A Winter Date in Downtown Orono

Author profile photo of Brent Colmer Brent Colmer

Whether you're looking for a more easygoing, laid back day or something more upbeat and active, Orono is a great fit for a fun date.

Downtown Orono makes a perfect location for filming one of those small-town Hallmark-type movies in the winter. In fact, Orono has been used as a filming location for several productions over the years. The picturesque village is precisely what you would picture when you conjure up an eclectic and quiet small town in your mind. It’s got an authentic small-town vibe, anchored by historic buildings and small shops with plenty of options to create a day full of adventure and fun.

While I am no relationship expert, I do know from experience that Orono is a lovely spot to share with someone special. Should you be looking to dine, learn, shop, explore, or get active, Orono is a beautiful place to spend your time. It’s a small community, and the history, peacefulness, and charm all combine to give the village a romantic feel.

Hanging sign for Orono Country Cafe

Start your day by stopping in at the Orono Country Café for a warm drink and a plate of their legendary breakfast. This quaint café is right on Main Street and is easy to find. While the café does offer lunch and dinner options, their all-day breakfast is a regional favourite. In fact, they’re well-known for their extensive breakfast menu! The prices are super reasonable, and you get a hefty amount of food. Chances are you’ll be greeted by the owner, Amin, who treats all of his customers like family.

Main Street is a great spot to get out of your car and start exploring all the town has to offer by foot, ensuring to check out each of the unique local businesses.

For example, downtown Orono is home to several fantastic antique shops.

The largest multi-vendor antique market, Orono Antique Market, is over 7,000 square feet. It’s located in the historic Orono Armoury building on Park Street. This antique market has a collection of antique furniture, glass, china, coins, jewellery, books, and a large selection of unique collectibles. Continue exploring the area, and you’ll walk by a couple other spots great for antiquing.

Just a couple minutes west of downtown Orono, you’ll find the Orono Crown Lands. This 13 km trail is well marked and very well maintained. Follow the trails through a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees.  The majority of the trails are very easy, even for the novice hiker, making this a great place to get out for a walk. There is a picnic area and benches available. If you find yourself on one of the trails that runs parallel to a small creek, you are walking on Wilmot Creek, which flows through 663 acres of property in the region. Orono Crown Lands is dog-friendly and great for winter activities such as cross country skiing or snowshoeing.

If you would like to get up close to various animals, including large cats, wolves, and primates, you can check out Jungle Cat World just east of downtown Orono. This wildlife park has over 150+ animals and was established in 1983. Since its inception, the park has continued to offer more opportunities for wildlife education to its visitors, frequently offering behind the scenes experiences and guided feeding tours throughout the year. They are open year-round, weather permitting, but it’s recommended to you book in advance to ensure availability. In fact, part of the park’s COVID-19 safety protocols includes the necessity of pre-booking your visit; check their website for further details.

If you’re looking for even more adventure, be sure to head north-east of downtown Orono to hit up the slopes at Brimacombe and take a ski or snowboard lesson together. If you are already an experienced skier or boarder, just skip the lesson and head right out to the hill.  Brimacombe has 23 runs in total for day skiing and 11 runs available for those looking to enjoy the mountain at night. Promenade and Pete’s Elbow are great trails, marked as easy. If you are looking for something slightly more challenging, two of my personal favourites are Club House Run or Standard. They also have two terrain parks and equipment rentals for those that might need to update their gear.

After all of this adventure, you’re going to have worked up an appetite.  May I suggest building your own pizza at Twisted Pizza & Wings? Located back downtown and right on Main Street, they offer a selection of pizzas, panzarottis, and wing flavours. Make sure you grab a side of onion rings, mozzarella sticks, deep-fried pickles, garlic bread, or a salad. But, perhaps you prefer Chinese food? In that case, grab some take out from Sunny Restaurant. I have been ordering from Sunny Restaurant for years, and let me tell you, they have some of the best Chinese food in Durham. If you’re looking for more roadhouse-type options, such as a burger or sandwich, you should try Fire Hall Bistro. Fire Hall Bistro often offers daily specials, which could be anything from pot pies, fish and chips, or roasted chicken dinners for a family of four.

So there you have it; some inspiration on how you can visit downtown Orono and have a perfect Winter date day. Whether you’re looking for a more easygoing, laid back day or something more upbeat and active, you can see Orono is a great fit for a fun date.

NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region is in the RED-CONTROL zone of the COVID-19 Response framework with extensive measures in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Residents are encouraged to stay at home with exception of essential trips, wash hands frequently, wear a mask and physically distance from others.

We continue to publish these stories to encourage you to explore these businesses and communities safely and through social media. When possible, please order for safe curbside pick-up if offered, and prepare to explore these areas once they are able to safely reopen.