What do you love most about fall? Is it apple picking, pumpkin spice lattes or the cooler temps? Our favourite thing are the colours and scenic drives that make you appreciate the new season. The scenic drive to and around the area is exactly what we experienced during our first fall weekend in Peterborough & The Kawarthas. We were pleasantly surprised to also experience the food, entertainment, arts & history that the area has to offer. We tried to experience as much as we could during our weekend so here is our quick recap.
Peterborough & The Kawarthas is less than 2 hours from Toronto with 2 choices, the 401 or Hwy 7, if driving, which is what we chose to do. We also saw motorcycles and a GO Bus in Peterborough so for all you city dwellers without a car take note that GO Transit has a route from Union Station to Peterborough, via a transfer at the Oshawa GO Station, with Trent University as its final stop.
Home for the Weekend
We chose to stay for 2 nights at Stillwater on the Lake and this was one or our best accommodation decisions ever! This boutique bed & breakfast is AMAZING and deserves to be featured in a luxury travel magazine. The grounds include stone pathways through manicured gardens with multiple decks that eventually lead you down to Chemong Lake.
We stayed in the Deckside French Country Suite which is one of 3 private accommodations on the property. We felt so comfortable in the privacy of this Suite which featured a cozy king-sized bed in the bedroom, a wood-burning fireplace in the open-concept living and dining room and the rain shower-head in the bathroom. There’s even a hot tub in the screened-in deck.
The breakfast and service we were treated to each morning was extraordinary. The meal was 2 courses with an initial course of fruit, pastries, smoothies, juice and coffee followed by the gourmet hot breakfast entree. All of the herbs used in the dishes (and smoothies) are grown on the property.
So Much To See & Do
- Visit the Canadian Canoe Museum and you’ll leave with an appreciation for our waterways and the role they played in the history and development of Canada. They have artifacts from around Canada and all over the world as well, each piece specifically designed for different types of water conditions and uses. We learned that this building actually houses the LARGEST collection of paddled-watercraft in the entire world. We ended our tour of the museum by stopping into the in-house workshop. There we met Russ who was showing us the latest canoe that he built by hand and was just about to seal the outside of his watercraft.
- See the Peterborough Lift Lock, lock 21 in the Trent Severn Waterway, in action and you’ll be amazed at the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock. It’s one of the ‘must-do’ things in the area, and it’s a popular spot for visitors. There’s special events here during the year like an exclusive dining experience UNDER the lock, as well ‘Lock and Paddle’ that fills the space with as many canoes and kayaks as humanly possible. It’s free to pedestrian visitors, and you can witness this amazing feat of engineering from below, behind an on top!
- Check out the local brewing scene. Smithaven’s Brewing Company specializes in German and Belgian style beers. They have a taproom as well as bottleshop so you can take your beers to go.
- The Publican House Brewery is another local brewer, and we got to tour the production floor. They have a restaurant on site, so we decided to grab a pizza made in their wood fired stone oven. It was wonderful.
- Ashburnham Ale House is not a brewer, but a restaurant that supports local by offering craft beer on its menu. Tony tried the pulled pork sandwich. He didn’t speak…the entire time. The quietest lunch we’ve ever had.
- Enjoy a tasting or two at Black’s Distillery. This brand new craft distillery, started by Peterborough’s own Robert Black, produces a variety of spirits from the locally grown red fife wheat. David Fife (pictured below), originally from Scotland is credited with developing ‘red fife wheat’ in the Peterborough area and it was quite popular until the turn of the century.
All of these stops are part of the local ‘Brews, Bites and Barns’ Trail, which encourages people to seek out these establishments that are peppered all over the region.
- Drive along the winding Otonabee River road to the lovely small town of Lakefield.
- Walk through Riverview Park & Zoo. The best part is the park & zoo are FREE to the public however donations are appreciated and can be made through the donation boxes available at the front entrance.
The Artistic Side
The Kawartha Autumn Studio Tour was on during the weekend we visited. This self-guided tour offered us the opportunity to visit local studios and meet the artists. We started off our tour at the Art Gallery of Peterborough and then continued on to Lakefield where we visited 5 artists each with a unique art form.
Our first stop was to textile artist’s Stephanie Ford Forrester’s studio. Stephanie uses fabrics to create works of art using silk, batiks and other textiles. As an avid kayaker Stephanie’s works often features landscapes and water.
The next stop on our tour was to visit Gail West, The English Potter. She creates functional pottery such as mugs, bowls and plates as well as very unique pieces featuring horse hair. Gail also offers classes in her studio.
Another unique art form we saw were several pieces from woodturning artist Frank DiDomizio. Frank’s pieces also ranged from functional bowls to artistic pieces that included woodburning and wire.
Next we continued on the tour to visit felt artist Christianna Ferguson who explained the ‘agitation’ process that goes into making these very fashionable and colourful pieces.
The last artist we met was abstract painter Rowena Dykins. She lives on the shores of a nearby lake, and her artwork is usually inspired by what she sees in the water OR reflected in it.
Peterborough & The Kawarthas are a truly special place because of the various attractions and amenities to please every visitor. For example, anyone who enjoys fishing and boating there are hundreds of waterways such as rivers and lakes. For the foodie there are several local restaurants and craft breweries and for the art lover there are several galleries and studios to choose from. Whether you visit by car, bus or motorcycle, your drive throughout the area and along the river to other small towns to enjoy the beautiful fall colours will have you fall-ing for Peterborough & The Kawarthas!
Have any photos or videos of your visit that you would like to share with us? Send them over to @LetsDiscoverON.