orillia ontario

How to spend a day in Orillia

Orillia has historically been overlooked as a destination. With a large city like Barrie as its nearest neighbour, and plenty of quaint cottage towns nearby it's easy to see why. But Orillia has a lot to offer.

These days, Orillia can lay claim to a modernized downtown strip buzzing with the energy of talented entrepreneurs and creative small businesses. It's also home to a growing list of established chefs spreading their wings in edgy, fun and tasty ways along the main street and beyond.

Perched directly at the top of Lake Simcoe, Orillia is a fun and fulfilling day trip spot with satisfying surprises around every corner. 

Here's how to spend a day in Orillia from morning until night.

Coffee and Breakfast

With an atmosphere of California Coast meets Great Canadian Cabin, Lone Wolf Cafe is an inspired place to get caffeinated or find your morning zen. Order up your go-to espresso variation or grab a blue matcha latte and kick back in their inspiring light and plant filled space.

To give you sustenace for the day, head to 125 Breakfast Club, where you'll find lots of hearty options in the form of creative pancakes and saucy variations on eggs benny.

For something even more unique, grab a table at Picnic Snack Bar which functions as both a marketplace and a restaurant. Try their green eggs and ham (made with quail eggs) or their breakfast in a bun. In the warm months, take advantage of their secret little patio out back.

If packing a picnic for the day ahead, their selection of fresh breads, cold charcuterie meats, dips, and cheeses makes an impressive case for a feast in a park with friends.

Morning activity

Stroll down Mississauga street starting at Manticore Books, an independent local bookstore with its pulse on the local literary scene. 

You'll also want to stop by the year-round Orillia Fairgrounds Market every Saturday where you’ll find rock star brands like Big Ass Garlic, Quench Soap, DWN chocolate, and Hammond Baking co.

Be sure to pick up one of their ridiculously tasty soft pretzels with dip or fresh sourdough loaves. Tip: If you aren't in town on a Saturday or miss them at the market, find their fresh breads back at Picnic Snack Bar.

Later, get moving at nearby Couchiching Beach Park, home to big-sky waterfront views, historical sites, and a 6k stretch of lakeside trail.

A little further from downtown you'll also find the Stephan Leacock museum, a quirky preserved heritage home of the writer and humourist who memorialized Orillia in his story collection Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

Lunch

Continue on to Lickel Bickle for a tasty Jamaican feast of Jerk Chicken and Roti. Or head back into the heart of the city and sit on the sunny deck at Coucheching Craft Brewing.

They've got a something-for-everyone menu of upscale pub options, from hearty salads to smash burgers.

There's also Eclectic Cafe that serves up the cozy with an ever-evolving variety of seasonal and local fare. They also sell a boutique collection of locally sourced goods, from coffee and hot sauces to some gems from Scout Canning.

Don’t miss their baked goods either. Special shout out to their blueberry banana bread with cream cheese icing.

Afternoon activity

Pay a visit to the Cards and Coasters board game cafe. Not only are they stocked with hundreds of games, they've got slushies, milkshakes, hot chocolate, cotton candy and a growing collection of arcade games. 

Definitely a good place to kick back and have some fun, especially if some indoor time is in order.

Keep your geek streak going at the next stop with a visit to nearby Fanboy Collectibles. Chances of discovering something you didn't know you needed are high, whether with a nostalgic toy or the next-big-thing.

Afternoon snack

Stop in at Bakes by the Lake for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan treats that never looked so good. Take a cupcake to go, or take a minute to relax in their new contemporary tea house and lounge.

Orillia Italian Market is another spot to get a sweet-fix or Italian snack from their stocked pantry. You'll be tempted to have a second lunch, too, with their panini, hoagie, and other sammy options. Maybe one for the road?

Dinner and entertainment

In the centre of the city you'll find The Common Stove, a steakhouse with a farm-to-table ethos and a wood-fired grill. Take advantage of their intimate alleyway dining if you get the chance.

Rustica Pizza Vino is another solid pick just across the street and also wood-fire powered. Chow down on Neapolitan style pizza, antipasto dishes and classic Italian mains aplenty. 

Most of Orillia's action runs along one main strip (Mississaga Street) which makes it easy to get from one place to another. Nightime entertainment is no exception with two solid picks within a block of each other.

Shoot a few rounds of pool at the funky Study Hall Pub. It's got a fun vibe with well-adorned walls of celebrity headshots, quirky found objects, and colourful throw backs.

When you've adequately triumphed over (or surrendered to) your competition you can head to Studebaker's Beach Side to take it down (or up) a notch.

Lead photo by

visitorillia


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