Day Trip from Toronto: Peterborough

imageThe beautiful city of Peterborough is just 140 km from downtown Toronto, making it the perfect destination for a day away. With a population of almost 79,000, Peterborough is a beautiful mix of city and country and it offers something for everyone. There are museums, restaurants and shops that cater to a variety of tastes and interests, along with hiking trails and picnic locations and many options for both winter and summer getaways.

One of the highlights of any trip to Peterborough is a visit to the Lift Lock. Located on the Trent-Severn Waterway, the Peterborough Lift Lock was constructed in 1904 and is known as an engineering marvel and for many years, it was the highest lift lock in the world. A trip to Peterborough isn’t complete without ride up and down on the Lift Lock. It is not only a unique experience, but a great way to experience a piece of Canada’s history. There is also a museum located at the base of the lift lock which can give you some insight into this piece of Canada’s history leading up to Canada’s 150th birthday. If you make your visit in the winter, you can go skating near the base of the Lift Lock.

Another way to get a great look at the Lift Lock is by taking the Voyaguer Canoe Tour offered by the Canadian Canoe Museum. The Tour involves taking a ’36 Montreal Canoe through the Lift Lock and along the Trent-Severn Waterway. It is a fun and exciting way to experience the Lift Lock and experience some of Canada’s history for yourself.

If canoes aren’t really your thing, you can also take a cruise along the Lift Lock. There are a variety of cruises offered. 2-hour sightseeing cruises that offers a history lesson of the waterway as you travel along Little Lack and down the Lift Lock. If you are looking for a more romantic atmosphere, the Lift Lock Cruises also offer luncheon and dinner cruises, which lets you enjoy the scenery and the history while enjoying a nice meal together – a great choice for a couple’s day away. Visiting in Fall, enjoy autumn colours!

For a chance to explore Canada’s history, but stay on dry land, you can check out the Canadian Canoe Museum. The museum showcases canoes from various parts in Canadian history, including some belonging to famous Canadians. The museum also offers activities for young children.

If you have an interest in culture, you can also check out the Peterborough Art Gallery, which offers free admission, and frequently changing exhibits.

In the summer, you can check out Peterborough Musicfest, which is located at Del Crary Park and runs from July 1st to August 26th. Admission is free and there are concerts every Wednesday and Saturday all summer long, offering a line-up of artists that will appeal to a variety of tastes. There is something for everyone with the Peterborough Musicfest. This season (2017), the dinner cruises mentioned above, are coordinated with the Musicfest. You can enjoy your cruise and then you will be dropped off at Del Crary Park just in time to catch the concert.
If you prefer shopping to music, you can head to Peterborough’s downtown and check out a variety of stores that cater to all interests. If you like board games and hobbies, you can check out Grey Guardian Games, while Needles in the Hay will meet all your knitting needs, and then you can wander around Tribal Voicesand look at the furniture and other items on display. These are just a few of the unique shops that downtown Peterborough has to offer.
For nature lovers, Peterborough offers many nature trails and walks along the Ontonabee River and along lift locks – part of Trans Canada Trail. Watch how the lift locks operate as the boats cross over as you hike along the river banks. Smaller lift locks, (Peterborough Lift Lock is no. 21) like Lock 20 (Ashburnam) gives a more intimate overview of lift lock operation. You can also find the Parks Canada Red Chair here.


If you are visiting Peterborough with kids, go to Riverview Park and Zoo. The free admission zoo is open year-round and has a variety of animals to visit with. The park includes a disc golf course so that you can indulge your athletic side as well as many picnic tables, both in the park and zoo areas. You can spend an afternoon watching the animals, walking by the river and end it with a nice picnic.

If you are looking for a place to picnic, visit Beavermead Park. The Park which also offers campsites if you are looking to make it a weekend away. Located on Peterborough’s Little Lake, Beavermead has a nice beach for swimming and playing beach volleyball, along with a playground, which is a perfect place for younger children to burn off energy.

The best food for a picnic is sandwiches and the best sandwiches in town come from Sam’s Place- “The Best Dan Deli in Town”. Sam’s Place uses locally sourced ingredients in all their dishes and offers a varied menu, including a daily special sandwich. It is truly one of Peterborough’s gems.

Another great place for a quick meal is the Whistle Stop Café. The Whistle Stop offers items like nachos and wraps, but the main appeal is the Café’s 100+ varieties of poutine, including a combination for every taste.
For a more leisurely meal, you can check out the Ashburnham Ale Housewhich offers a variety of local microbrews on tap and a variety of favorites including pizza, burgers and sandwiches.

If you love beer, another great choice is St. Veronus Café & Tap Room which offers over 70 choices of beer, plus Belgian cuisine. Located conveniently in downtown Peterborough, it is the perfect place for a date night and a great way to finish off a trip to Peterborough.

How to get to Peterborough?

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