Living in Toronto is constant fun and excitement but taking a regular break helps us enjoy this city we love even more! With Peterborough and the Kawarthas only a short car ride away, I am amazed how a quick weekend getaway from Toronto can be filled with family-friendly adventures, eco-friendly resorts, beautiful scenery and yummy local food.

Note: I was recently hosted by Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism to explore and review the area along with my family. Spoiler Alert: we loved it! Read on for getaway highlights, tips and resort details.


Fall Colours on Rice Lake – view from Elmhirst’s Resort

Ontario is the second-largest province in Canada but it is by far the busiest and most populous. People often associate the province with the glitz and glamour of Toronto and while that may be true for the business side of things, I am thankful that getting away from the big city to peace and tranquility is often just a short road trip away.

The one advice I have for a happy weekend escape – leave on Friday evening after school and work. Friday out-of-town traffic is always crazy where ever you live, and those extra few hours make it a two-night escape giving the brain sufficient time to reboot.

Weekend getaway from Toronto

Peterborough and the Kawarthas is a great example of one of many short weekend getaways possible from the city. We had a little taste of the region on our last trip last year when we stayed at Viamede Resort.

This time we did things a little bit differently.

Highlights of Peterborough and the Kawarthas

Weekend Getaway from Toronto | Explore Ontario | Peterborough and The Kawarthas | Maple and Marigold

Downtown Peterborough

We have stopped here a few times to explore and have never been disappointed. The charming small-town vibe along with a rich cultural and foodie scene make this an overall fun place to stopover. There is a good variety of restaurants – Hot Belly Mamas (food in the picture) is a steady favourite with us and it even has occasional live music. The other place that I want to stop at – but hasn’t worked out – is Jasmine Thai. We’ll stop here next time and report back 🙂 The city, in general, has something going on every month. The weekend we visited Purple Onion Festival was taking place at Millennium Park, the Air Show was at the airport and there were a number of studio and gallery art tours. It’s an all-season fun kinda place.

Highest Hydraulic Lift Lock

Weekend Getaway from Toronto | Explore Ontario | Peterborough and The Kawarthas | Maple and Marigold

One of our favourites in this area is Lock 21. Trent-Severn Waterway, a National Historic Site of Canada is a major waterway in Canada and it connects Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. The canal route is long and it meanders slowly through multiple lakes. Locks have been built at various locations to help boats navigate and move across water at different elevations. Lock 21 situated at Peterborough is the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock! My family is a fan of figuring “how things work” and boat lifts are a great example of that. We have made multiple trips to other cities including Ottawa (shout out to the locks on Rideau Canal) to watch the boats go up and down. Quite a fascinating sight!

At Peterborough, in particular, the staff in the control booth are friendly and open to all sorts of questions from curious kids.

Art Gallery of Peterborough

Weekend Getaway from Toronto | Explore Ontario | Peterborough and The Kawarthas | Maple and Marigold

I had included the gallery in the Downtown section and there is so much to do here I had to give it its own category. Free entrance, weekend kids activities and regular showings of high-profile artists are quite a normal feature. My hubby and I divided our energies on our last trip – he took the girls to the Air Show and I wandered around the art gallery. Win Win!

Stay at Elmhirst’s Resort

Weekend Getaway from Toronto | Explore Ontario | Peterborough and The Kawarthas | Maple and Marigold


Homemade granola for breakfast at Elmhirst

Picking accommodation is the most important part of a weekend getaway. And boy did we luck out this time! We stayed at Elmhirst’s Resort that’s 20 minutes out of Peterborough. This is a cottage-style-resort with enough accommodations for all sizes of families and groups. Our cottage was right on the shores of Rice Lake and between on-the-water activities, wine-tasting, games room, horse-drawn wagon rides and visits to the farm, there is something for all tastes here. There’s even a spa on site! Next time! My favourite time of day was early morning where the heart-stopping views of the sunrise over the water make the crazy all worthwhile. Check out this video – it gives you a snapshot of #LakeLife. Sheer bliss.

Exploring Peterborough and the Kawarthas has been one of the easiest weekend getaways from Toronto we have taken in recent memory. Little preparation, an hour and a half of driving, and our souls are reset to a slower time.

I have more tips to survive and THRIVE on a weekend getaway road trip from Toronto here.

Have you taken a road trip from Toronto? Which was your favourite?

Weekend Getaway from Toronto | Explore Ontario | Peterborough and The Kawarthas | Maple and Marigold

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