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From Bog to Bottle to Bands in Bala
When it comes to live music in Ontario’s cottage country, the town of Bala reigns supreme. Located here you’ll fin d a heritage pavilion, formerly Dunn’s and now called The Kee to Bala, which has been a summer hotspot for countless Canadian and international musicians, from Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong back in the day to acts like Drake, Blue Rodeo, The Ramones, The Tragically Hip and The Sam Roberts Band. This massive former dance hall has drawn people in from around the world to Muskoka, and a visit tdoesn’t seem complete without enjoying a few beers and taking in a concert at The Kee to Bala (including the craft beer available).
Bala is also a fantastic family travel destination, with lakes, rivers and cottages all around. One of the
main roads, Bala Falls Drive takes you to, not surprisingly, a little waterfall. Near here are some other interesting spots to spend some time, with the Balacade being a favourite of mine – Muskoka’s only old-time arcade. There is an interesting antique gun collector shop in town and some other fun, country-style shops to enjoy as well.
Hiking trails are all around, but one of the best places for spotting wildlife is on the trails at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery. This family-run farm is a short drive from the heart of Bala, and is home to Ontario’s most famous cranberry bogs. In early mornings, sometimes herons, moose and beavers and other forest creatures are often spotted around the trails here.
If you visit in the afternoon, there is a guided ‘Bog to Bottle’ tour you can take three times daily, where you learn all about cranberry bogs and the wines produced here. One thing that surprised me was that cranberries don’t grow in water like you see on TV.; they’re on little vines and grow on the ground. Flooding of the bogs is done on purpose to make it easier to harvest them! They also flood the bogs in winter and spring to protect them from frost. I also learned that cranberries are actually white! They only turn red when they’ve been exposed to cool temperatures.
Of course, after checking out the bog, you can sample some award-winning berry wines! A full sampling is $10 and allows you to try cranberry wine, and other local berry wine specialties like Muskoka Red, which is an oak aged wild blueberry wine. They sell fruit wines along with other sweets, cheeses, honey and locally-made treats as well…most featuring the ruby-red berry.
As an added bonus, the entire farm and trail area are licensed, so you can grab a snack, some cheese and some wine, then head out to a quiet spot in the forest and have a picnic.
IF YOU GO: You can spend a whole day at the marsh and winery and still not do it all, so plan your visit ahead of time.
MORE TO SEE & DO:
For more stories about brewery touring in the wilderness just north of Toronto with Red Hunt, click here.
To plan your stay in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto, click here.
About Red Hunt Travel
Red Hunt is a veteran travel writer who has written over 600 articles and newsletters to date about his adventures all over the world. Though he enjoys discovering lesser-known spots across the globe, he also enjoys trips into Ontario’s great outdoors. A big fan of craft beer, Red is known to sample local brews wherever he goes. For more information, visit www.redhunttravel.com