Tour one of the loveliest regions of Ontario this fall and discover exceptional dining along the way.
Looking for a new spot to explore this autumn as the maple trees burst into colour and country roads open up with less traffic? Consider a getaway to the Almaguin Highlands of Ontario, where you’ll find plenty to see and do, and an array of amazing places to stop for great food while you’re out on the road.
Head to Lake Bernard in Sundridge, famous for being the largest fresh water lake in the world without an island. Check out the Screaming Heads outdoor art installation, an incredible collection of – well – screaming heads spread out across sprawling acreage near Burk’s Falls. Visit the incredible artists of the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council in their fascinating studios, tucked in the woods and in the villages that dot the region. (Be sure to check out their annual Artscape Show & Sale at Highlander Brew Co. in South River on September 28-30 as well.)
Where To Feast In Almaguin!
There are plenty of amazing restaurants in the Almaguin Highlands of Ontario where you can enjoy delicious meals and a welcoming ambiance. Below is just a partial list of where to dine and drink when you ‘Feast In Almaguin‘ this fall.
The village of Burk’s Falls, with its charming and historic downtown core, is the perfect spot for spending a fall afternoon. Stop in at the Circling Hawks Centre and shop their unique collection of gifts, jewelry, books and native arts & crafts – and take a peak outside too at their fairy garden that includes a meditation labyrinth, peace pole, and the interactive wall of gratitude.
Interested in some of the areas history? Head towards the river and take the Heritage River Walk, with its starting point conveniently located adjacent to the Burk’s Falls Welcome Centre Barista & Bakery (if you’re ready for some delicious freshly baked goods or a gourmet coffee), this walking tour will guide you to points of interest as you discover historical information about this special town. For a map of this tour click here. When you’ve worked up an appetite, stop for lunch or dinner at Ms. T’s Grub Hub or The Landmark Pub – the latter housed in The Landmark Hotel, recently reopened in the historic Burk’s Falls hotel building which was rebuilt after the great fire of 1908.
Home to one of the regions most spectacular natural attractions, Brooks Falls, Emsdale is the perfect spot to enjoy the fresh autumn air with the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet. Walking trails at Brooks Falls park will lead you to the river below and the perfect backdrop for some fall photography fun. Once you’ve enjoyed this woodland waterfall, treat yourself to a meal at Spicoli’s Pizza. Their unique decor and dishes named after some Hollywood favourites – a Sean Pennzerotti or Christina Apple Salad perhaps? – make this spot a favourite among locals and visitors alike.
The town of Kearney, affectionately known as Ontario’s Biggest Little Town, offers access points to the west side of Algonquin Park as well as beautiful views as you drive along their forested roadways. If you want to work up your appetite with some fall paddling, gather your rental gear from Algonquin Basecamp or Canoe Algonquin. When you’re ready for a meal, stop in at Kearney O’Neils for delicious homemade fare with daily specials on the menu or try Suds on Main for all your favourite pub classics while you warm yourself by the fire.
A visit to Magnetawan isn’t complete without stopping to see the historic lift locks. Originally built in 1883, and then rebuilt in 1911, these locks were used to raise and lower steamers allowing them to transport their goods from Ahmic Harbour, ten miles below Magnetawan, and Burk’s Falls, twenty miles above it. In the quarter-century following its completion, an average of 704 passages were made through the locks by steamships each season.
Enjoy dining in the newly rebuilt Magnetawan Grill & Grocery – a shining example of community pride and local initiative that’s been brought back to life after a devastating downtown fire in 2011. Heading towards Ahmic Harbour will also bring you to Swiss Country House Restaurant, serving authentic Swiss dishes in their waterfront location, or if fine dining is on the menu, to Tanner’s Inn & Dining.
If golf is your game, there are two spectacular courses in Powassan sure to peak your interest – Clear Springs Golf Course and Highview Golf Course. Looking for vista views? Hit the Powassan Mountain Conservation Area and traverse the meandering Highland Trail up the mountain where you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the surrounding highlands. This is a not to be missed spot for taking in the fall colour. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Kudos Cantina for authentic Mexican inspired dishes – and some Canadian favourites too – that are sure to tempt your taste buds.
Home of Highlander Brew Co, a stop in South River just isn’t complete without a visit to this craft brewery. Visit them to sample their selection of unique and seasonal brews, including Rye Road, a fall favourite that pairs perfectly with turkey and pumpkin pie! For some outdoor fun check out Tom Thomson Park, with their lovely gardens, walking paths, and 18 hole disc golf course its a perfect spot for a casual afternoon; or get out on the lakes and rent a canoe or kayak from Eagle Lake Narrows Country Store. If arts and culture is more your style, be sure to check out the New Adventures in Sound Art venue and their list of upcoming events here. Then fill your belly at one of their fine local establishments, Antonio’s Grill, Memere’s Bakery, or Sherri’s Diner.
The Almaguin Highlands are home to some of Park to Park Trails most adventurous routes, including the Seguin Trail with a trail head located right in Sprucedale. Rent an ATV from Redline Outdoors or bring your own, pick up your trail pass and get ready for some fast paced fun! The fall colours from the forested interior are sure to be spectacular, and located right off the trail you’ll find the Sprucedale Hotel – the perfect easy access location for a delicious meal.
A visit to the Almaguin Highlands just isn’t complete without a stop in sunny Sundridge. Play a round of golf at The Ridge Golf Club at Ten Gables, a historic course in the region constructed in 1949, and treat yourself to a fine dining experience afterwards at the onsite Michaels on Main at the Ridge. Interested in unique and handcrafted spirits? Mosey up to the tasting bar at Copperhead Distillery and try some of their most popular creations, like Apple Pie Moonshine or Molasses Pirate Rum, perfect for the fall season. Work up your appetite for made-from-scratch Italian at Danny’s Justa Pasta, pick up a coffee and delicious baked goods from the Red Brick Café, or treat yourself to one of Executive Chef Luca’s unique creations while enjoying the stunning atmosphere at the Instagram worthy Renard Room at the Northridge Inn.
Thinking about a fall picnic? Bring along some of the best scratch made Asian cuisine you’ll ever taste created for you by Chopped Canada champion Nghe Tran, at Ha’s Restaurant (takeout only).
Food Truck Fun
Catch the last wave of curbside dining before the season ends with some of the best food trucks north of the city.
For more information on what to see, do and eat in the Almaguin Highlands of Ontario this autumn, visit AlmaguinHighlandsTourism.ca.