According to diehard al fresco foodies, Ontario only has two seasons: winter and patio season.
Patio season is all about sharing a leisurely meal with family and friends outdoors … whether it be on a deck, a dock, a wharf, or a patio in the traditional sense. And with so many legendary lakes, heritage waterways and scenic rivers in Ontario, you’re never far from a gorgeous waterfront view. Add in the soft light of sunset, a cold sundowner and voila! You’re ready for patio season.
Here are 13 road trip-worthy waterfront eateries you’ll want to clear your schedule for.
Photo credit: Tulo’s Taqueria Muskoka
Tulo’s Taqueria Muskoka, Port Carling
It’s taco time in cottage country! Tulo’s serves Mexican cantina-style favourites like ceviche, tacos, roasted corn and sangria in a heritage dockside boathouse overlooking the water in Port Carling.
Photo credit: courtesy of Kawarthas Northumberland, photo by Justen Soule
The Whistling Duck Restaurant, Brighton
Arrive by boat, bike or on foot to The Duck’s lovely lakeside patio. They offer four slips of courtesy docking, bicycle storage, free parking and serve up a great continental menu with a stunning view of Presqu’ile Bay from the back deck.
Photo credit: Lake House Restaurant by Brad Moore
Lake House Restaurant, Vineland Station
The upscale Lake House has retained some of its original heritage home features, such as the woodwork, exposed brick and three fireplaces. And their spacious back deck overlooking Lake Ontario is an idyllic spot to sample gourmet thin-crust pizzas and their signature crème brûlée, and to take in a magnificent sunset.
Photo credit: The Drake Devonshire Inn
The Drake Devonshire Inn, Wellington
Perched on the water’s edge in Prince Edward County, the intimate patio at this bucolic boutique hotel & dining room is the perfect place to park yourselves for their Happy Hour sips and snacks menu that includes both charcuterie and sea-cuterie board selections as well as a selection of this wine region’s finest reds and whites.
Photo credit: Coconut Joe’s Harbour Bar & Grill by Michael Giannini
Coconut Joe’s Harbour Bar & Grill, Tobermory
Satisfy your craving for Caribbean-infused cuisine and beach inspired beer and cocktails on an eclectic port side patio while you watch the boats and ferries sail into Tobermory Harbour from Georgian Bay.
Photo credit: GT’s on the Beach by Carol Gates
GT’s on the Beach, Port Stanley
Head to Port Stanley’s surfside bar and grill for the ultimate beach vibe. The 400-seat patio overlooks the beach volleyball courts and offers expansive views of Lake Erie beyond. The menu includes a separate sundowner section with snacks great for sharing and specialty blender drinks.
Photo credit: The Boat
The Boat, North Bay
Housed in the original 1946 99-foot steel hulled passenger vessel, Chief Commanda, this lakeside bar and grill was voted one of Canada’s most unique restaurants by the Food Network. Feast on fresh pickerel and fries while watching the sun slide across Lake Nipissing.
Photo credit: Toronto Island BBQ and Beer Company
Toronto Island BBQ and Beer Company, Toronto
Bring a healthy appetite (and your camera) to this sprawling Toronto island patio to enjoy succulent, home-smoked BBQ, ice cold beer and arguably the best waterfront view of the city.
Photo credit: Dock of the Bay
Dock of the Bay Steak and Seafood Grille, Gravenhurst
Situated on the Muskoka Wharf on the shore of Lake Muskoka, this casual eatery takes full advantage of Insta-worthy sunsets from the gorgeous back deck. Dock steaks with seasonal veggies and signature sauces are calling. What are you waiting for?
Photo credit: Baranga’s on the Beach
Baranga’s on the Beach, Hamilton
Located in an old converted school house, this lakefront Greek and Mediterranean style eatery boasts a large patio that backs directly onto the Waterfront Trail and sandy beach of Lake Ontario. As the sun sets, the twinkling string lights create a magical ambiance.
Photo credit: Central Counties Tourism
The Boondocks Eatery, Sutton
Located on Lake Simcoe at the ferry docks to Georgina Island, this family-owned and operated eatery specializes in family-friendly comfort food. Work up an appetite before settling into the lakefront patio by taking the short ferry ride to Georgina Island and walking the Nanabush Trails that follow in the footsteps of the island’s Chippewa Elders.
Photo credit: Cobble Beach
Sweetwater Restaurant at Cobble Beach, Kemble
The perfect 19th hole or a destination unto itself, Sweetwater’s views of pristine fairways and the deep blue waters of Georgian Bay are matched only by its innovative takes on classical cuisine and the rum raisin butter tart for dessert. Arrive for your reservation in style on a ‘fly and dine’ with Big Blue Air.
Photo credit: Flight Deck Grill
Flight Deck Grill, Parry Sound
Parry Sound’s newest waterfront restaurant welcomes guests arriving by land, water or air to relax dockside and enjoy fresh, locally inspired comfort food, including vegan, veg, gluten and dairy-free options. The Muskoka Mud Pie is a must-try for dessert and craft brew lovers will be pleased to know Trestle Brewing is on tap.
Make your patio experience extra memorable. Pair it with a weekend escape so you can really sit back, relax and take it all in! Find the perfect accommodations close by at ontariotravel.net.
Main image credit: Baranga’s on the Beach