Your Hastings County Summer Bucket List

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After two pandemic summers, this one is ripe for adventure in Hastings County. But if all that time indoors has left you wondering what to do, keep reading. These 10 can’t-miss experiences you’ll find across the region need to be on your bucket list.    

Photo Source: Tyendinaga Caves Website

Go caving in Tyendinaga

Ontario’s largest cavern is located just north of Shannonville, and for the past 30 years Charles and Elizabeth Koch have opened it up for exploration. Tyendinaga Cavern & Caves is a beginner-level site, though, so no professional spelunking equipment or abilities needed. Your 45-minute guided tour begins outside the entrance, where you’ll find fossils dating back 450 million years. Descending the stairs, you’ll feel the temperature drop and eventually come to an underground wishing well, where you can drop in a coin. The tour ends down a tiny side passage in total darkness. In between, you’ll hear about how the cavern formed, how it’s preserved, stories of the area, and more.


Photo Source: Madawaska Kanu Centre Facebook

Kayak down the Madawaska

The first whitewater paddling school in the world was established on a beautiful tree-lined stretch of the Madawaska River back in 1972. Madawaska Kanu Centre is still very much alive and still one of the best spots to learn how to paddle Class I to Class III rapids in North America. The fully certified guides offer multiple paddling courses and organized trips for beginners, intermediates, experts, and families. They also have rafting adventures that are ideal for families and groups. There’s a great café here too, and a nice hiking trail that flows through a forest of hardwood and pine right beside the river.   


Search for treasure in Bancroft

Since 1999, Lakeside Gems has been a haven for mineral collectors worldwide. And no wonder. It’s in Bancroft, the “Mineral Capital of Canada” and one of the best places to find Canadian blue sodalite. But the rock shop is more than just a dealer of minerals, gemstones, and all of the equipment rockhounds need. For the past few years, Lakeside Gems has also been offering geologist-led mineral collecting field trips for families and individuals. Your day-long excursion begins with a short presentation on rockhounding in Bancroft before you drive to a field site. There, you’ll learn about the hobby, how to collect, what tools to use, and how to identify minerals.


Photo Source: Papineau Lake Beach Facebook

Swim at a backroad beach

While Hastings County may be known for pristine lakes, we don’t usually think of its sand-swept shorelines. There are a few beautiful beaches here, however. You just might have to hit the backroads to locate them. Take Fosters Lake Beach, which you’ll find north of McArthurs Mills after a stunning drive through old growth forests and over rolling hills. It’s a secluded, quiet and relatively long sandy beach with a covered picnic area, built-in stone barbecues, and grassy areas. Diamond Lake Beach may be smaller and busier than Fosters Lake Beach, but it has a nice sandy bottom and gorgeous sunsets. Papineau Public Beach (pictured) and Wollaston Lake Beach are two other sandy splendours well worth the drive.     

Photo Source: Limerick Lodge Website

Reel in a catch at Limerick Lake

With such great fishing across the region, it’s tough to pick just one of Hastings’ 180 lakes to drop a line. But you can’t go wrong with Limerick Lake, which is about 30 minutes south of Bancroft. There are actually five interconnected lakes here, all with some of the best small and large mouth bass fishing you’ll find in Eastern Ontario. Four of the lakes also contain naturally-spawning lake trout. For your one-stop fishing destination, check out Limerick Lake Lodge and Marina. This legendary family-owned business has cottages and lodge room rentals, as well as rental boats and motors, live bait, tackle, guides, gas, and a snack bar. Water taxi services are also available.


Photo Source: Kings Mill Cider Facebook

Hit the patio at Kings Mill Cider

You’re not lacking for patioed restaurants, bars, and breweries in Hastings County, but Kings Mill Cider’s covered porch should definitely be on your list. The elevated patio gives great views of the cidery’s surrounding property, which is nestled in the rolling hills near Stirling. It’s the perfect perch to sip on one — or a sampling — of Kees Morsink and Margaret Van Helvoort’s award-winning hard ciders that range from bone dry to sweet. Pair with one of their famous wood-fired pizzas for the full Kings Mill experience. And if you’re just too relaxed by the time you’re done, check to see if one of the glamping yurts is available for the night.      


Photo Source: Hometown Cones

Get a brain freeze at Hometown Cones

No summer bucket list is complete without mentioning ice cream. You have lots of options across Hastings, but in Marmora, check out Hometown Cones, which opened about a year ago. They serve 24 hard scoop flavours from Kawartha Dairy, though if you get toppings the flavour combos approach infinity. The milkshakes are solid too (try the Orange Creamsicle), and your dog will definitely slurp up the pup cones. There are a couple of picnic tables out front, but you could also take a stroll along the nearby Crowe River.   

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Hike 156 km across Hastings County

If you want to get the full view of Hastings County, pull on your hiking boots, strap on a backpack, and hit the Hastings Heritage Trail. It’s a 156-kilometre-long trail that follows an old rail line from Glen Ross in the south to Lake St. Peter in the north. Hiking the full length will take you several days, of course, but you can also do it in chunks as there are access points all along the way. Either way, you’ll march through stunning sections of the Canadian Shield and come across wetlands, waterfalls, and ghost towns like Brinklow. Just remember that this is a multi-use trail, so keep your eye out for cyclists, horseback riders, and ATVers.


Photo Source: Elvis Festival Website

Find Elvis in Tweed

The King of Rock and Roll allegedly died in Graceland in 1977, but about 30 years ago, there was a rumour going around that he was actually living in Tweed. So, in 2010, Kathy Scott decided that if that was true, the town needed to celebrate it with an Elvis tribute festival. Since then, the Tweed Elvis Festival has become “the biggest little Elvis fest anywhere”, drawing thousands of people to the little town on Stoco Lake every summer. Typically, about 10 renowned Elvis tribute artists from Canada and around the world perform over a few days. They compete for one of the coveted spots at the famous Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis.     


Take a glamping road trip

It’ll be tough to tackle this entire bucket list in a day or two, so why not stick around? There are a ton of hotels and camping spots here, but if you want some of the comforts of a hotel or cottage while also experiencing the wilds of nature, there are also lots of glamorous camping — aka “glamping” — options. Check out this post and this post for several choices. From riverside and forest yurts to off-grid cabins and campers, you might want to combine a few of them into a road trip that takes you right across Hastings County. Chances are they’ll make you want to return next summer to start a whole new bucket list.

Want to add a few summer events to your 2022 bucket list? Check out these 12 events to hit.


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Quinn's of Tweed

345 Victoria St. North Tweed, Ontario K0K 3J0

Visitors often ask about the building and it’s name, Quinn’s of Tweed. In fact, tradition dictates that we keep, with honour,  the name Quinn’s of Tweed, the original name of the store and building. The Quinn’s of Tweed building is one of the town’s oldest and most beautiful historic stone structures, dating back to the 1880s. The twelve foot walls allow us to hang paintings in the traditional French salon style. You’ll marvel at the craftmanship of the ash and maple staircase, the old bookeeper’s office, and the stained glass that brings one back to an era when a handshake and promise were as good as gold – today, we still believe in those principles.

gaylord hardwood flooring

228 Victoria St N, Tweed, ON K0K 3J0

Charles Frederick McGowan sold the lot in 1907 to William James Lawrence for $600.00. Shortly thereafter Mr. Lawrence erected the building which still stands there today. He conducted a furniture business until 1912, when he sold the property to the Traders’ Bank of Canada, which within the year, was taken over by the Royal Bank of Canada. It operated out of the building until 1942, when the war forced consolidations and closures due to a lack of tellers (men). The property changed hands a couple more times before local Tweed family, Gaylord Forest Products secured the property in 2003. Since then, they have evolved every inch of the interior into an experience. Each room throughout the building is a real life ‘showroom’ from top to bottom; you simply have to see it to believe it. The stairwell in particular holds a lot of history!

Marmora and Lake Inn

Come as strangers. Leave as friends.

29 Bursthall St, Marmora, ON K0K 2M0

Experience the charm of our 1906 mansion, nestled in the village of Marmora, Ontario, an historic town celebrating 200 years in 2021. The large and stately home was built by Ed Shannon for lumber baron Henry Reginald Pearce (known as “Reginald”) and his family, who purchased the lot for $200. It remained a private family dwelling for many decades and eventually was converted to a Bed and Breakfast by Chris and Lilly Boldly.

It now operates as Marmora And Lake Inn B&B and boasts beautiful, spacious bedrooms with quaint old-world craftsmanship for a luxurious stay. Onsite amenities include an exceptional indoor swimming pool, bubbler tub, infrared sauna, large screen SMART TV’s in each room, wireless internet access throughout, and generous sized gathering rooms. And being a small town, the pool is open to the community and friends for a nominal fee (pre-booking is required).

Our guests enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast including locally baked breads and pastries, yogurt and fresh fruit, an extensive beverage and tea/coffee bar featuring a wide variety of flavours and blends. Great outdoor patio area for fair-weather relaxation and large private events.

Whether planning a romantic weekend for two, a small wedding, a family reunion or a week-long visit to bask in the natural beauty of the region, the Marmora And Lake Inn B&B will help make it a time to remember. (Please note that all bedrooms are on the upper levels and we don’t yet have accessibility assist.)