About this series: Wheels wants to inspire you to explore. This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province, ands show you why Ontario is “Ours to Discover.”
For a quick and easy getaway — one that truly feels like an escape — you don’t have to venture far from Toronto. The Durham Region, located east of the city, has a surprising number of attractions, but, if you are planning a day trip here, you’ll first have to narrow down your options.
After all, the region encompasses about 2,500 square kilometres — from the eastern end of the 905, including Oshawa, Whitby and Clarington, to the city of Pickering, town of Ajax and township of Uxbridge. So, if you only have a day, here’s how to make the most of your time in and around the Uxbridge area of the Durham Region.
In the morning:
Leave Toronto as early as possible to avoid traffic and head east on Highway 401. Take exit 408 onto Highway 412. From there, you’ll take Exit 9 for Highway 7, then Lake Ridge Road (Durham Regional Road 23) to Uxbridge.
Start your day at the Tin Caffé (the daytime version of the popular Tin Restaurant) for a cappuccino and carrot-pineapple cake, or try Navarra’s Eatery for something heartier, like a breakfast quesadilla, classic benny or blueberry banana waffle.
If it’s a Sunday, head straight for the Uxbridge Farmer’s Market, which runs weekly until Oct. 30, at 85 Herrema Blvd. Here, you can pick up preserves, baked goods, handmade soap, local artwork and even bird houses, all while listening to live music. Fuel up for the day with quiche or a baguette sandwich at Praline Pâtisserie.
Next, take a scenic drive through the countryside north of Uxbridge, visiting your choice of artisans, farms and historical sites — from potters and painters to the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, beloved author of “Anne of Green Gables.”
On the second Saturday of each month through the fall, the Leaksdale Loop is organized and features 20 destinations — including Greenmantle Pottery, Concession 6 Studio and Pefferlaw Creek Farms — open at the same time to welcome visitors as they tour through the region. If you are there on a day when the Loop is not being held, you can still check the opening hours for each of the businesses you want to visit and plan your own route.
You can also incorporate the Lucy Maud Montgomery Trail, a self-guided, two-hour driving tour that takes you through Uxbridge, Leaksdale and Zephyr. As you make the drive, listen to a podcast about the author’s life (you can learn more at DiscoverUxbridge.ca
, where you can also print a map of all the locations on the trail).
The tour includes a stop at the Leaksdale Manse National Historic Site, where Montgomery lived with her family from 1911, through the First World War and the influenza epidemic, until 1926. It was during this time that she wrote many of her stories. Stop for tea and scones, or head to local cafe The Bridge Social for a glass of raspberry cordial — one of Maud’s (and Anne’s) favourite refreshments.
Make your way to Banjo Cider – an orchard, cidery, patio and tasting room. The cidery aims to revive the lost art of traditional cider-making, which disappeared during Canada’s prohibition years when cider apple trees were cut down.
Try the bone-dry traditional Revival or the medium-dry Dueling Banjos with a crab apple reduction (if you’re the designed driver you can still enjoy its non-alcoholic cider). There’s live music every Sunday from 1:30 to 4 p.m., along with pop-up chefs.
After head to Slabtown Cider Co., which is surrounded by the forests and fields of the Oak Ridges Moraine. This family operated cidery is working to revitalize more than 90 acres of historic fields into one of Canada’s largest collections of heirloom apples. Aside from sampling barrel-aged ciders, you can enjoy lunch — a wood-fired pizza, bison burger or cider ribs — on its patio overlooking the orchard.
From there, drive to Trail Hub, located on Chalk Lake Road, the epicentre of a 240-kilometre network of multi-use trails for hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers. Trail Hub connects to the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, TransCanada Trail, East Duffins Headwaters Trails and Durham Forest Trails.
Parking and trail access is free, and washroom facilities are available. The grand post-and-beam chalet offers meals with epic views, and Annina’s — a bakeshop popular with locals — serves up treats like butter tarts and gelato. There’s also a boutique featuring local artistic talent.
In the evening:
Drive back into Uxbridge and, if there’s time (and you’re so inclined), browse the shops in the historic downtown district, such as Blue Heron Books, The Lemonade Stand and Threads Boutique.
For dinner, head to Urban Pantry. The restaurant collaborates with local farmers to source its ingredients and create a contemporary farm-to-table menu with dishes like citrus-cured Ontario rainbow trout served with fennel salad made using Uxbridge organic greens and heirloom tomatoes.
Under normal circumstances, the beer garden at The Second Wedge Brewing Co. — complete with picnic tables and twinkly lights — would be the perfect spot for a night cap (and to enjoy a flight of Uxbridge craft beer). However, due to severe storm that took place in May, the brewery won’t likely open until after Christmas because of damage. The owners do plan to hold weekend pop-ups, so check the brewery’s social media account for updates before your visit.
For the drive
Learn more about the area by listening to “Uxbridge Beat,” a podcast by residents Jennifer Neveu-Campsall and Scott Campsall, who discuss all things local. There are also several audio books and podcasts about “Anne of Green Gables” and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Player FM has a comprehensive list to choose from.
Note: Times are suggestions only
- 8 a.m. Leave Toronto
- 9:30 a.m. Tin Caffé
- 10 a.m. Uxbridge Farmer’s Market
- 11. a.m. Scenic drive
- Noon Leaksdale Manse National Historic Site
- 1 p.m. Banjo Cider
- 2:30 p.m. Trail Hub
- 5 p.m. Downtown Uxbridge
- 6 p.m. Urban Pantry