Haliburton Ontario, is a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of cottage country with vast forests, pristine lakes, and a unique small-town spirit. Here, you will be able to truly experience the outdoors in a way you simply can’t in the city.
From camping at a rustic campsite on one of Haliburton Forest’s many lakes to exploring the crisp winter weather on a dog sled, golfing at any one of the area’s many golf courses to witnessing the wolves in their natural habitat at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre, you have the opportunity to make incredible life-long memories and build a greater respect for the environment around us.
We have compiled this guide to help you plan your nature lover’s getaway to Haliburton, Ontario, including options for accommodations, restaurants, and local attractions. Don’t wait – the forest is calling!
Travel to Haliburton, Ontario
You may be wondering, “Where is Haliburton, Ontario?” This nature lover’s dream is found just south of Algonquin Park, with one of the areas we will be discussing, Haliburton Forest, directly bordering the park. The Haliburton Highlands area (which is a county) encompasses the town of Haliburton, as well as Minden, Dorset, Eagle Lake, West Guilford, Cardiff, Wilberforce, Fort Irwin, Gooderham, and Irondale.
If you are leaving from the Toronto area, the drive to Haliburton is approximately 3 hours long and primarily highway driving. If you don’t have vehicle access, TOK Coachlines offers a route that travels between Vaughan and Haliburton, starting at a cost of $58.50 per adult one-way.
Accommodations and Hotels in Haliburton, Ontario
If you’re searching for the best accommodations Haliburton, Ontario offers, here are three great options that we highly recommend, including resort stays and rustic camping getaways. But, honestly, with the incredible views and scenery across the county, you will surely enjoy your stay wherever you choose to lay your head!
1491 Sir Sam’s Rd, Eagle Lake
This cozy location is an adults-only couple’s retreat. Most of the resort’s charming rooms feature a relaxing fireplace and patio or balcony with a view of the area’s natural beauty. There are several different room types to choose from, including traditional rooms, lakeside rooms, two-story lakeside suits, and private cottages.
Relax and enjoy a massage at the on-site spa or an incredible meal and custom artisanal cocktail at the Twin Fires Restaurant. You can also enjoy many of your favourite outdoor activities without leaving the property, including exploring the hiking trails, getting out on the water on Eagle Lake, or skiing at the adjacent Sir Sam’s Ski Hill.
4252 Haliburton County Rd 21, Haliburton
This beautiful resort offers a variety of accommodation types, depending on your budget and personal preference, including standard rooms, suites, villas, and chalets. Wood accents throughout the rooms give them a country-esque aesthetic with an upscale and modern twist, making it the perfect stop for a fun family getaway, a romantic couple’s weekend, or a relaxing solo trip.
In addition to the warm and welcoming rooms, like many Haliburton, Ontario hotels, the resort offers many outdoor experiences on the property, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and an 18-hole golf course. They also have an on-site restaurant, Stone 21.
If you really want to embrace the outdoor experience, Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve is home to some of the area’s most beautiful campsites and hiking trails. Many of the campsites on the property include water access, providing both an incredible view and the perfect opportunity for paddlers. We camped on Clear Lake, and the water was so calm that it was like glass.Their campsites are unserviced, but each site has its own personal outhouse. If you prefer roofed accommodations, they offer lakeside cabins, or you can book a tiny cabin through their partnership with Cabinscape. There are also many activities and events available on-site that we will discuss in detail later, including hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, canopy tours, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and more.
Haliburton, Ontario Restaurants, Breweries, and More
With all the outdoor adventures, you are going to work up an appetite. Luckily, there are many unique places to stop for a bite, a cold beer, or a tasty treat. Here are a few that we highly recommend after our last trip to the Haliburton Highlands:
Maple Avenue Tap & Grill
172 Highland St, Haliburton
While labelled a casual dining restaurant, don’t let that fool you. The restaurant offers a delicious menu with high-quality food that is presented much like you are sitting in a luxury restaurant (and paying a MUCH higher price tag). If you are searching for a place that can accommodate dietary restrictions, they have vegetarian and gluten-free options. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Hook, Line & Sinker
126 Highland St, Haliburton
As the name suggests, the restaurant is best known for its fish and chips, including haddock, pickerel, or cod. But this isn’t the only delicious food on the menu. My husband ordered the Big Smoke Bison Burger and greatly enjoyed it. If you travel during the warmer weather, enjoy your meal on the patio for a beautiful lake view.
166 Highland St, Haliburton
Like the other restaurants in Haliburton, Ontario, that we’ve listed, this one is also on the main street in town. Kosey Korner is a family restaurant. They pride themselves in offering “home-cooked” meals for over 80 years in the area. We quickly fell in love with the fact that they offer all-day breakfast, but the menu also includes sandwiches, burgers, roast beef and turkey dinners, poutine, liver & onions, and more. It has a welcoming atmosphere, making you feel like you’re one of the locals, even if it’s your first time walking through the doors.
Haliburton Highlands Brewing
1067 Garden Gate Drive, ON-118
Located just outside West Guilford, Haliburton Highlands Brewing is an award-winning micro-brewery with a nice assortment of beers to suit all tastes. They support the community by incorporating local ingredients and prioritizing the environment, minimizing their impact through sustainable practices. The patio area is dog-friendly, a win for those of us who usually travel with our canine companions. We didn’t leave without a few extra cans to take back to the campsite after our visit.
Things to Do in Haliburton
Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve
As we already mentioned, we camped at Haliburton Forest during our stay. This allowed us to not only enjoy the tranquillity of our private campsite on the lake but also to explore the many activities available onsite:
Spring, Summer, and Fall
With over 100 lakes on the 100,000-acre property, there are plenty of opportunities for those interested in swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. While many of the campsites do have water access right on the site, boat launches and water access points are available for those who don’t. There are canoe rentals available.
Over 400km of hiking trails weave throughout the forest, ranging from more accessible trails like the Forestry Walk to more technical trails like the Normac Trail, which I hiked with my youngest dog, Lucifer. For mountain bikers, there are also designated mountain biking trails.
A unique experience available in the park is the guided canopy tours. These are 3.5 to 4-hour excursions that include padding a canoe, a guided walk along the Pelaw River Rapids, and then the canopy tour itself – a canopy boardwalk that is suspended up in the treetops, offering a one-of-a-kind view of the forest.
Winter at Haliburton Forest
During the winter, the most common activity is Haliburton Forest snowmobiling. They do not pave the roads throughout the forest, converting them into groomed snowmobile trails for visitors to enjoy. Snowmobile rentals and guided tours are available for those with less (or no) experience.
Many trails are open for snowshoeing, with snowshoe rentals available on-site. You can also book snowga (snowshoeing and yoga), guided ice fishing, ice climbing, and other winter adventures.
1888 Hodgson Road, Haliburton
If you have ever imagined what it would be like to be whisked through the snow on a dogsled, this Haliburton Highlands company is prepared to make your dreams come true. They offer 2-hour, 1/2-day, full-day, moonlite, and multi-day dog sledding packages. The best part is that the Siberian Huskies pulling your sled are highly affectionate. You can enjoy some furry cuddles and even kisses (if that’s something you’re comfortable with) when you’re stopped!
For those who enjoy golfing, this is a great place to play your next getaway. There are many golf courses in the area, providing plenty of options, including Haliburton Highlands, Blairhampton Golf Club, Pinestone Resort, Lakeside Golf Club, and more.
297 College Drive, Haliburton
A unique and fun experience we enjoyed on our last trip to Haliburton, Ontario, was a visit to the Haliburton Sculpture Forest. This forested park area is shared by Haliburton Highlands Museum and the Haliburton Campus of Fleming College (specifically, the Haliburton School of Art + Design).
Along the 1.4 km of walking trails, you will find 40 sculptures and 6 one-of-a-kind benches, all created by Canadian and International Artists. Each sculpture includes a plaque sharing the artist’s name and the name of their work. The trails are dog-friendly, meaning we were able to enjoy the displays while also exercising our pups, making it the perfect afternoon activity.
2311 Eagle Lake Road, Eagle Lake
Another amazing way to explore the beauty of the Haliburton Highlands is by horseback. You can book a relaxing trail ride with one of their guides or a horse-drawn sleigh ride during the winter months. They also offer riding lessons if you are interested in learning to ride.
While technically part of Haliburton Forest, we felt this particular activity deserved to be highlighted on its own. Why? It was such an incredible experience that we feel everyone should visit the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre at least once. Admission costs $13.28 for adults, $7.96 for children 6 to 17 (under 6 are free), or you can book a group rate for a family.
When you first arrive, you will walk into an educational center. Here, they have museum-style exhibits and animal-related displays including information about the local wildlife, scat identification, skeletons of different species, and more. There is also a small theatre area where you can watch a documentary about how they track and collect data about wild wolf populations.
The most interesting areas in the building, however, are the two indoor observation areas. Here, one-way glass lets you see the wolves up close and personal. They are unaware you are there, meaning it isn’t disturbing the pack – instead, you can see how they act and interact when left alone in the wild. But be warned, there is no guarantee you will see the wolves as their enclosure is over 7 acres, meaning they aren’t always just outside the building where they would be visible.
Enjoy the Natural Wonders of Haliburton, Ontario
This slice of paradise is the perfect getaway location for any outdoor adventurer or nature lover. Explore the area year-round by hiking, paddling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and more.
After an active day in the fresh air, enjoy delicious eats and a cold beer from any one of the local restaurants in Haliburton, Ontario, before settling in for the night at your resort, cabin, or campsite. What more could an outdoor lover ask for?