Originally named Rat Portage, this small city features sandy beaches, amazing hikes through forests to secluded lakes, and a whole bunch of interesting museums. Fishing is big here, and posing for a photo in front of the 12-meter-tall Husky the Muskiesculpture of a muskellunge fish is an essential Kenora experience. Take a cruise out on the waterways from the dock downtown, sample beers at the brewery that took over the historic fire hall, and head out of town to access some of Ontario's best nature spots.
A secluded haven for backcountry campers, kayakers, and hikers, Eagle-Dogtooth encompasses the clear waters of Eagle Lake and the protected waterways around it with ecologically significant wetlands, glacial till, and pine forests. This is a fantastic park for fishing.
This culturally and naturally significant park is part of the Pimachiowin Aki World UNESCO Heritage Site. Full of pristine lakes and waterways, Woodland Caribou is home to almost 2,000 maintained canoe routes, as well as boat docks and rustic campsites. Evidence of the park's importance is seen on its centuries-old pictographs on rock faces, and its boreal forest is home to one of the province’s largest caribou herds.
Sioux Narrows is worth checking out for its historic bridge, Nestor Falls, and provincial park of the same name with an awesome campground that sits on sandy beaches perfect for swimming. The town is surrounded by lakes, rivers, and superb hiking trails.
If you're into quirky roadside attractions, it's worth the 20-minute drive to this speck-on-the-map community to check out this house made out of 7,000 bottles. Built in 1973, there’s a bottle windmill and some historical displays, too.
Kenora is a popular summer destination, which means it can get busy in July and August. Fall can be gorgeous for hiking and camping, and still warm enough for lake activities. Many campsites are seasonal and winter temperatures in Kenora can dip as low as -24°C, so you'll need to be pretty hardcore to think about winter camping (though you can still rent cabins in the area to take advantage of the snowy beauty).