Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19

Our Experience On A Kawartha Lakes Ontario Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19

We headed off for a Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip in the summer of Covid-19. It felt great was we escaped the big city. Along the way we stopped in several small towns. And saw a few of the locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway. We even found some tasty treats as we followed the butter tart tour map.

We enjoyed our day trip to Erie Lake at the beginning of the summer of Covid-19. It reminded us how great it was to get out of the city. We were delighted that we felt safe as we travelled around the Kawartha Lakes region after Ontario opened back up.

Enjoy The Ontario Countryside

Ontario is a big province in Canada with over 14 million people. The large metropolitan area of Toronto is a huge urban area with almost 6 million. But in under an hour, we left the city behind and we were in the wide open countryside.

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Heading east to the Kawartha Lakes area for our day trip, we soon found farmland. The corn fields were ripe. And we saw cows as they moved through the fields in unison looking like lawn mowers.

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We saw hay all wrapped in plastic. When we travelled through the countryside in Norway, they were referred to as “troll toilet paper”. So I now laughed whenever I saw them.

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Even in the late heat of summer, we found flowers in bloom everywhere we stopped. It added some colour to our day. But for those of you who suffered like I did from fall hay fever, we also found ragweed had started to bloom. I stayed far away from these yellow strips of weed.

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We lived in the big city. So a day out in the country was always a great break. Especially in the summer of Covid-19. A Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip brought us wide open spaces.

The Butter Tart Is A Canadian Favourite Sweet Treat

We were delighted when we found that there was a butter tart (or buttertart) tour in the Kawartha Lakes region in Ontario. Butter tarts are a Canadian sweet treat made with a mix of butter, sugar, syrup, and eggs in a pastry shell. But while the ingredients were simple, the variation in butter tarts was immense!

Canadian butter tarts often used really good maple syrup as a key ingredient. Traditionalists ate butter tarts without any additions. But even a basic butter tart varied in the pastry for the shells. And in how gooey and runny the inside was. The gooier the better for me! Simple varieties added pecans or raisins. But on this trip we also found butter tarts with peanut butter and with dark chocolate pieces.

We had a favourite butter tart spot when we visited cottage country in Muskoka north of Toronto. When I was doing solo flights as a private pilot, we once flew into Lindsay just for a butter tart! So we have been known to travel for butter tarts!

On this day trip to Kawartha Lakes we planned to sample a few of the spots on the butter tart tour. I put a bunch on my offline map app and we navigated using those stops. We even saw a few trophies for past butter tart winners!

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Follow The Butter Tart Trail In Kawartha Lakes Ontario

We started in the small town of Goodwin. As you will read later, this is the small Ontario town where the Canadian tv hit Schitt’s Creek was set. Annina’s Bakeshop sat across from the show settings. There was a great selection of baked goods and other products. David really wanted one of the chocolate treats. But we were there for butter tarts.

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I took a more traditional version with raisins. But David chose the chocolate peanut butter tart. There was a large grass patio area where we enjoyed our treats.

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Buttertart Goodwood Anninas Butter Tart.jpg

Buttertart Goodwood Anninas Butter Tart.jpg

When we stopped in Lindsay, we found the Boiling Over’s Coffee Vault on the town’s classic main street. This was a standard corner store that used to be a bank but still had the bank vault. We were disappointed when we learned that butter tarts were all sold out. Often a challenge by mid-afternoon for really good baked goods! We settled for a healthier coffee option.

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Kawartha Buttertart Boiling Overs Coffee Vault.jpg

As we wound our way through the small towns on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip, we passed on some of the bakeries on my map. After all, there were only so many butter tarts we could eat in one day. But when we saw the fun Cujo moose outside of Buttertarts ‘N More in Little Britain we had to stop.

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We were very glad we made this decision. We bought one butter tart to share. Since David picked, of course it had dark chocolate pieces on top. And with the first bite, we knew we found a winner. We were tempted to go back for a box to take home!

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When we followed the butter tart tour, we found a sweet and tasty side of the Kawartha Lakes in Ontario.

Explore Port Perry and Fenelon Falls

The first town we stopped at on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip was Port Perry. We drove down the main drag and then wandered on the walkway along Lake Scugog. We found lots of green space by the water. People fished on the pier and it reminded us of our day trip to Lake Erie. We were happily surprised when we found it not teaming with people. It felt so much better than when we walked along Lake Ontario at home in Toronto!

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From Port Perry we continued around Lake Scugog to Fenelon Falls. We found a patio table at The Locker with a view out over the falls. It was great to take our healthy lunch break with such a view. We hoped the salad for lunch helped balance our sugar intake for the day.

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After lunch we set off and explored the falls from the parkland. We found the most delightful butterfly park benches with a view.

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We checked our map and headed off as we explored more on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip.

Check Out The Small Towns In The Kawartha Lakes Region

When we travelled around Ontario, we loved the traditional small town main streets. We were welcomed to Lindsay with a wall mural. After our coffee stop at Boiling Over’s Coffee Vault, we wandered along the picturesque street.

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We stopped for our final small town and walked the main street in Bobcaygeon. We had finished our butter tart tasting for this trip. But we did not pass on a final ice cream treat as we watched small town life around us.

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Bobcaygeon Town Ice Cream.jpg

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We stopped regularly in the small towns on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip. It was a great way to break up the day. And we enjoyed the charming and not crowded small towns.

The Trent-Severn Waterway

The Trent-Severn Waterway covered 386 km (240 miles) . There were 44 locks that moved boats from Trenton on Lake Ontario to Port Severn on Georgian Bay. The locks along the waterway varied. And on our travels around Ontario we saw many of the more unique ones.

When we went north to cottage country in the Muskoka area, we made sure and stopped at the Big Chute Marine Railway outside of Coldwater. Boats were put on a sling and taken out of the water. They then travelled over a railway line to water on the other side of the rocks.

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On our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip many of the small towns we visited were the site of locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway. Most of the locks were traditional locks operated by gravity. Values controlled water in and out of a chamber which raised or lowered the water. The valves that controlled the water were opened and closed manually by the lock operators.

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The locks we saw on this trip were similar but varied only on the height of the lock. But on our last stop, we saw another of the engineering marvels on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Locks On The Trent-Severn Waterway

Our first stop on the Trent-Severn Waterway was at Lock 33 in Lindsay. It was a typical lock layout with the lock on one side and the non-navigable water on the other side. This lock only had a 7 foot difference in elevation. We saw no boats at this lock. But when we checked, we found that the Trent-Severn Waterway was indeed open in this summer of Covid-19.

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Trent Severn Lock 33 Lindsay - Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

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The next lock we explored was Lock 34 in Fenelon Falls. Boats were lined up at both sides for the 24 feet change in elevation. A small island was between the lock channel and the falls. A pathway went under the road and offered a view of the bottom of the lock.

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Trent Severn Lock 34 Fenelon Falls - Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

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We next stopped at Lock 32 in Bobcaygeon. As we walked across the small bridge at the lock we heard bells clang and we were asked to quickly cross. This was a swing bridge that moved to open the channel for higher boats. We watched as the bridge swung and a bigger boat went through.

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Kawartha Trent Severn Lock 32 Bobcaygeon - Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

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The boats entered the lock and the channel was filled. After this small lock filled, the boats drove off. Several times we saw the big houseboats as they moved along the Trent-Severn Waterway. We saw houseboats rented by both Happy Days Houseboat Rentals and Egan Houseboat Rentals. One day we wanted to rent a boat and travel along the Trent-Severn Waterway.

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On our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip it was fun to stop and watch the boats as they transited through the series of locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Marvel At The Engineering Of the Locks On The Trent-Severn Waterway

Our last stop on this trip was Lock 21 in Peterborough. This was the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world. We were sad when we realized that the lift and the visitor’s centre were closed for the night when we arrived.

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We walked around and saw the big “buckets” that filled with water and boats. When one bucket went up, the other went down for 65 feet. It was always fun to watch this lock in operation. And even more fun the one time I was in a boat as it went through this lock!

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Trent Severn Lift Lock 21 Peterborough - Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

A visit to the the Peterborough Lift Lock was always a treat on a Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip.

Plan To Explore The Trans Canada Trail

As we rolled along one of the roads in the Kawartha Lakes region we were drawn in by a fun totem poles on the side of the road.

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Trans Canada Stop Totem - Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

When we got out we saw the sign marking this as a stop on the Trans Canada Trail. The Trans Canada Trail (or Great Trail) actually covered about 27,000 km (about 16,777 miles) across Canada. The trail was used to hike, cycle, cross-country ski or snowmobile depending on the season.

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In this part of Ontario, the map marked several interesting spots to stop along the path. Several of the sights were close to the road and a short walk would let you see them. Although we thought on our next visit we might bring our ebikes and cycle a longer section.

Time exploring the Trans Canada Trail was definitely something for another day trip to the Kawartha Lakes region.

Visit The Setting For The Schitt’$ Creek TV Show

We were sometimes intrigued when we visited places that were major sets for tv or movies. The small town of Steveston outside of Vancouver was where the tv show Storybrook was filmed. It was fun when we visited Steveston and saw key Storybrook sets we recognized.

In this summer of Covid-19, we watched far too much tv. One of the shows we discovered was the Canadian sitcom Schitt’$ Creek. The show went on for 6 seasons and garnered many awards. It told the story of the Rose Family after they lost their fortune. They rebuilt their lives with their last remaining asset, the small town named Schitt’s Creek.

This half hour show was set in a typical small town in Canada. When we looked it up, we found that many of the building exteriors were in the small town of Goodwood. And Goodwood was a short detour on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip.

We immediately recognized the building fronts for the Cafe Tropical, Rose Apothecary and Bob’s Garage. But we did not find the motel that played a key role in this tv show. And sadly, the sets were no longer in use.

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Our stop in Goodwood provided a different experience on our day trip in the Kawartha Lakes area.

A Safe Experience In The Summer Of Covid-19

In the summer of Covid-19 we did our first day trip to the Lake Erie region. It was early in the re-opening of Ontario and we were concerned with what looked like a pretty lax attitude about the virus risk. We really worried about what it might be like later in the summer as Ontario reached Stage 3. So we approached this day trip to the Kawartha Lakes region with a bit of concern.

Masks were not universally mandated for the whole province of Ontario. Each region made its own mask rules based on local infection levels and risk tolerance. But as we travelled through the Kawartha Lakes area, we were pleased when we saw the high level of mask use. Even the bear had a mask.

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All of the commercial establishments we visited required masks and social distancing inside. In many instances we saw people with masks as they walked outside. Several times we saw people put on masks as they approached a crowded area. Many small children wore masks. Perhaps to prepare them for a return to school.

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Fenelon Falls The Locker Covid 19 Sign.jpg

Fenelon Falls The Locker Covid 19 Sign.jpg

Only once did we shake our heads with complete wonderment. A young couple headed into a restaurant with their t-shirts pulled over their mouths and were not turned away. We wondered whether they read any health advice at all. We just hoped that our contact tracing information was not used to call us because of this pair!

At one spot we stopped, we even found Lysol wipes in the bathroom. They were not available anywhere in Toronto. And even though we stopped at a few spots to check, we never found them on store shelves in the Kawartha region either.

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We were happy we had a safe experience in the summer of Covid-19. It certainly encouraged us to plan another Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip.

A Great Experience On A Kawartha Lakes Ontario Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19

Our day trip took about us 400 km (~250 miles) and we were gone for 10 hours. We saw a lot on our trip. But there was much left to see on a return visit.

We had a great experience on our Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip. At every stop we felt safe in this summer of Covid-19. The countryside and small towns were delightful and surprisingly uncrowded. But then, we visited mid-week to avoid weekend peaks. It was great to be out of the city. And we had several tasty breaks as we followed the butter tart trail.

We always loved the chance to see locks in action. We sure wished we were on one of the many boats we saw. It would be fun to rent a boat and travel along the Trent-Severn Waterway one day.

We were already planning our next Ontario day trip to Lake Huron and Lake St Clair.

Did you try a Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip in the summer of Covid-19? Did you have a favourite small town? PIN To Pinterest:

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Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

Kawartha Lakes Day Trip In The Summer Of Covid-19.jpg

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60 Comments

  1. I have not visited Ontario. The photos of the corn fields made me a little nostalgic for home (Nebraska!). I have visited Canada several times but have not tried a butter tart, It sounds like something I could easily get addicted to. Those locks are incredible, but 44 of them? That’s a lot of locks. I love visiting places where TV shows are filmed and watched Schitt’s Creek so I know Goodwood would be a fun stop for me. I really want to look into this butter tart trail!!!

    • Sherianne, I hope you get to visit Ontario when things open back up. We had not been to this part of the province in some time so it was great to discover all it had to offer. And we will go back to try more stops on the butter tart trail! Linda

  2. I have always wanted to go to Ontario and the Kawartha Lakes area seems like a wonderful place to start with! I’m definitely going to take that butter tart tour, and since I love hiking I’m definitely gonna do a bit of the TransCanada trail too. Thanks for all these great suggestions!

  3. You had such a great trip and a beautiful summer. Palmer Park looks gorgeous. I love water photography, so I would like to see Fenelon Falls. The Kawartha Lakes Region looks exciting, perfect for weekend trips as an escape from the city. I’d like to go for a boat ride there.

    • Agnes, We did love how much water we found as we explored Kawartha. One day we will rent a boat and see it all from another perspective. You would find lots to photograph for sure! Linda

  4. So I havent seen any episode of Schitt’s Creek yet, so this trip wouldnt be especially a big deal for seeing the show’s sites. But you had me at all the desserts! I mean when I saw the size of that Chocolate Butter Tart David got at Annina’s Bakeshop, it was the entire size of his hand! I am mainly a chocolate fiend but I think I could definitely go on a tour, though I have no idea how you fit in so many Butter Tarts and still had room for ice cream at the end even though it looked amazing. I guess when I get a chance to take a Kawartha Lakes Trip, be on the look out for a beached whale filled with Butter tarts near any of the canals or spread out next to the Fenelon Falls in Port Perry!

    • Eric, We definitely saw a lot of bakeries on our stops. Some a success and others just ok. Good thing we did not eat at them all! I hope you get to visit this area some day. Lots of great sights to visit. Linda

  5. I’d never heard of a butter tart before reading your post, but now I want one! Especially if it has chocolate. That’s great that you felt safe despite this crazy time we’re in, it’s good to hear people are taking proper safety precautions. The “stay 24 tarts apart” sign made me chuckle!

  6. This was so fun. I love small towns, any kind of body of water, and a sunny summer day. So nice to discover this unexpected little corner of Canada. Now I want a butter tart!

  7. Now you make me want some of that butter tart. Haha… I must remember this tart when we go to Canada. Anyway, it’s cool that you got to see how the lock system on the waterway work while you were there. My son would be in awe seeing this as all this time he only got to play it in the museum.

    • Umiko, I hope you find some butter tarts on your visit to Canada. But they vary so much you may need to try more than one! We always love to watch the locks in action. A fun way to spend the day. Linda

  8. Your Covid summer trip looks full of natural scenery. Kawartha lakes trip from Ontario looks like a great option nowadays as it seem to be very open, sunny and not crowded. Wow what a beautiful sight of corn fields, cows grazing and so many colorful blooms all around. Your stop at Lock 32 looks beautiful with a small bridge and so many colorful flowers.

  9. Wow! These chocolate treats and butter tarts from Annina’s look really delicious. I have been meaning to try one since my friend mentioned it during their trip to Kawartha lakes a few months ago.

    This looks really a great trip with lots of things to see and do in Kawartha. We look forward to visiting as well in the future once we’re back in Ontario.

  10. Haven’t yet visited that side of the world, but your pictures have quite the convincing ability. Its so amazing that you are able to travel locally, even in covid times, and have such amazing experiences.I am dying to head out somewhere, and surround myself with nature for some much needed nature therapy. All those tarts look so yummy, and are making me hungry now.

    • Arnav, We are indeed happy we can do some local travel. It was great to get into the wide open spaces. And so glad that people behaved responsibly. I too am craving butter tarts after our trip. Linda

  11. These country side villages complete with cattle and lakes are just the perfect relaxing way to spend the summer. I’ve planned a couple upcoming weekends like this, let’s see if all goes well or not!
    ‘Troll toilet paper’??? Hahaha… That’s definitely funny! Is there a similarity between Canadian butter tarts and Portugal Pastel de Nata? They look a bit similar. The icecream looks divine!

    • Bhushavali, I hope your planned weekend trips work out. We are still doing day trips but hope to stay over night in September. But we too will see. Butter tarts are more sugar and less egg. But I love both butter tarts and de Nata tarts although different. Linda

  12. There are so much places to see and explore, and this lakes is truly gorgeous. I can feel the peaceful appeal of it, and I can imagine its romance during the sunsets. Great summer just being lowkey.

  13. Looks like a great trip to Kawartha Lakes! The flowers look beautiful. Those tarts and bakery stuff look totally inviting! I am particularly interested in the locks at the Trent-Severn waterway. Great engineering feat indeed! I am bookmarking your blog post as I definitely want to visit this place as soon as the pandemic is over. 🙂

    • Jan, I hope you get to visit when travel is back on. The Trent-Severn waterway has so many interesting locks and towns along the way. Great to do as a road trip or by water. Linda

    • Albert, We were a bit concerned when we headed into one of the cottage country areas in Ontario. But mid-week we really found it uncrowded and peaceful. So good to get a break from the city. And we were pleased with the overall level of care people took everywhere we stopped. We are definitely happy we are taking baby steps out. Linda

  14. The Ontario countryside looks amazing, and what a treat with the blossoming flowers. The cows do look like they are naturally mowing the lawns. I would love to try out the variations of butter tarts, remind me of the pasteis de nata from Portugal, so sumptuous! Must have been fascinating to see how the locks operate on the Trent-Severn waterway.

  15. I hope to see the Ontario one day. We were in BC and Alberta and Yukon, even in the Northern Territories. But unfortunately, we had to stop our road trip because of the COVID, and we did not get to Ontario. Kawartha Lakes looks fabulous. You had such perfect weather during your trip! I would like to take a butter tart tour! So delicious!

    • So sorry to hear that you missed Ontario on your Canadian road trip. It has so much to offer in all directions. And some tasty stops along the way too! Hope you get back one day. Linda

  16. Boating, Butter Tarts and such lovely flowers everywhere, what isn’t there to like about this place! Ive not been to Canada but would love to go and the transalpine hiking trail sounds like just my thing. Lovely photos.

    • Angela, We did find so many great places to stop on our day trip around the Kawartha Lakes area. Amazing to find so much open space just an hour outside of Toronto. We alway encourage visitors to make sure they explore the small towns too. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

  17. Wow! What a fun trip. I grew up on the other side of Lake Erie in Ohio, but only got over to the Canadian side a couple of times as an adult. I hope to get back that way in the coming months. Thanks for sharing.

  18. This looks like a wonderful way to spend the summer while exploring your own province 🙂 I have been trying to do the same thing with BC this summer! I had not heard of the Kawartha lakes before, but would love to spend more time exploring Ontario one day and see some of these smaller cities and towns.

  19. As soon as you mentioned the fact you followed a butter tart tour map, I was hooked! Your Kawartha Lakes Ontario day trip looks like a wonderful way to enjoy the beautiful scenery, while you go from butter tart to butter tart! Fenelon Falls also look well worth a visit and I’d love to see the Peterborough Lift Lock in action!

  20. I love how you describe the cows looking like lawnmowers LOL that is such an incredible image. Also, HOW have I never heard of butter tarts? These look like the very best desserts that life has to offer us, and yet I’ve never had one! I can only imagine the variations among them. I’m adding Butter Tart tour to the tippy top of my bucket list!

    • Stephanie, I hope you get to try a butter tart one day. They are one of my favourite deserts. The more runny the better! It was a great incentive to head out for a day trip. Linda

  21. Wowza! You covered so much ground in this day trip! I love that you centered your trip around buttered tarts, what a creative way to explore some hidden gem towns that you haven’t heard of before. Honestly, a town famous for their baked goods sounds like an ideal destination for me. This seems like the perfect social-distancing road trip because you incorporated not only some stellar sweet treats, but some interesting stops along the way. The Schitt’s Creek filming locations would’ve been another highlight for me. Thanks for sharing and thank you for staying safe on the road!

    • Martha, Safety is always the first thing we think about when we plan a day trip. We are always prepared to pass on a spot if we feel that the proper precautions are not being taken. But every stop on our day trip to the Kawartha Lakes region was great scenic and many tasty stops too. We would definitely go back! Linda

  22. Between the coffee vault and the deserts- I need to visit! The butter tart sounds delish! What a wonderful weekend trip this would be!

  23. I love how cheeky this place is with the mask on the bear and the sign that says to “stay 24 tarts apart”. Glad to see they are still taking proper safety precautions. I also love “troll toilet paper”. I never thought about that before, but now I am going to think about it everytime i pass those rolled up hay stacks!

  24. Flowers in full bloom, must have been very cheering. Day trips are advisable for now. Mid week travel is best to avoid crowds if any. Observing the locals and just appreciating all that we have around is comforting these days. The stay safe messages are necessary these days. Every one needs to keep reminding each other’ for health and hygiene. Port Perry looks as cute as its name. Lake Scugog and Fenelon Falls look good in the pictures. The butter tart trail added to the deliciousness.

  25. As I read this, I was craving for some chocolate and then I see your butter tart trail. OOH man! You have no idea how I feel right now. Ontario country side seems so picturesque with all those blooms. Reading about the locks definitely has upped my interest in them. All in all, this day trip with a possible trail that you share sounds like a perfect outing.

  26. I love how everyone is taking the time to go on relatively local trips by road and re discovering small towns from their own countries. The best part about this adventure was making it fun with the tarts and enjoying the food along the way.

  27. Great escape! I think Those tarts are to die for, similar to the famous egg tarts in Macau or Portugal. Thank you for this article i enjoyed the tour. Be safe always!

  28. Wow!! 👏👏 Thank you for this! I’m tempted to follow your itinerary this long weekend! We love visiting small towns and those butter tarts look delicious! 😊

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