Cool fall drives and hot restaurants in Lanark County

Whether you’re traveling by car or by bike, Lanark County’s scenic back roads invite you to explore the stunning natural settings for which the region is so well known. Below are four historical driving tours that will lead you to view lush forests and fields, and into urban centres where you can stop for a delicious meal and some time to explore. Click this link for the full driving directions for each tour!

For a fantastic trip, less than an hour from the city of Ottawa, plan to include a bite to eat and enjoy local fare, at one of the many restaurants and cafés peppered throughout Lanark County. When it comes to hot-and-happening restaurants, Lanark County is where it’s at.  With choices ranging from fine dining to gastropub fare, authentic ethnic cuisine, and casual dining, you’ll have the best of the best to choose from during your visit.

If you’re not sure where to start, you’re in luck; this itinerary may be just what you’re looking for. Explore Lanark County for one, two (or more) days and let us help you find the best experiences along the way!

  1. Mississippi Mills (130 km)

This scenic tour through Mississippi Mills leads you from Almonte through the hamlet of Blakeney, and on to Pakenham before heading back to Almonte, via the Mill of Kintail. This route is a good trip by vehicle, or for experienced cyclists looking for a challenging ride.  Either way, you can expect this trip to take more than an hour. This tour starts and finishes in beautiful Almonte Village. Be sure to allow some time in this picture-perfect town to walk along the river and explore the welcoming shops in the downtown core.   

When you’re ready to break,  grab a coffee at North Market Cafe or stop in to the Heirloom Café & Bistro, at 7 Mill St. in the heart of downtown Almonte. Here, you can try a sizzling hot and delicious lamb entrée – for lunch the spiced lamb burger is a delightful twist on the traditional hamburger, while the dinner entrée features a braised lamb with caper polenta. 

Once you get to Pakenham, you must stop at the Pakenham General Store, Penny’s Fudge Factory and Olde Crow Creek. Listen to the rushing waters of the Mississippi River Rapids and take a photo at the historic Pakenham Bridge. The Pakenham Walking Tour is a popular guide for visitors to see the sites and learn a bit about the town’s history.   

When you arrive at Mill of Kintail, opt to walk through the enchanting forest trails towards the babbling brook. This perfect setting will prove to be a highlight of your outing.     

  1. The Heart of Lanark (125 km)

Travel from the historic streets of Carleton Place through Appleton, Almonte, Clydesville, and Lanark Village before heading back to Carleton Place. This tour will take you through the heart of Lanark County (hence the name), over winding roads and scenic villages. A must-see in the fall when the leaves on the trees have turned from green to gold.  Cyclists will love traveling on the back roads through charming hamlets; plan ahead for an alternate route to avoid the short stretch on Highway 7.

Before you head out, or on your return trip, take the time for a hot meal (and it’s hot in more ways than one) at Sagar Indian Cuisine in downtown Carleton Place. Enjoy authentic Indian cuisine, served piping hot, and flavoured with just the right amount of spice At Sagar, you can choose mild, medium, or hot for your meal, but be warned, the hot option is not for the faint of heart! The Good Food Tour is the best way to explore the tastes of Carleton Place, where your guide will introduce you to several restaurants (and a brewery!) on a stroll through historic downtown. 

While in Carleton Place, stop into the creative studio at The Blossom Shop to paint some pottery, visit the Roy Brown Museum and pick up some locally made souvenirs, grab a brochure to tour all the Carleton Place Murals in town and stop for a bit of history at the delightful Carleton Place & Beckwith Museum, gardens and labyrinth.  

  1. The Highlands (65 km)

This is another driving tour that must be experienced in the fall! This tour starts and ends in Lanark Village, and takes you to Clyde Forks and back through McDonald’s Corners, past Dalhousie Lake and the Purdon Conservation area. This is a scenic drive by car, or by bike. Take some time to stop at the conservation area and walk the boardwalks to the lookout at the back of the property.

After working up an appetite, stop at Lanark Landing in Lanark Village, one of the Highlands’ hidden treasures. This is where the locals head to chat about politics, the maple syrup run, or just to enjoy a delicious hot meal. Plan to be there for breakfast, the most popular time of the day at the Landing, and enjoy steaming hot pancakes smothered in butter, and covered with local maple syrup. Mmmaple!

  1. Tay Valley (120 km)

If you’re planning a trip on two-wheels, this tour is made for you! By car, you can expect to take up to two hours traveling from beautiful Heritage Perth to Balderson and through the heart of Tay Valley, before heading back to Perth. Plan to stop in Balderson and explore Balderson Village Cheese, the former cheese factory, now a gift shop (where you can still buy Balderson Cheese!).

Begin or end your tour with a shopping excursion in downtown Perth, where you can stroll through the historic tree-lined streets, popping in and out of charming boutique stores. After so much shopping you’ll be ready to refuel at the local German-inspired restaurant, Maximilian’s Restaurant. Celebrating it’s 45th anniversary in 2018, Maximilian’s specializes in German fare, and is a fixture in downtown Perth. Try one of their Knackwurst, Debreziner or Oktoberfest sausages, served sizzling hot with butter potatoes, and sauerkraut or red cabbage.