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Bold: Explore day trips and weekend getaways in Northern Ontario

Adventure in Northern Ontario is just a short drive away
Northern Ontario is rich with a variety of snowmobile trails for a variety of rider abilities. There are lots of opportunities for getaways in Northern Ontario, regardless of the season.

There was a time when Ontario road maps featured Sudbury twice. 

I don't know if it still happens because I have not seen a formal MTO (Ontario Ministry of Transportation) road map in years. 

But once the map was unfolded you would see Sudbury, right there on the Southern Ontario side of the map, up near the top. Flip the map over, and there again was Sudbury on the Northern Ontario side of the map, this time at the bottom.

The point is that Sudbury is ideally located for weekend travel trips, or even day trips to several cool points of interest for those who don't mind spending a couple of hours in the front seat driving to places in the cities and towns nearby.

Of course, nearby is a relative term. In this case, let's limit the travel to anywhere you could reach in a morning drive, spend a few hours for lunch and sightseeing and then drive back home to Sudbury. If you're a bit more adventurous, you could book a motel/hotel room and overnight in the town of your choice. And then return the next day. 

It is always a good idea to ask friends, family members and colleagues about their experiences.

Sudbury's success in having a wealth of day trip destinations available is actually the success of our many good neighbours in cities and towns nearby that offer plenty of adventure. 

As anyone who does not live in Sudbury will tell you, the Nickel City has so much to offer in the way of daytrips. After having lived in Timmins for several decades, some of my best memories were weekend road trips to Sudbury for the Northern Lights Festival Boréal, to take in a concert of a major performer, to visit Science North, to enjoy a stay at one of the many hotels, to enjoy good meals at one of the many restaurants.

Our family was pleased to know a family that had a camp on Long Lake. Showing up for a long weekend with our bathing suits, a bag of steaks and a case of beer was a fun time.

It goes both ways. I was pleased a few years ago to enjoy a pleasant weekend trip from Sudbury to North Bay. It was July. It was hot. As luck would have it, I was able to book a room at a popular motel with beachfront property right on Lake Nipissing. 

This brought back memories of my high school days in the Bay when I was passionate about swimming in Lake Nipissing. I was pleased to bring along a good book, a cooler of beer, lots of sun lotion and it certainly helped that there was a well-known steakhouse restaurant just next door.

It was one of the best getaways I can remember.

That's the great thing about being in this part of the North. There's lots to see and do. People from Southern Ontario and indeed from other provinces come this way for just that reason.

Consider a nice weekend drive to Sault Ste. Marie. My favourite spot there is the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum (credit my upbringing as an air force brat).

The Sault also has a casino, tours of the locks and waterfront and don't forget the popular day-long Agawa Canyon train tour, something that brings in visitors from across North America. There are also numerous restaurants and pubs that Saultites are proud of. 

While one is looking to the west, consider Manitoulin Island. There are so many amazing things to see and do one could easily dedicate two or three day trips or weekend getaways. 

Consider such things as a picnic/hike to explore and take in the amazing scenery on the Cup and Saucer Trail. Be sure to bring your camera to Bridal Veil Falls or the Manitowaning Lighthouse. These are the sorts of photos you'll want to get framed to hang in the rec room. 

If the tourist hotspots are not your thing, there's still plenty of places to enjoy a getaway if you plan ahead. I am talking about the wealth of waterfront and lakeside resort lodges in places like the French River, Temagami or the many bays and inlets of Lake Nipissing. 

I have enjoyed weekend stays in all of those areas and can attest that visiting a Northern Ontario resort lodge is truly living the dream and just so worthwhile.

If you're truly adventurous you can do some saddlebag-style snowmobiling. For those in the know, the Northeast is Ontario's snowmobile paradise.

There are easily a dozen adventure packed trails and loops available to avid Sudbury-based sledders to take you out to all points of the compass. Ride the trails, find a resort, park the sleds and enjoy a nice dinner.

Snowmobiling is popular across North America but riding the trails in Northern Ontario is on the bucket list for every avid sledder.

And then for another segment of the population, motorcycle touring is a whole other thing worth exploring especially on highways across this part of Ontario. That's likely the topic of a future column in this space. 

Whatever choice you make, research the region,  plan ahead to make sure you can get a room, and that your favourite restaurants, attractions and destinations are open for you.

Safe travels, eh.

Len Gillis is a reporter at Bold is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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