Southampton & Around
With the bulk of shopping options and bumping nightlife in nearby Port Elgin, quiet Southampton has happily sequestered itself from the beaten path of rowdy summer holidays. The quaint colony's sandy beach feels almost undiscovered at times, and a stroll down the main streets reveals mom-and-pop shops and the piecemeal architecture of Queen Anne–styled homes.
Woodsy Bracebridge sits exactly on the 45th parallel – halfway between the North Pole and the equator. The enchanting town reveals its charms throughout the year, with towering needleleaf evergreens, gushing waterfalls, and milky snowbeds in the winter. Day trips to Algonquin Park (75km away) are definitely doable. The Bracebridge Visitor Centre is open year-round.
Brockville & Prescott
Attractive Brockville marks the eastern edge of the Thousand Islands region. The 'City of the Thousand Islands,' as it's known, has a cache of extravagant estates. Rows of Gothic spires twisting skyward make it easy to imagine that the clip-clop of carriage horses once rang through the streets. It's also the end of the Unesco World Heritage Rideau Canal.
Cochrane to Moose Factory & Moosonee
Moosonee and Moose Factory sit near the tundra line, and are as far north as most people ever get in eastern Canada. Expeditions further north will undoubtedly involve floatplanes, canoes, snowmobiles, dog-sleds or snowshoes. The railway reached Moosonee in 1932, about 30 years after it was established by Révillon Frères (known today as Revlon) as a trading post.
Pleasant Gananoque (gan-an-awk-way) is the perfect place to rest your eyes after a long day of squinting at the furry green islands on the misty St Lawrence. The dainty Victorian town, deep in the heart of the Thousand Islands region, teems with cruise-hungry tourists during summer and early fall.
While nearby Bracebridge is the favored destination amongst visitors, this sleepy logging town is starting to come into its own. The biggest push to put Gravenhurst on the map is the massive waterfront development called Muskoka Wharf, which thus far includes shops, restaurants, condos, a farmer's bazaar and a museum. For updates, check out www.gravenhurst.
Peterborough & the Kawarthas
Peterborough, in the heart of the wooded Kawarthas, is the best place to start your visit through this sacred aboriginal land. The tourist office should be your first stop – the helpful staff will point you in the right direction, be it cultural attractions or scenic nature preserves.
South of Windsor, where the Detroit River flows into Lake Erie, sits small, historic Amherstburg. Much more happened here in the past than of late, a fact you can't help but avoid (signs in the downtown area actually say 'Olde Towne'). War of 1812 and Underground Railroad buffs will find some enthralling diversions.
Welland Canal Area
Built between 1914 and 1932, the historic Welland Canal, running from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, functions as a shipping bypass around Niagara Falls. Part of the St Lawrence Seaway, allowing shipping between the industrial heart of North America and the Atlantic Ocean, eight locks along the 42km-long canal overcome the difference of about 100m in the lakes' water levels.
Killarney Provincial Park
This park is often called the crown jewel of the Ontario park system, and is considered one of the finest kayaking destinations in the world. The Group of Seven artists had a cabin near Killarney's Hwy 6 access point (west of the park) and were instrumental in the park's establishment.