I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Peterborough a handful of times now and there’s always something new to explore. If you’re planning a visit to the area or already have a trip planned and are looking for some fantastic things to do, these Peterborough experiences are not to be missed. They will elevate your time in The Kawarthas as well as teach you a thing or two about the area you’re exploring!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Before you visit Peterborough and The Kawarthas, take the time to recognize the importance of these lands and the impact we can have upon them. The O’de Piitaanemaan Pledge, created in partnership with Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation and the Peterborough and The Kawarthas tourism board, shares the traditional Michi Saagiig teaching, Mnaadendamowin – to give respect to all creation. By signing it, you’re committing to taking care of the areas we visit to ensure we can continue to enjoy them for years to come!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links where I may receive a kickback at no extra cost to you. It helps keep IBB alive so thank you!
Address: 36 Chemong Street North, Curve Lake [map]
Head to Curve Lake First Nation where you’ll find Robyn, the incredible Anishinaabekwe behind Indigenously Infused. She shares some of the traditional teachings of the Anishinaabe as you enjoy one of her amazing hands-on workshops.
You’ll spend the first part of your workshop learning about the four sacred medicines as well as the Seven Grandfather Teachings that guide the Anishinaabe to live the good life. Enjoy wonderful conversation as you walk through the greenhouse and see each of the sacred medicines and other important plants to the Anishinaabe that Robyn grows herself!
Afterwards, head into her workshop where your creativity will take the reigns as Robyn guides you in crafting beautiful, unique candles. You’ll have all the tools you need to forge these creations utilizing traditional plants and oils – many of which are straight from her garden! Participants will also get to create a spray mist that’s perfect to use as a room spray or even as a natural perfume! It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with the world around us and let the creative juices flow.
If you have the time, I highly recommend booking the culinary experience as well. I was absolutely blown away by the culinary delights of Chef Janice McCue. Also of Curve Lake First Nation, she shares some delicious recipes utilizing some of the traditional ingredients known to Indigenous communities for centuries. You’ll be blown away by these simple yet incredibly nutritious and flavourful dishes utilizing manoomin (wild rice), the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) as well as some of the sacred medicines like cedar!
Peterborough Lift Lock
Address: 220 Hunter Street East, Peterborough [map]
One of the most iconic landmarks in The Kawarthas, the Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site is easily one of the top things to experience in the city. While you can admire this engineering marvel from land, there’s no better way to experience Lock 21 than with a sightseeing cruise along the Trent Severn Waterway!
Liftlock Cruises will take you on a two-hour adventure as you explore the beautiful waterways aboard the Island Princess. One of the highlights will certainly be experiencing the pure power of Lock 21 as you’re raised almost 20 metres (65 feet) into the air by the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock! The process takes less than five minutes and is done completely by gravity and water displacement. How cool is that?!
If you’re a paddler, you can really feel the force of Lock 21 by paddling your way through it. Liftlock Paddle Co offers a package which includes everything you need to enjoy the experience! Take a look at their website for more details. There is also a yearly meet-up called Lock n’ Paddle where paddlers from all over come to traverse the locks, though dates for 2023 don’t seem to be announced yet.
Kawartha Country Wines
Address: 2452 Peterborough County Road 36, Buckhorn [map]
Kawartha Country Wines isn’t like the typical winery you’ll find in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Just north of the town of Buckhorn, you’ll find this adorable winery just off County Road 36. Step inside their authentic 1866 log cabin on 22 acres of gorgeous orchards.
They have over 40 variations of fruit wine with some standout flavours like nectarine, black currant and even Saskatoon berry. Yes, you can have a taste of Saskatchewan in Buckhorn! Though I have to say, you should really try their wild rice wine. I know it sounds strange but the flavour is so unique. Trust me and give it a go! If wine isn’t your thing, Kawartha Country Wines also has some fantastic ciders that will certainly hit the spot on those hot days in June, July and August.
INSIDER TIP: If you want a more in-depth experience to learn about their process and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at their facilities, you can book a private tour or tasting. All you need is at least four people and to give the fine folks at Kawartha Country Wines at least 24 hours notice! Full details can be found here.
On top of their fruit wines, they make a variety of vinegar as well as gourmet preserves – all from locally grown, farm-fresh fruits. Take a look at the offerings in their shop alongside the other items from local artisans. Then make your way to the back where you can enjoy your free sampling of any of their wines or ciders! Chances are you’ll want a glass or two so grab a spot on their beautiful patio. With lawn games as well as the option of wood-fired pizza made right in front of you, it’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon enjoying the summer sun.
Lang Pioneer Village Museum
Address: 104 Lang Road, Keene [map]
Since it was established in 1967, the Lang Pioneer Village Museum’s goal has been to authentically recreate and therefore, preserve, the history of Peterborough County. The 25-acre site features two historic mills which made it the perfect location for this 19th-century village.
Explore the grounds and admire the 30+ restored historic buildings that have been moved to this site from various locations around Peterborough & The Kawarthas. You’ll be greeted by villagers of all ages in historically accurate attire as they go about their daily chores and trades. Be sure to stop by the Aabnaabin Camp and learn from the Michisaagiig stories told by Indigenous interpreters from either Curve Lake First Nation or Hiawatha First Nation.
Lang Pioneer Village has a number of special events throughout the year that will make your visit extra memorable. On Father’s Day, the Smoke and Steam Show draws quite the ground as it features vintage farm trucks, tractor games, wagon rides, and more. The Village gets a little spooky as Halloween approaches with their Historic All Hallows’ Eve event. Visitors will discover the origins and traditions of the holiday as well as enjoy games, fortune telling and wagon rides. There are also a number of tasty events like Feast on the Farm in partnership with the Culinary Tourism Alliance! Head to their website for the full line-up.
Address: 1045 Settlers Line, Keene [map]
I don’t think there’s a more local-focused resort in Ontario than Elmhirst’s Resort. Perched on the shores of Rice Lake, this family-owned and operated resort features 30 unique waterfront cottages, two restaurants, a conference centre, spa facilities and more all surrounded by 240 acres of beautiful foliage. You’ll feel a wave of relaxation wash over you as you step foot onto the property and with so many amenities, Elmhirst’s Resort is truly a destination all on its own!
Each cottage is unique with 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom options. I had the pleasure of staying in Cottage 9, a two-bedroom cottage and I felt so spoiled! There is so much room as the living room and kitchen are open-concept with a full fridge, oven, coffee maker, kettle, microwave and anything else you would need to make your stay complete. Both bedrooms have a bathroom off each with the master featuring a cozy queen bed and a large bathroom complete with a deep tub. The other bedroom has two single beds and a smaller bathroom with a shower. Not to mention the deck outside with a barbecue that’s just waiting to be fired up!
There’s no better way to start your day than by catching the sunrise from your personal dock. Cast a line, get on the water for a paddle or just enjoy the views as you sip your morning coffee. Elmhirst’s Resort offers a variety of daily programming which can including meeting the farm animals and collecting eggs from the coop. Round up some friends for a basketball game or enjoy a dip in the lake to cool off after a day in the sun. You can even take to the skies with a floatplane tour! Enjoy a quiet stroll along the lake paths and make your way to the registration building where you’ll find the two restaurants.
Elmhirst’s Resort is a true farm-to-table experience as the resort is also a working farm with a variety of animals and produce on-site. Indicated as Elmhirst’s Own, these foods are solely for consumption by the resort’s kitchen. Any items they can’t grow themselves are sourced from local suppliers to ensure everything is local and sustainable. Even if you aren’t staying on-site, popping in for a meal is a must-do Peterborough experience as Elmhirst’s Resort certainly has some of the freshest eats in The Kawarthas! I had the pleasure of enjoying some of their tenderloin as well as their beef sausage and it’s easily some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of eating.
More Amazing Peterborough Experiences
There is no shortage of incredible Peterborough attractions! If you’re looking for more ideas, here are a few more fantastic experiences that might be of interest to you. Otherwise, take a look at my full guide to all the fantastic things to do in Peterborough & The Kawarthas!
Canadian Canoe Museum – Home to the world’s largest collection of canoes, kayaks and paddled watercraft, the Canadian Canoe Museum is a must-see in Peterborough. It has over 600 vessels in its collection from across the country. Right now, the Canadian Canoe Museum is getting a major overhaul as it’s being re-established in a brand new location. This means it’s temporarily closed to the public but is said to open at its waterfront location in the fall of 2023. If you find yourself in the area around then, be sure to plan a visit!
Petroglyphs Provincial Park – If you’re planning to do an Indigenously Infused workshop, this is the perfect activity for your afternoon. Known as Kinoomaagewaabkong or “the white rocks that teach” in Ojibway, this park is home to Canada’s highest concentration of rock carvings in a single area. There are also a number of great hiking trails as well as a beautiful visitor’s centre where you can learn more about the importance of this sacred site.
ZimArt – From June 15th until Thanksgiving, explore this beautiful five-acre property as you admire the art of Shona sculpture. You’ll find over 300 sculptures scattered throughout the grounds as this is the most comprehensive collection of Zimbabwean stone sculptures in the country. To make it even more incredible, a Zimbabwean artist comes to be the artist-in-residence each year so they can further their craft as well as support their family back home!
Ready to visit The Kawarthas to check out these Peterborough experiences? I bet you are! The electric city really has so much to offer for folks of all interests so plan your visit now.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Peterborough & The Kawarthas Tourism. While I was compensated for my time, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!