It’s time to Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country! As the weather warms each spring, the sap in maple trees begins to run and maple syrup season begins. It’s a perfect chance to learn how maple syrup is made and discover the many ways it can enhance your sweet treats and culinary delights.

Tap Into Maple is an annual celebration of all things maple, from the farms that boil and bottle maple syrup to the restaurants and other local businesses that use it in their delicious creations. Since it takes place in Orillia and Lake Country just 90 minutes north of the Greater Toronto Area, it’s a fantastic reason to take a spring day trip or weekend road trip escape from the city!

We think Tap Into Maple is one of the best maple syrup road trips in Ontario. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a road trip to Tap into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country.

Produced in partnership with Orillia and Lake Country Tourism

What is Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country?

Tap Into Maple is an annual celebration of maple syrup. It’s held each spring to encourage families, couples, and friends to get out and explore everything maple in Orillia and Lake Country. We turned it into a girls’ getaway weekend and had a fantastic time!

You can see how sap is collected from trees and turned into maple syrup, then taste locally created maple products. This way, you’ll follow the entire maple syrup making process, from tree to table.

For 2024, Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country takes place from March 1 to April 7. This includes six weekends and all of March Break. Tap Into Maple is a great March Break activity for families in Southern Ontario.

How to plan your Tap Into Maple road trip

Whether you want to take a day trip or a weekend road trip, Tap Into Maple offers plenty of options. Most of the participating maple producers and local businesses are a short drive apart from one another, often 20 minutes or less. This makes it possible to visit a wide variety of locations within a day or two.

Below, we’ve mapped out turn-by-turn directions for the two-day road trip route we followed through Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country. We arrived at Chelsea Chocolates in Craighurst at 10:00 AM on Saturday. If you do the same, this itinerary should flow smoothly. Regardless of when you visit or which route you choose to take, we highly recommend checking the opening days and hours of each location before you set out since they sometimes vary.

Where to visit producers of maple in Orillia

There’s more to producing maple syrup than you might think! The process of harvesting maple sap and turning it into maple syrup started simply. Buckets were hung on trees and cauldrons boiled over bonfires. Today, you’ll still see the occasional tap and bucket, but most producers now use advanced line tapping systems and large boiler units to make the process more efficient. Maple syrup producers need to harvest 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup! The rest of the sap is water that’s boiled off during the production process. The flavour of the resulting syrup changes slightly from one bush to the next. This means every producer’s syrup has its own signature flavour.

Here are some of the locations where you can learn more about the maple syrup production process during Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country. Many of these spots will be offering maple taffy and family-friendly activities during weekends and on March Break throughout Tap Into Maple.

Hutchinson’s Maple Syrup

Hutchinson’s Maple Syrup in Oro-Medonte Township is a family-owned and operated maple farm. There are 1,600 taps throughout their maple bush. A tubing and vacuum system harvests the sap into a huge tank that feeds their enormous wood-fired boiler. You’ll definitely notice the tap lines as you drive to the sugar shack and walk their trails. Inside, you’re likely to see the boiler in action as well. Hutchinson’s has syrup and other maple products available for purchase, and they’ll be serving maple taffy on select days throughout Tap Into Maple.

Maple Grove Syrup

Maple Grove Syrup is located in Severn, and it’s another family operation. Brent Beers has a full-time job as a nurse at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. But his family has been making maple syrup for generations, so it runs through his veins, and he takes time off during the sap run to produce up to 1,500 gallons of syrup each spring!

Brent and his wife Amy focus on creating a family-friendly atmosphere and using traditional processes with no additives. When you visit, you’re likely to see Brent operating the wood-fired boiler and Amy welcoming guests, inviting them to walk through the trails carved into their maple bush. You’ll even find a few traditional buckets collecting sap from the trees along the way. It’s okay to take a little taste to learn how far sap need to go to become syrup. You may even be invited to try some maple taffy made with boiled-down syrup poured directly onto snow!

Shaw’s Maple Syrup

If you’re looking for a traditional sugar shack pancake house, look no further than Shaw’s Maple Syrup. This producer, located in Oro-Medonte not far from Highway 11, serves breakfast and brunch each day. You can enjoy their house-made maple syrup with pancakes, French toast, bacon, sausage and more. Their store stocks their syrup and other maple products. Don’t miss the homemade maple sugar candy, but arrive early because it sells out quickly on busy days. You’ll find interesting heirlooms throughout the sugar shack. One of them is a piece of wood where Shaw family members recorded the first day of the maple tap each year, all the way back to 1906!

Hewitts Farm-Market

If you’ve been through Barrie and Orillia before, you may be familiar with Hewitts Farm’s roadside corn stands. This is one of the annual traditions they’re best known for in the region. What you may not know is that Hewitts has a maple bush and makes their own maple syrup on site! They sell this and lots more in their farm store, which is open year-round in Severn. This is an especially good place to stop if you’re short on time: Hewitts carries tons of local products, including from several of the shops that participate in Tap Into Maple!

Others producers participating in Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country include Elsie’s Creek Farm in Oro-Medonte, The FarmGate in Ramara Township, Sugar Sweet Farms in Oro-Medonte, and Windlee Farms in Tiny Township.

Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country by sampling maple-infused dishes

Once you’ve learned how maple syrup is made, it’s time to eat! One seriously fun aspect of Tap Into Maple is seeing how local restaurants incorporate locally produced maple syrup into their dishes. There are plenty of special creations exclusively available during Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country. Whether you’re looking for a casual bite or a three-course meal, you’re sure to find something sweet, savoury, and satisfying on this list!

G&O Bistro

For this edition of Tap Into Maple, G&O Bistro is going all in on maple in Orillia! Their special prix fixe menu for the six-week event includes options that incorporate maple in all three courses. There are options for people with dietary restrictions as well.

G&O Bistro, also known as The Grape & Olive, is located inside the Best Western Plus Mariposa Inn in Orillia. If you’d like to turn your maple adventure into a weekend getaway, you can book an overnight stay here and end your first day with a relaxed and satisfying meal.

Quayle’s Brewery

If you’ve never been to Quayle’s Brewery in Oro-Medonte, you need to check this place out. Set inside a replica of a local landmark barn, Quayle’s offers a wide variety of craft beers in a welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy events like regular trivia and comedy nights, live music, and pop-up markets three times each year. For Tap Into Maple, Quayle’s has a maple coffee ripple porter with a maple sugar rim. They’re also offering two desserts: a maple bread pudding, and a maple crème brûlée topped with a maple candy lollipop!

Off Eleven Pizza + Eats

Maple on pizza? You bet! Off Eleven Pizza + Eats, also in Oro-Medonte, has put together some very creative offerings for Tap Into Maple. If you choose the pizza special, you’ll receive it topped with pepperoni and jalapeño, then drizzled with maple syrup. Gluten-free and vegan options are available, too! You can also choose the bourbon maple crispy chicken wings or the maple chipotle pulled pork tacos. This restaurant is located inside the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport, so you can enjoy your meal while enjoying some plane-watching.

Other restaurants participating in Tap Into Maple include the Simcoe Yard House, Cedar Express, and The Weirs Breakfast, all of which are located inside Casino Rama Resort, or at the Lagoon City Pier One Resort restaurant near Brechin.

Stock up on treats made with maple in Orillia and Lake Country

Tap Into Maple is a fantastic chance to explore the many local artisans creating with maple in Orillia and Lake Country. There are so many sweet treats to discover! Here are just a few:

Chelsea Chocolates

Based in the charming community of Craighurst, Chelsea Chocolates has maple chocolates and a maple bourbon apple chocolate bar available on top of their usual selection of delectable chocolate creations.

Copperpot Nuts

You may smell the entrancing aroma from Copperpot Nuts before you even walk through the door. Try the maple roasted pecans made right there in their Coldwater store, and your first visit certainly won’t be your last. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive just as a batch is coming out of the pot and can enjoy a freshly made sample while it’s still warm!

DWN Craft Chocolatier

Don’t miss this fantastic shop in downtown Orillia—Dawn’s chocolate is delectable! It’s the Tap Into Maple special, the maple milk chocolate coated almonds, that will pull you in. But the amazing variety of flavour combinations at DWN Craft Chocolatier will have you heading home with much more!

Susie Q Fudge & Gifts

Susie Q Fudge & Gifts is another great downtown Orillia shop, located just downstairs from the famed Mariposa Market. It’s the maple fudge that’s the main draw for Tap Into Maple in Orillia, but you can sample any flavour of fudge you wish and peruse their wide variety of maple products, coffees and teas, and kitchen wares.

Other shops participating in Tap Into Maple in 2024 include Rama Cannabis, which is featuring maple-infused cannabis products, and the Orillia Farmers Market, which is open between 9 AM and 1 PM on Saturdays.

Take in a festival as you Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country

This year, there are two maple festivals that coincide with Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country.

The first is the Sweetwater Harvest Festival, which takes place at Wye Marsh and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons near Midland on March 23 and 24. This is a wonderful way to incorporate an Indigenous perspective into your experience and learn more about how critical the maple harvest is to the Indigenous way of life.

The second festival during Tap Into Maple is Maple Weekend, held on April 6 and 7. This is the grand finale to Tap Into Maple, so expect the participating businesses to roll out the red carpet with additional activities and plenty of maple taffy!

Learn more about Tap Into Maple in Orillia and Lake Country

Tap Into Maple is a fantastic, customizable, and interactive way to learn about maple syrup and enjoy a quintessential Canadian tradition in a true tree-to-table experience. To learn more, visit the Tap Into Maple website at tapintomaple.com.

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