, landing light as a feather one snowflake at a time. The world is hushed and the air snaps with cold but you are warm and […]

Embrace the Norwegian Concept of “Friluftsliv”

Friluftsliv (free-lufts-liv): Free air life *Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  If you’re worried about being stuck indoors this winter, the Scandinavians may have the solution with this hard to pronounce and consonant-filled word: friluftsliv. Loosely translated, friluftsliv means “free air life,” a concept that was coined by […]

Cache in with Geocaching in Haliburton

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  You wander through rural communities, along rugged trails, or gravel sideroads, fixated on one thing and one thing only: your next cache. When you are geocaching, you can’t help but become fully immersed in the moment, setting your sights on an outdoor […]

After Turkey Burn

*Wander safe, wander local. Check your region’s local health guidelines before heading out.  Thanksgiving dinner is something we dream about all year long – the perfectly roasted turkey dishes up with cranberry sauce, potatoes and veggies, and often paired with more than one glass of wine or a cold pint of beer or cider, not […]

Tiny Cabins, Yurts, and other Glamping Getaways

So you’ve seen the Instagram posts of friends or family seated around a rustic campfire, enthusing on the beauty of nature and a rugged camping experience, but you’re thinking “That’s totally not for me?” Hey, don’t sweat it, you are not alone. Camping isn’t for everyone, and who says it should be? If everyone were […]

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 […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

Beer, Butter Tarts & Burritos (By Bike)

Could this be Ontario’s tastiest bike route? A natural backdrop of Canadian Shield, shimmering lakes and lush Crown land forests surround you as you pedal down a 50/50 mix of quiet paved roads and gravel rail trails that traverse a series of communities. These small towns and rural hamlets are now known for art and […]

Cycle Through Fall

In my humble opinion, there is no better time than fall to hop on my bike and hit the roads, gravel, and trails of Ontario’s Highlands. I don’t have to worry about overheating, nor will I find myself pushed to my limit while trying to outrun a swarm of deer flies for 20 kilometres (true […]

Cozy Up to Fall Camping

So you’re not ready for camping season to end? Here’s a tip: It doesn’t! Just because the summer is over doesn’t mean we need to head indoors, when it comes to camping experiences, fall is where it’s at. Fall camping is an entirely different (and some would say better) experience from summer camping –no bugs, […]

The Best Fall Canoeing

Discover these top lakes and rivers in Ontario’s Highlands to discover the beauty of fall colours from a canoe.

Best Highway 60 Hikes

So, you’re ready to hit the road. The King’s Highway 60 is calling your name – and who could blame you? The vistas on this route are stunning, from the Ottawa Valley to the Madawaska Valley. Every kilometre is a captivating experience. It may seem like you could cruise forever on this roadway, but everyone […]

With Love, to Frontenac County

Now more than ever we are drawn to our community, and the places that help us to unwind and get outdoors. To get away from the crowds and reconnect with our roots. Frontenac County tempts us to sit back, unwind and check into vacation mode, to rediscover a world of countless lakes and a region […]

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 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 Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

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 […]

Feel Like a Kid Again

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Cycle Haliburton

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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. […]

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

Shhh…we’re not supposed to tell you about these swimming holes…some of them don’t even have names and you may never find them without a map, but we understand that when it’s 40 degrees out with the humidity and the public beach is packed the hunt is on for the perfect swim spot. Those in the […]

Go Backcountry

You waken slowly in the early morning, the high-pitched warble of birdsong drifting lightly through the trees overhead. The sky is faintly brightening with the coming of dawn, and the natural world is gradually blossoming to life. Around you there is no trace of human activity, no murmurs of voices, clanging of dishes, or whir […]

An Ode to Summer

A throwback to summers gone past, with inspiration for this year’s adventure.

Just Show Up

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Highway 7 Hikes

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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 […]

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.

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!

Climb a Wall of Ice

Challenge yourself to reach new heights with an ice climbing adventure at these places across Ontario’s Highlands.

Embrace the Dog Days of Winter

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3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Where Am I?

Climb to new heights at the Medeba Ice Wall and enjoy the unique view from the top.

Where Am I?

Make fresh tracks along premium snowmobile trail, the RAP Tour Loop.

Winter? Bring it!

Discover your love for the season with a classic Ottawa Valley winter.

One Last Ride

Watch JR Alli’s video and see what he discovers when he allows himself to just wander.

An Action-Packed Weekend

Read how Will Tang from Going Awesome Places raced muscle cars and experienced thrills on the rapids with whitewater raftering in the Ottawa Valley.

Whitewater Rafting as a Family

Read about how one family took on whitewater rafting on the Madawaska River and why they can’t wait to do it again.

The Freedom Finder

I’m a Freedom Finder. I wander with speed! I seek out opportunities to make fresh tracks, blaze new trails, and get my adrenaline pumping.

Where Am I

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

All Terrain, All the Time

Pack your saddle bags and press the throttle for an ATV adventure like no other in Ontario’s Highlands.

Raging the Rapids

SUP Instructor Courtney Sinclair takes her passion for paddle boarding to the whitewater.

Hair-Raising Drives

Explore roads of Ontario with these drives that make you reach for your hairbrush.

Roads Worth Riding

Plan your next motorcycle ride along the hand-crafted roads of Ontario’s Highlands. Wind around vast lakes, to fill up on culinary delights, and converse with friendly locals.