Amazing Places of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve

Explore 200 miles of coastline like nowhere else in the world.

Designated by UNESCO in 2004, the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve spans more than 347,000 hectares in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, known by locals as the ‘30,000 Islands.’ A geographic area rather than a building, you’ll arrive at the biosphere’s southern entry point, Port Severn, Ontario after a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto. After a brief sojourn at one of the resorts located here, you can then you can take your time to walk, swim, eat and drive your way through the Amazing Places of Georgian Bay – an ecologically unique spot on the planet.

Check out the suggested itinerary below to plan your stay.

Day 1 – Bala and Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh (“B” on Map)

Welcome to Bala, the ‘Cranberry Capital of Ontario’ and home to one of Canada’s thriving family farms, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh. Take the “Bog to Bottle Discovery Tour,” enjoy a tasting at the adjacent and award-winning Muskoka Lakes Winery (with vintages produced from cranberries and blueberries) and then head out to explore one of five year-round hiking trails that surround the marsh.

Afterwards visit the charming town of Bala, situated on the beautiful Moon River and showcasing the Bala Falls.  Also be sure to stop in during summer at Don’s Bakery for a signature “cranberry bite,” and at the Bala Museum.

Day 2 – Parry Sound Tower Hill Lookout & Hole in The Wall (“B” to “C” on the map)

After an overnight in Bala, Port Carling or Mactier, it’s time to drive north in the biosphere to beautiful Parry Sound on Georgian Bay. Start in downtown Parry Sound, and make your way to The Museum on Tower Hill and the Tower Hill Lookout. This 30-meter high observatory was originally used to spot potential forest fires, now it provides breathtaking views of Georgian Bay and the harbour below.

After your museum visit and a tour of the award-winning Tower Hill Heritage Garden, enjoy lunch downtown, and then take a cruise of these famed 30,000 Islands aboard the Island Queen or the new Islander, where you’ll see up close another amazing place – the Hole in The Wall, a narrow passageway between Huckleberry and Wall Islands – and also an “Amazing Place” of the biosphere. (You can also cruise Georgian Bay aboard the M.V. Chippewa III, which also embarks from the harbour.)

Day 3 – The Biosphere From Above

This morning after breakfast take a stroll along the scenic shoreline trail, make your way back to Parry Sound Harbour to visit Georgian Bay Airways. Take a flight with this award-winning float plane company to Georgian Bay Island, where you can explore the hiking and shorelines, bring your bathing suit for a dip in Georgian Bay and explore The Waubuno, Georgian Bay’s most famous shipwreck. Dinner this evening is a fish fry, by plane, at Henry’s famous restaurant.

Day 4 – The French River Gorge (“C” to “D” on the map)

Head to the northern-most tip of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve for a visit to French River Provincial Park and a stunning view of the French River Gorge, forged over thousands of years by powerful water flow. The stunning French River Visitor Centre is a great spot to learn more about the incredible, rugged terrain of the Parry Sound area as well as about the rich history of First Nations, French and English cultures that have lived, worked and travelled these waters over the centuries.

For more great outdoor adventure in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, consider a sea-kayak tour, with help planning from White Squall Paddling Centre or the Ontario Sea Kayak Centre.

To plan your stay in the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve area of Ontario, Canada, click here.

For tour package suggestions, click here.

Need help planning? Email [email protected]


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