North Bay bills itself as 'just north enough to be perfect,' which begs the question: Perfect for what? It's just north enough to make visiting Torontonians feel like adventurers, and the lakeshore is lovely, but the city is not notably attractive. That said, its real appeal lies in its access to the lake and surrounding countryside, which is slowly becoming part of cottage country as weekend home-building city slickers pioneer north from oversubscribed Muskoka. To these charms, North Bay adds plenty of decent accommodations and some great restaurants by the water.
Ontario's two major highways (11 and 17) converge as they pass through town, making North Bay a logical layover for Trans-Canada tourists. The highways don't link up again until Nipigon (just before Thunder Bay), 1000km northwest.