Are you longing to get out of the city this summer? Relax. We’ve put together a trio of Grid-approved summer-weekend road trips for two.
EASTBOUND: Hipster odyssey
Hipsters are people, too. Like everyone else, you need the occasional break from burning your way through the best art galleries, rooftop bashes, and invite-only concerts. We suggest a trek eastward to Peterborough. The trip is specially designed so you don’t have to go through withdrawal; in fact, you’ll spend the entire 36 hours without being deprived of the creature comforts of neighbourhoods like Parkdale. You can eat your way through roadside country cafés and down-home gastropubs, brush up on rock ’n’ roll history (you know, pre–Bon Iver) while flipping through the vinyl racks at Bluestreak Records, drive around Neil Young’s hometown, or just saunter through Riverside Park after consuming a few cheap bottles of James Ready at local dive bar The Red Dog. Peterborough: It’s where all the cool kids are headed.
Orono Country Café
Don’t get distracted by the signs for Jungle Cat World: It’s still early and your rumbling stomach will no doubt frighten the lynx. Instead, head into picturesque Clarington for a homestyle breakfast (served all day) at the Orono Country Café.
5348 Main St., Clarington, 905-983-9009.
DETOUR: Millbrook (movie setting)
If you don’t remember it from such Disney favourites as The Ice Princess or Matthew Broderick’s version of The Music Man, you’ll definitely recognize the town as the “Millbrook” of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. Let’s face it: Canada’s top director confers hipster cred galore.
Strawberry picking at The Berry Patch
Here’s an opportunity to make good on that promise to be more of a locavore: The Berry Patch is open bright and early for strawberry picking ($1.65/lb). Of course, if you’re not inclined to get down and dirty, they also offer quarts of fresh-picked berries ($4.50). Either way, it’s cash only.
1910 County Rd. 10, Cavan, 705-944-5358.
Late lunch at St. Veronus
One of the first places in Peterborough to curate a beer list on which the most exotic offering wasn’t Corona, St. Veronus also boasts a hearty menu where the salads are just as impressive as the seafood gratin ($17). Make time to sample a few Belgian trappist ales ($9.75-$11).
129 Hunter St. W., Peterborough, 705-743-5714.
Shop for vinyl at Bluestreak Records
Take the opportunity to digest lunch while browsing indie-rock in an analog format. The best place to get your vinyl fix is Bluestreak, where the new and used selection is worthy of Queen West, but the staff won’t treat you like you’re in a scene from High Fidelity.
444 George St. N., Peterborough, 705-742-6078.
DETOUR: Canadian Canoe Museum
Prefer to admire the great outdoors from afar? For the price of admission ($9.25), you can drink in the rich heritage of cottage country’s watercraft-of-choice, with over 100 life-size models on display.
910 Monaghan Rd., Peterborough, 705-748-9153.
Liftlock hike/Armour Hill trail
The hydraulic lift-locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway may be one of the eight wonders of Ontario, but you don’t need a boat to appreciate them. A stroll along the canal will give you a perspective from both above and below the locks.
Dinner at Hot Belly Mama’s
The sister restaurant to the Olde Stone Brewery (see Day Two), Hot Belly Mama’s has earned a stellar reputation with unlikely fare in central Ontario: Cajun food. There are plenty of catfish options ($13), as well as Kansas City–style barbecue ribs ($16 per half-rack)—oh, and spices, lots of spices.
378 George St. N., Peterborough, 705-745-3544.
End the night at The Red Dog
This classic venue has hosted scores of Canadiana legends—from Neil Young to the Tragically Hip to the Weakerthans—and even more legendary bar bands. Plus, you can sample a bottle of James Ready ($3.50). It’s sort of the Peterborough equivalent of ordering a PBR on Queen West.
189 Hunter St. W., Peterborough, 705-750-1710.
Peterborough Inn and Suites
Reserve an overnight stay in this boutique inn’s semi-private Courtyard Suite ($140), just a stone’s throw from the downtown bar strip. Thanks to the room’s retro decor, you won’t even need to use your Instagram account’s sepia setting to snap vintage-looking pics.
312 George St. N., Peterborough, 866-446-4451.
Coffee at Dreams of Beans
If the bright-yellow interior doesn’t shock your senses awake, a large mug of Morning Buzz blend ($1.95) and a buttery croissant ($2.10) should provide the proper morning pick-me-up to kick off Day Two.
138 Hunter St. W., Peterborough, 705-742-2406.
Bike ride along the Trans Canada Trail from Peterborough to Omemee to Lindsay (through Jackson Park)
This former railway trail offers a variety of journeys, and there’s a route for every level of ambition. A ride from Peterborough to Omemee is around 19 km (or a little further than from Yonge Street to east Mississauga along the Lakeshore trail), while the trek all the way to Lindsay is a full 37 km. You’re bound to see lots of farmland and traverse more than a few stunning trestle bridges. Tip: Rent your two-wheeler from Peterborough Pedal and Paddle in Millennium Park (100 King St.) for just $10 per hour.
Youngtown Rock and Roll Museum
Omemee is the famed “town in north Ontario” from Young’s song “Helpless,” so it was only a matter of time before someone opened a museum ($7 admission) in the village where Neil spent much of his childhood. Check out photos, instruments, and even some handwritten lyrics, as well as other rock ’n’ roll artifacts from the ’50s and ’60s.
45 King St. E., Omemee, 705-799-2903.
DETOUR: Scott Young Public School
In his just-released biopic-slash-concert-doc Journeys, filmmaker Jonathan Demme rides shotgun with Neil Young as he tours through his childhood home in a 1956 Ford Crown Victoria. Take a free tour of the area yourself, making sure to stop by the junior school named after Young’s father, Scott—a well-known sportswriter and novelist.
27 Walnut St., Omemee, 705-799-5133.
Lunch and beers at The Olde Stone Brewing Company
Hustle back to Peterborough for midday brews—and maybe an appetizer or two—at Olde Stone Brewing Co., where they make a number of local beers in-house. Can’t decide between the Dubh Stout or Red Fife Wheat Ale? No problem: They offer a quartet of four-ounce samplers for $6.29.
380 George St. N., Peterborough, 705-745-0495.
If you thought High Park Zoo was a convenient place to spot some urban wildlife, Peterborough’s Riverview Zoo will seem like a fauna fantasyland. The park boasts over 130 animals—from pythons and spider monkeys to cougars and meerkats—plus there’s a super-slide. And it’s free!
1230 Water St., Peterborough, 705-748-9300.
Sample the pies at Fresh Country
Really, you can’t drive past a place that sells a good home-baked pie and not pick up at least two. Fresh Country’s are made from scratch every morning, and come in flavours like apple-peach-cranberry and butterscotch. They’re a steal at $9–$10 each.
566 Frank Hill Rd., Peterborough, 705-743-5135.
With a boardwalk, harbourfront boat docks, and an expansive area of white sands, Cobourg’s beach feels like you’ve been transported a little closer to where the Snowbirds flee each winter. Bring a volleyball, and somewhere sneaky to stash your booze (vodka slushy, anyone?).
Dinner at The Oasis
With a combination of seafood dishes like lobster poutine ($13), and wine and garlic mussels ($14) alongside regular pub fare—not to mention a huge patio—this place is a huge draw for the sunbaked masses. It’s a fitting (and filling) end to your oh-so-hip adventure outside the 416.
31 King St. E., Cobourg, 905-372-6634.
$20 Breakfast at Orono Country Café
$4.50 One quart of strawberries at The Berry Patch
$30 Lunch at St. Veronus, including drinks
$30 Dinner at Hot Belly Mama’s, including drinks
$7 Two beers at The Red Dog
$140 One-night accommodation, Peterborough Inn and Suites
$9 Dreams of Beans (two croissants and two coffees)
$40 Two-hour bike rental, Pedal and Paddle
$14 Youngtown Museum (two admissions)
$6.29 Olde Stone Brewing Co. (one sampler)
$10 One pie at Fresh Country
$30 Dinner at The Oasis (including drinks)