It doesn't take long to figure out why Torontonians work so hard. Simply watch the 401 traffic during the summer months'... it can be very telling. After work, you'll find that residents ditch their city lifestyle in favour of commuting to a cottage life on the bay. Where is this cottage country you speak of, one might ask? Cottage country consists of small communities and islands just outside of the city (roughly a 2.5 hour commute, with many cottages found just North of the city). What was once just a small bungalow outside the city has now turned into established neighborhoods and property. Cottage country now features small community elements, and ample attractions for locals. I've learned that there's a ton of cottage country destinations in Ontario, and each one carries its own unique flavour.
After spending a couple of nights in cottage country a few weeks ago, we were inspired to provide an itinerary, of attractions and "to dos" we know and love. We plan to continue our cottage country itineraries throughout the summer, so if there's a particular destination you'd like to see, please let us know below!
Honey Harbour is a busy port community located on the south eastern shores of Georgian Bay, just off of Highway 400. Honey Harbour not only offers stunning views of Georgian Bay, but also water access to the 30,000 island region. Here's a few things we recommend when spending your weekend in this cottage country destination.
We're big fans of airbnb. A popular option for the majority of my travels, airbnb offers various selections for both big and small budgets. However, we've had such positive experiences staying in a quaint resort, called Blue Water Lodging, that it's worth mentioning this option as well. This resort offers cottages that can accommodate up to 7 people. It's a serious bang for your buck too. The kitchen is fully stocked so you can kick back and enjoy a BBQ, and all amenities (i.e. towels, linens, etc.) are provided for your convenience. The cottages are located right on the water - when you arrive you can go for a dip as the sun sets or roast marshmallows by a fire.
Yoga. When the sun rises, it's expected that you do too... said no one ever. Seriously though, if you do decide to venture out of bed before 8am we recommend you head on over to The Hive for Ann Green's yoga class, which is a short 9 minute walk from Blue Water Lodging. Yoga classes take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 8am. We promise you, the view will sooth your soul.
Make waves. Whether you're on the boat, or standing on the shore there's tons to do by the water. Fish, tan, swim, paddle board, kayak, or snorkel... the world (or bay?) is your oyster...
Shopping/Spa. Sometimes the weather can cramp your adventurous spirit, and for those days we highly recommend stopping by The Hive for some shopping and R&R. This general store is fully equipped with tons of cottage-friendly gear. You'll also find our baby gifts in-store, and if stop by on July 22nd you'll find us there, taking in the rays on the back porch during a pop-up shop. In addition, the spa (which was once an ice cream shop by the way!) focuses on using organic skin care products and offers everything from massages and manicures to reflexology!
Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park boosts 63 islands and is accessible by boat only. There are a few ways you can travel to the park: by boat, kayak, the DayTripper, or water taxi. DayTripper reservations are required, so book ahead! You can find out more information here. Make the most out of your day trip and hike, bike, swim, or picnic before setting sail back to Honey Harbour. [fun fact: the granite bedrock, clear blue water and windswept white pines found here are what inspired the famous Group of Seven artists.]
To keep up with all of this activity, we recommend that you properly fuel up. We're creatures of habit so we recommend frequenting these local hot spots.
The Dam Grill. Though I should be raving about the view at The Dam Grill, I really just want to take this moment and rave about the chicken fingers. Order with multiple dipping sauces, or ask to shake em' up buffalo style... either way, you're winning. You'll find this grill just a short 15 minute drive from Honey Harbour. One more piece of advice: keep your eyes peeled while on the deck... you might spot a beaver or two!
Thrive Foods Cafe and Marketplace. A great place to stop in for a coffee, breakfast to go, or a quick treat, the Thrive Foods Cafe and Marketplace is both convenient and yummy. You'll find this cafe right in the heart of Honey Harbour! Be sure to check out their website before you plan your visit, you may be lucky to catch some live musicians playing.