At the first sign of summer, winter-weary Canadians flock to the nearest patio to get our fill of the summer sun. With the countless sparkling lakes and rolling rivers of Ontario’s Highlands, it’s hard to beat a waterfront patio where you can enjoy good company, a pint of the local brew, and a hearty meal with the calming ambient sounds of the water below. Get your sunscreen on, dust off the sunglasses, and assemble a team to savour some of the best waterfront patios of the region.
The ambience at a riverside restaurant or bar is a distinct one. Add to the experience the sounds of the river flowing nearby and you’ve got yourself a soothing soundtrack to an unforgettable meal. Pair up spicy Thai cuisine with small town vibes on the garden patio out front of Suwan’s Thai Cuisine in Minden, which includes views of the Gull River. The Rio Tap and Grill, where the wings come highly recommended, has a patio that hangs high over the Bonnechere River in Eganville. In Lanark County you can take your pick from many riverside restaurants on multiple rivers, but be sure to check out Fort Hemlock’s view of the Rideau River in Smiths Falls and the Waterfront Gastro Pub’s fantastic patio along the Mississippi River in Carleton Place.
The carefree vibes of summer make this a season for socializing. Get a group of friends together and park yourselves on a patio to soak up the sun, enjoy an ice-cold drink, and some shared snacks. Boshkung Social is the second location of Haliburton’s own Boshkung Brewing Co. with a lively patio overlooking the Gull River in Minden. On the other side of Ontario’s Highlands, Almonte Lobby Bar is a relaxed lounge attached to a boutique hotel that overlooks the Mississippi River, so you can enjoy the priceless view while you sip local brews or elevated cocktails made with local-made spirits. Cottage country watering hole CC’s on the Rideau is another optimal waterfront spot where you can listen to live music and watch the boats meander by on the Rideau Canal.
Cozy Inns and Rustic Lodges
So many resorts and inns in Ontario’s Highlands make dinner and drinks easy with their onsite restaurants. Stay overnight so the whole crew can kick back and imbibe. Bonnie View Inn boasts Daisy’s Dockside Patio – named after their resident potbelly pig – a chill spot with live music and mid-week pizza nights. Another Haliburton fixture is the adults-only resort Sir Sam’s Inn, serving up gourmet meals, fine wines, and unbeatable views of Eagle Lake. Travel north to the Ottawa Valley for your choice of premium patios: watch the sunset over the lake at Sands on Golden Lake, stop in for a meal on the Madawaska River at locals’ favourite the Ash Grove Inn, or get a taste of the real Canadian wilderness (and meat fresh out of the smoker) at Spectacle Lake Lodge’s Lakeside Smokehouse.