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June 22, 2008 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Vacation spots in Ontario/Quebec?

Native Ontarian here. I have vacation for a week in September and for various reasons (time/money) am looking to go "away" (as in away from Toronto) for that week. Are there any areas in Ontario that may be lesser known but nonetheless picturesque? I'm looking for a lake type setting and my budget for the week is about $1,000 for lodging. Not really a big camper, so while I love Algonquin I would prefer to sleep with a roof over my head. No real caveats but there are a couple places that I've been to enough that I wouldn't call them ideal vacation venues, such as:

- Ottawa/Hull
- Niagara
- Tobermory/Manitoulin

Any suggestions?

NOTE: Montreal and Manitoba are options as well, though obviously further away.

Happy to clarify since I'm probably being vague. Thanks!
posted by hiptobesquare to Travel & Transportation around Ontario (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I absolutely love Tobermory during the week, or at the end of the season. It's gorgeous, but can be crowded. The first week of September is magical there. A lot of things will be closing up, but you will have a lot of privacy. And the scenery is lovely.

Algonquin park is fantastic. Some of the smaller towns near it aren't that expensive.

I loathe Niagara-- particularly Niagara on the Lake. There are no bargains. You can have fun, but only at the expense of the town. But the other towns on the escarpment are nice, though I can't think of one where I would like to spend a week.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:22 PM on June 22, 2008

How about a place like Goderich? It's right on the shore of Lake Huron, and it's an adorable little town. There are a ton of B&Bs. There's not a whole lot to do, but if you'd just like to relax and do some beachy/lake-y activities, it's as good as any other place. You could even make a quick day trip out to Stratford to catch a show, if you wanted (it's about 40 minutes away).
posted by drycleanonly at 6:41 PM on June 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was just about to suggest the Shakespeare festival in Stratford. (Good minds, drycleanonly!) I have very fond memories of visiting there every summer as an adolescent.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:00 PM on June 22, 2008

Seconding Goderich- walking along the escarpment is like being in California or somethin'. Really pretty and really nice beaches.

I also find North Bay pretty chill- it's quirky and surrounded by lovely scenery and lakes a plenty, and as I recall it's pretty cheap.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:06 PM on June 22, 2008

Haliburton might be a good option. Lots of accommodation options, scenic area, hiking / biking.

Further east, something on the Rideau system? I would think that once kids are back in school, cottages might be more available and cheaper. Anything between Ottawa and Kingston would be good and give you options for day trips. Heck, you could do something different and rent a houseboat to travel along the Rideau, though the business I knew in Portland has closed. There may be others.

If you are prepared to come to Ottawa, there is some fabulous cottage country within an hour or so into Quebec. Let me know if you'd like specific ideas.
posted by valleys at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2008

I've been to Rice Lake a couple times - it's in the Kawarthas near Peterborough. It has the advantage of not being in the Muskokas (IMO, a major advantage) so less of a 'scene' and also much cheaper. But it's pretty cottage-y for being so close to Toronto, with lots of lake activities, float plane rides and so on. I find that having Perterborough nearby means you can, of necessary, stop pretending to be camping for a few hours and go to Chapters or Starbucks or something. (Yeah, I guess I'm just a city boy at heart).
posted by drmarcj at 7:37 PM on June 22, 2008

Seconding drmarcj--The Kawarthas might be your best bet: 2 or so hours northeast of Toronto, lots of cottages you can rent, and not the Muskokas. Stony Lake is another main lake along with Rice, and there are oodles of smaller ones too.

You could also try looking for more hotel-like digs in Algonquin Park--while something like Arowhon Pines might be a little pricey, there are lots of smaller things along highway 60 that might be perfect. And Algonquin Park is prettier than almost anywhere (certainly prettier than the Kawarthas.)
posted by goingonit at 8:03 PM on June 22, 2008

I can't believe people are recommending Goderich! (I was born there!!!) But I absolutely second it. It's a lovely small town, and not too far from this great valley type thing with a wooden bridge across it. On the bridge are names of people who sponsored it, and my name's on there somewhere... not that that particularly matters, but it's a lovely spot to just walk around and see natury-things.

What about Kingston? It's very touristy, but also quite pretty (also, mefi me if you do choose K-town, I can let you into some local secrets). Actually, anywhere around the 1000 Islands is nice, and you can fairly easily cross over to the US side and see things like Bolt Castle, which is amaaaazing.

There are some great places around Georgian bay and Muskoka where you can stay in resorts or cottage-type places. I know there's a resort in Honey Harbour that seems quite nice, but still within range of local stuff that it seems more like a larger version of a cottage with a rock wall outside.

I hope you find what you're looking for! There's some amazingly beautiful places around Ontario which are so hard to find until you know about them.
posted by Planet F at 8:25 PM on June 22, 2008

I grew up about ten minutes away from Bon Echo Provincial Park, which is about an hour north of Kingston. It has gorgeous beaches, Lake Mazinaw is beautiful and the Bon Echo rock is all kinds of picturesque. They have two yurts or Cabin on the Hill that you could stay in. Cloyne is a pretty charming town during the summer-ish months.

Or, you could head out to the County and stay at Sandbanks, near Picton. They've got a cottage or the Heritage House which is quite pretty.
posted by riane at 8:46 PM on June 22, 2008

There's the rustic yet indulgent charm of Fairmont Kenauk at Chateau Montebello. A beautiful rustic lakeside setting with all the comforts of a Fairmont hotel. Unfortunately it's more like $300 a night but maybe by September the rates will have dropped somewhat.

Other than that I'd second the Kawarthas. There are lots of cottages and lakes up that way. Fenelon Falls is very quaint. Here's one place I googled at random - by Sept you shoul dbe able to get a place for ~600 for a week.
posted by GuyZero at 9:26 PM on June 22, 2008

Ottawa River area (northwest of Ottawa city) is also remarkable. But i would second the Bruce Pennisula (tobermory)
posted by figTree at 10:30 PM on June 22, 2008

Nthing Tobermory / Bruce Pennisula. The whole thing is absolutely gorgeous. It was semi-crowded when I went last summer but I really think its one of the prettiest places Ive seen in that part of Canada.
posted by ihope at 12:31 PM on June 23, 2008

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