Family Getaway to Peterborough

by Stephen Johnson

We were looking for a mid-summer break and Peterborough was the perfect option.  Located about two and half hours from Ottawa, it’s one of those easy-drive destinations that ensures “Are we there yet?” isn’t on a continuous loop in the car. 

Our first stop-off was at the Indian River Reptile Zoo located just outside of Peterborough.  Our son, David, has loved reptiles since he was three, so he was excited to visit the zoo.  We started off the visit with an educational presentation about reptiles.


The highlight was when David got to hold a Burmese python. We then went to check out a special dinosaur exhibit. It featured lifelike dinosaurs outside.  Our favorite was the dinosaur that shot water out of its mouth. It was worth the price of admission to see the expression on people’s faces as they got squirted. We finished our visit by seeing the lizards and snakes. I was impressed by the diversity of reptiles. The zoo places an emphasis on education and outreach, helping to ensure the future for reptiles.

We arrived in Peterborough and immediately crashed for the evening. I’m sure David had vivid dreams about snakes and dinosaurs! The following day we went to visit the Peterborough Lift Lock Visitor Centre. The Lift Lock is truly one of the engineering marvels of Canada. The dual lifts are the highest hydraulic boat lifts in the world. Seeing the Lift Lock made us want to experience it by boat, and we learned there was a boat cruise that could offer us that experience.




I found out that the boat cruise was located in Del Crary Park, close to downtown Peterborough.  We made the short car ride and bought tickets for the Lift Lock Cruise. The captain provided an interesting mix of history and humor about Peterborough and the Trent-Severn Waterway which runs through the city.  We entered our first flood lock which was very similar to what you would see on the Rideau Canal.  I admired the efforts of staff members who hand-cranked the lock to make it work. We were now ready to take on the massive Lift Lock. The boat entered what felt like a holding container. The hydraulic lift started to work and the compartment with our boat started to rise in the air. 



It is quite the experience to see and feel a boat being lifted twenty metres.  We safely made it to the top and continued on. The highlight on the return portion was that David lost his first tooth without the dentist!  Even the captain noticed and congratulated David. Our son was all smiles (minus one tooth.)

We finished our boat cruise and saw a band setting up in the adjacent park. We learned that Canadian Blues musician David Gogo would be putting on a concert later in the evening. The event was part of the Peterborough Musicfest, which is a series of free concerts running every summer in the city. David wanted to go because he thought it was cool to share the same name as a famous musician.



There was still some time before the concert so we decided to visit Riverview Park and Zoo.  It has something for all age levels. We visited the park when David was four and he loved the miniature train ride and free zoo.  Now that he was seven, he really enjoyed the playground and rock-climbing structure. 

After all the exercise at the playground, we were ready for an early supper and to rock out with David Gogo. The concert felt very family-oriented with all age groups enjoying the music. Gogo delivered a blistering blues set and our David agreed his musical namesake could rock.

We ended our day with plans to return to Peterborough in the near future. Our family did not have time on this visit to check out the Canadian Canoe museum and Warsaw Caves. I have previously been to both attractions and would highly recommend both for families. We had a comfortable stay at the Super 8 hotel in Peterborough.  

For more information about what to see and do in and around Peterborough visit



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