Set on the shores of Lake Nipissing, North Bay is a picturesque sight itself so it’s no surprise that it holds some of the most vibrant artsy spots around. We’ve got a great day’s itinerary planned out for you, from gallery hopping to the best cafes for quick breaks, so all you have to do is enjoy!
Compiled as a walking itinerary with most distances being under a 15-minute walk (the longest is 30), we promise to keep you warm while you explore.
First Stop: Breakfast
North Bay is known for its food. So, before heading off to explore, you’ve got to fuel yourself with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Twiggs Coffee Roasters serves up a mean breakfast, with choices from a corned beef hash fry up to french toast and pancakes (drizzled with maple syrup), too.
If you’re not big on breakfast, they’ve also got a fresh juice/smoothie bar and options of fresh fruit salad with granola and yogurt. Most importantly, Twiggs specializes in serving the freshest coffee around, so prepare yourself for the day ahead with exquisite espressos and luscious lattes.
For Sunny Days: Go to Sweetman’s Garden
Not too far from Twiggs is Sweetman’s Garden, a local secret. This hidden gem holds serious history and features beautiful flowers and art installations.
In 1962, Murray Sweetman began to grow his garden in his backyard along the Canadian National Railway (CNR) line. During that time, property owners along the train line were encouraged to plant gardens in their backyards to offer a view for the passenger trains that went by. Over time, Murray’s garden grew to the length of four properties and passenger trains began stopping so that riders could take in the beautiful view.
Having outlived the train line itself, the gardens have blossomed and become an attraction in their own right. Located on the corner of Cormack and McIntyre West, this gorgeous garden is a must visit for its sweet history and perfect picture backdrops.
Whatever Time of Year at Whitewater Gallery
Just a short six-minute walk from Twiggs (or 10-minute walk from Sweetman’s Garden) is the Whitewater Gallery. This not-for-profit artist-run center is dedicated to supporting artistic practices that prioritize risk and innovation.
The gallery works to promote public interest in art by producing public art exhibitions and offering a forum for artists to exhibit or perform their work through participation. They have previously held exhibitions like ‘Invaders’ which looks at the impact of colonization and poses the question, ‘Who are the Invaders?’.
Have Some Food for Thought at WKP Kennedy Gallery
Located right next door within the Capitol Centre is the WKP Kennedy non-profit Public Art Gallery holds some of the finest historical and contemporary art pieces from artists in the northern, Canadian and International visual arts space. The gallery is split into two spaces that share exhibitions, showcase local artists, and encourage community-based and educational gatherings. With public arts activities and projects, the WKP Kennedy Gallery offers a forum for creative expression and development.
Get Lunch at North Star Diner
For a lunch spot that also gives you artsy feels, North Star Diner is just the place for your afternoon meal. This vegan diner serves delicious options, from Semmelknödel (vegan bread dumpling sammy with sweet red pepper mushroom gravy on a vegan brioche bun) to Bay of Fundy Benny (featuring seasoned organic tofu egg, vegan phish fillet and hot pepper jelly mayo on an english muffin). Hearty meals with a lot of plant goodness.
Arts and Crafts at The Farm
The Farm is a fashion, art retail market forming a collective of emerging and established designers who aim to support local and wider Canadian talent. Celebrating the craftsmanship of all handmade products in a boutique-style retail space, stop by at the Farm to get your hands on some unique handmade and artsy items!
A Quick Refresher at The Culture Club
For a quick pick-me-up pitstop, head to The Culture Club on Main Street. The slightly obscure location will give you the sense that you’ve uncovered a secret spot in the heart of North Bay. (You’ll need to turn down an alleyway beside Michelle’s Framemaker & Gallery—another great place to stop on your art tour.) This micro-bakery is known for its breads and sandwiches, so we’d recommend grabbing a loaf of sourdough along with your afternoon caffe.
Get Inked at Black Iron Tattoo
If you’re feeling super adventurous and have been inspired by all the art pieces from the day, then perhaps a tattoo parlour is a must. Black Iron Tattoo is a well-known tattoo parlor in North Bay with some of the most talented artists in the city. If you’ve been debating the idea of getting a tattoo, Black Iron is just the place to make it happen. Just be sure to avoid the sun if you plan on heading to one of North Bay’s beaches once you’re inked!
End the Day: Capitol Centre
The Capitol Centre is the city’s entertainment hub featuring live comedy shows, musicals and concerts. This historic theatre was built in the 1920s and is a well preserved staple part of the community. Having hosted well known acts like Barenaked Ladies, Sloan and the Second City comedy act, this centre alone packs in a lot of what this Northeastern Ontario town has to offer in the arts scene—especially if you’re looking for something to do at night in North Bay.
If you’re keen on arts and culture, Northeastern Ontario has plenty to keep you occupied. To find out more about galleries, events, other artistic endeavors, visit our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.