The Klondike Highway, Yukon
Plunging through unbelievable wilderness and crossing the mighty Yukon River a number of times, the Klondike Highway provides both northern exposure and an unforgettable trip. Huge expanses of forest and scenic vistas over lakes and valleys are interrupted every hour or so by quirky roadhouses staffed by interesting characters.
Scarf down a cinnamon bun at Braeburn Lodge (where the baking is so good they had to install an airstrip for hungry bush pilots), then take your dinner at Moose Creek Lodge, where you can relay your order to the kitchen from an old-fashioned phone installed high in a tree. Make sure to reserve plenty of time for Dawson City, which has been one of Canada’s most rollicking towns since the time of its great Klondike Gold Rush, more than 100 years ago.
Ontario’s favourite cottage country is also an internationally recognized destination-National Geographic Traveler named it to their Best Trips list, lauding its 14,000 kilometers of shoreline, 17 historic towns and villages, and “innumerable” waterfalls and lakes.
Exit off Highway 11 at Gravenhurst, pass the giant yellow Muskoka chair, then continue on into town and take part in time-honoured tradition with a tour aboard the Segwun, North America’s oldest operating steamship.
Then head up Highway 169 to Bala for some antique and art shopping (and a scone at Don’s Bakery, another cottage country tradition).
Finally, finish up in Port Carling-the “Hub of the Lakes”-where Lakes Rosseau and Muskoka almost meet; it’ one of the best places in Canada to drink a cold one on a patio (at Turtle Jack’s, or Cleveland’s House, just up the road).
The Kawarthas, Ontario
Ontario’s other cottage country, the Kawartha Lakes are less crowded and a mite bit cheaper-but certainly no less beautiful-than the Muskokas.
Start your trip in Peterborough, a small city on a wide bend of the Otonabee River, where you can rent a canoe or kayak, hike a number of urban parks and trails, or take your pick from some great pubs and restaurants downtown.
Next, head north and connect with charming towns like Buckhorn, part of the world-famous Trent-Severn Waterway, Burleigh Falls (where the namesake chute runs right through the center of town), and Stony Lake (a ruggedly beautiful body of water that’s home to cottages owned by stars, plus the lovely Viamede Resort).