Want to explore Ontario but not sure where to go? You can check out the popular PEC or drive up to Parry Sound, but there’s so much more of the province that’s worth an adventure. The Tourism Association Industry of Ontario released its 2022 State of the Ontario Tourism Industry Report with recommendations for how the tourism industry can improve after two years of less travel, especially in the north. Sometimes the pure size of Ontario can be overwhelming when you’re looking to get away, so we’ve put together a list of what to see, do, and eat in Northern Ontario for your next trip.
What to do: Ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, tub sliding, sleigh rides, hockey, and skating—Timiskaming District has everything you would want to do in the winter. Add the Carnaval de Lorrainville to your list—it’s a 50-year tradition.
Where to eat: You have to try out 28 on the Lake. You’ll soak in lake views as you feast on pizza rolls, paninis, and even sushi. Bonus: they serve all-you-can-eat fish and chips on Tuesdays.
Where to stay: This cozy and charming one-bedroom cottage in West Timiskaming is located right on the river’s edge—it even has a hot tub to warm up after a cold winter’s day.
What to do: Book the first week of March off and stay tuned for Elliot Lake’s Winterfest—a full day packed with horse-drawn carriage rides, dog sled rides, bonfires, skating, fireworks, and more.
Where to eat: Great food, a full bar, and live music is everything you can expect from the restaurant at Dunlop Lake Lodge. Check it out in the summer for panoramic views of Dunlop Lake.
Where to stay: Unwind at The Lake House on Elliot Lake, which features a private getaway and famous sunset views. Located right on the Canadian Shield, this cabin is nestled in its own Northern Ontario paradise.
What to do: Experience the trifecta of winter—ski, snowboard, and tube at Mount Evergreen Ski & Recreation Area. You’ll be up and down the 220 foothills all day long.
Where to eat: Dino’s Restaurant is grilling up something you won’t want to miss—their Greek salad is famous and the beef gyros and rack of lamb are two other top dishes.
Where to stay: Rest easy in this all-season lakefront cottage that sleeps 12. Close to hiking trails, restaurants, historic sites, and the Kenora Harbourfront, you can enjoy a private getaway with the whole family.
What to do: Hike along the southern area of the Canadian Shield at La Cloche, admiring the ridge, terrace forest, and various wetlands. This park is more than a hike, offering bird watching, camping, overnight trails, and snowmobiling.
Where to eat: With 26 years of pancakes, eggs, and bacon under their belt, the family-owned Roger Rabbit’s Diner is the place to pack in a delicious breakfast. It’s open from Tuesday to Saturday.
Where to stay: Rent your own three-acre island, just 25 minutes away from Espanola city centre on McGregor Bay. The charming cedar log cabin is nestled in a serene oasis, making it feel like a true getaway.
What to do: Step foot into “snowmobiler’s paradise” in Iroquois Falls, which sits on a 250-kilometre loop that passes through many of Northern Ontario’s best towns. Don’t forget to fill your gas tank in Cochrane or Iroquois Falls along the way.
Where to eat: Why not consider dining at the Wye, a local favourite open every day except Mondays, and it’s right near the snowmobile trails for a quick bite.
Where to stay: Close to walking, ATV, and snowmobile trails, this peaceful cottage getaway is nestled in an untouched forest adorned with lake views. Park your RV for the night, or bring seven friends, because this cottage has lots of room.
What to do: Glide on groomed trails through kilometres of evergreens alongside the Nipissing River at the Nipissing Nordic Ski Club this winter. If that’s not your speed, West Nipissing is home to snowshoeing trails and many outdoor skating rinks.
Where to eat: Seek comfort in Chez Angele’s Homestyle Restaurant Style Maison and munch on everything from cabbage rolls to salted caramel brownies. And you won’t want to miss the Friday night specials, like salmon pie with egg sauce.
Where to stay: Rent your very own 10-acre private island in French River. Enjoy your privacy, lake views, and four private beaches at this fisherman’s paradise.
What to do: Explore one of Ontario’s best hiking trails—the Casque Isles Trail, a 53-kilometre hike for the adventurous and scenic admirers. On your way back home, take a peek at Aguasabon Falls for breathtaking views of Lake Superior.
Where to eat: Grab a bite of homestyle Italian food at Drifter’s Restaurant and Lounge, or enjoy one of their many events.
Where to stay: Stop at Drifter’s of Terrace Bay for a cozy stay right in town. Choose between their Jacuzzi, Rustic, and Cabin suites—and if you get hungry, there’s a restaurant and bar steps away.
What to do: Grab your shoes and your camera because you won’t want to miss the beautiful views found in Thunder Bay’s parks. Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, Pukaskwa National Park, Neys Provincial Park, and Blue Point Amethyst Mine is just the start. There are a number of hidden gems to explore off of Lake Superior, including the famous Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Where to eat: Browse the extensive wine list and indulge in seasonal meals at Bight Restaurant & Bar. You can’t miss brunch and craft cocktails from Wednesday to Sunday.
Where to stay: Where better to stay than the trails you hiked on during the day? Sleep on a bed of fluffy snow at Quetico Provincial Park, check out Trowbridge Falls (although some say it’s haunted), or settle in under the stars at Sleepy Giant Provincial Park campsites.
What to do: We would be remiss not to mention the Big Nickel in Sudbury, a 1951 replica of the Canadian nickel. After, head to Science North for a glimpse into Earth’s history.
Where to eat: Voted Sudbury’s best pasta, Bella Vita Cucina on Kathleen Street offers an authentic Italian menu you must try. Be sure to make a reservation because seats fill up quickly.
Where to stay: Located in the south of Sudbury, this cozy and rustic A-frame cottage is great for those wanting to ski, skate, or hike. After, recover from a tiring day in their movie room for the night.
What to do: Take part in The Bay’s plethora of winter activities—from downhill skiing at the Laurentian Ski Hill and tobogganing at Lee Park, to snowmobiling on 3,400 kilometres of perfectly groomed trails—there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. End your day by visiting the North Bay Heritage Train and Carousel and catching the sunset at the waterfront.
Where to eat: Plant-based comfort food? Yes, please! Pancakes, dessert, coffee, and other plant-based dishes are just the start at North Star Diner, open Thursday to Sunday, with brunch being served on Saturday and Sunday.
Where to stay: This beachfront cottage is minutes from downtown North Bay and features beautiful private lake views. It offers four spacious bedrooms and a kitsch cottage-y feel, surrounded by antiques.