Dreaming of sandy lake beaches, boreal forests, and farm-to-table dining? Then why not spend an active long weekend in North Bay, Northeastern Ontario! Also known as the “Gateway to the North”, its name comes from its position on the shore of Lake Nipissing and luckily for us, it lies just a smooth three-hour drive from Toronto.
North Bay is an ideal place to visit in Ontario if you are a fan of the great outdoors yet you crave city amenities with a touch of sustainability and community living. Check out this upbeat three-day itinerary for modern ethical travelers.
As soon as you arrive in North Bay, you’ll be dazzled by the abundance of clean water, fresh air, and green space around you. Your best bet for authentic accommodation will be in a remote ecolodge—choose Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge or Foxfire Farm to experience off-the-grid living in yurts or cabins. If you fancy a more upscale option, head to Terrace Suites, located on the shore of Lake Nipissing and offering a comfortable and spacious wooden suite with a fireplace.
A great start to your trip would be to spend the afternoon doing one of Canada’s favorite activities: kayaking or boating on the serene Lake Nipissing—you can rent a kayak or SUP board from Boathouse Rentals. If you are a more relaxed traveler, then hop on a lake cruise on the famous Chief Commanda II boat and enjoy delicious food and incredible live music on board.
Wind down at North Bay’s hotspot The Boat, a lakeside grill and bar where you can sip on some fresh drinks and savor local dishes while admiring the stunning sunset views over the lake.
Get a sense of the area’s friendly and vibrant community life by starting the day at North Bay’s Farmers Market. Taste organic locally grown food and buy hand-made souvenirs. You can also do some shopping at The Farm Fashion store, which sells ethical and zero-waste products ranging from clothing to cosmetics. Take a walk at the waterfront on Lake Nipissing, which is embellished with gardens and a public marina. The North Bay Museum is also worth a visit if you are curious to discover the town’s heritage—it is located in the old Canadian Pacific Railway station, which historically made North Bay a transportation hub.
Take a midday break at the locally inspired plant-based North Star Diner, known for its funky decor and environmental ethos. The colorful salads and desserts will make your mouth water as soon as you see them.
In the afternoon, explore the great outdoors and hit some of North Bay’s popular hiking trails—they’re even great in winter! The Laurier Woods are located directly on the outskirts of the town and they boast an incredible diversity of birds and wetland species. Explore the six-mile (10-kilometer) trail network and have a seat at the Haist Lookout for a panoramic view.
If you get excited by a dramatic series of rapids and waterfalls, then make sure to visit the Eau Claire Gorge Conservation Area or the Duchesnay Falls Trail. As a final option, you can disconnect and retreat in the Black Forest Park, home to red and white pine trees. Or, if cycling is more your thing, then don’t miss the Three Towers Mountain Bike Trail.
Later in the day, treat yourself for dinner at the iconic White Owl Bistro offering local farm-to-table gourmet food. You can indulge in a Fogo Island Cod or a Bison Beef Burger while contemplating the sunset on the outdoor patio.
As an ethical traveler, your stay in North Bay wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the local farms. After breakfast, drive to the peaceful Pie Bird Farm, which is not only a farm sanctuary but also a vegan educational hub which is on a mission to inspire change for a better, more sustainable world.
Take the opportunity to participate in one of their activism, cooking, or gardening workshops—you’re sure to learn something new here! Alternatively, you can take the Sustainable Farm Tour at the Mattawa EcoFarm and Learning Centre, where you can learn the basics of aquaponics and composting, see a solar oven in action and explore the Indigenous medicine garden. The highlight is the geodesic dome greenhouse.
Refuel with lunch at the cozy Italian Farina Ristorante. Farina translates to flour, so make sure to savor the Lemon Caprese Ravioli or Creamy Garlic Salmon Spaghetti to get the full Farina experience. Relax with a glass of wine on the patio while letting your impressions of this spectacular weekend sink in.
Last but not least, feed your soul with some unique local workshops such as the Drumming Circle Connection. Learn the basics of shamanic hand drumming and share the joy with the group whilst connecting to your inner essence. You can also learn how to weave your own dreamcatcher, as well as learning more about the importance of this ritual and the ancient Indigenous culture.
North Bay offers a magical blend of adventure, culture, and lifestyle. After this immersive trip, you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and inspired to continue with your own sustainability journey and to create a positive ripple effect in the world.
Sustainable stays? Check. Adventure activities? Check. Farm-to-table food? Check. Whatever you’re looking for in an eco-friendly vacation, North Bay has it all. Read our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide to find out how to make the most of this green getaway.