Orillia and Lake Country
Once famous for its lumber production and shipbuilding, Orillia and Lake Country is now known for its perfect blend of outdoor recreation, history, culture and lakeside living. Although Orillia is technically a city, its proximity to freshwater lakes and friendly community exudes small town charm. Perched on the shores of both Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching, Orillia is just minutes from Bass Lake and less than half an hour drive from Georgian Bay.
So naturally, Orillia and Lake Country is a magnet for water sports, fishing, cottaging and swimming. The waterways also connect to the historic Trent-Severn Waterway, and sailboats, motorboats and houseboats fill the port and harbour. To quote Canadian folk legend and Orillia native, Gordon Lightfoot “You can while away the summer, by Lake Couchiching.”
To learn more about all there is to see and do in Orillia and Lake Country, scroll down or visit the area's tourism website.
Where is Orillia and Lake Country?
Orillia sits at the northern tip of Lake Simcoe, at the point where it pours into Lake Couchiching. Barrie is about half an hour south of Orillia and the Greater Toronto Area is another hour from there. There is also a small airport in Gravenhurst, half an hour north of Orillia which supports flights to and from Toronto.
Things to do in Orillia and Lake Country
Surrounded by forests and waterways, the natural environment has shaped Lake Country into an outdoor wonderland. Water is the key feature of Orillia and the Lake Country, its glorious lakes and waterways attract visitors to their shores year after year.
For a glimpse into the lakes’ historical significance, check out the Mnjikaning Fish Weirs located at the Narrows of Lake Couchiching. Also known as ‘Fish Fences,’ they are a complex system of underwater fences used for harvesting fish. The Mnjikaning Fish Weirs are one of Canada’s oldest human developments, unique in both historical and spiritual significance. Experienced paddlers can take their kayaks up close to the Fish Weirs before continuing along the shores to either Lake Simcoe or Lake Couchiching.
Of course, theirs is plenty to enjoy on dry land too. Take to the trails and explore the hiking wonderland surrounding Orillia and Lake Country. Close to town is the Scouts Valley Loop Trail, three looped trails, each 2 km long. The area was formerly a Scout Camp and is now a spectacular recreational and educational resource filled with picturesque lookouts and majestic pine trees.
Learn more about the area at local cultural sites. Halfway between Orillia and Midland is the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum, featuring a collection of exhibits depicting the history of riverside folk and village life from 1830 to 1950. This slice of time overlaps with the Orillia Opera House, another favourite for history buffs and fans of live performances. The Orillia Opera House has been the heart of Orillia for over 120 years (both physically and culturally). It was originally completed in 1895, but a fire destroyed most of the building in 1915. It took two years before the Opera House was rebuilt, albeit a slightly different version to the original. It is still the home for live performances today, including regular benefit concerts with Orillia’s beloved homegrown talent, Gordon Lightfoot.
Orillia and Lake Country neighbourhoods and districts
Orillia makes for a fantastic home base from which to explore Lake Country.
A must-see and do destination for trail enthusiasts. Winter snow brings cross-country skiing with a broad network of ski trails and snowshoe routes. As the weather warms, hiking trails connect with local farms and ecotourism opportunities. See the unique Art_Trees of Oro-Medonte installations in Craighurst and check out the roster of live music events taking place at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds.
Rama First Nation
Located on the eastern side of Lake Couchiching, is home to the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. Known for the fantastic live performances and exciting gaming at Casino Rama, the Chippewas Territory has traditionally been held as a ‘meeting place’ for all visitors.
The town of Severn sits in the center of Lake Country and along the famous Trent-Severn Waterway. Grab a paddle and discover dozens of lakes, rivers, and waterways connecting with this active township. Paddlers recommend Coldwater River and Matchedash Bay for the best kayaking.
Ramara is located on the northeastern shores of Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. Lake Simcoe is also a hotspot for fishing, and a great destination for public beaches and holiday cottages.
Things to know about visiting Orillia and Lake Country
Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a more extended vacation, Orillia and Lake Country has just the thing for you.
Best of the arts scene
Stop by the Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio or check out the Singing HeART Studios, a Canadian Artists Collective for fibre and mixed media arts.
Where to go fishing
Nottawasaga Mouth in Ramara is incredibly productive for shoreline fishing. Find your spot near the dunes area of the park and ready yourself for some fresh Salmon.
The Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market is the meeting point for all fresh produce in the local area. It is open year-round with whatever is in season and local.
Where to get a great meal
The Common Stove has been fuelling Orillia from a wood-fired grill with a unique atmosphere, including outdoor dining like no other in the Winter Lounge.
Last updated: December 15, 2022