RelieverPublished on January 6, 2023

  • Murphy's Point Provincial Park
    Photo by: Ontario Parks

  • Stewart park, Perth
    Photo by: Laura Byrne Paquet

  • Photo by: Laura Byrne Paquet

  • Bobbies
    Photo by: Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Father Christmas
    Photo by: Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce

Just because the weather has turned nippy doesn’t mean you have to wait until spring to take a road trip. A short getaway may be just the thing to keep winter cabin fever at bay. Nearby communities offer festive fun, including Christmas shopping, concerts, and parades. And once the temperatures drop and the snow flies, you can get out your cross-country skis!

For the day-tripper:


Perth is just an hour southwest of Ottawa but has a small-town vibe that feels light-years away.

Jump-start your day with a cup of fair trade, organic java at Coutts Coffee Roastery and Café, housed in a 19th-century stone building beside the Tay Canal. Coffee not your thing? Tea, hot chocolate, and apple cider are available, too.

History buffs can learn about one of Canada’s last duels —and see the fateful pistols involved — at the Perth Museum. The 1840 building is a National Historic Site.

If the weather cooperates, skiers can explore some of the 26 kilometres of cross-country ski trails at nearby Murphy’s Point Provincial Park. Its winter dates this year are December 9, 2022 to March 12, 2023.

Finally, you could build your trip around a special event, such as Studio Theatre Perth’s production of Scrooge: The Musical from November 24 to December 4 or the arrival of the illuminated CP Holiday Train on November 28.

For the shopper:


Whether you’re shopping for gifts for others or a treat for yourself, Kingston is a great place for a little retail therapy —particularly if you like quirky independent shops, which you’ll find in abundance along the downtown streets.

Minotaur Games and Gifts is packed with amusements, from board games and origami paper to funny greeting cards, fridge magnets, and coffee mugs. Browse for fancy shortbreads, unusual sauces, and other packaged gourmet treats under the pressed tin ceilings at Cooke’s Fine Foods and Coffee, which dates back to 1865. Martello Alley sells works by local artists, while Cornerstone Canadian Art and Craft offers paintings, ceramics, textiles, stationery items, and more from across the country. The Roundstone and its sister shop, Fancy That, sell a range of women’s clothing and accessories.

For the Christmas fanatic:

Syracuse to Seneca Falls

Start with a 300-kilometre drive to Destiny USA in Syracuse —New York state’s largest shopping centre — to gawk at the holiday displays and pick up some baubles. Then, head 34 kilometres southwest to the lakeside village of Skaneateles, which marks the holiday each year with a festival of Victorian-themed entertainment called Dickens Christmas (weekends, November 26 to December 18, plus November 25 and December 24).

Your third stop is the pièce-de-holiday-résistance. Seneca Falls, 35 kilometres west of Skaneateles, claims to have been the model for the town of Bedford Falls in the 1947 Jimmy Stewart movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Every year, the local It’s a Wonderful Life Museum celebrates the possible Hollywood connection with a festival (December 9 to 11) that brings fans and cast members together for a weekend of swing dancing, sing-a-longs, and other 1940s nostalgia.

Looking for more ideas? Check out or stop by a local bookshop and pick up Ottawa Road Trips: Your 100-km Getaway Guide and Ottawa Road Trips: Your Weekend Getaway Guide.

Laura Byrne Paquet

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