Bala may be famous for the Bala Falls, and for being the smallest incorporated town in Ontario — but we’re smitten for a smaller, ruby coloured reason. You guessed it, Bala is the cranberry capital of Ontario! How did it get this wonderful little moniker? It’s home to some of the biggest cranberry growers in the province and even has a weekend long festival dedicated to the tart little berry.
Besides cranberries, Bala also plays host to musicians, artists and adventurers. Come summer, it’s pine strewn cliffs and fresh water inlets play host to the a myriad of cottage goers and their guests. For those lucky enough to get an invite, the area promises hours of dock time, cocktails and breezey nights beside the bonfire.
Having a cottage-owning friend isn’t necessary to have a Perfect Weekend in Bala! Here’s how we’d do it:
1. If you’re not dockside at a friends place, book a room at The Bala Bay Inn. Built in 1910, the hotel has been a symbol of Bala�s rich history and continues to leave its mark.
2. After you arrive, plan to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, home to Muskoka Lakes Winery. Tour the marsh and then sit down on their sunny, Feast ON Certified patio for a glass of cranberry wine or better yet, a ‘Muskoka Moment’ cranberry spritzer paired with local cheeses. If exploring the property is more your cup of (cranberry) tea, borrow a picnic basket and fill it with local savouries to enjoy outdoors!
3. Visitors and locals alike know that no visit to Bala is complete without a scoop (or two!) of ice cream at Ice Dreams. Opt for a Kawartha Dairy concoction like Moose Tracks — vanilla ice cream with chocolate peanut butter cups swirled with fudge — or get a piece of their famous Peanut butter ice cream pie!
4. Before heading back to the Inn for a much needed nap — in a Muskoka chair no doubt, stop into Don’s Bakery for a sticky bun or a dozen scones. Their scones — which don’t really resemble scones at all — are beloved by all who get their hands on them for their soft, chewy, bap like texture.
5. Come nightfall, everyone knows you head to The KEE to Bala. They’ve played host to everyone from The Ramones to Snoop Dog over the years. Make sure to pre-book tickets in case there’s a big act in town, and definitely pair it with a pint of Mad Tom from Muskoka Brewery.