It’s that special time of the year…when trees show off their vivid hues and create a picturesque magical affair…when local farms open their doors to cheerful apple pickers…when families get together to give thanks with grateful hearts…when people begin their search for the perfect pumpkins to carve out for Halloween….when grocery stores fill their aisles with candy and spooky decor! It truly is our favorite time of the year. The Fall is finally here!
We try to spend time exploring local treasures as much as we can and enjoy sharing budget-friendly itineraries with you. This year we kick-started the lovely Fall season with a much awaited trip to Muskoka, Ontario! Don’t miss to check out this blog post that is fresh off the press!
Located just two hours north of Toronto, the Muskoka region prides itself on having beautiful scenery, many lakes, and a stunning fall foliage display. There is something in store for everyone and it’s a great local getaway from the hustle of the big city. Muskoka has some of the most frequently visited provincial parks as well including the famous Algonquin Park!
Take a peek below to see how we planned a fun weekend with our besties. We had a great time and also lucked out with good weather for our hikes.
We started our weekend early and drove to Johnston’s Cranberry farm where we spent half a day. As soon as we arrived, we were smitten by the charm of this beautiful place. We were greeted by bright red tractors driving around, a fluffy white farm dog, and a friendly lady standing behind a wooden booth to help us plan our day.
Cranberries are harvested between the end of September and October. And so our visit this Fall was perfect timing- so close to the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend too.
Cranberries are native to Canada and the Johnston’s farm is one of Ontario’s oldest cranberry farms. There’s so many things to do here at a leisure pace.
Take the Cranberry Plunge
“When life throws sour lemons at you, jump into a pool of cranberries to appreciate the sweet and bright side of life!"
We loved this experience. We wore water resistant farmer’s suits with attached boots and took a plunge into a huge heart shaped cranberry marsh. We waded through the water, splashed like we were three, and threw cranberries at each other. Oh- and we took a million photographs together! It was the best time ever.
Tip: Your clothes don’t get wet during this activity. However, your socks may get slightly damp. I would suggest taking a spare pair of socks with you.
The plunge costs $12 (CAD)/head.
Hike the trails around the marshes
Our group did two trails around the farm. These are easy and level trails suitable for all age-groups. There is a $5 cost per head to hike these trails.
Visit the amazing store and stalls at the farm
Who doesn’t like to buy local treats or take back a sweet memory from a travel? There’s an eclectic selection of cranberries, honey, cider, souvenirs, and much more that you can purchase from the store and the stalls at the farm.
Take a ride on a wagon
Try some local wine and cheese; sip on hot cranberry cider
Sign up for the ‘Bog to Bottle’ tour, which is an interactive way to learn about how the cranberries are harvested at the farm and turned into wine. This tour only runs at specific times of the day, so do visit the Johnston Farm’s website (click bold text) to plan your visit accordingly. It is said to be a true Canadian experience.
Tip: If you are interested in all the above mentioned activities, you may want to consider buying a pass that costs about $25. As an alternative, you can pick and chose specific activities of interest and get passes for those activities. For example, we purchased a $12 pass for the cranberry plunge and a $5 pass for the hiking trails.
If you travel just 15-20 minutes north of Bala, Ontario, where the Johnston’s farm is located, you will reach Port Carling, a quaint little port town. Put your feet up and relax by the water on an Adirondack chair, while enjoying the views of the beautiful lake and taking in the serenity of your surroundings.
Don’t forget to take photographs in front of the Port Carling Wall which has an interesting depiction of the historic milestones of this port town.
Port Carling also has many food joints. We made a long pit stop here for lunch before heading out to another hike.
Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail
This is quite a popular trail in this area as it offers offers stunning views of the Muskoka lakes and the colorful fall foliage. The leaves were just starting to change color during our trip. I’m sure the hues will be even more vibrant in a few weeks.
I would say the Huckleberry Rock Lookout trail is an easy flat trail. However, the path was not well marked, especially as we went farther on our hike. There were white marks on the floor to guide us and these were hard to locate at some points. We wandered off the main path on more than one occasion. I guess we were too deeply engrossed in happy conversations and crazy laughs. Such good times!
Cottage at Oro-Medante
We hopped into the car for an hour long ride to our cozy Air Bnb cottage. We stayed at the Ye Old Country Store Inn, which apparently is a a restored old grocery store in the area. Our accommodation was not too far from Barrie, Ontario.
Our hearts were filled with gratitude while reminiscing the many highlights of our day. And when we got to our cottage, we felt a wind of new found energy, feeling totally refreshed by the lovely space that we had rented for the night. What a lucky find!
The cottage had so many special touches. Each room had its own character and charm. We had access to a BBQ and a fire pit in the backyard that was ready for us upon arrival. We were even given all the ingredients to make s’mores!
Pretty candles in mason jars lit the pathway to the campfire on a cold and dark night. The stars shone brightly in the clear sky.
We plopped our well fed selves by the hot flames and laughed and giggled the night away.
We would love to hear from you about your favorite campfire traditions! We’re always looking for fun games and ice breakers and basically any way to create a whole load of special memories! Comment and share away!