durham region

How to spend 48 hours in Durham Region

Durham Region is a fairly big place, and it's growing rapidly. Spread over 8 municipalities, with a population of 685,500, Durham Region is projected to hit one million people by 2031.

Just east of Toronto, and with ties to the Greenbelt, Durham Region has plenty of access to water with Lake Ontario to the south, Lake Scugog to the East and Lake Simcoe to the north. In between, there are stretches of farmland, the Trail Capital of Canada (Uxbridge) an abundance of places to eat, drink and shop, and loads of fun activities.

Here is how you can spend 48 hours in Durham Region.

Transit

You have some options when it comes to getting around. The GO train will get you from Union Station to Pickering in less than 40 minutes, but you can ride the rails all the way to Oshawa, and the GO buses aren't a bad option if you’re without a car.

Plus, there is the trusty Durham Region Transit system, and you can use your Presto card. That said, if you have your own vehicle, that will save you time, and Uber is widely available too.

Accommodation

Of course, you'll need a place to stay, and there are many options depending on what you’re into. For something unique beyond Airbnb and the chain hotels, check into The Hive Bed and Breakfast.

The Hive is actually two charming buildings, the "bee and bee" and The Hive Centre, which is a beautiful historic church. Both properties are located on 18 acres of serene forest complete with a whimsical winding stream.

Saturday
8:00 a.m. - Breakfast at Angelique's

You look hungry, and it's early! Thankfully, Angelique's Family Restaurant serves up quality dishes, and doesn't skimp on the portions. Serving breakfast, brunch and lunch in Ajax for the past 15 years, Angelique's is worth the wait (because there may be a line).

11:00 a.m. - Enjoy some outdoor fun at Lakeridge Resort

If the weather permits, head north, and hit the slopes at Lakeridge Resort, in the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Enjoy the great outdoors with some skiing, snowboarding, or tubing.

Lakeridge has great trails too, so if the weather is warm, you can go for a brisk nature walk, or mountain bike ride.

4:00 p.m. - Pop into Hy-Hope Farm for some homemade pies and tarts

I mean, if you prefer tobogganing over tubing, Hy-Hope Farm has a variety of hills to hurl yourself down, however it is BYOT+H (bring your own toboggan and helmet). 

At the very least, grab yourself a fresh-baked apple or red currant pie, or a dozen flaky butter tarts made from scratch.

6:00 p.m. - Dinner, drinks and dancing at hotspots old and new

You'll probably want to head back to the bed and breakfast to freshen up after an afternoon of tubing, but after that it's time for a night on the town (of Pickering)!

For something new, head to Chúuk. It's a beautiful space, serving Mexican-inspired dishes. Try the fish or hummus tacos, and wash it down with cocktails made with fresh-pressed juices or enjoy sipping on a smoky mezcal (they have quite the selection). Plus, Chúuk hosts Latin Fridays if you feel like dancing.

For something old, head up the street to Liverpool John's. Formerly Liverpool Arms Inn, the historic mansion, built in 1878, has had several different owners over the years, but originally it was a popular stop along the highway for those travelling between Toronto and Kingston.

Now, it’s a fun, multi-level venue that has managed to maintain its old timey charm. There is plenty of beer on tap, drink specials, pub grub, TVs for watching sports, and pool tables.

Check their calendar because Liverpool John’s hosts comedy nights, live bands, and there are weekly DJ nights and a dance floor that, I myself, have torn up on occasion.

Sunday
10 a.m. - Coffee at Jolie Café

After a night of cocktails and cutting a rug, you will probably need to start your day with a strong cup of coffee. Jolie Café is run by two local women with a passion for community building and baking.

The coffee here is from local father/son-run Trebilcock Coffee Roasters.

11:00 a.m. - Shop at the largest multicultural market in Canada

Assuming that you're visiting Durham Region on the weekend, you have got to spend some time at the Pickering Markets. With over 500 vendors, this flea market sells everything you could possibly want, and there are great bargains to boot.

From art, to clothing, to jewellery, to electronics, the markets also have an amazing selection of collectibles, like retro Nintendo games, action figures, and sports memorabilia.

There is a massive antique market, and liquidation warehouse. Plus, make sure you stop by the food court for a slice of Star's Pizza or a fruit smoothie from Loi Le.

1:00 p.m. - Beer and a board game at Brew Wizards

Brew Wizards Board Game Cafe in downtown Oshawa isn't just a great place to play Code Names or Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit, they have sixteen rotating taps, fair trade coffee and small bites too.

2:30 p.m. - Go back in time at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa

This is Durham Region’s largest gallery, and if you want to give your wallet a rest, admission is free. At any given time, you can catch some really cool Canadian modern and contemporary exhibits.

Plus, part of their permanent collection is the Thomas Bouckley Collection, comprised of over 3,000 historical photographs of Oshawa and Durham Region, spanning over 100 years.

6:00 p.m. - Support local, and enjoy a fancy dinner in Whitby

Think of this as a choose-your-own-adventure, Durham Region Edition. Since things are spread out, where you decide to eat may depend on what you have planned for the night.

For dinner, Chef Kevin Brown is the man behind KB Food in Whitby, which boasts a market driven menu featuring local and sustainable ingredients. Go for the oysters, stay for the butternut squash mac n’ cheese. 

You could also try Whitby's Bistro '67. This new restaurant features field-to-fork dining, with meals prepared by skilled chefs and students from Durham College’s award-winning W. Galen Weston Centre for Food.

They also have unique cocktails, and creative non-alcoholic options.

7:30 p.m. - Game night

If the home team is in town, you could catch an Oshawa Generals game at the Tribute Communities Centre. They may not have Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros or John Tavares anymore, but they are still very exciting to watch.

Or, hit up Consumers Drive in Whitby for a different kind of game night. This area has got tons of activities whether you're a thrill-seeker, or just looking for a little friendly competition.

There’s glow-in-the-dark mini putt, laser tag, indoor skydiving, or if you are ready to just sit back and relax, take in a flick at Landmark Cinemas.

11 p.m. - Nightcap at "The Tap"

Tap and Tankard is a great place to meet people, or catch up with friends. It’s also a fun spot to end your night. The Tap often hosts live bands, and has great beer on tap.

Monday
10:00 a.m. - Before you go…

Pop by Samosa Hut in Ajax grab a dozen of their signature samosas, stuffed with chilli chicken or spinach and sweet cream cheese. You’ll thank me. 

Lead photo by

Chris Smart at the Pickering Go Transit pedestrian bridge. Writing by Dani Stover.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Sports & Play

A guy in a banana suit was among the fastest runners at the Toronto marathon

Toronto to officially unveil new Raptors Way street near Scotiabank Arena

Toronto Raptors will raise the NBA championship banner on opening night

This is what fall colours look like in Ontario right now

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon road closures and route info for 2019

The NBA championship trophy is coming to Nathan Phillips Square

Toronto Raptors fans to give away thousands of pro-Hong Kong shirts on opening night

Toronto is considering converting hockey arenas into indoor skateparks