Where else can you go from being in downtown Toronto, Canada, amongst the hustle and bustle surrounded by the concrete jungle one minute? Then an hour later, you’re sitting in the middle of a frozen lake with friends, ice fishing, drinking beer and eating apple fritters the size of your head. Port Perry, Ontario, is that place. So aside from ice fishing trips, we created a list of things to do in Port Perry on a Toronto day trip!
For reference, on a good day, it takes an hour to get from one end of Toronto to the other end of Toronto – North, South, East, West; it makes no difference one hour at least.
So when York Durham Headwaters invited a group of travel writers and the Road Trip Ontario team to ice fishing, our first thought was:
How far north will we have to go? North Bay? Thunder Bay? Hudson’s Bay? Nunavut?” and “Where are our snow pants?”
Although ice fishing is what piqued our interest, let’s take a look at some things to do in Port Perry as one of the best weekend getaways from Toronto!
The History Of Port Perry, Ontario
- Port Perry was first surveyed back in 1809, and the first family who settled in the town came in 1821. They were of European descent.
- In 1852 the village in Scugog was named Port Perry after Peter Perry – a reform leader in the Ontario Legislature. Perry was the main person behind the town’s planning and development.
- Canada’s oldest grain elevator, which has survived many fires, earthquakes, and demolition, still sits on the shores of Lake Scugog.
Where is Port Perry?
Getting From Toronto To Port Perry
Getting from Toronto to Port Perry is pretty straightforward.
Jump on the DVP (Don Valley Parkway) to Highway 401 and head East.
Take exit 410, onto Highway 12 Northbound and follow Highway 12 north through Whitby, past Brooklin and Myrtle to Manchester.
Turn east (right) in Manchester at Highway 7A and follow it to Port Perry.
Things To Do In Port Perry Today
The Piano Inn and Cafe
If you opted to spend the night here in the former Lenard Building – a refurbished historical landmark built in the 18th century, you can either return for lunch or start the day with one of the Inn’s most recommended dishes. French onion soup, couscous salad, Brie and Pear grilled sandwiches, crustless quiche, creamy mac & cheese, and lobster salad.
A trendy breakfast spot here in Port Perry is the Pantry Shelf patio and tea room. They are known for their baked goods; croissants, butter tarts, apple fritters and carrot cake. Ideally, it would be great to grab a seat outside and people-watch as Palmer Park is across the street. But since it was winter and the patio was closed, we found a cozy corner inside. The daily special was a sandwich and soup; we went for the veggies soup and ham and cheddar sandwich.
Speaking of Palmer Park, Palmer Park has the best view of Scugog lake, plus splash pads, a playground area for kids, picnic tables and a walking trail that will bring you to all corners of the park. Palmer Park is also the official spot for Port Perry’s local events and festivals.
Known locally as “Old Mill,” Port Perry’s grain elevator is the oldest one still standing in Canada! It was built in 1874, and it’s become almost synonymous with the town. If you’re looking for a full history of the grain elevator, you can find it over at Scugog Heritage.
Scugog Ice Adventures & Ice Fishing
It’s hard to believe that we were only one hour away from the very hectic concrete jungle of Toronto and now standing on the shores of Lake Scugog, gazing out at the vast openness of snow and ice. We were able could make out these bright yellow fishing huts way, way off into the distance in the middle of a lake!
Located in Port Perry Marina, Scugog Ice Adventures is an ideal getaway for lovers of winter fishing and beginners like us city people willing to give it a go. With over 20 years of fishing knowledge on Lake Scugog, they have a pretty good idea of where all the fish hang out.
Lake Scugog has plenty of largemouth/smallmouth bass, perch, black crappie, and catfish.
Aside from the required fishing license, the good people at Scugog Ice Adventures will set up your location, take you out to your heated huts, drill the holes, and supply the lines and the minnows – tools you need to catch fish.
Restaurants In Port Perry
Afternoon shopping in Port Perry
Port Perry Downtown
One of the best things to do in Port Perry is a stroll along Port Perry’s historic downtown – which is one of York Durham’s prettiest little towns. With loads of boutique shops that line the Victorian streets, from Lake Scugog with its Old Mill – Canada’s oldest grain elevator, up towards the Town Hall Theatre. Everything from bamboo organic yoga clothes and antiques/treasures to custom-designed jewelry, handmade gifts and handcrafted miniatures.
Often used as a filming location because of its small-town “American” feel, it’s currently being transformed into the fictional town Lakeside for the show American Gods. Port Perry has been the backdrop, Hemlock Grove, The West Wing, Welcome To Mooseport, and Fly Away Home.
Marwan’s Global Bistro & The Port Social
Marwan’s restaurant is littered with photos of the owner, Marwan featuring his travels, which he credits as the source of his extensive knowledge of different foods found on the menu. Marwan himself recommended his curry dishes, Butter Chicken, Veggie Tikka Masala, Thai Red Curry, Thai Red Curry with Chicken, and Thai Red Curry with Shrimp.
We went with the Butter Chicken Breast, Creamy Wild Tomato Curry Sauce with Fresh Rice – Let’s just say we were thrilled with our choices.
Marwan’s Global Bistro also offers prime rib, sausage platters & spicy Mexican meatballs. For vegans and plant-based eaters, they serve a variety of delicious veggie burgers, smoked cauliflower tacos, quinoa bowls, veggie tikka masala, grilled veggie sandwiches, a veggie curry dish, Thai vegan red curry, and more.
Right beside Marwan’s Global Bistro is Marwan’s other business, The Port Social, where he serves tapas, beers, cocktails, wine & spirits. The bar features live music on the weekends and expertly crafted cocktails!
Port Perry Post Office
The very first post office of Port Perry opened in 1852, and the first postmaster was a man named Joseph Bigelow. The post office was built in 1914 and would have been torn down if a group of locals hadn’t convinced the officials that it had historic value.
Hank’s Pastries LTD
We were first introduced to Hank’s Pastries while ice fishing. Scugog Ice Adventures had a Tim Horton’s carafe (Canada’s favourite coffee) and a box of Hank’s large apple fritters shipped out to us in the huts. The apple fritter is so large that it’s impossible to finish. Out of all the things to do in Port Perry, this is not to be missed.
Hank’s has been in the business since the mid-1800s, and they are known for their delicious and freshly baked treats. From meat pies, fruit bread and buns to cookies, old-fashioned scratch donuts, huge apple fritters and Mille Feuille (custard cake).
Port Perry United Church
Port Perry United Church, part of The United Church of Canada, opened in 1925 and can accommodate about 200 worshippers.
Town Hall Theatre
Town Hall Theatre has been at the centre of arts and culture for over half a decade. They offer a variety of entertainment, from dance, to theatre, live music, and more. The building itself was established in 1873.
Reflection Park was opened as a memorial park in 2008 and was attended by Port Perry’s respected government officials and local war veterans. It resulted from student nine, who volunteered their talents and skills to the project.
War Memorial Library (Now Closed)
Caviar and Cobwebs
Caviar & Cobwebs is a boutique store that sells legitimate collectibles and antiques. Everything from hard-to-find jewellery and linens to books, memorabilia and art. Gordana picked up a Hammersley & Co. teacup and saucer that dates back to the 1930s
Herrington’s Quality Butchers
Right beside Caviar & Cobwebs is Herrington’s, which I had the pleasure of trying their delicious dry salami while ice fishing on Lake Scugog. Ex-Farmer, Brent visits many of the farms that he buys his meat from. In addition to that, he was a finalist in Ontario’s Finest Butcher Competition.
Things To Do In Port Perry
Old Flame Brewery
The Old Flame Brewing Company is located in the restored former Ontario Carriage Works building built in the 18th century. The tasting room is filled with rustic and wooden decorations, most of which tie together the building’s history. Comfortable couches, high tops and regular tables invite you to bring your own food, and pets are welcome.
The Nutty Chocolatier
The Nutty Chocolatier uses 100% of the finest Callebaut chocolate imported from Belgium and is considered one of Ontario’s best-handcrafted chocolate makers. I have no idea who Callebaut is, but I definitely tried Belgium chocolates when I was in Belgium. They have gelatin, gluten, milk, sugar-free, truffles, nut clusters, and barks.
Captain George Fish & Chips
I’ve eaten fish and chips everywhere, from England to Ireland, and there is a definite science to doing them right. Captain George serves up decent fish & chips – Perfectly fried (not greasy), traditional breaded halibut, fries, coleslaw, a lemon wedge and tartar sauce. We advise getting extra tartar sauce; it’s homemade and tastes incredible.
Where To Stay In Port Perry
There are plenty of places to stay in Port Perry if you’re looking for a place to crash after a night out. Our favourite is The Piano Inn and Cafe, located in the town’s heart. Just know that they book up early, so it’s worth booking in advance.
The Piano Inn & Cafe | The Piano Inn 1884
Perfect if you’re planning on spending the night in Port Perry, just passing through or grabbing a bite to eat. The Piano Inn & Cafe is located in the heart of downtown Port Perry, and the historic building has five private upscale suites steps away from boutiques, dining and Lake Scugog Marina.
If The Piano Inn is full, we’d recommend the nearby Nestleton Waters Inn (about a 10-15 minute drive from Port Perry). It’s a great spot to spend the night. If you’re looking for a bed and breakfast, there are a few B&Bs in the town, including Willow Pond Bed and Breakfast, Country Corner B&B, Beechcroft B&B and Heath & Haven.
Heath Haven Bed and Breakfast
Also located in downtown Port Perry, Health Haven is a newly renovated Bed and Breakfast with a cozy, cottage, small-town setting feel.
The Hive B & B Resort
If you want to extend your Port Perry stay by recharging, partaking in and learning more about indigenous practices of well-being, art and culture while reconnecting with nature, book your stay at The Hive Bed & Breakfast. About 34 Kilometres from Port Perry, The Hive Bee & Bee offers single-room and full-house rentals, daily or weekly. Our good friend Chris Mitchell from Ultimate Ontario wrote about our press trip experience at The Hive B & B Resort.
Next door is The Hive Centre, a charming heritage church that provides training, workshops, retreats and events with community-related activities like; art, culture, history, well-being and nature. The Hive Centre and Bee & Bee are surrounded by 18 Acres of Commemorative Forest – Designated by the Province of Ontario, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Conservation Authorities. Trip Advisor
More Fun Things To Do In Port Perry
Scugog Shores Museum Village
The Scugog Shores Museum Village is a historical museum located on the southern end of Scugog Island and is home to various restored historic buildings, including a school, log cabin, blacksmith, and more! The museum is also set in a renovated old school with thousands of artifacts.
The Scugog Shores Museum is also home to the Ojibway Heritage Interpretive Lands. Created in partnership with the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, the Ojibway Heritage Interpretive Lands is home to a birch bark canoe, a wigwam, and a collection of indigenous plants and trees.
The Great Blue Heron Casino
The Great Blue Heron Casino is also located on Scugog Island and belongs to the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. It originally opened in 1997 with a focus on gaming tables and a bingo hall. Now, they have all your favourite casino games (Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette), over 500 slot machines, two bars, a restaurant and a 100-room hotel.
Port Perry Festivals and Events
There’s always something going on in Port Perry and the surrounding area regarding Festivals & Events. From the Mississauga First Nation Pow Wow and the Highland Games in summer to the Theatre on the Ridge summer theatre festival and The Annual Fair (which has been running for 150 years on Labour Day weekend. Head over to the Port Perry BIA for a calendar of events.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Far Is Port Perry From Toronto?
Getting from Toronto to Port Perry is pretty straightforward. Jump on the DVP (Don Valley Parkway) to Highway 401 and head East. Take exit 410, onto Highway 12 Northbound and follow Highway 12 north through Whitby past Brooklin and Myrtle to Manchester. Turn east (right) in Manchester at Highway 7A and follow it to Port Perry. Total drive time as about an hour !!
What is Port Perry known for?
Port Perry is known for its grain elevator, the oldest one still standing in Canada! It was built in 1874.
Port Perry is also known as a filming location because of its small-town “American” feel. Everything from the fictional town Lakeside for the show American Gods to the backdrop for Hemlock Grove, The West Wing, Welcome To Mooseport, and Fly Away Home.
What is there to do in Port Perry in the winter?
One of the best things to do in Port Perry in the winter, in addition to skating, is ice fishing. Especially because of its close 1-hour distance from Toronto. Scugog Ice Adventures is an ideal getaway for lovers of winter fishing and beginners. Lake Scugog has plenty of largemouth/smallmouth bass, perch, black crappie, and catfish.
What’s the main street in Port Perry?
Port Perry’s main street is Queen St., which runs through the historic downtown. With loads of boutique shops that line the Victorian streets, from Lake Scugog with its Old Mill – Canada’s oldest grain elevator, up towards the Town Hall Theatre. Everything from bamboo organic yoga clothes and antiques/treasures to custom-designed jewelry, handmade gifts and handcrafted miniatures.