Northumberland County in Ontario is a natural paradise, thanks to the untouched beauty of this expansive region. If you are looking to hike trails in the outdoors and find yourself in natural beauty, places such as the Northumberland County Forest are ideal. One of the natural highlights of the region, though, is the line of stunning beaches that can be found along the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
Beyond the natural attractions of Northumberland County engage in educational and unique cultural experiences. Learn about the Mississauga Ojibways’ culture and traditions in Alderville First Nation and explore architecture, early settlements and significant historic sites in the region. Northumberland Country also has a variety of local handicrafts that make great souvenirs or unique gifts.
Where is Northumberland County?
Bordered by Lake Ontario to its south and Rice Lake to its north, Northumberland County is an hour and a half drive away from Toronto and about three hours from Ottawa.
While driving is the best way to explore the rolling hills of Northumberland, the county is accessible by various forms of transport, including the Via Rail train system and by boat in the numerous waterways. The local bus system is a great option for getting around. You can also reach Northumberland County quickly from some cities in the United States, such as Buffalo and Detroit.
Things to Do in Northumberland County
Northumberland County has meticulously well-maintained and endless trails that are also accessible in winter, perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
If you’re travelling with a group of cyclists or bird watchers, you would find ample opportunities to explore your passion. Explore rewarding and beautiful cycling trails in the Ganaraska Forest, along the Greenbelt Route or on the Rice Lake Ramble. You can also take the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, which showcases the natural beauty of Northumberland County’s shoreline.
From Rice Lake to Lake Ontario, this region is home to some of Ontario’s most diverse fishing opportunities.
Popular beaches in Northumberland County include Lion’s Park Beach in Campbellford, Cobourg Beach (home to the annual Sandcastle Festival), Port Hope Beach and the sandy shores of Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Pair water adventures with the beach visit and go kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddle boarding.
If you are looking for a truly unique experience to learn more about one of Canada’s First Nation communities, visit Alderville First Nation, where you can get a slice of the history and culture of the Mississauga Ojibways. Here, opt for a heritage tour and consider shopping to support local artists who create unique handicrafts.
If you want to experience the architectural heritage of Northumberland County, Cobourg and Port Hope are destinations for your must-visit list. Cobourg’s Victoria Hall is a landmark 19th century building, or you can go see old farm houses along the countryside for a more immersive rural experience in Northumberland County. You can also go see the Roseneath Carousel, which is among oldest merry-go-rounds in North America. One of the quirkiest landmarks in Northumberland is the Big Apple, a country market and roadside attraction in Colborne.
Northumberland County Neighbourhoods & Districts
Northumberland County consists of seven municipalities, which are unique and distinct in their own ways. The town of Cobourg and municipality of Port Hope are more popular among travellers, while those looking to dive deeply into nature can head straight for trails and into the forests.
These are the seven municipalities of Northumberland County:
Town of Cobourg
An architectural and cultural hub in the region, Cobourg has exciting activities to offer visitors.
Municipality of Port Hope
Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, Port Hope is also the basecamp for a number of trails around the County.
Municipality of Trent Hills
The Trent River snakes through this area and through the town of Campbellford in the northeast corner of Northumberland County.
Municipality of Brighton
Brighton is located on the shore of Lake Ontario and it’s a particularly great spot for bird watching, as it falls on the route of migration.
Township of Hamilton
Hamilton is defined by the bodies of water in and around it. Rice Lake is also located here, making it the centre for fisheries and fishing activities.
Township of Alnwick/Haldimand
The Alderville First Nation, the Alderville Black Oak Savanna Ecology centre and Ste Anne’s Spa near Grafton are highlights in this township.
Township of Cramahe
You can find Colborne village here, as well as several other idyllic villages and hamlets — an ideal place to explore the rural side of Northumberland County.
Things to Know About Visiting Northumberland County
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip to Northumberland County, you'll appreciate what the locals recommend around the city.
Where to snap a great Instagram pic
Great fishing spot
Whether it's for salmon on the Ganaraska River, walleye on the Trent River or trout on Rice Lake, Northumberland boasts many great spots for angling. Hastings, where the eastern end of Rice Lake and the Trent River meet, was named Best Fishing Town in Canada by World Fishing Network.
Where to get a great cup of coffee
Great lookout spot
The Capitol Theatre in Port Hope opened in 1930 and is one of Canada's few remaining 'atmospheric theatres', this example modelled after a Nordic Castle Courtyard, complete with twinkling stars in a blue evening sky. Sit back and enjoy the setting along with the great live theatre on stage.