Planning a road trip to Algonquin Park or some other beautiful Northeastern Ontario location? At anywhere from two to three hours north of the GTA (#traffic), the drive can seem like a bit of a drag when you’re dying to be lakeside, but we’ve got a few recommended pit stops that will make you want to set aside a whole extra day just to savor the ride up. Behold: the ultimate road trip planning guide to Algonquin Park and beyond!
Northern Edge Algonquin, our Centre for Transformational Retreats is located at the slightly lesser known northwest corner of Algonquin Park. When you get to the notorious Highway 60 corridor exit off of Highway 11 in Huntsville just keep on drivin’ for roughly an hour of beautiful wilderness scenery. And, lucky for you, there are some seriously sweet little hidden gems near by that are certainly worth leaving some extra wiggle room in your travels for.
EXPERT TIP: These suggestions are placed in order from south to north, so if you’re planning to hit them on the way home – start at the bottom!
Buckle Up – Here. We. Go.
If you’re a sucker for quirky odds, ends, knick knacks or antiques – The 400 Market is THE PLACE to stop. Thousands of square feet of flea market located right next to thousands of square feet of antique vendor stalls. This place is a collector’s dream (seriously), so leave a little extra room in your car! The antique mall is home to about 200 different vendors selling furniture, jewelry, collectives, retro and vintage items. At the flea market you will find everything from housewares to clothing to farmers market style food goods, records and literally everything in between. What treasures await you?
This landmark restaurant is like a rite of passage for those headed on a road trip up north. Just off of Hwy 11 (Fun Fact: if headed southbound you’ll walk the bridge which was formally a portion of the pedestrian bridge to the CN Tower) Webers burgers are cooked to perfection over charcoal. Don’t be put off by the long line-ups, it’s all part of the fun and the staff are QUICK – you’ll be enjoying a delicious burger in no time.
But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what other hungry humans have said…
‘Chocolate shake was superb. Left feeling full and satisfied. Relaxed in the shade on the grass and enjoyed people and dog watching.’ – Kristy
‘A bucket-list kind of place.’ – Dennis
‘Great, simple charcoal fired burgers with generous portions of Kawartha ice cream. No messing around with a good thing.’ – Kelvin
If burgers and fries just aren’t your cup of tea, or if you are looking for a road trip lunch option that’s a little more off the beaten path, then set your GPS for The Oven in Bracebridge. Just like the Edge is passionate about serving made-with-love meals from fresh, seasonal, local produce, the Oven has a similar mandate. A quick bite at this hole in the wall bakery will have you filled up in no time with delicious options like handmade sourdough pizza, breads and baked goods, all prepared in a wood fired oven. Just like that you’re back on the road with a happy tummy.
Ok, so you’re going to be really full on this unforgettable road trip of yours but we can’t deny suggesting a stop at this tasty entrepreneurial venture. While Kawartha Dairy on Highway 60 is where most will stop to grab a scoop on their way into Algonquin Park, we want to direct your taste buds just a minute or two into town in Huntsville to devour a tower of Belly Ice Cream instead. This independent company offers a selection of more than 40 flavours of small-batch artisanal ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurts in its scoop shop located at 90 West Rd in Huntsville. Dreaming of Basil and Lemon? Blueberry Cheesecake? Butter Tart? Dulce De Leche? Salted Caramel? It’s all on the menu, because ice cream dreams really do come true.
Screaming Heads is the ultimate Insta-worthy road trip stop en route to our corner of Algonquin Park. While it is located about 20-30 minutes off the highway, this unique art installation is well worth the detour. Artist Peter Camani (who was an art teacher at our local high school) has created an outdoor art exhibit of giant cast-concrete figures woven into the landscape. The 310-acre property is a curious mix of both home and canvas. This is a great place to stretch your legs and take a memorable photo of your road trip.
This stop is a little closer to home for us (South River!) which makes it a little closer to our hearts as well. This is a truly one-of-a-kind enterprise which has become home to so many local artists. Inside you will find a magical crystal shoppe (and maybe even co-owner Braelyn working on a gorgeous necklace or amulet) as well as a mineral exhibit which is home to some unbelievably rare and fascinating minerals, gems and fossils. A walk through Crystal Cave is very visually and spiritually stimulating, and you may even find a crystal calling your name. Outside, you can weave your way through the various artisan stalls selling everything from lavender soaps to pottery to fibre arts.
And there you have it folks….
A list of just SOME of our favourite places en route to this beautiful little corner of Ontario. Can’t find a campsite in Algonquin to land at when you get here? Or not really the camping type? Why not consider joining us for a retreat weekend and enjoy the beauty of Algonquin Park while still being able to crawl under a fluffy duvet in one of our eco-lux forest accommodation options? Learn more about our offerings and what’s on the calendar here.