Off the Beaten Path – Explore North Durham this Summer

North Durham is not just a place, but a way of life.

As a rural destination, North Durham is a world of its own. Just a short drive from the region’s bustling southern cities, it is the place where people go to escape the crowds and the crush. But you can’t take in the wonders of this place by staying on the highway. To experience North Durham with authenticity, you need to venture off the beaten path. This is where you will find all of the scenic roads and small-town delights, and you will come to understand why North Durham is not just a place, but a way of life.

Eleanor Cook is our resident expert of Durham Region here at YDH. She knows North Durham from one end to the other, having gotten off the beaten path herself more than a time or two. “You might be surprised to learn that many of the makers and artisans of North Durham have incredible stories about leaving city life and corporate jobs to fulfill their dreams, slow down, and work with their hands and hearts,” she says. “It’s a long way from being an IT project manager to raising Alpacas, for example.”

ForgetMeNot Alpacas

A visit to North Durham is inspiring, and even though we describe it as a ‘rural trip in the country,’ the roadways are smooth, there is lots of new infrastructure, wide bike lanes, gentle rolling hills of fresh fields and trees, and invigorating scenery. Eleanor adds, “My favourite surprise is the array of quality bistros you discover. They all serve up their signature treats with a story and a sweet smile.”

Get off the main road to explore the true heart of North Durham with three unique experiences: Backroads of Brock, Side Roads of Scugog and The Leaskdale Loop. You will be transported, and welcomed with open arms.

Backroads of Brock

The Backroads of Brock is a collective of local artists, artisans and farmers nestled on the rural roads of Brock Township, whose goal is to promote awareness of businesses off the beaten path, and share the beauty and abundance that can be found in these charming rural communities. Visit the Backroads of Brock website and browse the featured stops below to begin planning your adventure.

Forget-Me-Not Alpacas – Get up-close and personal with an alpaca. These sweet, adorable animals are sure to give you all the warm, fuzzy feels. Forget-Me-Not Alpacas sells beautiful alpaca products, and you can book a tour of the farm, or your very own photography session with one of Forget-Me-Not’s lovely alpacas. 1595 Concession Rd. 3., Beaverton

Villa Vida Loca Farm Market – This super unique boutique farm market features Villa Vida Loca’s own pure honey and honey products, as well as farm-fresh, homegrown, handmade, or personally chosen artisan goods. If you’re coming on the weekend you’ll find local produce, baked and artisan goods, and so much more. 13350 ON-12, Sunderland

Villa Vida Loca Farm Market
BBQ at Vida Loca Farm Market
Corn at Vida Loca Farm Market

Rolling Hills Arts Studio – Ever heard of fabric sculpting before? It’s really cool. This unique artform results in magical creations that are sure to turn heads, for every sculpture tells a story frozen in time. Book your workshop for the whole family with artist Anja Kooistra, and enjoy a day of fun, creating, and entertainment. S10445 Side Road 17, Sunderland

White’s Creek Flower Farm – Take in scenic views, fresh bouquets, and experience a wonderful pick-your-own flower experience. White’s Creek Flower Farm in Beaverton is a unique getaway from the everyday. Book your tickets in advance, and spend the day enjoying the beautiful blooms of nature’s bounty. 1125 Concession Rd 7, Beaverton

Whites Creek Flower Farm Beaverton

Lynda Cunningham, Artist – Country life is the inspiration for artist Lynda Cunningham’s work, combining her love of rural living with her passion for art. Make an appointment to get up close and personal with Lynda and rural Ontario. 17111 Ridge Road, Sunderland

Living Off Your Backyard – This family-run farm market welcomes you to pick out your own vegetable and herb plants, and also an assortment of annuals and fresh vegetables. When you come home, be sure to visit the Living Off Your Backyard website for online instruction and support on how to turn your own backyard into a gardener’s paradise. 23901 ON-12, Sunderland

Vive Lavender Farm – Book an appointment to visit this inclusive, pet-friendly location that is a popular spot for day retreats, bridal showers and weddings. Walk the nature trails and explore fields of pure, living lavender. Bring home some of the lavender products this idyllic farm offers to brighten your sanctuary. 85 Concession 4, Sunderland

Buzzing Bees Adventure Farm – Buzzing Bees features a nine-acre corn maze, a pedal kart track, pumpkin bowling and lots of other fall activities for the kids. Pick your perfect pumpkin from the field or choose from a selection of pre-picked Jacks, and browse the farm store for local honey, maple syrup, jams, preserves and other goodies. 1070 Concession Rd 5, Sunderland

Pinedale Patch – Spend the day in this five-acre sunflower field, gallivanting around the trails and taking those perfect fall photos. Pick your own pumpkins, and purchase hay bales and corn stalks for your front porch décor. There are lots of locally grown produce and other goodies at the market stand, so come ready to explore. 1740 Concession 4, Sunderland

Side Roads of Scugog

This tour is brought to you by the farms, wineries and cideries located on the outskirts of Port Perry and Uxbridge. Each location is unique, so take your time and explore each one. Make a day trip, and get off the main road to take in the beautiful scenery of this rural area. You will come home with lifelong memories of a wonderful day spent exploring the Side Roads of Scugog.

Two Blokes Cider – Welcome to where old-world ciders meet the new. Over 2,000 apple trees call this orchard home, and represent the ten bittersharp and bittersweet cider varieties you will find here. Visit Two Blokes Cider’s tasting room and bottle shop for a cider experience you are sure to fall in love with. 21300 Simcoe St., Seagrave

Applewood Farm Winery – This family-run, family friendly farm and winery has been producing unique, award-wining fruit wines, cider and mead for over two decades. It is a wonderful place where visitors young and old can taste a little bit of the country, close to the city. Applewood cordially invites you to come spend a while under their tree. 2055 Saintfield Rd., Seagrave

Ocala Orchards Winery – Established in 1912, Ocala is Durham’s only vineyard. Whether it’s the century-old board-and-beam winery, the expansive barn, or the beautiful orchard and vineyard, Ocala has everything you need for your perfect day. Come for a tasting, or a meal. There are over 30 varieties of wines, as well as non-alcoholic juices. 971 High Point Rd., RR2, Port Perry

Ocala

Willowtree Farm – This multi-generational family farm grows over 30 varieties of fruits and veggies, and offers artisanal meats and cheeses, preserves, baked goods and so much more. The McKay family is committed to sustainable farming, and invites you and your family to visit their farm, their store and their animals for some country charm. 971 Regional Rd. 21, Port Perry

Nature’s Bounty Farm – Nature’s Bounty is a picturesque orchard with more than 20 varieties of apples, located on the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The farm also grows pumpkins, squash and sunflowers, and is home to some adorable animals. Make visiting this family-run farm a tradition for your family each fall season. 651 Scugog Line 2

Forsythe Family Farms – Connect to the countryside. Forsythe is all about local food fresh from the farm, and provides a number of pick-your-own opportunities. There is also a cut-your-own flower patch, fun activities for families, and a number of educational resources to teach all ages about life on the farm and sustainable agriculture. 1025 Cragg Rd., Greenbank

Lavender-Blu – Find home-grown lavender and hand-crafted lavender products on this family farm. Lavender-Blu offers a number of studio workshops and community-based activities, and aims to educate its visitors on the subject of lavender. One visit and you will be enchanted by this gorgeous hobby farm that cultivates calm, comfort and harmony. 2375 Bank Rd., Seagrave

Lavender

The Leaskdale Loop

Local businesses around the community of Leaskdale, which is only ten minutes north of Uxbridge, have come together to provide visitors with an unforgettable rural experience. On the second Saturday of each month until December, rural attractions hold open houses to welcome guests and sell locally made products. Follow The Leaskdale Loop to discover farms, markets, bakeries, local eateries, artists and artisans, museums, historic sites, and so much more. The Leaskdale Loop is your ultimate day trip destination.

Concession 6 Studio – With a studio space in the barn and a nearby workshop, Concession 6 Studio is a maker’s haven. Find handmade cards, jewellery and other crafty, vintage and upcycled items, as well as fine art, woodworking pieces and knitted goods. You can visit the gallery or even book a workshop with the owner. 11120 Concession Rd 6, Uxbridge

Greenmantle Pottery – Small-batch, organic pottery made by Patricia Cherrie can be found here. Each handmade piece is unique and individual, and are designed to be used everyday in your home. No matter what the season, this place is truly special, and everything inside has been repurposed, with its own story to tell. 11350 Concession Rd 6, Uxbridge

Tindall Farm & Market – For three generations and over 60 years, this family farm has been on a mission to provide local communities with top-quality, fresh produce. Delicious baked goods, handmade right here on the farm, are baked to order. So come hungry and leave happy. 13669 Durham Regional Rd 1, Uxbridge

Nancy Newman Textiles – If you’re looking for purses and accessories handmade from eco-friendly textiles, then you’ve come to the right place. You will find the perfect gift (for others or for yourself) amongst Nancy’s collection of bags, totes and other apparel, which use sustainably sourced materials from around the world. 11750 Durham Regional Rd 1, Leaskdale

Banjo Cider – This orchard, cidery, patio and tasting room is located in the picturesque hills of Uxbridge. The team at Banjo Cider is passionate about reviving the lost art of traditional cider-making. Their hand-crafted cider is made slowly with certified organic Ontario apples and premium ingredients. Come spend an afternoon on the patio. 614 Sandford Rd., Uxbridge

Banjo Cider

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Manse – Did you know that beloved Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote 11 of her 22 novels right here in Leaskdale? The Leaskdale Manse was the first home the author could call her own. Step back in time to learn all about Lucy Maud Montgomery and her life in Leaskdale. 11850 Regional Rd. 1, Leaskdale

Pefferlaw Creek Farms – This family-owned business is run by four brothers on their maple syrup farm. Crafting the finest quality, organic, 100% pure maple syrup, this mighty little farm wants you to share in their passion and love for all things maple syrup. Come during maple syrup season in April, or book a private tour any other time. 12300 Concession Rd. 6, Uxbridge

Leaskdale Country Store – Nothing says country living when even the gas station is quaint and serves delicious, homemade food! The Leaskdale Country Store is conveniently attached to an Esso station, and offers mouth-watering Indian dishes to pick up for a hearty meal, in addition to all of your favourite snacks and baked goods. 700 Durham Regional Rd. 13, Leaskdale.

Montgomery Shire Orchard – “We farm bountiful charm,” is the motto here. This is an orchard to explore trees, shrubs and the special sea buckthorn berries. Your visit will allow you to enjoy the natural hues and aromas in their garden that speaks to their passion as growers. Organic, chemical-free produce is available for you and your family. 12049 Durham Regional Rd., Leaskdale

Rooster’s Fries – Your favourite little food truck in Leaskdale, Ontario is serving up Canadian classics all summer long. Fried halibut, fresh-cut fries made from Ontario potatoes, sandwiches and other treats—Rooster’s will satisfy even the hungriest of visitor. 702 Durham Regional Rd. 13, Leaskdale

Field Notes Flowers – Come walk the flower field at Field Notes Flowers. Chat with the farmers about sustainable, small-scale flower production. You are invited to stop in, have fun with a pick-your-own flower experience, or purchase flowers by the bucket. Field Notes also offers a CSA program for flower delivery all season long. 11750 Durham Regional Rd. 1, Leaskdale

Hosta Hideaway and Out of the Barn – Hosta Hideaway sells hostas and day lilies from May until October. Come and wander around the gardens and select your favourite plant. Many varieties to choose from in all different sizes. Out of the Barn is an old shed that has been refurbished and now houses an eclectic variety of treasures. 10479 Durham Regional Rd. 1, Leaskdale

Leaskdale Live Edge – Leaskdale Live Edge is located in “downtown” Leaskdale featuring various size rounds as well as black cherry, ash, and maple boards from the bush on the property. Home décor doesn’t get any more rustic and local than this. Leaskdale Rd., Uxbridge

River Ridge Farm Flowers – At River Ridge, it’s all about giving back to the community. Take in spectacular views (great for booking photo shoots), and browse the flower stand at the farm’s entrance to purchase wrapped bouquets. Enjoy a cut-your-own experience, and check out the available pre-order options. 12500 Concession Rd. 6

Thomas Foster Memorial – More than a mausoleum, this memorial stands as a testament to the triumphs of Thomas Foster, a local boy who went to the city and found his fortune. The memorial is a unique artistic treasure hidden in the rural Uxbridge countryside. Come visit to see architecture inspired by the Taj Mahal and other glorious features. 9499 Durham Regional Rd. 1, Uxbridge

Whites Creek Flower Farm Shop Where You Live

Have you ventured off the beaten path to explore the wonders of North Durham? Get in touch with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and share your stories with us. @VisitYDH.

Story by Katherine Ryalen

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