Looking for fun things to do in Haliburton Ontario? Contributor Chris Occhiuzzi shares his list of favourites… whether you live there, or are passing through, we know you’ll enjoy the Haliburton Highlands!
Wildlife excursions, festivals, art galleries, museums, restaurants and craft breweries, and many more unique experiences give visitors and residents alike a plethora of fun things to do in Haliburton Ontario.
Pick and choose what you fancy best with a themed outing – food and beverage, wildlife adventures, art and history – or try to see it all with an extended stay (keeping in mind it may require multiple visits).
Here is a list of to make it easy for you to plan out your trip (or trips) to one of Ontario’s most beautiful areas.
The Top Things To Do in Haliburton Ontario
Stay in the Haliburton Highlands
Whether travelling from far away or deciding on a staycation nearby, there are plenty of quality accommodations choose from. Many Haliburton hotels are nestled in the heart of the Highlands and a short drive away from all the amazing attractions.
One of the most iconic locations in Haliburton and beyond is Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa. The century-old luxury adult retreat located on Eagle Lake is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic weekend away from life’s stresses with your special someone. Featuring spa packages, villas, chalets, lovely hotel rooms and more, Sir Sam’s is a year-round couples destination that will not disappoint.
Whether doing a golf trip with friends, a team-building trip with the office, or a family getaway, Pinestone Resort has all the amenities you need to make the most of your vacation. The full-service hotel sits on 160-acres of scenic landscape and features its own 18-hole, championship level golf course, 102 combined accommodation spaces (rooms, suites, villas and chalets), meeting rooms and the Stone 21 Restaurant.
Since 1924, the Bonnie View Inn has been a favourite place for families to gather. The 28-room, family operated property features a brilliant waterfront on Lake Kashagawigamog and plenty of resort amenities for the young and young-at-heart. The Bonnie View offers both hotel rooms and chalet rentals, while year-round activities – from beach volleyball to hiking to skating on the frozen lake – mean the fun doesn’t stop when the weather starts to cool.
But, if a hotel doesn’t suit your needs, there are also plenty of cottage rental options available throughout the year. Three cottage rental businesses stand out for their options: Cottage Care Rentals is the easiest website to navigate, while All Season Cottage Rentals and WRD Cottage Rental Agency have listings based on seasonal availability.
Savour Great Food
What is a visit to a community without trying out some of the local food fare? Well, Haliburton has its share of restaurants to whet the appetite and have you returning for seconds.
Rhubarb Restaurant Haliburton has been getting rave reviews from foodies far and wide. A charming cottage atmosphere is only surpassed by the eclectic menu of freshly made delicacies. Also home to the Boshkung Brewing Co, Rhubarb’s menu offers both dine-in and takeout options.
Twin Fires fine dining restaurant at Sir Sam’s is the place to go for a lovely meal; but be sure to make reservations at this popular establishment. The extensive wine cellar allows guests to choose their own bottle, while locals and cottagers often dock their boats at the property for an enhanced evening experience.
Great food isn’t fully great without baked goods, specifically one of Canada’s favourite treats: the butter tart. Haliburton has its own “best butter tart around” courtesy of The Little Tart. The small but mighty bakery makes all their offerings on site from scratch.
Enjoy Fun Upcoming Events and Concerts
The first two weekends in October feature the Studio Tour for art lovers and those looking to do something a little different. With 12 local artists showing their studios and works, it’s certainly an event worth looking into.
Live theatre done well is a fantastic experience which tantalizes the senses. In this vein, the Highlands Summer Festival fits the bill. For those who haven’t yet enjoyed the festival, the 2021 season is sure to delight. The Sound of Music opens on June 29 for ten performances, followed by The Importance of Being Earnest beginning July 13 for eight performances, and the conclusion of the season with five performances of Every Brilliant Thing opening on July 27.
The annual Frost Festival in the municipality of Dysart is a free, family-fun winter event occurring in February featuring wagon rides, snowshoeing, a Polar Bear Dip and much more.
Pay a Visit to Minden Ontario
Minden Ontario may be a village within the Haliburton Highlands, but it definitely has many things to do.
It’s also the location of the aforementioned Rhubarb Restaurant and many signature annual events, such as the Bluegrass Festival in the summer and WinterFest. Meanwhile, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy public beaches and parks, the lookout point, kayaking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more.
Visit the Minden Hills Cultural Centre for history, art and education: the four-acre site is home to the Agnes Jamieson Gallery, the Minden Hills Museum and Heritage Village, Nature’s Place and the Minden Hills Branch of the Haliburton Country Public Library. A boardwalk travelling over natural wetlands connects the Cultural Centre to Minden’s downtown Riverwalk.
Explore the Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve
Boasting 100,000 acres, 100 lakes and millions of trees – as well as countless creatures both big and small – the Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve has long been a must-visit for nature enthusiasts the world over.
Canopy tours allowing guests to glimpse the forest with a bird’s eye view are a big draw as Haliburton Forest has the longest canopy walkway in the world. Camping, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice fishing are among the amazing experiences you can have on the property.
But, perhaps the most popular thing to do is enjoying time at the Wolf Centre, where guests can learn all about the amazing animal in a large indoor facility. There is also an observatory which allows visitors the chance to see some of the forest’s native wolves in their natural environment.
Learn About Haliburton’s History
History buffs and those who crave knowledge will delight at the near 20,000 artifacts housed by the Haliburton Highlands Museum. Escape into the life of the area’s pioneers, many of whom were farmers and others who lived off the land. Learn about life in the late 1800s and the people who forged a community from vacant land.
The Stanhope Museum is home to the Hawk Lake Log Chute, which has been on the site since 1861. The man-made trough was previously used to carry logs over rough water to a sawmill. Once home to thousands of log chutes, the Hawk Lake Log Chute is the only one of its kind left in Ontario.
The Minden Hills Museum and Heritage Village is another great place to see and learn about the area’s history.
Take a Hike or Grab a Bike
One of the most picturesque parts of the Trans Canada Trail is the one which links the Haliburton Highlands to Ottawa. The 35-km multi-use trail was made on a former railway and travels east-west through Sharbot Lake. Hike or bike this trail as you see fit.
There are plenty of other Haliburton hiking trails to enjoy, including the Dorset Scenic Tower Trail, the Frost Centre hiking trails through the forest near St. Nora Lake, the Haliburton Forest hiking trails, and Sir Sam’s hiking trail.
Meanwhile, Sir Sam’s Ski/Ride features 23-kilometres of trails that mountain bikers adore. They offer both downhill and cross-country options overlooking beautiful Eagle Lake.
Enjoy A Great Brew
Haliburton is also home to two breweries: the Boshkung Brewing Company, the craft brewery which shares a home with Rhubarb, and Haliburton Highlands Brewing, a microbrewery featuring eight year-round specialty brews.
Make it a point to visit the breweries, and learn a bit more about them by reading Haliburton Breweries – Great Cottage Country Beer.
Should your taste buds still desire the flavour from more craft and microbreweries products, take the short trip to Muskoka where Canvas Brewing, Lake of Bays Brewing, Sawdust City Brewing, Muskoka Brewing, and others await your visit.
Take in Some Culture
Artists are the essence of any community and Haliburton is no different. The Rails End Gallery, located in the landmark rail station, is full of locally created arts, crafts and music. It’s the perfect space to learn more about the artists and see one-of-a-kind, original artwork.
But, the artistic expression doesn’t stop at one spot. The Haliburton Sculpture Forest in Glebe Park is an outdoor collection featuring sculpted creations by both Canadian and international artists. The ever-changing seasons also provide different backdrops and perspectives to visitors enjoying the sculptures. Visit in the spring and a particular piece may look quite different to you than it does in the fall.
The Ethel Curry Gallery, newartstudio52, and Agnes Jamieson Gallery are among others that showcase local artwork.
Come Back in Winter
Haliburton is a winter paradise known for its snowmobile trails, Nordic trails, dog sledding, as well as ice fishing and outdoor skating opportunities.
One of many people’s favourite winter past times is hitting the trails on a snowmobile. Well, the Haliburton Snowmobile Association (or snowmobile club as some would call it) has plenty of groomed trail maps, recommendations, and information to make your ride the best it can be.
But, not everyone wants to be riding a vehicle for fun. There are many who enjoy the traditional ways of traveling through the snow-covered forests. In this case, you’ll find an amazing Haliburton Nordic trail system awaiting your skis. The Haliburton Highlands Nordic Trail & Ski Club Association has all the trail maps you need.
There are also Haliburton dog sledding enthusiasts who know the best spots for both mushing and skijoring. However, if you’re new to the sport, it’s probably a good idea to start out on a guided tour at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve or with Winterdance Dogsled Tours on Eagle Lake.
Contributor Occhiuzzi is a staff writer at Dockside Publishing and founder of Muskoka Unlimited.