One of the largest inland bodies of water in Durham Region, Lake Scugog is not to be missed when exploring the area. It’s a great road trip destination in Ontario as it has plenty to offer both on and off the water! You might be wondering where Lake Scugog is and if you’re familiar with the town of Port Perry, then you certainly have heard of Lake Scugog… and possibly even experienced it! Keep reading to find out more about all of the great things to do in and around Lake Scugog Ontario!
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Lake Scugog History
The formation of Lake Scugog can be traced back to the latest ice age which occurred proximately 12,000 years ago. Huge sheets of ice dug into the soft limestone found in the area to form what we now know as the Oak Ridges Moraine. This formation prevented glacial water from running south into Lake Ontario, thus creating Lake Scugog as well as the Scugog River.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous communities have called the lands of what is now Canada home and this area is no different. The history of Lake Scugog can be tied to the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Mississauga and Wendake Peoples though the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation call this area home. A branch of the Ojibway nation, they moved into this area from their former homelands located north of Lake Huron in the early 1700s. A full recount of this history can be found on the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation’s website.
With colonization came the arrival of settlers to the area which then saw development around Lake Scugog. A dam built in the 1830s by Lindsay, Ontario forever changed the landscape as we know it. If it weren’t for this dam, Lake Scugog probably wouldn’t exist today! You can read more in-depth about this history here.
Fast forward to today and Lake Scugog has become a beloved body of water for locals and visitors alike. Keep on reading to see some of the great things to do on Lake Scugog and in the surrounding area!
Lake Scugog Things to Do
As you can imagine, Lake Scugog is a decent size (68 km² to be exact!) and as such, it has plenty to offer. Here are some of the great things to do on, in and near Lake Scugog Ontario so that you can make the most of your visit to the area!
Take a Stroll Along the Shores of Lake Scugog
Admire the beauty of Lake Scugog with a nice meander along the Port Perry Waterfront Trail. Following the lakefront, it offers a number of stunning lookouts along this trail system. Beginning at Highway 7A behind the VOS Independent Grocer and continuing until Scugog Line 8, it offers approximately 5 kilometres of trail. The terrain does vary between gravel, woodchips and paved sections, it’s a leisurely trail overall with little elevation gain. This makes it a great spot for folks of all ages to get out for a hike in Durham Region!
There are a number of spots you can access the trail including Casmir Street, Mary Street and Queen Street. If you’re looking for a smaller loop, the Canterbury Common Loop Trail is a great option and is part of the Port Perry Waterfront Trail system. It begins at the eastern end of Coulter Street where there is plenty of street parking. The loop is 2.4 kilometres and mainly shaded as you walk through sections of towering tree canopies that are just delightful. I imagine it will be extra gorgeous in the fall as the colours change!
Explore Port Perry
If you’re checking out the Port Perry Waterfront Trail then you might as well take some time to explore the adorable town that’s its namesake! Port Perry has plenty of great restaurants and shops along the aptly named Water Street as well as on neighbouring Queen Street.
The Piano Inn is not only an adorable spot to stay overnight but is also home to a fantastic cafe with home-cooked eats. Marwan’s Global Bistro has a menu bursting with international flavours and great portions. Also, no trip to Port Perry is complete without popping into Hank’s Pastries for one of their apple fritters that are the size of your head!
Another spot to check out is the Scugog Arts Space where you’ll find a variety of handmade pieces from paintings to sculptures to Indigenous artwork. Spend some time checking out the works as each artist is extremely talented. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful four-piece mural on the outside of the building, too!
Get On the Water With Some Lake Scugog Boating
I don’t know about you but I’m ALWAYS game for a boat ride and Lake Scugog is the perfect place to enjoy one! There are a number of Lake Scugog marinas available such as Port Perry Marina, West Shore Marine, Scugog Island Marina and Beacon Marina where folks can set sail into Scugog waters.
Gas-powered boats aren’t the only ones that can hit the waters of Lake Scugog! If you’re an avid paddler, there are some fantastic spots to launch kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards. The end of Island Road on Scugog Island is a great launch point as well as the Seagrave boat launch on the western shores of the lake.
Cast a Line with Some Lake Scugog Fishing
If you’re an avid angler or just like to spend a day out on the water to see what’s nibbling, you’ll want to spend some time fishing on Lake Scugog! You’ll find both largemouth and smallmouth bass, perch, black crappie and catfish in these waters, just make sure you fish according to Ontario regulations. Don’t forget to have your fishing license as well!
Also, fishing isn’t only for the summer months! Lake Scugog is a fantastic spot for some ice fishing with companies like Scugog Ice Adventures offering not just huts for rent but also all the gear you’ll need for an afternoon of winter fun.
Soak Up the Sun by Lake Scugog
A summer day just isn’t complete without some fun in the sun! However, if you’re looking for some Lake Scugog beaches… they’re surprisingly hard to find.
While it’s called Kinsmen Park Beach, this spot in Port Perry’s Palmer Park isn’t really a beach. While the location in the heart of town is fantastic, you won’t find any sand here. It’s still a great spot to relax with a good book and work on your tan whether that’s on the lawn or on one of the benches. The warmer months also bring a number of festivals as well as the summer concert series where you can enjoy free live music in Palmer Park!
One thing to note however is that water isn’t the greatest for swimming. Invasive species such as zebra mussels and starry stonewort have contributed to bacteria growth so some Lake Scugog swimming might not be an option during your visit. There is a kids splash pad though to keep the little ones cool on those scorching days!
Visit the Scugog Shores Museum Village
Step back in time and see what life was like around Lake Scugog in the mid to late 1800s! On the property, you’ll find 11 restored heritage buildings, heritage gardens for flowers, herbs and vegetables as well as the Ojibway Heritage Interpretive Lands in conjunction with the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
In the summer months, guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. If you have the family in tow, check out their Family Fun Thursdays featuring extra programming for the little ones. They also have a number of special events such as paint sessions, special exhibits and paranormal events after dark!
Hunt for Street Art Around Lake Scugog
You’d be surprised at how many beautiful murals you’ll find in the towns surrounding Lake Scugog! As you explore the winding roads of the area, keep an eye out for the street art in the nooks and crannies that decorate the area. Of course, I don’t want to leave you wandering aimlessly so here are a few to get you started!
In Port Perry, stop and snap a photo of the Awesiinyag mural on the side of the Scugog Council for the Arts building. You’ll also see the “Art You Can Sit On” chairs displayed right on Queen Street in front of the Cycle Life shop. Keep meandering along the streets of Port Perry and you’ll find a few more!
Another great option is over on Scugog Island. Head east along Highway 7A and hang a left onto Island Road all the way up to the Great Blue Heron Hotel and Casino. There’s a gorgeous Indigenous mural behind the hotel with a number of different scenes all connected together.
Sideroads of Scugog
Looking for a great way to get out and explore more of the area near Lake Scugog? You have to check out Durham Region’s newest road trip trail – the Sideroads of Scugog! With seven destinations throughout the Township of Scugog, each one has plenty of fun to offer. You can read more about the trail as well as find out about any upcoming events on their website, but here’s the lowdown on all the fun stops included along the route!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: While this trail can be enjoyed for a majority of the year, September and into early October is the best time as that’s when all the stops are open. If you’re planning to check these spots out (which you should!), I would advise checking online or calling ahead to ensure they’re open for your visit.
Applewood Farm Winery
Parents, are you looking for a spot to enjoy a nice glass of wine, cider or even mead and enjoy some adult conversation while the kids are entertained? What about a visit to a family-friendly winery? It might sound like a bit of a strange concept but that’s exactly what Applewood Farm Winery strives to be!
You might know Applewood Farm Winery from its original location in Stouffville where it opened in 2000. This is the farm Matt grew up on and that he and his wife Stephanie built from the ground up all while raising a family! They started as two kids with a dream and while they’re no longer kids and have kids of their own, they’re still living their dream and loving it. When the opportunity came for this new location, they jumped at the chance and opened their doors north of Port Perry in May 2021. As you can see, the family-oriented atmosphere is no stretch of the imagination as that’s what Applewood was founded on.
The kids can frolic in the play yard within eyesight and say hello to the resident farm animals while Mom and Dad relax with a beverage on the outdoor patio. Come fall, there’s even more to do with one of the largest corn mazes in Durham Region and pick your own pumpkins! They also have no shortage of special events so take a peek at their Facebook Page to see what’s coming up whether it’s live music or freshly made wood-fired pizzas. Whatever the case may be, you’ll love your visit to Applewood Farm Winery.
Forsythe Family Farms
In today’s world where we’re bombarded with technology from every angle, we’re losing our connection to the land. Luckily folks like Jim and Leslie at Forsythe Family Farms are here to remind us just how important the land is as well as the farms that feed us. After all, we would have no food without farms! Take a look inside their farm store for a number of items sourced both from the farm and locally. You’ll find everything from fresh seasonal fruit to chickens to honey… and a few sweet treats too, of course!
What really makes Forsythe Family Farms a true destination for all ages is their property. There are so many great things to do that the kids will love! Let them run and play in the barnyard adventure playground as they slide down Billy Goat Mountain. Grab a goodie basket and feed the resident farm animals in the barn next door. Afterwards, spend some time following the trails as you wander through the fields and forest. On weekends, visitors can enjoy some special bunny cuddles and wagon rides during their visit! Forsythe offers a lot of pick your own options depending on the season so follow their Facebook Page to stay up to date on what they’re offering.
INSIDER TIP: Whatever day you plan to visit, make sure you arrive before 3:00 pm to ensure you have time to fully experience Forsythe Family Farms!
It won’t take long to remember just how much fun farms can be. And in those formative years, it’s so important to cultivate that connection to the earth and all it can provide.
Everyone could use more moments of tranquility in their lives so head to Lavender-Blu where the name of the game is cultivating calm. Over the past 15 years, Mila has crafted this stunning eco lavender garden, hobby farm and artisan studio. She focuses on ecological farming techniques to ensure her impact on the land is as minimal as possible.
Grab a pamphlet from the studio on site and explore everything Lavender-Blu has to offer including the insect hotels, meditation spiral and pollinator islands. You’ll find a few chairs scattered throughout the property making it a great place to bring a book along and just enjoy this beautiful spot she has created. Mila often hosts yoga retreats and other artistic workshops and events so you’ll want to give her a follow on Facebook Page so you don’t miss out on what’s coming down the pipeline!
RELATED: If you’re on the hunt for more destinations like Lavender-Blu, take a look at my list of lavender farms in Ontario for more ideas of where to go!
Nature’s Bounty Farm
As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away… and there’s no better place to get your apple fix than Nature’s Bounty Farm! They offer over 20 varieties of apples that you can pick yourself as you explore their 25 acre orchard. Enjoy the stunning views of the Oak Ridges Moraine as you enjoy the number of other activities during your visit. Get acquainted with the local flock of sheep, get lost in the corn maze, enjoy a serene nature walk and let the kids test their speed and agility with their obstacle course.
Looking for an adorable date idea or a cute outing with the whole family? New this year, Nature’s Bounty Farm is offering private picnic packages where you can enjoy some of the incredible views from the property that only a select few get to enjoy. The package includes a gourmet “grazing box” from Olive and Brie Charcuterie, a bottle of water and a souvenir picnic blanket.
Whether you’re a fan of classic apple varieties like Cortland and McIntosh or you’re looking to try something a bit more unique like Silken and Macoun, plan to stop by Nature’s Bounty Farm!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Nature’s Bounty is only open for a short period of time from early September into mid-October. Dates can vary depending on the weather so take a look at their website for their hours of operation.
Ocala Orchards Farm Winery
Ever been to a winery where you might be party crashed by chickens? That is certainly a possibility and its one of the things that make Ocala Orchards Farm Winery so charming! What was once a meat and dairy farm with a small orchard has been transformed into the oldest vineyard in Durham Region!
Current owners Lin and Paul have breathed new life into this gorgeous property, making it a fantastic spot for a romantic date or girls’ trip. Pop into their heritage barn for a tasting inside their gorgeously restored tasting room. They have an incredible number of wines (over 30 varieties!) made from both grapes and other fruits including blueberries, strawberries and plums!
While wine is certainly a focus here at Ocala, there’s a full working farm that offers pick your own apples. There’s even a farm store where you can grab some of the other delicious fruit they grow on-site to take home! If this isn’t enough, they recently added a charming outdoor patio where you can grab a bite to eat from their on-site cafe.
Two Blokes Cider
If you’re a fan of dry ciders then a stop at Two Blokes Cider is an absolute must when exploring Lake Scugog Ontario! The two blokes, Matt and Andy, bonded over their love for the United Kingdom and, of course, its English-style ciders. Planting their first orchard back in 2015, they focused specifically on English and French apple varieties meant for hard cider making. While Andy’s background is in engineering, Matt is a proud fifth generation farmer and together, they have built Two Blokes Cider using sustainable practices to ensure they limit their impact on the planet.
Their passion certainly shows in each and every one of their ciders! While you can enjoy a pint of any of their flavours, I highly recommend a flight. They have two main options, the Classic which features their tried and true ciders for a gloriously apple experience or you can be adventurous and give the Explorer a go where you will taste their seasonal ciders. Of course, building your own flight is always an option but this is all to say – why enjoy one when you can sample four? That’s why a flight is always my go to! And what better spot to enjoy it than on their patio with some live music? Be sure to follow them on Facebook for upcoming events.
Two Blokes is also a member of Harvest Hosts where members can stay at over 4000 locations across North America including wineries, farms, museums, breweries, cideries and more! This is one way you can easily enjoy Two Blokes Cider in a responsible way since you’ll just be stumbling back to your RV or campervan! Though they also have a three-season Airbnb overlooking their fields which is absolutely gorgeous. Did I mention there’s a hot tub?
A family tradition since 1969, Willowtree Farm is the living legacy of the McKay family. The late Rod and Marlene may have started Willowtree Farm as a dairy and strawberry farm but it has grown into so much more! With a mission of sharing their passion for sustainable farming practices and fresh, local food, brothers Jordan and Alex McKay have taken the reigns to keep their parents’ dream alive.
Located just outside of Port Perry, this is a fantastic spot to grab a few groceries or treats. All of Willowtree Farm’s produce is from Ontario with a majority of the produce and fresh items they stock sourced directly from the farm itself. They also carry a number of items from local artisans in the area. If you’d rather just grab a little bit to eat, their on-site cafe and bakery has some simple but absolutely delicious offerings. You can’t go wrong with their BELT breakfast sandwich and a maple iced coffee!
While this may sound more like a shopping destination, there’s still fun to be had so bring the family along in the summer. You won’t want to miss saying hello to the chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, roosters and other feathered friends!
Where to Stay Near Lake Scugog
While you can always experience Lake Scugog Ontario as a day trip, why not extend it into an overnight adventure? There is no better place to call home base than the Great Blue Heron Hotel & Casino! Owned and operated by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island, the hotel will be celebrating one year of opening in November 2022 and that fresh, new feel is still going strong!
With a minimalistic yet sophisticated decor, the Great Blue Heron Hotel features spacious rooms with top of the line amenities. Make sure you take a moment to walk around the property and admire all of the incredible Indigenous artwork that adorns the walls. If you’re looking to keep up your exercise regimen, the Great Blue Heron Hotel has one of the nicest hotel gyms I’ve seen yet with a number of machines available to get your sweat on.
As for their rooms, each one offers a mini-fridge, plenty of plugs, cozy beds, comfortable chairs and couches. Additionally, the Great Blue Heron Hotel offers suites that are perfect for extended stays as they have a mini-kitchen and a full repertoire of dishes and utensils to help you feel at home. Also, you’ll find top-quality soaps and shampoos that are sourced from Mother Earth Essentials, an Indigenous-owned company located in western Canada. You will feel refreshed after a day of exploring, especially once you slip into one of their plush bathrobes!
There isn’t a restaurant in the hotel itself but just steps away you’ll find the Great Blue Heron Casino. Here there are two restaurants to satisfy your hunger with homemade eats from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. Once your belly is full, you can always pop over to try your luck at the 600 slot machines or the live game and Texas Hold’em tables.
If the Great Blue Heron Hotel is unavailable during your stay, you can always check out these other options for hotels in and near Port Perry.
Ready to Explore Lake Scugog Ontario?
As you can see, there is plenty to do around Lake Scugog, no matter the season. If you haven’t been to this rural gem, I highly recommend planning a visit! Whether you choose to have fun on or off the water, you can’t go wrong with an adventure to this Southern Ontario destination.
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This post is brought to you in partnership with Central Counties Tourism. While I was compensated for my time, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience!