One of the most quintessential Ontario experiences involves packing your car and heading for cottage country. Unfortunately, that means spending more than your fair share of time sitting on the 400. It’s a like some sort of sick right of passage — a hazing ritual for anyone wanting access to that most coveted of experiences: #docklife.
So why not switch up the routine and turn it into an adventure! We want you to pull over and discover some of the delicious things enroute to whatever dock/island/beach you’re headed for.
If you’re in a hurry and departing from Toronto in the summer months, stop by the King City OnRoute station where Farmers Markets Ontario has set up a pop-up farmers’ market every Friday. Here you’ll find your sweet corn, your Niagara peaches and other fresh veg perfect for the grill.
Your next stop headed north should be the Canal Road Farmers’ Market. Open Monday – Saturday all year long, it’s a one stop shop for your weekend groceries, sure — but also the place to stock up on car snacks. There are fridges brimming with cheese curds, bushels of Holland Marsh strawberries, pies of all types and meat snacks made by Mennonite’s in Southern Ontario. Bonus: come spring, the view from the parking lot is rather spectacular as you look out over the seemingly endless fields of lettuces, onions and other edibles in the Marsh.
As you approach Barrie, consider a pit stop at Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery. It’s a 5 minute detour down Dunlop Street and they offer free tours (and plenty of tastings!) every day of the week. Stock up on your favorites — the Antigravity light lager might just be the perfect dock drink – and hit the road north again.
Now that you’ve got your cheese curds and beer, we suggested hitting the 11– if only pit stop at Webers in Cumberland Beach. Webers is tradition. For decades folks have been flocking to the train themed restaurant to eat griddled burgers on the lawn — or if it’s raining, in the reclaimed caboose next door — enroute to Muskoka. It’s such an iconic spot that a couple years ago, Roots Canada set up a pop-up shop to capitalize on crowds.
With a belly full of fries and a milkshake in hand, head north again towards Gravenhurst. This is where we leave you to your own devices. Gravenhurst is the great divide in the area — head East and you’ll hit Bracebridge, Milford Bay, and Huntsville. Head west and you’ve got Bala, Port Carling and eventually, Parry Sound.
Don’t worry, we’re not leaving you high and dry! Here are our picks for each:
Wild Blueberries: A Muskoka Tradition
235 Frank Miller Route, Gravenhurst
3119 Muskoka District Rd 169, Bala
Muskoka Lakes Winery
1074 Cranberry Road, Bala
The Griffin Gastropub
9 Chancery Lane, Bracebridge
Milford Bay Trout Farm
1224 Hewlitt Rd, Bracebridge
Belly Ice Cream Company
75 Main St East, Huntsville
Looking for more delicious discoveries in Simcoe County? Check out Simcoe Tourism! Simcoe County is a four-season destination lying between Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe and is less than one hour north of Toronto.