The large and small lakes, quiet wooded areas, sophisticated dining and great festivals of these two Ontario cities provide excellent vacation opportunities.
Just a short drive apart, the two cities of the Barrie-Orillia region on Lake Simcoe offer your choice of exciting or relaxing vacation activities. Visit pretty parks with miles of walking trails throughout Ontario’s Lake Country. Enjoy varied watersports on the lakes.
Find a small lake or a quiet bay on Lake Simcoe or Lake Couchiching to kayak, canoe, learn how to stand-up paddleboard or simply relax on a beach. Jet Ski or rent a motorboat to explore the open waters. Fish for perch, bass and lake trout by boat, from shore or inside a winter ice-fishing shack.
For a great multiday walk, follow roughly 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the Trans Canada Trail between Barrie and Orillia by way of Midland. Hike the region to see spring wildflowers and fall foliage. Cross-country ski, snowshoe and even dogsled in winter.
Both cities have preserved historic buildings. In Orillia, see dinner and a show at the Opera House, built in 1895. Learn about Ontario history from early First Nations people through the War of 1812 to modern times on one of several self-guided Heritage Barrie Walking Tours. After your tour, have a meal at one of the more than 500 restaurants of Barrie-Orillia, from casual to fine dining and ethnic food.
While Barrie is significantly larger than Orillia, both cities have extensive festival schedules throughout the year. Come for Orillia’s winter carnival, spring perch festival or autumn jazz festival. Wander through downtown all summer to see the Streets Alive! artwork by local artists, featuring a common structural foundation and amazingly diverse execution. Barrie’s summer Kempenfest offers arts and crafts, music, antiques and kids’ events. Winter brings a tree-lighting celebration and Santa Claus parade.
Drive north from Toronto for about 1 hour to reach Barrie and another 30 minutes northeast to arrive in Orillia. Build your vacation around one or more of the popular festivals and travel between the cities to fully appreciate this beautiful part of the province.