With the excitement and festivities of Canada’s 149th birthday fast approaching, we are all looking for ways to celebrate the great white North. Every city, town and cottage will be blasting off bright fireworks. Parades will be marching up and down Main St. BBQ’s will barely get a chance too cool down before the next round begins. Campfires will be surrounded with the familiar sound of our friends and family regaling us with tales that we’ve heard 100 times before never but never seem to get old. The vast lakes and waterways will be full of happy-go-lucky Canucks canoeing, fishing, water skiing, tubing, stand up paddle boarding and enjoying all that this great country has to offer us.
The small cottage country town of Bobcaygeon is no different and is full of its own unique adventures for your family. From houseboats and hiking trails to a cone of impossible-to-resist Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream. It’s not too far from the hustle and bustle of Toronto but feels like a different world altogether.
Happy Days Houseboats is renowned for their comfortable, easy to use houseboats and great service. We’ve yet to take this adventure but just can’t wait. The houseboats are modern and fully equipped with pots, pans and dishes. They also come with a lock pass for the Trent Severn Waterway. The boats are available in different sizes from 6 to 12 sleepers, and almost all have a water slide. If you can fit it into your budget, I’d definitely recommend the slide because…kids. They are essentially a floating cottage to discover the lakes on your own terms. Wake up and fish at dawn, enjoy your coffee on the deck viewing the sunrise, or sleep until the little people wake you up, which may also be dawn. They also offer a pontoon boat for day use as well as fishing boats, kayaks and stand up paddle boards. The pontoon boat is probably the route we will take. If you’re unable to get away for a few days on the lake, a pontoon boat gives kids more room to move around than a regular boat with lots of space to fish from and to just relax. They often have different deals available. You can check them out on Facebook or Twitter.
The town has recently installed a splash pad and skateboard park at Tommy Anderson Park. There is also a climber, swings and the coolest swing thing I’ve seen. I’ll include a picture since I don’t have a clue what it’s called.
There are many events going on year-round in the area from kids fishing tournaments, the Canada-US Walleye Tournament, Farmer’s Market, Unlock The Summer, Festival of Trees and the best fireworks in the area.
Lakeview Arts Barn is a great local theatre which offers many great summer theatre productions. They have 3 fantastic productions this year just for kids. What’s more? They have received extra funding from CIBC so the kids shows are only $5! We’ve taken our little guy to a few shows and they were all so much fun.The dates of the kids shows this year are July 9th, August 6th and August 29th. I highly recommend taking in a performance if you can!
The town hasn’t yet been touched by the big, bad box store so all of the small town, charming and unique stores are still intact.
Bobcaygeon Electronics is the go-to tech store. The customer service is unbeatable. Bobcaygeon Electronics also offers Bell Mobile and Residential services as well as Virgin Mobile. They provide some copy, fax and scan services too. My kids have been in there touching, much to my dismay, all of the latest gadgets and they simply respond with “Don’t worry, they are just fine”and then give them something fun to play with while we’re there. Taking my kids to a tech type store, full of expensive merchandise is not on my top ten list of fun family times but I don’t feel that there.
If you are looking for the best meat to throw on the grill, get over to Grant’s Butcher Shop on King Street. They are masters in their trade and offer everything my (husband’s) dreams are made of including burgers, steaks, meat pies, bacon wrapped pork medallions and various flavours of sausages. Mmmmmm…
Then of course, there is Bigley’s Shoes & Clothing. This is great for a girl’s day out. I have taken my kids there for shoes but they have so many to choose from and they are so well displayed that my nerves were in overdrive trying to keep them from pulling out 100 pair of shoes. My daughter loves all things sparkly and all things that are shoes so this was like a dreamland for her, but not so much for mama. I, however, could lose myself in there for hours. Later on in the fall, they start clearing for the next year’s latest designs and you can find some great deals.
A girls day out is complete with a visit to Kawartha Coffee Co. They have beautifully crafted, farm-to-table soups, lunches and deserts. They also have a Chai Latte that makes my knees buckle. I take my kiddos there. They are very welcoming and the Mexican vibe with the vibrant artwork, beaded Mexican bull and chalkboard wall in the back are exciting for them. The ambiance creates the perfect end to a girls day. Hey, I hear they serve wine too so that doesn’t hurt and could also help you feel better about what you just paid for the most fabulous pair of shoes on the planet.
There are a two grocery stores, ValuMart and Foodland. Both are well stocked. I bought the dill for my dill pickles there two years ago and was thrilled to see that it was grown right in Bobcaygeon.
Just For The Halibut is a must stop for your seafood craving. I’ve had friends make a 2 hour drive and then back home just to hit “The Halibut”. It’s just relaxed enough that the whole family can enjoy a great meal. I’m partial to the Bangers & Mash, my husband loves the Fisherman’s Platter and the kids (and my 34 year old brother) of course enjoy the chicken fingers. Be sure to make reservations if you’re planning to dine there in the summer.
72 Bolton is a restaurant downtown and has the best patio around. They serve all manner of pub fare alongside other scrumptious dishes and daily deals. They air whatever big game is playing on the giant screen right on the patio. I take my kids here because again, the food is kid and adult friendly, they don’t have to be ultra-quiet and the servers are great. ALSO…for all of the Tragically Hip lovers among us, On August 20th, they will be hosting the broadcast of the final concert of The Tragically Hip on all 15 screens with huge outdoor speakers! The event begins at 8 p.m.
Shakers is a diner in town that I sometimes take my littles to. They serve lots of kid-friendly foods. The servers are friendly and always make my kids feel like highly important customers.
Ember’s Restaurant has recently unveiled a new roll-down patio. We haven’t had the opportunity to venture in quite yet but it sure does look inviting.
Wherever we travel we love to get out and hike the local terrain. Luckily, there are an abundance of public trails for you and your family to explore in the area. You can find all of the trails on the City of Kawartha Lakes website.
Bobcayeon does Canada Day right! There are tons of activities for the kids including children’s races, face-painting, a fishpond, and a bouncy castle, a BBQ and draw prizes. There is a magic show too which we are really looking forward to. Plus the fireworks! They are set off from the water out from the beach and are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. The shoreline fills up quickly so be sure to arrive early to get a great spot to watch. In the event of rain there is a rain date of July 2. Check out the full schedule of events for your family to take in. Many of the local businesses and associations donate to help make this a great event and one not to miss if you are going to be in the area.
The beach park in town is a good spot to take the kiddos for a dip. It’s a sand beach with a park and has a canteen with all of the yummy beach food that kids love. The owner of the Kawartha Coffee Co. has taken over the canteen this year and will be serving grass-fed beef burgers from Grant’s Butcher shop, hand-cut fries and some of the other farm-to-table specialties that the restaurant is loved for.
Buckeye Surf and Snow has everything you’ll need for hitting the lake from swimsuits to the most tubular (yay 90’s!) tubes available. They also offer rentals of a pontoon boat, fishing boats, jet skis, paddle boards and canoes and kayaks. You can even rent those tubular tubes!
No visit to Bobcaygeon would be complete without a visit to Kawartha Dairy for the best ice cream I’ve ever had. When I was pregnant I wanted nothing more than some Muskoka Mocha ice cream from the dairy. Topped with a cinnamon bun for good measure. The reason I gained more weight in that pregnancy is still a mystery. My little guy lives for the Birthday Cake flavour. My dad always has a tub of their French Vanilla in the freezer. They have frozen yogurt too. As an added bonus they also carry Sherbet. This is super helpful since my daughter had a milk allergy. We could all go together without bringing our own treat for her from home. The milkshakes are no joke either. Thick and creamy. The ice cream is packed full of real cream, real sugar and is absolute heaven. If you are celebrating an event while in Bobcaygeon they also have delectable ice cream cakes available. There have some available on the spot in the freezer. If you have something more specific in mind, they request 48 hours notice. Just in case the ice cream wasn’t enough to satisfy that sweet tooth, they also carry other baked goods in the store, along with their milk and cream. Kawartha Dairy is a 100% local, family owned business that began in 1937. They employ many people and the pride that they put into their work is evident in every single flavour.
Bobcaygeon is a great place to start to see what Ontario has to see and do. The people are kind and always willing to point you in the right direction and help you find exactly what it is you’re looking for. Like many other small towns, they have a strong group of dedicated volunteers that help keep events running smoothly and the Horticultural Society to keep things looking beautiful. I couldn’t possibly include all of the great places to explore in and around Bobcaygeon so if there is something or somewhere you love that’s not on the list, please feel free to mention it in below.
Wherever you find yourself this Canada Day, look all around you and take in the natural beauty. Look up the local events that your family can take in. Take the time to teach your kiddos about this beautiful land and her people. Bust out the stick on flag tattoos, roast your ‘smores, catch some fireworks and enjoy making unforgettable, truly Canadian family memories