An Easy Weekend Guide to North Bay

by | Mar 2, 2022 | Big Blog, Nature and Outdoors

When a staycation is calling, head to The Seven—North of Muskoka

Part of our “Easy Weekend Guides to Northeastern Ontario” series

Northeastern Ontario has some amazing communities to explore, full of outdoor adventures, urban fun and small-town charm. Just beyond cottage country you’ll find the wide open spaces, glistening lakes and spectacular sunsets of Canadian shield country—up here, we call it ‘camp’. When you want to get away from it all, drive just a little bit further than you normally would—and experience the wild beauty of a Northeastern Ontario staycation. 

Welcome to the Gateway to the North

A vibrant, creative city with plenty of hidden gems, the city of North Bay is a great spot for a weekend getaway from the city. At just 3.5 hours from Toronto, you can maximize your lake time and still be home in time to unwind on Sunday night. With murals around every corner, many art galleries, and several museums—and a heritage theatre to boot—North Bay offers the best of both an urban and nature getaway. With a small-batch local bakery tucked away in a mural-lined alley, a popular bright and cheerful doughnut shop, and a record shop the equal of anything in Williamsburg, all within five minutes of the spectacular Lake Nipissing shoreline, the lakes aren’t the only thing calling you North these days. 

 

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Getting There

Set the alarm early to avoid the cottage country weekenders, and take the highway 11 fork for the scenic route through the Muskoka region on your way up to Lake Nipissing and North Bay. If your morning latte wasn’t enough to fill the tank, keep your eyes peeled for Twigg’s Coffee Roasters on Fraser Street as you head into town, a locally-owned coffee shop with five locations in Northeastern Ontario. 

Get Outdoors

North Bay is a city surrounded by stunning wilderness, and is perfect for those who love adventures in the outdoors with the comforts of the city nearby. As you roll into the city, get out and stretch your legs on the 2.5 km Cranberry Trail, which leads to stunning views from the shores of Lake Nipissing. Avid hikers will have their fill with other beautiful hikes around the region including the La Vase Portages Conservation Area, the Kinsmen Trail, and the Laurier Woods Conservation Area. The popular Duchesnay Falls Trail is a must-do, and overlooks a series of cascading waterfalls in a beautiful forest setting just off the highway.

If you’re looking for a longer hike, The Campus trails form a network connecting from the Duchesnay Falls Trail, snaking through the surrounding forest on the campus of Nipissing University and Canadore College. Venturing along these trails will lead you to the Lake Nipissing Lookout, City View Lookout and the Wahjewa Hill Lookout, where you’ll revel in stunning views of Lake Nipissing and the North Bay region.

This is a Riding Town

If adventures by bike are more your style, North Bay has a plenty of cycling routes, from five great road rides to well-loved and maintained mountain bike trails. (If you’re in town in winter, check out this fatbiking trail guide). For those looking to sightsee along the city’s vibrant waterfront on two wheels, bike rentals are available at the Boathouse Rentals conveniently located on the waterfront. They also offer paddle boards, kayaks and canoes for those looking to explore from the water. 

Downtown by the Waterfront

Exploring North Bay’s vibrant waterfront and downtown is a great way to spend an afternoon. Take a spin on the Heritage Carousel, or stop by for a nostalgic tour on the Heritage Railway. The North Bay Museum, the WKP Kennedy Gallery and the Dionne Quintuplets Museum are perfect for culture lovers, and the Sunday Farmers’ Market is a great place to pick up local produce, crafts and a bite to eat. If you feel like taking it indoors, catch a show at the historic Capitol Centre, or explore one of the many art galleries, murals, or museums in town.

Sunsets on Lake Nipissing are kind of what North Bay is known for. Jump on a sunset cruise of Callander Bay with the Chief Commanda II, or if that’s not your style, a picnic at Sunset Park will work just as well.

 

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Dine Out in Style

When it’s time to refuel, there is no shortage of places for foodies to indulge. From brunch at the retro Fifty’s Diner to drinks on the patio at North Bay’s landmark lakeside bar and grill The Boat, to afternoon epic donut snacks from Good Glaze Doughnuts and plant-based lunch fare from Miso & Shiso Plant Based Fusion food truck, there’s a foodie spot to suit every taste. If you need a local brew to quench your thirst, order up some suds from one of the city’s two local independent breweries, Gateway City Brewery and New Ontario Brewing.

Where to stay

 

Other Easy Weekend Trips from Toronto

Get those staycation vibes going with our other easy weekend getaways from Toronto. Visit bucolic Manitoulin Island, or explore the epic and infamous nature of Killarney. Each trip is approximately four hours from Toronto and offers a glimpse of the vibrant towns and awe-inspiring nature of Northeastern Ontario.

About Sofie Sharom

Sofie Sharom is a photographer and visual artist. With a focus on wildlife, travel and documentary photography, she has visited some of the most remote corners of the world in search of spectacular scenery, unique wildlife, engaging people and inspiring stories.

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