Barrie is one of the largest cities in southwestern Ontario. Located on the shore of Lake Simcoe and surrounded by woods, this is a great point of departure for exploring the lush wilderness north of Toronto. Before heading into the forest, check out Barrie’s lively art scene.
In summer, explore the waterfront along Lake Simcoe. Take the 4.2-mile (6.7-kilometer) trail through Barrie’s lakeside area to reach several beaches. Swim at Centennial Beach in the refreshing lake water after enjoying beach volleyball on the sand or a game of miniature golf nearby. Rent a motorboat or a Jet Ski to explore Lake Simcoe’s vast 279-square-mile (722-square-kilometer) area.
Walk up to the Spirit Catcher, the 22-ton (20-tonne) steel sculpture on the Lake Simcoe waterfront. Originally designed for the 1986 World’s Fair in Vancouver by Ontario sculptor Ron Baird, the towering statue is influenced by the art of Ontario’s indigenous groups.
See more works by regional artists at the MacLaren Art Center. Temporary exhibitions of Canadian artists supplement a 26,600-piece permanent collection, with an especially large selection of Soviet press photographs.
Get out into the Ontario forest in the Ardagh Bluffs Natural Area. This 518-acre (210-hectare) plot of forest is in the southwest part of town. To visit a more remote stretch of wilderness, drive 40 minutes west of Barrie to reach the Minesing Wetlands Conservation Area. Here, creeks and rivers snake through 15,000 acres (6,070 hectares) of protected wetlands inhabited by deer and hundreds of bird species. Traverse the wooded landscape by canoe.
Barrie is also known for winter attractions. Rent a snowmobile in Barrie to explore the snowy woods outside of town. Several different ski resorts are a short drive from town as well. The closest resort, Snow Valley, is a perfect destination for families and beginner skiers.
From Toronto, make the 1-hour drive or the 3-hour bus ride to Barrie. Once there, get around this region of wetlands, rivers and lakes by boat.