The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

41 Iconic Places to Visit in Ontario, Canada

Written By: The Planet D

Updated On: April 27, 2024

Iconic places to visit in Ontario

The Canadian Province of Ontario is huge! Ontario is the size of a small country, and it all takes months to explore this amazing destination truly. (even years!) Luckily, we’ve toured a lot of our home province and have rounded up the most iconic places to visit in Ontario.

This list will help you plan your visit and hopefully it will introduce you to a few places you’ve never heard of before!

It wasn’t easy choosing, we definitely left out many iconic places. So be sure to leave a comment with your choices if we didn’t include them.

Best Places to Visit In Ontario

Table of Contents

Facts About Ontario

Ontario houses four of the five Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. It is home to the Niagara Escarpment a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and Niagara Falls , one of the largest waterfalls in the world.

Ontario is larger than Ukraine, France, and Spain. Three of Europe’s largest countries! It is home to Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, and Canada’s largest and most exciting city – Toronto. When visiting Canada, a trip to Ontario is a must and these are all of the best places to visit in the province! Read more facts at – Fun Facts About Canada That Will Make Smarter

Unique Places in Ontario

unique places to visit in ontario | map

There are so many places to visit in Ontario, it’s difficult to know where to begin. So we thought we’d start of this epic list with the more unique experiences and ideas. But don’t worry, as you go along, there are places in and close to Toronto and other urban centres. No matter where you are in Ontario , I am sure there is a place to visit near you!

1. The Grotto

One of the best places to visit in ontario is the Tobermory Grotto

One of the best places to visit is Tobermory, Grotto. We have always known about how special Tobermory was. Its shipwrecks have attracted us to its icy waters since 2000 when we started scuba diving. But we never really looked into its draw to photographers until it caught the eye of Instagrammers.

We used to have this beautiful coast on the Bruce Peninsula all to ourselves. Today, you need to make a reservation to see the turquoise waters shimmering in a cave. Read more: The Best Things to do in Tobermory, Ontario

This day trip from Toronto takes you with a guide and driver to Georgian Bay to see the lighthouse at Big Tub Harbor, a hike along Horse Lake and the Cliffs of Georgian Bay including hiking to Indian Head Cove, the Grotto, and Marr Lake.

2. Flowerpot Island

Places to visit in Ontario like Flowerpot Island

While you are in the neighbourhood, Flowerpot Island is another iconic place in Ontario. Located in the Fathom Five National Marine Park of Tobermory, a place we frequented while diving at the turn of the century (that sounds so weird to say, but it was 20 years ago!) The pillars and caves of Flowerpot Island attract hikers, daytrippers and boat tours to see the interesting formations. Read more: 25 Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada

3. Wiarton Willy

Wiarton Willie is a great place to visit in Ontario

Located in the waterfront town of Wiarton, Wiarton Willy is Canada’s answer to Punxsutawney Phil. Each February crowds gather around this groundhog’s home as he predicts whether it will be an early or late spring depending if he sees his shadow or not. Willy has the rest of the year off, and visitors can pop by his dwelling to say hello! Read more at the Grey Bruce Superloop

4. White River

White river in Ontario

Blink and you’ll miss it, but White River is famous for Winnie the Pooh. Even though it is small, White River is one of the most iconic places to visit in Canada for a historical reference. Way back in 1914, a hunter shot a bear cub’s mother and brought the cub back to town to keep as a pet.

A soldier going through White River by train bought the bear cub for $20 and brought it to Europe with him. When his regiment was shipped off to France to fight, the soldier gave the bear to a zoo in England and that is where the bear lived out its life. Writer A.A. Milne frequented the zoo and his son Christopher Robin liked the bear giving it the nickname Pooh. “Thus Winnie the Pooh was born in White River.”

5. Diefenbunker

diefenbunker ottawa ontario cool things to see

The Diefenbunker is definitely one of the quirkiest museum in Ontario. This underground museum was built during the Cold War for Canada’s top dogs to take cover in case of a nuclear attack.

Located strategically outside of Ottawa, it was meant to withstand a nuclear bomb. It’s like stepping back into a time capsule as you tour old computer rooms, creepy living quarters and even medical rooms.

Touring the Deifenbunker makes you realize that you wouldn’t want to be the one called upon to live in here after an attack. I’d take my chances outside.

  • The Best Ottawa Museums
  • Top Things to do in Ottawa

6. Cheltenham Badlands

Visit the Cheltenham Badlands in Ontario

Dave and I stumbled upon this weird phenomenon while cycling outside Toronto in Caledon years ago. Nobody was around and we never knew it existed before then.

Today, it’s popular for photographers. It is a piece of land that looks like the Badlands of Alberta or South Dakota . Terrible environmental practices were the result of exposing this red piece of shale creating a lunar-like landscape.

  • Read more: 25 Day Trips from Toronto to Escape the City

7. The Big Nickel in Sudbury

The Big nickel in Sudbury is a must visit in ontario

Canada loves roadside attractions. There’s the Big Apple in Colborne as you drive east on the 401 towards Montreal or Ottawa, there’s the Big Paddle in BC, and the Canada Goose of Wawa.

But my favourite is the Big Nickel in Sudbury. Located at the Dynamic Earth Science Museum (which is a lot of fun) the Big Nickel was built in 1964 to pay homage to the mining industry of the area.

Popular Attractions in Ontario

urban places to visit in ontario map

There are so many amazing places in Ontario and a lot of times it is difficult to get out of the cities when you are a tourist. So we thought we’d focus on a few urban landmarks that are located in popular Ontario cities. First time visitors to Ontario shouldn’t miss these sites.

8. Niagara Falls

Visit Niagara Falls Ontario

It may seem like the obvious choice, but for first-time visitors to Ontario, this is the ultimate place to visit in the province! Having been to Victoria, Iguazu, Gulfoss and other major waterfalls around the world Niagara Falls really does stack up against the best of them! What makes Niagara Falls so unique is the fact that a city is built around it. There are so many amazing Niagara attractions, you can spend a week taking advantage of all the adventures and scenery.

Browse all of the best Niagara Falls tours and attractions that you can do on your own day trip in Ontario.

9. Niagara on the Lake

niagara on the lake road trip

While visiting Niagara Falls, be sure to head down the road and explore Ontario’s wine region of Niagara on the Lake . Its historic downtown is a lovely weekend getaway from Toronto.

See more of the top sights in Niagara on the Lake here. Some of the top Niagara on the Lake activities include wine tours, the whirlpool jetboat tour, The Whirlpool Adventure ropes course at Queenstown Heights, and helicopter tours. Browse tours here.

  • The Best Things to do in Niagara Falls
  • Romantic Places to Visit in Ontario
  • Toronto to Niagara Falls by Bus

10. Ottawa Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa Ontario

Canada’s Parliament Buildings are a top draw to visitors of Ottawa. Located on Parliament Hill, these striking Gothic buildings have dominated Ottawa’s waterfront since 1859. They are a national historic site in Canada and you can tour the buildings, walk around the grounds, and even sit in on a parliament meeting to spy on the Prime Minister!

Check out more things to do in Ottawa. Some of the top activities in Ottawa include a cruise on the Rideau Canal, The Canadian Museum of Nature, the Ottawa Hop on Hop Off Bus, and yacht tours on the Ottawa River. See more tours here.

  • The Best Things to do in Ottawa
  • Ottawa Winter Activities

11. The CN Tower

Visit the CN Tower in Toronto Ontario

You can’t miss visiting the CN Tower when in Toronto. It is one of Canada’s top attractions! The CN Tower once held the distinction of the world’s tallest structure. Today it is the third highest tower after the Tokyo Skytree in Japan and the Canton Tower in China. Check out more Toronto tours here.

While it offers some of the best views of Toronto it also has one of the best adventures in Toronto! Get your adrenaline pumping with the Edgewalk. You’ll cling to the outside of the structure in the world’s highest external walk on a building. Even my dad did the Edgewalk in his 70s, so you can do it too!

  • CN Tower EdgeWalk
  • Where to Stay in Toronto – A Guide to the Best Neighborhoods

12. Stratford Festival

stratford festivla avon river ontario

Stratford is a beautiful town two hours from Toronto located on the Avon River. It feels like a slice of old England with the Avon and Festival Theatres being the main draw in town showcasing the works of Shakespeare. While the theatre attracts crowds and actors from around the world, it is also a very picturesque town in Ontario to visit.

13. Casa Loma

what to see in toronto casa loma

Another interesting landmark to visit is Casa Loma in Toronto. Casa Loma is Ontario’s castle complete with hidden passageways, stables and a beautiful garden. Sir Henry Pallett began construction in 1911. But thanks to The Great Depression, World War I and financial difficulties he lost the castle in 1923.

It has been used as everything from a hotel to a nightclub and was even abandoned for a while. Today you can tour the castle, enjoy fine dining and high tea and there are several regular events happening. Get your Casa Loma entry ticket here .

  • The Best Things to do in Toronto
  • Where to Stay in Toronto

14. Canada’s Wonderland

canada's wonderland day trips

I am definitely partial to Canada’s Wonderland since I worked as a singer there for four seasons. This is Canada’s largest amusement park and one of the best places in the world to enjoy roller coasters. Located just 40 minutes outside of Toronto, you can spend the day riding thrilling rides, enjoying the waterpark, watching shows or taking the kids through Kidzville.

Ontario North – Places to Visit

places to visit on lake superior ontario canada

Lake Superior is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in Ontario. For most, it is also one of Ontario’s more unexplored places because it is so far north. Getting there is a bit of a drive, but once you are up on the North Shore of this magnificent Great Lake you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime!

15. Agawa Rocks Petroglyphs

Agawa Pertoglyphs in Ontario on Lake Superior

The drive along the TransCanada Highway between Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay is certainly the most beautiful drive in Ontario. While you are on that road, there is a stop that many people miss along the route. The ancient Agawa Rock Petroglyphs were painted by the Ojibway People centuries ago. You have to walk out onto an outcrop while holding onto a rope to see them, and it is worth the adventure!

16. Slate Islands

Visit the Slate Islands in Ontario

Speaking of wildlife encounters, the Slate Islands are one of the top places to visit in Ontario for a unique wildlife experience. There is a herd of woodland caribou that inhabit the island . Located 13km in the middle of Lake Superior, the Slate Islands are their own little ecosystem of plants and animals. A weeklong camping trip is definitely a must! Read: Things to do on the Slate Islands

17. Sault Ste Marie

Saut Ste Marie in Ontario

It’s time to visit a cool northern town, Sault Ste Marie. Known as “The Soo,” Sault Ste Marie is home to the Canadian BiPlane Heritage Museum and one of the best places in the world for fly fishing, according to Ernest Hemingway himself, the Saint Mary’s River.

We went fly fishing here, and it was awesome. Fly fishers worldwide put on their waders and spend hours catching and releasing bass and steelhead.

Agawa Canyon Train Tour

While in Sault Ste. Marie, you can take a train tour to see the deep and remote Agawa Canyon.

The Wawa Goose in Ontario

The name alone makes Wawa worth visiting. But this little town on the north shore of Lake Superior packs a punch. First you must stop to say hello to the Wawa Goose. The Wawa Goose was built in the 1930s to attract visitors bypassing Wawa on the drive along the TransCanada Highway. This massive Goose is one of the most photographed landmarks in North America. (according to the Algoma County Tourism Board anyway. ) Read more: Lake Superior Circle Tour – Ultimate Two Week Itinerary

19. Pukaskwa National Park

best places to visit on lake superior north shore

It is one of Canada’s greatest hikes. If you are looking for a challenge in a remote region of Ontario, this is the place to go. The trip starts with an exciting boat ride on Lake Superior that takes you to the start of the trail. It is then a 5-7 day long hike back along the gorgeous Canadian Shield shoreline and through breathtaking boreal forests.

20. Terry Fox Memorial

Terry Fox Memorial in Northern Ontario

Terry Fox is a national hero of Canada. In 1980, he started a journey running across Canada after losing a leg to cancer. Sadly his cancer came back during his run and he had to stop partway through in the town of Thunder Bay located on the Trans Canada highway.

He was 143 days and 5,373 kilometers (3,339 miles) into his run, and a memorial was erected in his honor at the location he had to cut his journey short. His memory lives on and each year, there is a charity run in his name that takes place across the country raising money for cancer research. When you visit Thunder Bay, it wouldn’t be complete without stopping at this moving memorial. Enjoy the Best of the Lake Superior Circle Tour

21. Thunder Bay

Lake-superior-circle-tour-thunder-bay

We’ve talked about the drive to Thunder Bay along the north shore of Lake Superior, but Thunder Bay city has grown immensely over the years. It has become a popular retirement community with snowbirds enjoying its water adventures in the summer and flying south for the winter. This is truly Canada’s northern city, though and nobody shies away from winter adventures, from cross country skiing at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park to explore the awe-inspiring ice caves of Lake Superior

Georgian Bay and the Bruce Peninsula

places to visit on Georgian Bay

A great place to explore Ontario in the summer is to head up to Lake Huron. Some of the most beautiful and iconic places to visit in Ontario are located in the Bruce Peninsula National Park – A long peninsula that juts into Lake Huron dividing it from Georgian Bay. You could spend all summer up here and never see it all! Trust me, we’ve tried! Read: Things to do in Blue Mountain and Collingwood

22. Manitoulin Island

Manatoulin Island in Ontario

It’s the largest freshwater island in the world. Located on Lake Huron, this 2766 km2 (1167 square miles) has some of Ontario’s most iconic landmarks like Bridal Veil Falls, the Benjamin Islands and, the high lookout outcrop of the Cup and Saucer Trail.

Be sure to take part in one or all Great Spirit Circle Trail tours. Aboriginal Tourism offers the best First Nation’s experiences in Canada like the voice of the drum, smudging ceremonies, traditional dancing, cooking, and canoeing! Get to know the traditions and ways of the Anishinabe People who live on Manitoulin. Read all the things to do on Manitoulin Island

23. Thirty Thousand Islands

The World’s Largest Freshwater archipelago spans along the Eastern Shore of Lake Huron in Georgian Bay. Canada’s famous band of artists “The Group of Seven” made this part of Ontario a major focus of their works of art that can be viewed in the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. You can take boat tours through this area, and there is some excellent shipwreck diving here as well. It’s one of Ontario’s premiere cottage country locations. See The Best of the Grey Bruce

24. Blue Mountain Village Resort

The Blue Mountains of Ontario

Ontario isn’t exactly known for its ski culture, but Blue Mountain Resort does host World Cup ski and snowboard events! Blue Mountain near Collingwoods is an excellent weekend getaway for skiing in the winter and hiking, mountain biking, and watersports in the summer. Read more: Top 15 Ontario Hiking Trails

The village is an amazing place to hang out with fine dining, fudge and ice cream shops and plenty of shopping. There are so many things to do around Blue Mountain Resort like the Scandinavian Spa, the Scenic Caves, cycling routes, and in the winter it is the best place in Ontario to ski and snowboard. Read more about Blue Mountain Here.

25. Scenic Caves

places to visit in ontario | scenic caves

Collingwood’s Scenic Caves are beautiful and to see them you get to cross Ontario’s longest suspension bridge. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, this labyrinth of 17 caves and formations located 70 feet below the surface of this UNESCO World Heritage Bio Reserve.

Make a day of it and do the Scenic Caves Eco Adventure Tour where you will walk along Ontario’s Longest Suspension Bridge offering beautiful panoramic views of Georgian Bay before going into a maze of high ropes and walkways followed by two awesome ziplines!

Algonquin Highlands

places to visit in Algonquin Provincial Park and Haliburton Forest

If you look at a map of Ontario, you’ll see a mass of green space that encompasses the Algonquin Provincial Park and Haliburton Forest. This Algonquin Park Adventure Tour from Toronto takes you on a full day tour of hiking, canoeing, and swimming in Ontario’s oldest provincial park.

These are some of the more rugged places to visit in Ontario and if you love camping, wildlife and the outdoors, it’s the place to go! Read more: Things to do in Haliburton – A Four Seasons Ontario Escape

26. Wolf Centre

Wolf Sanctuary in Haliburton forest

When Dave and I first discovered this, we couldn’t believe we had something so special right here in Ontario. Haliburton Forest is amazing enough to visit, but you really must go to see the pack of wild wolves that roam the land. You can watch them from behind a glass wall that keeps human contact to a minimum. Also Check out Parc Omega Wolf Cabins Experience

  • Read: Haliburton Wolves
  • Dogsledding in Haliburton

27. Algonquin Provincial Park

Mus places to visit in Ontario Algonquin Park

We’ve had a lot of wildlife encounters around the world, and taking a canoe and camping trip to Algonquin Park while looking for moose is right up there as one of the best! Booking a trip with a professional outfitter like Voyageur Quest or Algonquin Outfitters is a great way to find wildlife and have the most fun! Check out: In Search of the Algonquin Moose

28. Killarney Provincial Park

Ontario rivers.

rivers to visit in Ontario

Ontario offers some epic water adventures. With more than 250,000 lakes, rivers and streams, Ontario is blessed with fresh and clean water that is ready and waiting to be explored. We can’t possibly cover them all. And there are several spots that are worthy of a mention, but then this post would go on and on and on. But these are the most epic water experiences for people visiting Canada and those wanting to explore their own backyard.

29. Ottawa River

rafting and surfing ottawa river

The Ottawa River is one of the most legendary places to visit in Ontario. The rapids on this river are so high, it attracts professional whitewater kayakers and rafters from around the world. You can book this whitewater rafting tour that includes a BBQ lunch.

The mighty Ottawa River takes you through class III to V rapids on a trip you’ll never forget. Be sure to book a two to three-night getaway at one of the resorts on the river to truly appreciate all the Ottawa River has to offer. See more Ottawa River tours here.

  • whitewater rafting
  • Learning to Whitewater Kayak the Madawaska River

30. Missinaibi River

best places to visit in canada | missinaibi

The Mssinaibi River is one of the most iconic canoe routes in Canada. This was once an important canoe route for First Nations and it was also an important route for fur traders. It is as rugged as it gets and canoeing or kayaking this river requires experience.

We trekked the Missinaibi in the winter and if we didn’t have our guides from Lure of the North , we definitely would have perished in the cold. I have no idea how the early settlers, First Nations, and fur traders survived up here, but it is glorious today!

31. Saint Lawrence River

instagram worthy places to visit in ontario | brockville tunnel

There is a stretch of the Saint Lawrence River that everyone traveling Ontario should visit. From Kingston to Brockville, there are plenty of things to see and do. Snaking along the border of Canada and the United States, the Saint Lawrence River is one of North America’s most important waterways.

While touring the Saint Lawrence River, visit the picturesque town of Brockville. It is home to one of the most instagram worthy stops in Ontario at Canada’s oldest railway tunnel. We loved drift diving the shipwrecks that litter the floor of the Saint Lawrence. But if you want to stay above water, be sure to take a boat cruise through the 1000 islands.

Thousand Islands National Park is a beautiful stretch of the river with islands and communities spanning 50 km. Book this 1000 Islands tour where you’ll set sail for a half day cruise from Gananoque where you’ll get to explore Heart Island and Boldt Castle.

32. Rideau Canal

Rideau Canal in Ottawa Ontario

The Rideau Canal is impressive to visit winter or summer. The best places to see the Rideau Canal are in Ottawa or Kingston Ontario. But there are some small towns in Ontario like Smith Falls, Perth and Merrickville to view them as well.Built in 1832, the Locks were designed as a supply route in case of a war with the United States. Today it attracts boaters and tourists who marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the oldest continuosly operated canal in North America.

We’ve taken this Rideau Canal Cruise while in Ottawa and it is a great relaxing way to see the historical attraction while listening to live commentary and taking in the sights of the city.

  • See the Rideau Canal in Winter at: Winterlude in Ottawa
  • Amazing Rideau Canal Cruise – A Unique Cruise Holiday with Le Boat
  • Amazing Places to Visit on the Rideau Canal

33. Elora Quarry

elora ontario

The Elora Gorge is famous for the Elora Quarry that has been used as a location in many a Hollywood movie. Most recently in the movie “It.” Remember when the Loser’s Club jumped off the cliff? The 15 meter jump is popular with tourists. A 2km long section of the The Grand River runs through the Elora Gorge where limestone cliffs reach 22 meters into the air.

Beaches and Waterfalls

Ontario Beaches

Ontario may be cold eight months of the year, but we really do love our beaches. And besides, waterfalls can be beautiful when frozen too! These are a few interesting back and water locations in Ontario that you should check out.

34. Wasaga Beach

places to visit in Ontario | beaches

If you head two hours north of Toronto, you’ll discover the longest freshwater beach in the world! Wasaga Beach is Ontario’s premier beach town with an astounding 14km of sandy beach to walk along the shores of Lake Huron.

35. Sauble Beach

If you love beaches, Sauble Beach is the second longest freshwater beach in the world at 11km long. What we love about Sauble Beach is that the water is shallow. The are sandbars out from shore keeping the water shallow and warm.

36. Scarborough Bluffs

places to visit in ontario | scarborough bluffs

Less than an hour from downtown Toronto are the stunning Scarborough Bluffs towering over Lake Ontario. Spanning 14 km and reaching 90 meters into the air, the Scarborough Bluffs are an outdoor lover’s dream. But be careful, every summer there are rescues along its trails as hikers fall over the steep cliffs.

37. Sandbanks – Prince Edward County

things to do in ontario adventure sandbanks provincial park

Prince Edward County has become one of the most popular places in Ontario thanks to its thriving wineries. With boutique hotels and fine dining it’s an excellent weekend getaway. But Sandbanks Provincial Park houses one of the best beaches in Ontario. So don’t miss it!

38. Hamilton Waterfalls Falls

travel in ontario

Who knew Ontario had so many beautiful waterfalls? Just outside of Toronto in the Hamilton area of the Niagara Escarpment, there are several scenic waterfalls that are awesome to visit.

You can spend a day or weekend checking them all out! There are 100 waterfalls to explore in the area. Webster Falls is probably our favourite, but there are so many waterfalls in the area because of the Niagara Escarpment. Read The Best Things to do in Hamilton, Ontario

  • A few of the best Hamilton waterfalls:
  • Albion Falls
  • Balls Falls
  • Devil’s Punchbowl
  • Tourism Hamilton has a good list here.

39. Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands of Ontario

The tranquil Toronto Islands are located a short ferry ride from Toronto. It’s a little escape from the city where you can rent bicycles, go for a picnic or hang out on the beach. There’s even a nude beach if you dare!

This Toronto Islands and Harbour Cruise takes you on a tour to visit the Toronto Islands and enjoy the spectacular Toronto skyline from Lake Ontario.

lake erie places to visit map

I grew up on Lake Erie. My family boated the waters and I spent many a weekend waterskiing out to Pottahawk Island. To this day, my neices and nephews still go out to Pottahawk on Lake Erie for the annual “Pottahawk Pissup.” (how Canadian is that?) Here are a few hot spots for the average visitor to see on Lake Erie.

40. Port Dover

Sunset in Port Dover Ontario

Located on Lake Erie, Port Dover is a popular day trip from Toronto. Grab a foot long hot dog at The Arbor and walk the streets to do some shopping. There’s a great sandy beach here too. Port Dover has gained fame over the years from the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts that flock to the beach on Friday the 13th.

41. Long Point

Long Point Provincial Park is a designated world biosphere reserve thanks to it being one of the largest areas for birds migrating in North America. This narrow 40km long sand spit juts out so far into Lake Erie, that once you round the bend of Long Point, you are nearly half way to Erie Pennsylvania. Enjoy this Niagara Road Trip: One of the best places to drive in Ontario

And that ladies and gentlemen are the best places to visit in Ontario. According to Dave and Deb. We are exploring more of Ontario this summer and are taking advantage of having to stay put for a bit. When you are forced to check out your own backyard, you find some of the most exciting hidden gems.

  • 19 Most Epic Things to do in Ontario
  • 25 of the Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada
  • 59 Things to do in Toronto – A Guide to the Top Attractions
  • Things to do in Niagara Falls – What to do, Where to Eat & Where to Stay
  • 33 Things to do in Ottawa – A Complete Guide to the City
  • Top 11 Things to Do on Manitoulin Island

What hidden gems in Ontario have you found this summer?

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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7 thoughts on “41 Iconic Places to Visit in Ontario, Canada”

What a lovely read to find the best places to see in Ontario !!!

Ontario is a good place for travel. Canada is always the best place to travel and for sports activities. Subscribed your blog..

Canada is always one of the best place to travel and for a very beautiful picture taking for social media. Thanks for sharing this information, subscribed your blog.

Great article, you should have included Pelee Island. Furthest point south habitated in Canada! Thanks,

Hey! When I write about something, I always look-up to blogs like your for inspiration. I am writing about inner Canada travelling as well. And I really enjoyed your article, you have really done your homework. I tried going to the grotto this summer, but is was closed due to (that which will not be named). I wish you well, and keep up the great work.

-julzlaporte.com

Very interesting blog! Amazing destinations with very thoughtful descriptions along with it! The photos look beautiful too! Thanks for sharing these very informative and helpful guide on which places are a must to check-out and visit in Ontario, Canada!

Amazing blog. breathtaking travel destinations. I really enjoyed reading it. I love all the beautiful photographs Thanks for sharing 🙂

PlanetWare.com

19 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ontario

Written by Lana Law Updated May 3, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Author Lana Law grew up in Northwestern Ontario and currently lives in Southern Ontario.

Ontario is home to the nation's largest city, Toronto, and the capital city of Ottawa, but it also encompasses vast expanses of wilderness and pristine lakes and contains one of Canada's most visited natural attractions, Niagara Falls. This huge province, about 15 times larger than the state of Texas, offers boundless opportunities for travel, adventure, and family fun.

Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

During the hot summer months , people visit Ontario to see some of Canada's top museums and galleries; spend family time at the amusement parks; relax at lakeside resorts; paddle or fish in the lakes and rivers; camp in the parks; and see some of the country's most iconic landmarks, like the CN Tower.

In winter , while some venture outdoors to enjoy the ski hills, skating rinks, snowmobiling, and winter festivals, most turn their attention indoors to hockey games, shopping, dining, Broadway shows, and other cultural attractions.

From small towns to big cities, this province can deliver whatever you're looking for in a vacation. Plan your trip and discover the best places to visit with our list of top tourist attractions in Ontario.

1. Niagara Falls

2. toronto's cn tower, 3. parliament hill in ottawa, 4. ontario's provincial and national parks, 5. royal ontario museum (rom), 6. canada's wonderland, 7. national gallery of canada, 8. toronto international film festival (tiff), 9. art gallery of ontario, 10. thousand islands, 11. fishing in northern ontario, 12. trent-severn waterway national historic site of canada, 13. muskoka and cottage country, 14. fort william historical park, 15. lake of the woods, 16. blue mountain resort, 17. stratford festival, 18. sainte-marie among the hurons, 19. rideau canal national historic site, map of tourist attractions in ontario.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is Canada's most internationally recognized attraction, visited by millions of tourists each year. While there are actually three sets of falls, the largest section, known as Horseshoe Falls , drops approximately 57 meters, creating a great wall of water that stretches between Niagara Falls, Canada , and Niagara Falls, USA . The falls are famous primarily for the large volume of water flowing over them, but combined with the huge drop, they are truly a magnificent sight.

The falls are located right in the city of Niagara Falls, making them easy to visit. It's possible to walk down the main tourist strip in Niagara Falls, an outrageous spectacle in itself, to the edge of the gorge, where you'll find great views all along the walkway overlooking the river and the falls. Day trip tours can be easily arranged from hotels or hostels in Toronto. By car, the trip from Toronto takes about 1.5 hours.

Toronto's CN Tower

The CN Tower is one of Canada's most iconic structures, standing tall along the Toronto skyline. The 553-meter tower is lit up at night and can be seen from all over the city and surroundings at any time of day or night, but visitors will likely want to take a trip up the tower to fully experience it.

An elevator allows access to the observation deck and restaurant , located about three-quarters of the way to the top. The view is astounding, looking out over the city and Lake Ontario. On clear days, it's possible to see all the way to the plume of mist rising off Niagara Falls . In the evening, looking out over the sparkling city lights is also an impressive sight.

Thrill seekers will want to give the EdgeWalk a try. Strapped in, you'll step outside the SkyPod, and spend 30 minutes strolling around the tower, 166 stories above the ground. It's not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights but adrenaline junkies will be entirely in their element.

The tower is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, and at the base is the new Ripley's Aquarium and Rogers Centre , two of Toronto's top attractions .

Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Parliament Hill in the nation's capital is where most visitors begin their sightseeing in Ottawa . The buildings reside in a lovely setting on a rise above the Ottawa River. The Peace Tower is the most obvious and the most photographed structure, standing more than 90 meters high between the Senate and the House of Commons.

In front of the Parliament buildings is the Centennial Flame . During the summer, visitors can see the Changing of the Guard on the lawn in front of the Houses of Parliament, while those who are lucky enough to be visiting Ottawa on July 1 can enjoy some of the biggest Canada Day celebrations in the country.

Daily guided tours of the Parliament Buildings, including the Senate, House of Commons, and the East Block are available free of charge. Tickets are available same day, although it's strongly advised that you book well in advance online.

Ontario's Provincial and National Parks

Ontario has many outstanding provincial and national parks that offer access to some of the most beautiful areas of the province. In these parks, you'll find Ontario's best lakes , where you can fish, swim, and go pleasure boating. If hitting the beach and laying in the sand is more your thing, the parks are also hot spots for Ontario's best beaches .

In Southern Ontario, just two hours from Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the most popular parks and outdoor destinations, with an extensive network of hiking trails , and beautiful lakefront campgrounds . Further afield but equally beautiful, Killarney Provincial Park is another great area for hiking , canoeing, and camping .

On the shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park offers its own attractions, and nearby but offshore, boaters and divers can find adventure exploring Georgian Bay Islands National Park and the Fathom Five National Marine Park .

You can also find history in some of the parks. The petroglyphs of Petroglyphs Provincial Park, just a short drive northeast of Peterborough, offer an easy and close-up look at an outstanding collection of 500 to 1,000-year-old Aboriginal rock carvings. Somewhat more difficult to access, but also impressive, are the pictographs that line the cliff walls on the shoreline of Lake Superior in Lake Superior Provincial Park .

Those who are looking for a truly remote experience will find invitingly pristine lakes and forests in Quetico Provincial Park in Northwestern Ontario. This is a popular area for backcountry canoe trips and fishing trips.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Ontario Parks: Exploring Ontario's Great Outdoors

Royal Ontario Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum in downtown Toronto is one of the premier museums in the province , featuring a broad range of collections, from natural history and science to cultural exhibits from around the world.

Commonly referred to as the ROM, this museum underwent an expansion in 2007, which saw the addition of a modern and unique extension known as the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal . The building is now a mix of old and new architecture with a striking appearance.

The Royal Ontario Museum is within walking distance of the fascinating Gardiner Museum and the tony shops of Bloor Avenue.

Canada's Wonderland

About 30 kilometers northwest of Toronto's city center is Canada's Wonderland , a huge theme park, which operates during the summer months . For local residents with kids, an annual visit to Canada's wonderland is one of the top things to do in summer. But, as Canada's premier amusement park, this attraction draws families from across the country.

Roller coasters and thrill rides for children of all ages, as well as a water park, dinosaur park, and live shows, are just some of the attractions. Canada's Wonderland is planning on opening two new rides in 2023: the Tundra Twister and Snoopy's Racing Railway .

Visiting Wonderland is an easy day trip from Toronto .

National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa houses some of the country's most important collections. It contains a particularly strong selection of works by Canadian artists , from the Group of Seven to Emily Carr and many other famous names. The gallery also displays important pieces by well-known international artists.

The National Gallery building is housed in an ultra-modern architectural masterpiece designed by Moshe Safdie.

After you visit this fascinating museum, continue your museum tour by heading across the bridge to the Canadian Museum of History , or stroll over to the wonderful ByWard Market for a bite.

Street performer in Toronto

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the most famous event on Ontario's calendar, attracting some of the biggest movie stars across North America. This 10-day festival, held in early September in Toronto, is one of the best-attended film festivals in the world , with almost a half million visitors annually.

Tourists and locals descend on the city to watch a film or catch a glimpse of some of their favorite actors, and the city is a buzz of activity. At this time of year, the weather is still hot, and evenings are pleasant. The streets are full of people, restaurants are booked well in advance, and outdoor patios in the city are crowded until late at night. If you are visiting Toronto at this time of year, make sure you book your hotel and restaurants well in advance.

Art Gallery of Ontario

In downtown Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of Canada's most prestigious art galleries. It hosts a particularly impressive collection of Canadian paintings with a focus on artists from Ontario and Toronto. It also holds Canada's largest collection of African and Oceanic Art displayed in a museum.

Other highlights include paintings and sculptures by European masters and Modern and Contemporary collections from North America and Europe. Temporary exhibitions are held throughout the year, check the AGO's website for the most current list.

Thousand Islands

Spread over an 80-kilometer stretch of the St. Lawrence River is a scenic natural area known as the Thousand Islands. The islands are on a granite shelf extending from the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains in the United States, with the US-Canada boundary actually running between the islands. It is one of the oldest and best-known holiday areas in Ontario , popular with cottagers, boaters, and those looking to get away from the cities of Southern Ontario during the hot summer months.

One of the most popular things to do in this area is a Thousand Islands Sunset Dinner Cruise through the maze of islands. Cruises run from mid-April to mid-October.

Gananoque is the principal resort town in the area and the main gateway to the Thousand Islands.

Fishing in Ontario

Northern Ontario is one of the best places in Canada for fishing. Walleye, pickerel, bass, northern pike, and muskies are some of the most sought-after catches, and people from all over North America come here to try their luck. And you don't have to be all that lucky if you know where to go.

Fishing lodges in Ontario range from luxury resorts to rustic cottages, but most offer everything you need to make your trip a success, including boats, guides, meals, and cabins. The best fishing is often found on remote northern lakes , and accessed by small float planes. Resorts either offer fly-in packages or, in some cases, boat pickup. You can also find a number of good drive-to resorts.

World's highest hoist at Peterborough on the Trent-Severn Canal

The historic Trent-Severn Canal, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is a system of waterways linking Lake Ontario with Georgian Bay on Lake Huron . The canal winds its way through a series of rivers and lakes, such as the Trent River and Lake Simcoe, in the east of Ontario. The changing levels are met with more than 40 locks, including the world's highest hoist , built in 1905 at Peterborough, covering a height of 20 meters.

In the past, the canal was mainly used for carrying grain and timber, but today, the Trent-Severn Waterway is a part of Parks Canada and is officially called the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada . It is used largely for tourism and recreational boaters. At some of the locks, there are camping facilities and grassy areas for picnics.

Kawartha Voyageur on the Trent-Severn Waterway

A great way to experience the Trent-Severn Waterway is on a Kawartha Voyageur Cruise. These multiday cruises allow you to see the sights and the locks at a leisurely pace, by basking on the sundeck or stopping at various ports,

Muskoka and Cottage Country

One of Ontario's most famous summer hot spots is an area known as Cottage Country or Muskoka. Located north of Toronto, this region is centered around Lake Muskoka and a number of other popular lakes in the area.

Although you can find areas of equal beauty all over Ontario, this region's proximity to the city, just two to three hours from Toronto, has made it extremely popular. The lakes are surrounded by high-end cottages and summer homes of Torontonians. On weekends, the highways to Cottage Country are clogged with traffic as people flee the heat of the city, to relax around the lakes.

This is also a fun area to visit, with many people renting cottages here or staying at luxury resorts. There are a number of small communities in Cottage Country, although the primary town is Gravenhurst , located on the shores of Lake Muskoka. From here, visitors can hop on historical steamships for a short cruise and tour of the lake.

Fort William Historical Park

Fort William Historical Park is the reconstruction of the inland headquarters operated by the Northwest Company of the Canadian fur trade from 1803 to 1821. Situated on the banks of the Kaministiquia River in south Thunder Bay , the Fort comprises 57 buildings on 250 acres.

Each summer, fur traders, voyageurs, and first nations people would converge upon the Fort for the annual "rendezvous," which saw the transfer of tons of furs coming in from western posts with trade goods coming from Montreal, all conveyed by birch bark canoes within one season. This system enabled the Nor'Westers to emerge as a dominant force in the fur trade.

The Fort offers a fascinating looking at fur trade life, touching upon themes from furs and food to muskets and medicine, and highlighting a cultural mosaic of Scottish fur traders, French Canadian voyageurs, farmers and artisans, and aboriginals and Métis.

The park is not all about the fur trade, though. On the same grounds is the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory (DTAO) . The observatory is home to one of Canada's largest public telescopes.

Lake of the Woods

To discover Ontario's remote wilderness landscapes, one of the best places to visit is Lake of the Woods and the surrounding areas. This huge body of water lies on the lightly populated provincial borders of Manitoba and Ontario and also dips into the state of Minnesota . This beautiful lake provides an incredibly scenic setting and pristine wilderness experience for those interested in venturing into the backcountry.

Many people have cottages on Lake of the Woods, but its distance from major cities and the size of the lake mean cottages are few and far between. It is also a prime destination for tourists who come to Canada to go on fishing trips .

Lake of the Woods provides excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, and simply escaping into the Canadian wilderness . Islands fringe the heavily indented Canadian north shore, while the south shore is flat, sandy, and marshy in places. Beginning in 1688, the lake provided trappers and voyageurs with a passage westwards.

The main town on Lake of the Woods is Kenora , Ontario. This is where you can find lodging, plan charter flights, hire fishing guides, and get supplies.

Blue Mountain Resort

Blue Mountain Resort , just outside the town of Collingwood , on the shores of Georgian Bay, is one of the most popular ski resorts in Ontario. Blue Mountain Village, at the base of the hill, features fine-dining restaurants, top-end shops, and first-class accommodations. The hill itself is family oriented and extremely popular with Torontonians.

The resort is open year-round and almost as busy in summer as it is in winter, with activities that range from rock climbing and ziplining to mountain biking and hiking.

Stratford Festival

William Shakespeare would be proud of the fine folks who live in Stratford who, each summer, put on an incredible internationally renowned summer festival celebrating his works. Stratford is just 60 kilometers northeast of London , Ontario, and draws particularly large crowds from the Toronto area.

The 2,250-seat Festival Theatre has been staging plays between May and October since 1953, with pride of place going to Shakespeare. There are now four theater venues, and plays by other famous writers, along with up-and-coming playwrights, are also presented. Most seasons, at least 12 productions are performed at the Stratford Festival .

Church at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

The reconstruction of the mission station of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is about five kilometers east of Midland on the Wye River. It was founded by the Jesuits in 1639 and served as a mainstay for 10 years for Europeans in "Wendat," the land of the Huron. As time went by, there was constant conflict with the Hurons, who were also decimated by diseases imported by the Europeans. In 1649, the Jesuits abandoned their settlement and returned to Québec.

The mission was reconstructed in the 1960s and was later designated a national monument. Today, it's open to visitors daily from May to October, and provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the history of the station and pioneer life in Canada.

Nearby and also worth visiting for more period history is Discovery Harbour. Here, you'll see two restored sailing ships: The H.M.S. Bee and the H.M.S. Tecumseth . In addition to the ships, historical maritime homes can be toured. These include the Sailor's Barracks, the Commander's Home, the Assistant Surgeon's House, the Surveyor's Home, the Keating House, and the Officer's Quarters.

Georgian Bay - St. Mary among the Hurons - Floor plan map

One of Canada's most famous man-made waterways, the Rideau Canal is a must-see when visiting Ottawa. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates from the early 19th century and has been meticulously maintained over the years and appears much as it did when it was first built.

Stroll along the pathways on either side and watch the boats pass through the locks. A popular thing to do in Ottawa is to take a Rideau Canal cruise . This 90-minute tour takes place on a 100 percent electric-powered passenger vessel and passes all the city's top sights, including the Château Laurier , National Arts Centre , and the Canadian Museum of Nature .

If you find yourself in Ottawa in the winter, be sure to rent some skates and try out the world's largest skating rink. Each winter, in January, the Rideau Canal is transformed into a 7.8-kilometer-long skating route. Along the way are warming huts and food vendors selling the iconic (and super tasty!) Beavertails.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Canada Adventures: Make Ontario part of your larger trip through Canada. For ideas on how to incorporate Ontario into your plans, see our Canadian itineraries . Another great resource is our list of best places to visit in Canada , which gives a good overview of cities and destinations across the country.

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Canada Travel Guide

Ontario Tourism Information

Why visit ontario.

A third of Canada’s population lives in Ontario , and the city of Toronto — the country’s largest — contains most of Canada’s world-class attractions, entertainment, and shopping. The national capital of Ottawa is home to many interesting sights involving Canadian history and government , while the more rural “ cottage country ” regions are where locals go to enjoy the great outdoors.

Orientation

Northern Ontario is largely uninhabited, and most of the province’s major population centers, including Toronto , are located in the southeastern corner, around the massive Lake Ontario . Despite the name, so-called  Central Ontario  — the scenic, nature-filled region — can be found by driving only a few hours in any direction outside greater Toronto. Ottawa is about a four hour drive northeast of Toronto, and sits on Ontario’s border with Quebec .

travel in ontario

A view of the Toronto skyline from the Toronto Islands. Andy.M/Shutterstock

travel in ontario

In the centre of downtown is Toronto's enormous city hall, surrounded by a large open plaza known as Nathan Phillips Square . Named after a former mayor, it's a popular gathering place for concerts, festivals, and protests.

Toronto Tourism

Canada’s largest city.

Toronto is a sprawling city bordered on the south by the coast of Lake Ontario , with the downtown core located in a wide column of neighborhoods that extend perpendicular from Bloor Street in the north all the way to the coast of the lake (the Waterfront ). Downtown Toronto is divided into dozens of distinctive neighborhoods, many of which are defined by their strong ethnic identities, such as Little Italy , Greek Town ,  Little Portugal , and Chinatown . Toronto’s answer to New York’s Times Square is Yonge and Dundas Square , a famously busy downtown intersection awash in garish billboard advertisements and flashing signs.

Canada’s largest building, the CN Tower , looms over Toronto and is one of the country’s busiest tourist attractions. For $35 you can go to the top and check out the city below from various lookout points or dine at an exceedingly expensive restaurant. In recent years, an insane new feature called the “ Edgewalk ” has been added, allowing thrill-seekers to literally walk along the outside edge of the tower while attached to a safety harness.

The far east end of the greater downtown area is bordered by the sprawling High Park , which contains the sort of amenities one generally expects from a large city park, including walking trails and sports fields. Much of the city’s other attractive parklands are located outside the city altogether, on the so-called Toronto Islands which sit in Lake Ontario and can be accessed by car tunnel or passenger ferry. The larger islands are all tightly packed together and connected by small bridges. Along with ample green space, they’re home to a children’s amusement park, restaurants, and some small beaches popular in the summer.

The Toronto Zoo is the fifth largest on earth, with an incredible assortment of exotic animals from every continent, including two Canadian-born pandas. It is about a 45 minute drive from downtown.

  • Official Website, Tourism Toronto
  • 10 Top Tourist Attractions in Toronto, Touropia

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The Royal Ontario museum was expanded in 2007 with a distinctive metallic annex, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind (b. 1946).

Museums and Galleries

Housed in two equally imposing buildings, Toronto has two major museums, the Art Gallery of Ontario ( AGO ) and the Royal Ontario Museum ( ROM ). The AGO, as the name suggests, is a gallery of art — mostly paintings — spanning a diverse array of styles, eras, and nationalities, including a large assortment of Canadian art. The ROM is a more generalized museum with exhibits on art, history, geography, nature, animals, dinosaurs, and more. Both feature touring special exhibits from other countries.

The official museum of the National Hockey League, the Hockey Hall of Fame ,   is a colorful, modern museum focused on professional hockey greats past and present, with showcases of artifacts and many interactive, computer-based activities for kids. For an additional $10 you can get your photograph taken with the Stanley Cup .

The Ontario parliament buildings are located in the middle of a green area in the northern part of downtown known as Queen’s Park . Given how much Canadian history revolves around Ontario, the provincial parliament doubles as a thorough museum of Canada’s political past.

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Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto. Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Toronto has many malls, but the grandest is the enormous Eaton Centre , located on Yonge Street — the centre of downtown shopping. Higher end stores can be found many blocks north, in the elite Bloor Yorkville neighborhood. The long Queen Street is home to trendy and unique boutique-style stores. An even bigger, grander mall, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre , is about a 30 minute drive from downtown. It also has its own subway stop.

Kensington Market is an eccentric and bohemian downtown shopping district full of quirky independent stores and restaurants. Way on the other end of town is the indoor St. Lawerence Market , a historic marketplace with dozens of artisanal vendors selling fresh goods like meat, fish, cheeses, baked goods, candy, and more.

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Benedict Cumberbatch (b. 1976) signs autographs at the 2013 TIFF .

Toronto has an entire neighborhood south of Richmond Street West known as the Entertainment District that’s home to an assortment of popular bars and nightclubs. Toronto’s large gay scene makes its home in an area around northern Church Street known as Church-Wellesley Village .

The Canadian National Exhibition , better known as the CNE or simply “ the Ex ,” is a large outdoor fair that’s been hosted by Toronto every year since 1879. Held during the final three weeks of summer, the CNE features rides, animal shows, shopping pavilions, live music, and plenty of things to eat.

Toronto Pride is one of the biggest LGBT celebrations anywhere on earth. It now consumes the entire month of July, though most of the partying still revolves around the massive Pride Parade held on the month’s first weekend.

The Toronto International Film Festival takes over the city every fall. Many Hollywood blockbusters make their debut here, along with numerous indie films. Movies are shown all over the city, though the ease of getting tickets will greatly vary. Directors and actors often show up for post-movie Q and A sessions.

Spectator Sports

Toronto is home to Canada’s only NBA team, the Toronto Raptors , who play in the Air Canada Centre , as well as the country’s only MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays , who play in Rogers Centre   (formerly known as the SkyDome ).

Toronto’s long-suffering NHL team, the infamous Toronto Maple Leafs , play in the Air Canada Centre when the Raptors don’t.

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The Rogers Centre arena during a Blue Jays game. Stephen Staley

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Relaxing Adirondack chairs are a common symbol of Ontario cottage country, seen here on the shore of Lake of Two Rivers in the Haliburton Highlands .

Ontario Tourism Outside Toronto

Located in the city of  Vaughan ,   Canada’s Wonderland is the biggest amusement park in Canada with giant roller coasters, a water slide park, acrobat shows, and more. Fun for the whole family!

Canada’s most famous tourist attraction of all, the epic waterfalls of Niagara Falls are located about 90 minutes from downtown Toronto along the bank of the Niagara River , which also serves as a US-Canadian border. The two falls, Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls , can be viewed up close by special boat tours, while the area around them, known as Clifton Hill , has grown into a sprawling, Las Vegas-like tourist trap complete with casinos, arcades, wax museums, a ferris wheel, haunted houses, buffets and bars galore. A short drive from the falls is Marineland , an aquarium park famous for its whales, dolphins, and seals. The greater Niagara Falls area is home to Ontario’s wine country , with ample vineyards for tours and tastings.

During the summer months, Ontarians love to run away to their so-called “ cottage country ,” the term for the south-central, wooded region of the province where many families rent a second home. The most popular area is the city of  Muskoka , located on the coast of Lake Huron’s   Georgian Bay , though the  Haliburton Highlands , near the Quebec border, and the Kawarthas  region, on the eastern coast of Lake Ontario are hot spots as well.

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Parliament Hill

Parliament's Peace Tower is illuminated as part of festivities to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday. On important dates, colorful lights and projections transform Parliament into the centerpiece of a dramatic light show.

Ottawa Tourism

The capital city of Canada.

Ottawa sits on the bank of the Ottawa River , which functions as a border between Ontario and  Quebec . Many of the city’s most famous sights are clustered around the coast, and the city on the Quebec side, Gatineau (previously known as, and still often called, Hull ) — which is easily reached by multiple bridges — is considered part of “Greater Ottawa.” The Rideau Canal and the larger Rideau River both flow from the Ottawa River and cut through the eastern part of the city. In the winter, the frozen Canal is popular for skating.

Ottawa’s skyline is dominated by Parliament Hill , and the grand, gothic Parliament Buildings that serve as the seat of Canada’s  government . The enormous Peace Tower clock rises from the middle of a building known as Centre Block , which contains the chambers of the House of Commons and Senate , as well as the offices of many senior politicians. Unfortunately, the entire Centre Block is currently under renovation and cannot be visited by the public until at least 2029. Temporary chambers of parliament have been set up in adjacent office buildings to the east and west of Centre Block, known as East Block and West Block , respectively. These buildings, which also feature historic recreations of offices of famous figures from Canadian history can be visited by the public.

  • Visit Canada’s Parliament

Downtown Ottawa contains numerous monuments of significance, chiefly the massive National War Memorial arch, which commemorates Canada’s war dead, and the new National Holocaust Monument , which honours those murdered by Germany’s Nazi regime (1933-1945). Smaller monuments include the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and the National Peacekeeping Monument , which honour Canada’s commitment to peace.

  • Official website, Tourism Ottawa
  • Top 10 Things to Do in Ottawa, TripAdvisor

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A Chief Wakas Totem Pole in the Canadian Museum of History .

Most of Canada’s greatest museums are located in Ottawa, and for anyone interested in learning more about Canadian art, history, science, and culture the city offers an endless bounty. Leading attractions include the Canadian Museum of History , the Canadian War Museum , the National Gallery of Canada , the Canadian Museum of Nature , the Canada Science and Technology Museum , the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum , and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum . All are large, well-funded and contain some of Canada’s top artifacts and exhibits.

Many major institutions of the Canadian federal government also offer tours and museum-like exhibitions, including the Supreme Court of Canada , the Bank of Canada , the Royal Canadian Mint , and Rideau Hall (the official residence of Canada’s Governor General ).

travel in ontario

Inside the halls of the Byward Covered Market .

Ottawa’s most iconic shopping area is the  ByWard Market , a collection of open-air vendors selling fresh produce, meats, baked goods and more, surrounded by various shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Despite the name, the Sparks Street Mall is actually another outdoor shopping district, known for its independent shops and lively street performers. The city’s biggest actual mall is the Rideau Centre , with over 160 stores.

As the nation’s capital, Ottawa is home to the country’s grandest celebrations of Canada’s patriotic holidays . Canada Day festivities consume the city every July 1, with outdoor concerts, food carts, and fireworks. Remembrance Day on November 11 is a massive event of a decidedly different tone, as enormous crowds gather around the National War Memorial to watch the prime minister, governor general, and other important people lay wreaths and give speeches in honour of Canada’s war dead.

Winterlude , which is held the first three weekends of February, brings some cheer to Ottawa’s notoriously grim winters. The area around the frozen Rideau Canal is transformed into a sprawl of ice sports, ice sculptures, and children’s playgrounds.

In May, the city is enveloped by the Canadian Tulip Festival , another family-friendly celebration featuring live music, cultural pavilions, and fireworks, held amid vast gardens of tulips that spring up all over the city.

Ottawa has an NHL team called the Ottawa Senators who play at the Canadian Tire Centre . The city’s CFL team, is the Ottawa Redblacks (previously called the Rough Riders ) who play at TD Place .

travel in ontario

An ice sculpture at Winterlude 2014. Vlad G./Shutterstock

Ontario tourism resources.

  • Official Ontario Tourism Website
  • Ontario, Lonely Planet
  • Ontario Travel Guide, Fodor's

VacationIdea

  • Destinations

25 Best Places to Visit in Ontario, Canada

Last Updated By VI on June 6, 2024

Niagara Falls

  • Complete List & Map

Ottawa

The capital of Canada, Ottawa is located in southeast Ontario, near the U.S. border and neighboring city of Montreal. Situated along the shimmering Ottawa River, the city boasts marvelous Victorian architecture and world-renowned museums that include the National Gallery of Canada. During the summer, the park-lined Rideau Canal is overflowing with boats; during the winter however, visitors will find plenty of ice-skaters taking advantage of the frozen conditions. One of Ottawa’s top attractions is its legislature complex, better known as Parliament Hill. Located on Crown land, The Hill is a magnificent display of Gothic revival architecture. From Winterlude to the Canadian Tulip Festival to Canada Day, Ottawa is a vibrant city with much to celebrate.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a regional municipality of Southeastern Ontario, Canada. The city serves as a central port along the Niagara River, opposite its United States counterpart, New York. The city also overlooks the Horseshoe, sometimes referred to as the Canadian Falls; a crescent-shaped cataract measuring 177 feet in height. This portion of the falls carries approximately nine times the amount of water that the United States side does. The two countries are connected by several bridges that include the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, and the Rainbow Bridge. Niagara Falls offers a myriad of fascinating attractions, such as Queen Victoria Park, the Skylon Tower, and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens.

Hamilton

Hamilton is an industrialized port city located along the west end of Lake Ontario in the Canadian province of Ontario. It boasts impressive dramatic architecture, gorgeous parks, and several magnificent historical sites. This includes the Royal Botanical Gardens, the HMCS Haida National Historic Site, Dunduen Castle and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Popular attractions include the African Lion Safari Park, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and the Cathedral of Christ the King. It is home to several also home charming and vibrant neighborhoods as well as several natural areas such as Sam Lawrence Park, Bayfront Park, and Webster’s Falls.

Kingston

Kingston is a small city located halfway between Montreal and Toronto, situated along the stunning shores of Lake Ontario. Established in 1673, this charming, old city originally served as a French trading post. Today, it is known for its rich history and culture and acts as the gateway to the UNESCO-designated Rideau Canal and the legendary 1000 Islands. Often referred to as the Limestone City, downtown Kingston is home to several of its extraordinary limestone historic buildings such as Hendry House, Westbourne Terrace, and Parkview House. The city also features several art galleries, museums, and historical sites like Fort Henry, used during the War of 1812.

Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is a waterfront city situated along one of North America’s Great Lakes – Lake Superior, in the northwestern region of Ontario, Canada. Thunder Bay offers an exciting variety of active and urban lifestyles. The city is set against a marvelous backdrop of lush boreal forest, pristine rivers and lakes, the rugged Canadian Shield, and countless trail systems. Visitors will enjoy breathtakingly serene surroundings with opportunities for outdoor recreation at every turn. Some of the fun and exciting activities to enjoy around Thunder Bay include fishing, hiking, mountain-biking, boating, jet-skiing, and horseback riding. The Terry Fox Monument, Fort Williams Historical Park, and Hillcrest Park, are just a few of the city’s top attractions for visitors to explore.

Burlington

Burlington is situated between Niagara Falls and Toronto along the edge of Lake Ontario. A magnificent city that often gets overlooked, Burlington boasts an exquisite gastronomy, gorgeous gardens, a thriving art scene, historic architecture, and several famed natural areas. The latter includes the Niagara Encarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the Mount Nemo Conservation Area, and Spencer Smith Park. It is home to several unique attractions including the Brant Street Pier, a nearly 450-foot, S-shaped pier extending out over Lake Ontario and the legendary Discovery Landing, a 14,200-square-foot landmark building. It boasts an observatory outfitted with grand, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the picturesque Royal Centennial Pond.

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Good to know: Best Time to Visit Toronto

Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay

Often considered the sixth Great Lake, Georgian Bay boasts 1,242 miles of gorgeous shoreline and is home to over 30,000 islands. The area consists of majestic towering cliffs, windswept pines, and endless beaches with crystal clear blue waters creating a serene beauty. It is a freshwater playground for anglers, boaters, and kayakers during the summer and a white wonderland for snowshoers, snowmobilers, and skiers in the winter. Georgian Bay’s 30,000 islands and 32 historic lighthouses makes up the biggest freshest archipelago in the world as well as Georgian Bay Islands National Park. This area can be explore by canoe using a local outfitter such as White Squall.

Greater Sudbury

Greater Sudbury

Greater Sudbury is located in the heart of Northeast Ontario. Known as the city of lakes, its home to 330 lakes including its largest, Lake Wanapitei. As the largest municipality in the providence, Greater Sudbury offers urban comforts, world-renowned attractions, and natural areas. The latter includes Lake Laurentian Conservation Area, Fairbank Provincial Park, Wanapitei Provincial Park, Fielding Bird Sanctuary, and Kivi Park. These Parks are popular for a wide variety of outdoor recreation adventures like hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, camping, bird-watching, swimming, and boating. Several interactive museums can be found throughout the city such as science museums Science North and Dynamic Earth and history museums Anderson Farm Museum and the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park consists of nearly 3,000 square miles situated between the Ottawa River and Georgian Bay in Ontario. Its home to rocky ridges, maple hills, thousands of lakes, and over 750 miles of rivers and streams as well as various plant and wildlife like wolves, moose, deer, and beaver. The park provides visitors with an array of outdoor activities year-round including camping, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and day hiking. There are 19 interpretive trails throughout the park ranging in length and difficulty from 0.62 to 7.21 miles. Each trail is equipped with a trail guide and is designed to introduce visitors to a particular aspect of Algonquin’s history of ecology.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Located on a section of UNESCO’s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, Bruce Peninsula National Park boasts 97 square miles of beautiful and varied landscape. Dramatic cliff sides dotted with ancient cedar trees jut out above the magnificent turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. The park is home to large expanses of mixed-wood forests, clear-water lakes, diverse wetlands, limestone coasts, and vibrant orchids. It is the traditional home for the people of the Saugeen Ojibway First Nations, and serves as a protected preserve for over 200 species of birds, amphibians, mammals both large and small and a few rare reptiles. The park is a captivating outdoor playground providing year-round activities including hiking, scrambling, swimming, camping, and cross-country skiing.

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is one part of the five Great Lakes located in North America. It is nestled along the International Boundary between the United States and Canada with its northern shore occupying the Canadian province of Ontario. The lake is believed to have anywhere from 1,400 to 8,000 shipwrecks making a popular destination for divers. However, there are only 270 confirmed shipwreck locations to date. Several public parks surround the lake including UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve, Long Point Provincial Park and Sand Hill Park. Lake Erie is also home to several diverse islands. The popular, Pelee Island boasts a unique and dynamic ecosystem with rare plant and wildlife, it’s reachable via a ferry from Leamington, Ontario.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario

Bounded by New York on the south and Ontario on the north, Lake Ontario is the most easterly and smallest of the Great Lakes. Many of Ontario’s most popular cities are located along the lakes northern and western shores, this includes Hamilton and its capital city Toronto. It is the home of several islands, the Toronto islands as well as islands, Wolfe, Association, Amherst, Simcoe, Waupoos, Big, and Garden situated in Ontario. Several lighthouses are scattered along its shores such as Gibraltar Point and Presqu’ile. The lake features over 100 beaches and houses the second oldest shipwreck of the Great Lakes.

London

London is located in southwestern Ontario just a two-hour drive away from Niagara Falls and Toronto as well as the United Stated border at Michigan and New York. It is surrounded by the largest freshwater lakes in the world and is known as the Forest City with more than 200 parks. It is home to Budweiser Gardens, a premier sports entertainment center, The Grand Theatre, Canada’s oldest professional theatre, Museum London, and The London Children’s Museum. The city features a thriving arts scene, charming famers markets, and a vibrant nightlife. It is also known for its rich historic roots, impressive architecture, and diverse culture including 175 churches, cathedrals, temples, synagogues, and mosques.

Mississauga

Mississauga

The sixth largest city in Canada, Mississauga is a corporate capital and home to the largest airport in the country, Toronto Pearson International servicing 32 million passengers a day. Ranked as the safest city in the nation for eight years straight, Mississauga is home to several family-oriented attractions and activities with an emphasis on the arts, outdoor recreation, history, and sports. The city features over 480 parks and more than 20 primary trail systems including a waterfront trail that runs from the Quebec border to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Visitors can also explore several of Mississauga’s charming historic villages like Port Credit situated along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Muskoka

A regional municipality of Central Ontario, Canada, Muskoka has a variety of fun things for visitors to see and do year-round. Muskoka has several pristine, shimmering lakes that are ideal for a day of boating and water recreation; visitors will be able to enjoy fishing, tubing, wakeboarding, and waterskiing. The lakes are also perfect for boat tours and dinner cruises, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. The area’s beautiful, natural surroundings can be explored by ATVs, mountain bike trails, zip line, aerial parks, and picturesque hiking trails. Santa’s Village Family Entertainment Park has been one of Muskoka’s top attractions for more than 60 years now, and is a must visit when in the province of Ontario.

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming waterfront town situated in the southern part of Ontario, Canada, along Lake Ontario’s picturesque shores. The small town is known for its summer Shaw Festival and award-winning wineries. The tree-lined, flower-filled old town features several 19th-century buildings, many of them located along Queen Street. Visitors will find several points of interest to explore around town, including the Fort George National Historic Site of Canada, Queenston Heights Park, and the McFarland House. Lake Ontario is the perfect playground for boating, jet-skiing, wakeboarding, waterskiing, fishing, paddle-boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and so much more. The town’s visitors will be just a short 15-minute drive from one of Canada’s biggest attractions, Horseshoe Falls – Niagara Falls.

Peterborough

Peterborough

The perfect city for outdoor enthusiasts, Peterborough is situated along the beautiful Otonabee River in Central Ontario, Canada. The river offers an idyllic setting for enjoying water activities such as jet-skiing, boating, fishing, waterskiing, paddle-boarding, wakeboarding, swimming, and tubing. Apart from river activities, visitors can partake in a variety of outdoor adventures that include spelunking through glacier formed caves, hiking the area’s picturesque trails, or golfing at one of the city’s championship courses. Peterborough has many attractions and points of interest to explore, including Petroglyphs Provincial Park, the Peterborough Lift Lock, Riverview Park and Zoo, and Canadian Canoe Museum. Visitors will appreciate the city’s plentiful wilderness areas, sparkling waters, and lush forests.

Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie is city situated along St. Marys River, Lake Superior, and the United States border in Ontario, Canada. The city is famous for its 19th-century Sault Ste. Marie Canal – a National Historic Site that’s also part of the country’s national park system. The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre has a vast collection of flight simulators and aircraft for visitors to explore. Some of the city’s other attractions include the Art Gallery of Algoma, the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, Hiawatha Highlands, and Kinsmen Park. Sault Ste. Marie is perfect for outdoor recreation all year-round, including hiking, kayaking, ice climbing, mountain biking, zip-lining, and rock climbing.

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains is a small, charming town situated along the shimmering Nottawasaga Bay in Ontario, Canada. From families to groups of friends to couples seeking a romantic getaway, this little town has the perfect activity or adventure for everyone. Thrill-seekers will appreciate the town’s bike park and rugged mountain-biking trails during the summer, and freshly powdered ski slopes in the winter. The bay offers up plenty of opportunity for fun water activities, such as sailing tours, boating, fishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, and jet-skiing. Visitors will enjoy unique shopping experiences, sensational waterfront dining, world-class attractions, and breathtaking scenery around every corner.

Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands is a North American Archipelago, or group of islands, located in the St. Lawrence River near Ontario, Canada. Comprised of over 1,800 unique islands, Thousand Islands offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation, and provides an idyllic setting for a peaceful vacation. Located along the United States and Canada borders, the region features rich history, unique culture, and endless, picturesque shorelines. Visitors will have several fun and interesting activities to choose from, including guided boat tours, fishing tours, wakeboarding, and jet-skiing. Visitors will have the chance to explore some of the region’s more popular attractions, like the Kingston Waterfront, Brockville Railway Tunnel, and Fort Henry National Historic Site.

Toronto

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Tobermory

Tobermory is a charming harbor village located on the Bruce Peninsula of Canada’s Ontario province. The land around Tobermory is renowned for its marvelous natural setting, truly a photographer’s paradise. The region features miles of lush forest with tall cedars and pines, majestic cliffs, and beautiful turquoise waters. Tobermory proudly serves as the home to North America’s greatest concentration of native orchid flowers. Visitors hiking along the area’s magnificent trail system may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a gorgeous Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchid, or rare Calypso Orchid. The village is situated near Fathom Five National Marine Park, the site of 19th-century lighthouses, the Flowerpot Island sea stacks, and a number of shipwreck dive sites.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach

Recognized as one of Ontario, Canada’s, premier tourist destinations, Wasaga Beach is a 14-kilometer beach that stretches along the shimmering Nottawasaga Bay. Visitors will enjoy a pristine, white sand beach, clean warm waters, and breathtaking, panoramic mountain views. Wasaga Beach offers a tremendous variety of excellent restaurant and accommodation options. One of the area’s best kept secrets is the recreation trail system. The picturesque trails are perfect for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, mountain-biking, and hiking. Wasaga Beach also provides plenty of opportunity for exciting water activities, such as boating, jet-skiing, fishing, tubing, wakeboarding, kayaking, and waterskiing. Thrill seekers can go skydiving over the beach, giving them the chance to admire its beauty from a one-of-a-kind perspective.

Windsor

An International Gateway between the United States of America and Canada, Windsor is a city in Ontario that offers fascinating cultural and historical landmarks, unparalleled waterfront gardens and parks, and world-class entertainment. Visitors will enjoy a city that is committed to being one of the most vibrant and creative destinations, where artistic expression is encouraged, and cultural diversity is celebrated. Whether visitors are interested in artistic and intellectual experiences, or some of the best recreational and heritage sites around, the city has it all. Some top attractions include Windsor Sculpture Park, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and the Chimczuk Museum.

Windsor

  • 2. Niagara Falls
  • 3. Hamilton
  • 4. Kingston
  • 5. Thunder Bay
  • 6. Burlington
  • 7. Casa Loma
  • 8. Georgian Bay
  • 9. Greater Sudbury
  • 10. Algonquin Provincial Park
  • 11. Bruce Peninsula National Park
  • 12. Lake Erie
  • 13. Lake Ontario
  • 15. Mississauga
  • 16. Muskoka
  • 17. Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • 18. Peterborough
  • 19. Sault Ste. Marie
  • 20. The Blue Mountains
  • 21. Thousand Islands
  • 22. Toronto
  • 23. Tobermory
  • 24. Wasaga Beach
  • 25. Windsor

More Getaways in Canada:

  • Places to Visit in Canada
  • Things to Do in Canada
  • Waterfalls in Canada
  • Beaches on Vancouver Island
  • Romantic Getaways in Canada
  • Lighthouses in Canada
  • Quebec City
  • Weekend Getaways from Toronto
  • British Columbia for Couples
  • Beaches Near Toronto
  • Day Trips from Vancouver

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Cycling in front of the skyline from Tommy Thompson Park in Toronto Ontario Canada.

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The breathtaking four-seasonal palette of Ontario's vast wilderness, endless forests and abundant wildlife awaits. Around 40% of Canada’s population lives here for good reason: Ontario is larger than France and Spain combined. Over 250,000 lakes, including the Great Lakes bordering the US, contain a fifth of the planet's fresh water.

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Must-see attractions.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada - July 13, 2012:   The Distillery District, in Toronto, Ontario, is named after this area's history in distilling spirits.   After falling into a state of disrepair by the turn of the millennium, efforts began to redevelop the area and create a destination for locals and tourists alike.  The old brick Victorian structures were converted into retail, commercial and residential space.  Many galleries, bars, restaurants and cafes line the area.  It hosts various cultural events and has become a 'must see' district for those visiting Toronto...This photo shows a summer scene where district restaurants and bars have patio's set up allowing patrons to sit outdoors and enjoy a night out eating and people watching.   The roads here are for pedestrians only.

Distillery District

Old Town, Corktown & Distillery District

Centered on the 1832 Gooderham and Worts distillery – once the largest distillery in the British Empire – the 5-hectare Distillery District is one of…

October 15, 2013: Exterior of the Royal Ontario Museum on a sunny day.

Royal Ontario Museum

Opened in 1914, the multidisciplinary ROM is Canada's biggest natural-history museum and one of the largest museums in North America. You'll either love…

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Entertainment & Financial Districts

Dominating Toronto's skyline, the CN Tower is a marvel. At a height of 553 metres, the communications spire stands over the city like a beacon. Queues can…

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Hockey Hall of Fame

The mecca of Canada's national sport, the Hockey Hall of Fame is a Canadian institution. Even those unfamiliar with the rough, super-fast sport are likely…

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Toronto's favorite green space is a wonderful spot to unfurl a picnic blanket, swim, play tennis, bike around, skate on 14-hectare Grenadier Pond or – in…

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National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery is a work of art in itself: its striking ensemble of pink granite and glass spires echoes the ornate copper-topped towers of the…

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Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls

The centerpiece of any visit here are the Horseshoe Falls. Named after their 670m curved shape, they have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North…

Boldt Castle - Thousand Islands region, St Lawrence River, near Alexandria Bay.

Boldt Castle

Thousand Islands

This lavish turn-of-the-century island castle in the middle of the St Lawrence is only around 25km from Gananoque, but technically in the USA, so you'll…

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Sep 9, 2021 • 6 min read

Ontario's most beautiful fall foliage is within driving distance of Toronto, making it perfect for an autumn road trip.

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Nov 13, 2019 • 4 min read

The Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square is lit up in red and white and blue, and reflected in a pool, as the sun goes down in Toronto; Weekend in Toronto

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Toronto city skyline at twilight, with rainbow-colored reflections in the water and the CN Tower in the middle

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A vinyard with rows of grape vines is in the foreground, with a lake view behind. Far in the distance, on the other side of the lake, is the skyline of Toronto.

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The Gooderham Building (Flatiron), a Romanesque style building, in East Toronto on a rainy day in the Financial District.

A family at Niagara Gorge

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Where diversity shines

Ontario has many sides to it — from the energetic urban life of Toronto and Ottawa, to the wilds of the Great Lakes and Northern Ontario. Here, you’ll discover an abundance of restaurants reflective of the region’s diverse cultures, captivating galleries and museums, and countless hiking trails that offer a respite from everyday life. Ontario comes from the Iroquois word, kanadario , which translates into sparkling water — fitting for a province with over 250,000 glistening lakes. Indigenous Peoples have called the land home for generations beyond measure, and it is home to the largest Indigenous population in Canada, including 133 First Nations communities.  Follow in the footsteps of the Anishinaabe First Nations on ancient hiking trials in Manitoulin Island, the world’s largest freshwater island. Attend a pow wow celebrating Indigenous cultures through dance, food and music, like the Akwesasne International Pow Wow on Cornwall Island. Be sure to make a visit to Petroglyphs Provincial Park, home to the largest concentration of Indigenous rock art in Canada. There’s no better way to experience the province than through the lens of those who inhabited it first.

Toronto skyline

Trendsetter. The heartbeat of Canadian urban life. The 6ix is everything you would expect from a world class city. Get dinner at a one of a kind restaurant in Queen Street West, shop at the posh Yorkville district, lose yourself in the variety of the Kensington Market, then catch an MLB, NBA or NHL game. Toronto has it all and all of it is in style.

A view of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier from the Rideau Canal in Ottawa

Canada’s capital. National sites, famous landmarks like the Rideau Canal, and museums housing stunning national collections. But Ottawa is also vibrant and walkable, with an incredible food scene created by local culinary schools and top chefs. This is Ottawa, come experience it for yourself.

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8 Day Eastern Canada Explorer    External Link Title

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Incredible sightseeing including Toronto's famous landmarks, witness the beauty and power of the Niagara Falls, discover Quebec's French-speaking cities, and explore Canada's capital city of Ottawa 7 nights accommodation in comfortable 3-star accommodation Breakfast daily

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Ontario may not have the tourist profile of the Rockies out west, but the province still boasts many of Canada’s top attractions: Niagara Falls is the country’s most visited sight; Ottawa makes an engaging capital, while Toronto is one of the most visited cities in North America; and Algonquin Park is an especially fine tract of pristine wilderness. It’s also very, very big – a giant slab of land, Canada’s second-largest province, stretching all the way from the St Lawrence River and the Great Lakes to the frozen shores of Hudson Bay, a landscape studded with thousands of lakes from which Ontario gets its name – literally “glittering waters” – given by its earliest inhabitants, the Iroquois.

Algonquin Provincial Park

The bruce peninsula, moosonee and moose factory island, sault ste marie, thunder bay.

Spreading along the northern shore of Lake Ontario to either side of Toronto is a chain of towns that are often lumped together as the Golden Horseshoe , a misleadingly evocative name that refers solely to the area’s geographic shape and economic success. This is Ontario’s manufacturing heartland, a built-up strip whose most notable attraction is the Royal Botanical Gardens , close to steel-town Hamilton . Further round the lake are the famous Niagara Falls , easily Ontario’s most popular attraction, and Niagara-on-the-Lake , one of the province’s quaintest towns. West of the Golden Horseshoe, much of Southwest Ontario is profoundly rural, an expanse of farmland sandwiched between lakes Huron and Erie. High points here include Goderich and Bayfield , two charming little towns tucked tight against Lake Huron; Stratford , with its much-vaunted theatre festival; and Georgian Bay , whose Severn Sound is the location of the astoundingly beautiful Georgian Bay Islands National Park , an elegiac land and waterscape of rocky, pine-dotted islets and crystal-blue lake. The national park – and its campsites – are best approached by boat from tiny Honey Harbour, but you can sample the scenery on a variety of island cruises from Penetanguishene, Midland and the dinky little port of Parry Sound . Also here on Severn Sound are a pair of top-notch historical reconstructions, the one-time British naval base at Discovery Harbour and the former Jesuit mission at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons .

Central Ontario, inland from the coastal strip bordering Georgian Bay, is largely defined by the Canadian Shield , whose endless forests, myriad lakes and thin soils dip down from the north in a giant wedge. This hostile terrain has kept settlement down to a minimum, though latterly the very wildness of the land has attracted Canadian holidaymakers, who come here to hunker down in their lakeside cottages – hence the moniker “cottage country”. The centre of this is the Muskoka Lakes , a skein of narrow lakes and rivers, and their main supply towns, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge . The Muskoka Lakes may be relatively domesticated, but neighbouring Algonquin Provincial Park is certainly not, comprising a wilderness tract with abundant wildlife and a mind-bogglingly large network of canoe routes.

The implacability of the Shield breaks up as it approaches the St Lawrence River at the east end of Lake Ontario, and it’s here you’ll find a string of historic towns and villages. The pick is Kingston , renowned for its fine limestone buildings and a pleasant stepping stone on the road east to either Montréal or Ottawa , Canada’s appealing capital city, which boasts some of the country’s finest museums and a first-rate restaurant and bar scene.

Stretching north from the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, northern Ontario is almost entirely flat, give or take the odd ridge and chasm, an endless expanse of forest and lake pouring over the mineral-rich rocks of the Canadian Shield. It was the north which once produced the furs that launched Canada’s economy, but the travelling is hard and time-consuming and, unless you’re after some hunting and fishing , the region’s charms are limited. Two main roads cross this immense, sparsely populated region, Hwy-11 in the north and the much more enjoyable Hwy-17 to the south. Highlights of Hwy-17 begin with Sault Ste Marie , the terminus for a splendid wilderness train trip on the Algoma Central Railway , and continue with the string of parks bordering Lake Superior , notably the extravagantly wild Lake Superior Provincial Park and Pukaskwa National Park . Beyond lies the inland port of Thunder Bay , the last place of much appeal before Winnipeg, a further 680km to the west. Hwy-11 , on the other hand, links a series of far-flung mining towns and has little to offer with the possible exception of the Polar Bear Express train , which strikes north from Cochrane beyond the road network to Moosonee on the frozen shores of James Bay – though to be frank, the rail journey across these northern wastes can seem interminable, the mosquitoes infuriating the moment you disembark.

Brief history

The first Europeans to make regular contact with the region’s Aboriginal Iroquois and Algonquin peoples were the French explorers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, most famously Étienne Brûlé and Samuel de Champlain. These early visitors were preoccupied with the fur trade , and it wasn’t until the end of the American War of Independence and the immigration of the United Empire Loyalists from New England that mass settlement began. Between 1820 and 1850 a further wave of migrants, mostly English, Irish and Scots, made Upper Canada , as Ontario was known until Confederation, the most populous and prosperous part of Canada. This pre-eminence was reinforced towards the end of the nineteenth century by the industrialization of the region’s larger towns, a process underpinned by the discovery of some of the world’s richest mineral deposits: in the space of twenty years, nickel was found near Sudbury, silver at Cobalt, gold in Red Lake and iron ore at Wawa.

In 1943, the Progressive Conservative Party (PCs) took control of the provincial government and remained in power for over forty years. The PCs followed a right-of-centre, pro-business agenda and their skill in handling the popular vote earned them the nickname the “Big Blue Machine”. Nevertheless, the PCs did move with the times, passing a string of progressive acts such as, for example, Canada’s first Fair Employment Practices Act against discrimination and the Female Employees Fair Remuneration Act, both in 1951. In 1985, the PCs finally lost a provincial election, but returned to power ten years later with a flinty right-wing agenda that owed much to Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. The PCs were much taken up with privatization and tax cuts (plus endless carping about welfare scroungers), but this did not play well with a sizeable chunk of the population and, much to the relief of the Left, the Liberals have defeated them in the last four elections, with 2014 seeing Kathleen Wynne elected as the first female leader of the majority winner.

Economically , Ontario’s timber and mining industries, massive hydroelectric schemes and myriad factories have kept the province at or near the top of the economic ladder for decades. The province’s industrial success has also created massive environmental problems , most noticeable in the wounded landscapes around Sudbury and the polluted waters of lakes Erie and Ontario – problems which the provincial government has started to tackle, albeit somewhat tardily.

Created in 1893 at the behest of logging companies keen to keep farmers out, Algonquin Provincial Park is Ontario’s oldest and largest provincial park and for many it comprises the quintessential Canadian landscape. Located on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield, the park straddles a transitional zone , with the hilly two-thirds to the west covered in a hardwood forest of sugar maple, beech and yellow birch, while in the drier eastern part jack pine, white pine and red pine predominate. Throughout the park, the lakes and rocky rounded hills are interspersed with black spruce bogs, a type of vegetation typical of areas far further north. Canoeing is very popular here and with an astounding 1600km of routes there’s a good chance of avoiding all contact for days on end. Wildlife is as varied as the flora – any trip to Algonquin is characterized by the echo of birdsong, from the loons’ ghostly call to the screech of ravens. Beavers, moose, black bears and raccoons are all resident, as are white-tailed deer, whose population thrives on the young shoots that replace the trees felled by the park’s loggers. Public “howling parties” – which can attract up to two thousand people – set off into the wilderness during August in search of timber wolves , or rather their howls: many of the rangers are so good at howling that they can get the animals to reply.

Whether you’re after the full wilderness experience or just a quick dabble, access to Algonquin’s backcountry is via the 56km Parkway Corridor – also known as the Frank McDougall Parkway (Hwy-60) – the park’s only significant road linking the West Gate, 45km east of Hwy-11, and the East Gate, on the long road to and from Ottawa.

The beaver is Canada’s national animal: it appeared on the first postage stamp issued by the colony in 1851, and now features on the back of the 5¢ piece. There was nothing sentimental about this choice – beaver pelts kick-started the colonial economy – and only recently has the beaver been treated with some restraint and protected from being indiscriminately polished off.

Beavers are aquatic rodents, growing to around 75cm in length and weighing about 35kg. Aboriginal peoples hunted the beaver for its thick, soft pelt , composed of long guard hairs and a dense undercoat, to use for clothing. In the seventeenth century. European fur traders realized the value of beaver pelts, particularly in the manufacture of the all-weather, all-purpose hat worn by every man of any substance. To keep up with demand the beaver was extensively trapped, and the French voyageurs pushed further and further west along the lake and river systems in pursuit of the animal, thereby opening up much of the interior. The beaver was hunted to the point of extinction in much of eastern Canada, but had a reprieve when the beaver hat went out of fashion in the late nineteenth century; today beavers are comparatively commonplace.

Beavers start to build their dams , which can be up to 700m wide, by strategically felling one tree across a stream. This catches silt and driftwood and the beaver then reinforces the barrier with sticks and stones plus grass and mud, which is laboriously smoothed-in as a binding element. The lodge is constructed simultaneously; sometimes it forms part of the dam and sometimes it is fixed to the shore or an island in the pond. It is about 2m in diameter and has two entrances – one accessible from land and one from underwater – both for its own convenience and to be able to escape predators in any emergency, along with a lot of tail slapping to give the alarm. Lodges are topped with grass thatch and a good layer of mud, which freezes in winter, making them virtually impenetrable. During the autumn, the beaver stocks its pond with the soft-bark trees and saplings that make up its diet. It drags them below the water line and anchors them to the mud at the bottom before retiring to the lodge for the winter, only emerging to get food from the pond or repair the dam. Beaver lakes are not the tree-fringed paradises portrayed by some nature-film makers; nearer the mark is a mud-banked pond, surrounded by untidily felled trees and with a bedraggled-looking domed heap of sticks and sludge somewhere along its banks.

BRANTFORD , a quick 40km west of Hamilton on Hwy-403, takes its name from Joseph Brant , an Iroquois chieftain who was one of the most intriguing figures of colonial Canada. Brant helped the British during the American War of Independence and, after their defeat, he and his followers were obliged to make a hasty exit from New York State before the Americans could take their revenge. The British stayed loyal to their ally (just about) and in 1784 Brant was ceded a large tract of land beside the Grand River on the site of what is today Brantford. European settlers reached the area in numbers in the 1850s and subsequently Brantford developed as a manufacturing centre churning out agricultural equipment by the wagon load. By the 1980s, however, the town was in decline as many of its factories and foundries went bust or relocated. Brantford still bears the scars of this de-industrialization, but a concerted effort has been made to breathe new life into the centre and, for the most part, this has been a success with a batch of new leisure facilities and shopping malls. For Canadians, Brantford is most famous as the home town of Wayne Gretzky , probably the greatest ice-hockey player of all time; for everyone else, the town is best known as being the one-time home of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell .

The Mennonites of Kitchener–Waterloo and St Jacobs

The twin industrial cities of Kitchener and Waterloo hog a slab of flatland to the west of the Grand River. They have a distinctive pedigree, as the first white settlers to arrive in the area in numbers were the Mennonites, a tightly knit Protestant sect who migrated here in the 1790s from the US, where their pacifist beliefs had incurred the wrath of their neighbours during the American Revolution. Over the years, the Mennonites gradually drifted out of the twin cities and now own much of the farmland immediately to the north.

They are unmistakeable, with the men wearing traditional black suits and broad-brimmed hats, or deep-blue shirts and braces, the women ankle-length dresses and matching bonnets, and many navigate the roads in black, horse-drawn buggies. Despite appearances, however, the Ontario Mennonites are far from a homogeneous sect. Over twenty different groups are affiliated to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). They all share certain religious beliefs reflecting their Anabaptist origins – the sole validity of adult baptism being crucial – but precise practices and dress codes vary from group to group: for instance, members of the traditional wing of the movement, called Old Order Mennonite, own property communally and shun all modern machinery.

To explain their history and faith, the MCC runs a small but intriguing interpretation centre, The Mennonite Story, at 1406 King St North in the village of St Jacobs, just north of Waterloo via Hwy-85. Also in St Jacobs, along the short main street, are several Mennonite stores selling home-made farm produce – the maple syrup is simply magnificent. Mennonite traders are also prominent at the much-lauded Farmers’ Market, back in the centre of Kitchener on King Street East (Sat 7am–2pm; kitchenermarket.ca ).

Separating the main body of Lake Huron from Georgian Bay, the Bruce Peninsula holds two of Ontario’s national parks. The more distinctive is the Fathom Five National Marine Park , at the northern tip of the peninsula, which provides wonderful sport for divers. The second is the Bruce Peninsula National Park , comprising two slabs of forested wilderness on either side of Hwy-6, its northern portion offering magnificent coastal hiking on a small section of the Bruce Trail. There’s camping at both parks and a reasonable choice of hotel and motel accommodation at lively Tobermory , from where you catch the car ferry over to Manitoulin Island.

Fathom Five National Marine Park

Fathom Five National Marine Park comprises a scattering of uninhabited islands and the waters that surround them at the end of the Bruce Peninsula, offshore from Tobermory. To protect the natural habitat, only Flowerpot Island , 4km from the mainland, has any amenities, with limited space for camping – six sites only – and a couple of short hiking trails that explore its eastern reaches. A delightful spot, Flowerpot takes its name from two pink-and-grey rock pillars that have been eroded away from its eastern shore – and these are readily seen on the islet’s hiking trails.

Fathom Five is known across Canada for its excellent diving – the waters are clear, there are extraordinary rock formations and a handful of shipwrecks. Prospective divers must register in person at the national park office. Diving gear can be rented down by Tobermory harbour at G&S Watersports (519 596 2200, gswatersports.net ), who also offer diving lessons and kayak rental.

With a population of around 500,000, HAMILTON lies at the extreme western end of Lake Ontario, about 70km from Toronto. The city takes its name from George Hamilton, a storekeeper-turned-landowner, who surveyed the area after he moved here following the destruction of his homestead during the War of 1812. By the early 1900s, Hamilton had become a major steel producer and today its mills churn out about half the country’s output, though the city’s industrial heyday has faded and in recent years it has struggled to keep itself afloat. Industrial cities are rarely high on tourist itineraries and Hamilton is no exception, but it does have one or two quality attractions, most notably the sprawling Royal Botanical Gardens . Other than the gardens, all the city’s key attractions are in – or within comfortable walking distance of – a surprisingly compact downtown core . This runs east to west parallel to the lake shore along King Street West and Main Street West, between Bay Street North and James Street North. Beyond here, Hamilton becomes a large and sprawling city with a confusing one-way street system.

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG)

The delightful

Royal Botanical Gardens

cover some twelve square kilometres just across Burlington Bay from downtown Hamilton, its several sections spread over 15km of wooded shoreline. The flower displays here are simply gorgeous with highlights including

Hendrie Park’s Rose Gardens

(best June–Oct) and nearby

Laking Garden

with its irises and peonies (May & June). Hendrie Park adjoins the main

RBG Visitor Centre

, where there’s a shop, café and several inside areas featuring forced bulbs, orchids and cacti. Wilder parts of the RBG are round to the west with the 800-hectare

Cootes Paradise Sanctuary

latticed with hiking trails.

Birthplace of the rock singer Bryan Adams but prouder of its handsome limestone buildings, the city of KINGSTON , a fast 260km east of Toronto along Hwy-401, is the largest and most enticing of the communities along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. The town occupies an attractive and strategically important position where the lake narrows into the St Lawrence River, its potential first recognized by the French who built a fortified fur-trading post, Fort Frontenac , here in 1673. It was not a success, but struggled on until 1758 when it fell to a combined force of British, Americans and Iroquois, a victory soon followed by an influx of United Empire Loyalists, who promptly developed Kingston – as they renamed it – into a major shipbuilding centre and naval base. The money rolled in and the future looked rosy when the completion of the Rideau Canal, linking Kingston with Ottawa in 1832, opened up its hinterland. Kingston became Canada’s capital in 1841 and although it lost this distinction just three years later it remained the region’s most important town until the end of the nineteenth century. In recent years, Kingston – and its 160,000 inhabitants – has had as many economic downs as ups, but it does benefit from the presence of Queen’s University , one of Canada’s most prestigious academic institutions, and of the Royal Military College , the country’s answer to Sandhurst and West Point.

Central Kingston’s medley of old houses and offices displays every architectural foible admired by the Victorians, from neo-Gothic mansions with high gables to elegant Italianate villas, but the cream of the architectural crop are the city’s Neoclassical limestone buildings, especially City Hall and the Cathedral of St George . Kingston also holds the first-rate Agnes Etherington Art Centre gallery and Bellevue House , once the home of prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald. Add to this several superb B&Bs, a cluster of good restaurants and scenic boat trips round the Thousand Islands just offshore, and you have a city that is well worth a couple of days.

Kingston’s elongated centre slopes up from Lake Ontario. Most of the key sights and the pick of the city’s bars and restaurants nudge together along the first few blocks of the main commercial drag, Princess Street .

A watery detour: the Rideau canal

If you’re travelling from Kingston to Ottawa , the obvious route is east along Hwy-401 and then north up Hwy-416, a journey of 175km. With more time, however, it’s worth considering a slower route along two country roads – Hwy-15 and then Hwy-7 . En route, you’ll pass a battery of signs to the 24 lock stations of the 202km-long Rideau Canal ( t 613 283 5170, w pc.gc.ca ), which cuts through the slab of coniferous and deciduous forest, bogs, limestone plains and granite ridges that separate Ottawa and Kingston. Completed in 1832 after a mere six years’ work, the canal was built to provide safe inland transport at a time of poor Anglo-American relations, but after the political situation improved it developed as an important route for regional commerce. The canal’s construction led to the development of Bytown , renamed Ottawa in 1855, but in the second half of the nineteenth century the railways made the canal obsolete and today it’s plied by holiday boats. For the motorist, one of the more impressive lock stations is Kingston Mills (Locks 46–49), 12km inland from Kingston on Hwy-15, where a steep flight of locks negotiates a wooded ravine overlooked by a blockhouse and lock offices. It’s a lovely spot and there’s more of the same, albeit in a wilder setting, at Jones Falls (Locks 39–42), 3km off Hwy-15 and about 40km from Kingston. Here, a huddle of old timber buildings is a prelude to a rickety footbridge that leads over a lake to a steep flight of locks guarded by several old stone buildings. By boat it takes five days to get from Kingston to Ottawa on the Rideau Canal with Ontario Waterways ( t 705 327 5767, t 1 800 561 5767, w ontariowaterwaycruises.com ); there are between three and six cruises monthly from mid-May to mid-September, the cost is $1951, and reservations are essential.

The Crees have been hunting and fishing James Bay, a southerly extension of Hudson Bay, for several thousand years and they make up the majority of the population of MOOSONEE , which occupies an incredibly remote and solitary bayside location well to the north of the road network. A French fur-trading company, Révillon Frères, founded Moosonee in 1903 and the Révillon Frères Museum (late June to early Sept daily 10am–6pm; free; t 705 336 1209), in one of the original company buildings, traces the history of the settlement and its largely unsuccessful attempt to challenge the local monopoly of the Hudson’s Bay Company . The latter had established the trading post of Moose Factory Island , just offshore, in 1673, which makes it the oldest English-speaking community in Ontario. Water taxis ($10 one way) zip travellers from the jetty at Moosonee to the island, where the Moose Factory Centennial Museum Park (late June to early Sept daily 9am–5pm; free; t 705 658 2733) holds the original blacksmith’s shop, graveyard, powder magazine (the island’s only stone building) and a teepee where the locals sell bannock (freshly baked bread). South of here, St Thomas Anglican Church , built in 1860, has an altar cloth of beaded moose hide, prayer books written in Cree and removable floor plugs to prevent the church floating away in floods.

OWEN SOUND , just under 200km northwest of Toronto and 130km north of Goderich, occupies the ravine around the mouth of the Sydenham River, at the foot of the Bruce Peninsula. In its heyday, Owen Sound was a rough and violent port packed with brothels and bars, prompting the Americans to establish a consulate whose main function was to bail out drunk and disorderly sailors. For the majority it was an unpleasant place to live, and the violence spawned an especially active branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Organization, whose success was such that an alcohol ban was imposed in 1906 and only lifted in 1972. The town was in decline long before the return of the bars, its port facilities undercut by the railways from the 1920s, but it’s managed to reinvent itself and is now an amiable sort of place well worth at least a pit stop, though navigation can be confusing: avenues run north–south and streets east–west, while the river, which bisects the town centre, separates avenues and streets East from those marked West.

Blue Mountain ski resort

The small-time port of Collingwood , 65km east of Owen Sound on Nottawasaga Bay, is the gateway to the Blue Mountain , a segment of the Niagara Escarpment whose steepish slopes are now a major winter sports area, mainly for alpine skiing though several cross-country trails have also been developed. To get there from Collingwood, take the Blue Mountain Road (Hwy-19) which reaches – after about 10km – the downhill ski slopes at the Blue Mountain Resort ( t 705 445 0231, t 1 877 445 0231, w bluemountain.ca ), a large and modern sprawl comprising hotels, shops, restaurants and cafés. In total, the Blue Mountain ski area has 36 downhill ski slopes of varying difficulty with a maximum vertical drop of 219m. The prime season is from mid-December to mid-March.

Strategically situated beside St Mary’s River, the tortuous link between lakes Superior and Huron, industrial SAULT STE MARIE – more popularly The Soo – sits opposite the Michigan town of the same name and sees constant two-way traffic, with two sets of tourists keen to see how the other lot lives. The Soo, 300km from Sudbury, is northern Ontario’s oldest community, originally settled by Ojibwa fishing parties. The French called these Ojibwa Saulteux (“people of the falls”) and the Jesuit missionaries who followed added the Christian sobriquet to give the town its present name. Initially, The Soo flourished as a gateway to the fur-rich regions inland, but it was the construction of a lock and canal in the nineteenth century that launched its career as a Great Lakes port and industrial centre, churning out pulp, paper and steel. Too industrial to be pretty,

Some 2km long and three blocks wide, The Soo’s downtown core runs parallel to the waterfront to either side of the main drag, Queen Street East . All the principal sights and most visitor facilities are located here, the pick of which stretch along the waterfront , but its real appeal is as the starting point for a splendid wilderness train ride on the Algoma Central Railway .

The Algoma Central Railway

The 476km-long Algoma Central Railway (ACR) was constructed in 1901 to link the Soo’s timber plants with the forests of the interior. the first recreational users were members of the group of Seven, who shunted up and down the track in a converted boxcar, stopping to paint whenever the mood took them. the ACr’s timber days are long gone, but today the railway offers one of Ontario’s finest excursions, with the train snaking through a wonderful wilderness of deep ravines, secluded lakes and plunging gorges. to see it all, sit on the left-hand side – otherwise you’ll end up looking at an awful lot of rock. there are several tours to choose from, though only two stand out, and all depart from the Algoma Central railway terminal, in downtown Soo at 129 Bay St and dennis (t 705 946 7300, t 1 800 242 9287, w agawacanyontourtrain.com).

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train takes a day to cover the first 200km of track and back (late June to mid-Oct departs daily at 8am, returns 6pm; $84; $102 in autumn). Reservations are strongly advised and essential in the autumn, when the leaves turn. A two-hour stop within the canyon’s 180m-high walls allows for a lunch break and a wander around the well-marked nature trails, which include a lookout post from where the rail line appears as a thin silver thread far below. Unless you are properly equipped don’t miss the train back – the canyon gets very cold at night, even during the summer, and the blackflies are merciless.

A regular passenger train service from The Soo to the remote francophone township of Hearst three times weekly was suspended in the summer of 2015. Previously passengers on this train could get off and on at various points along the line; check w algomapassengerrail.com for the latest on the ongoing efforts to get this service reinstated.

STRATFORD , some 150km west of Toronto, is a likeable country town of thirty thousand people, which rises head and shoulders above its neighbours as the host of the Stratford Festival , originating in 1953 and now one of the most prestigious theatrical occasions in North America, attracting no fewer than half a million visitors every year. It only takes an hour or so to work out what is where in Stratford, beginning with the town’s downtown core, on and around the junction of Ontario and Downie streets, where a handsome set of nineteenth-century brick facades reach an idiosyncratic hiatus in the grandiose city hall , a brown-brick fiesta of cupolas, towers and limestone trimmings. The town is also bisected by the meandering Avon River , whose leafy banks are lined with immaculately maintained footpaths and overlooked by the largest of the town’s four theatres, the Festival Theatre .

The Stratford Festival

Each year, North America’s largest classical repertory company puts on the Stratford Festival ( t 519 273 1600, t 1 800 567 1600, w stratfordfestival.ca ), featuring two of Shakespeare’s tragedies and one of his comedies; this programme is augmented by other classical staples – Molière, Chekhov, Jonson and so forth – as well as by the best of modern and musical theatre. The festival also hosts a lecture series, various tours (of backstage and a costume warehouse, for example), music concerts, an author reading series and meet-and-greet sessions with the actors. The festival runs from mid-April to late October and there are performances in four downtown theatres – the Festival, the Tom Patterson, the Avon and the Studio. Regular tickets cost between $50 and $80 depending on the performance and seat category, though there are all sorts of discount deals for students, seniors, same-day performances and previews; many plays are sold out months in advance. Call or check the website to book.

The Lake Superior port of THUNDER BAY , some 110km from Nipigon, is much closer to Winnipeg than to any other city in Ontario, and consequently its 120,000 inhabitants are prone to see themselves as Westerners. Economics as well as geography define this self-image, for this was until recently a booming grain-handling port – for grain harvested in the Prairies. Some grain still arrives here by rail to be stored in the town’s gigantic grain elevators on its way to the Atlantic, but since the 1990s the economics of the trade have favoured Canada’s Pacific ports and many of the elevators that dominate the harbourfront are now literally rotting away.

Scarred by industrial complexes and crisscrossed by rail lines, Thunder Bay is not immediately enticing, but it does have enough of interest to make a pleasant stopover on the long journey to or from Winnipeg and points west. The most agreeable part of town is the few blocks stretching inland from behind the marina in Thunder Bay North , north of Central Avenue, where you’ll also find several good cafés and restaurants. Thunder Bay South is much less appealing, but on its outskirts is the city’s star turn, the replica fur-trading post of Fort William Historical Park .

Thunder Bay was created in 1970 when the two existing towns of Fort William and Port Arthur were brought together under one municipal roof. Fort William was the older of the two, established in 1789 as a fur-trading post and then becoming the upcountry headquarters of the North West Company. It lost its pre-eminent position when the North West and Hudson’s Bay companies merged, but it remained a fur-trading post until the end of the nineteenth century. In the middle of the nineteenth century, rumours of a huge silver lode brought prospectors to the Lake Superior shoreline just north of Fort William, where Port Arthur was established. The silver didn’t last and the Port Arthur, Duluth & Western Railway (PD&W), which had laid the lines to the mines, was soon nicknamed “the Poverty, Distress & Welfare”. The Canadian Northern Railway, which took over the abandoned PD&W lines, did much to rescue the local economy, but did not bring Fort William and Port Arthur closer together. Rudyard Kipling noted that, “The twin cities hate each other with the pure, passionate, poisonous hatred that makes cities grow. If Providence wiped out one of them, the other would pine away and die.” Fortunately, the 1970 amalgamation bypassed Kipling’s prediction and nowadays these parochial rivalries have all but vanished.

West from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg

Heading west from Thunder Bay, it’s almost 700km to Winnipeg in Manitoba. The logical place to break your journey is Kenora , almost 500km away along Hwy-17, through the interminable pine forests of the Canadian Shield. Remember to put your watch back one hour when you cross into the Central time zone , about 60km west of Thunder Bay.

Discover more places in Canada

  • The Lake Huron shoreline
  • Lake Superior’s north shore
  • Manitoulin Island
  • The Muskoka Lakes
  • Niagara Falls and the Niagara River
  • Severn Sound
  • The upper St Lawrence River

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updated 12.05.2021

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15 best places to visit in ontario [canada] in 2024.

Bradley Williams

Home to the Great Lakes, the city of Toronto and, of course, Niagara Falls … 

Ontario has to be one of the best places to visit in Canada !

With ample spots for fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, and biking; it really is the nature-lover's dream.

Couple this with major cities, fantastic road networks and transport links; Ontario is super easy to visit.

But with so much to do, it’s also pretty … darn … BIG.

It’s larger than France and Spain combined!

So deciding on the best places to visit in Ontario can be tough. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

After 2 months spent road tripping the entire state, we’ve whittled the destinations down to the '15 best places in Ontario'.

As well as throwing in a few useful hints and tricks for making the most of your stay.

Let’s get stuck in…

Travellerspoint

How to get to Ontario

Toronto highway

You've got a couple of options when it comes to travelling to Ontario Province! 

Ontario is huge province so naturally, there are plenty of airports. In fact, there are around 48 of them so you've got lots of options.

However, only four of these are international; London International, Ottawa International, Thunder Bay International, and Toronto Pearson.

Flights arrive daily to these airports, so when you're planning your trip make sure you find the best deals through Skyscanner ! 

By public transport

If you're already traveling through Canada or you're in the United States then there are plenty of trains and buses that will take you to Ontario.

The most popular operators include Amtrak , Via Rail , and Ontario Northland .

If you're planning to travel by bus which can be cheaper then make sure you check out Coach Canada , Flixbus , and Mega Bus .

By car/motorhome

Many people choose to hire a motorhome and drive from the United States to Canada! If you're already in Canada, then you can simply drive through the other provinces to reach Ontario.

If you're planning to do a cross-country trip across the country then many people choose to start in the city of Vancouver on the west coast, or the provinces of Quebec or Newfoundland and Labrador.

By doing a Quebec road trip you'll be right next door to Ontario, so you can always explore both provinces in a short amount of time.

For those who'd prefer to hire a car, check out our guide to the top car rental companies in Canada !

If you're in the United States then you can always catch the ferry into Ontario. However, services are quite limited.

Due to Ontario's location, ferry routes only depart from Michigan, New York State, Ohio, and a couple of other locations.

You can find more information about the ferry routes here!

Getting Around Ontario

getting around ontario

Ontario is home to an ultra-modern transportation system and there are various methods to get around the province.

One way to get around is by rental car. Renting a car is the best way to travel if you want to embark on a road trip to various regions.  

Driving yourself around means you can stop and go as you please and you can easily explore off-the-beaten-track locations.

However, I'd recommend hiring a campervan as there are tons of fantastic RV rentals in Ontario !  One of the best places to grab a camper is in Toronto , and this can be booked through Motorhome Republic.

Staying in an RV or a campervan allows you complete flexibility when it comes to exploring this beautiful state and you'll save money by staying at campsites too.

There are four international airports and many smaller regional airports in Ontario that offer commuter flights from city to city within the province.  This makes it easy to travel quickly over long distances.  

For example, a flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay is just over two hours whereas it takes about 14 hours to drive between the two cities. 

To find a great price on regional flights, check out available routes and book your flights on Skyscanner !

Trains are another great way to get around Ontario and there are both municipal trains and regional trains.

The Go Train is a commuter train serving the greater Toronto region but there's also the city rail transit system which operates a subway system and streetcars.  

In Ottawa, OC Transpo services that region and the Waterloo region has its own light rail service.

Via Rail operates two inter-regional train services including the Quebec City - Windsor Corridor and The Canadian which travels from Southern Ontario to destinations in Western Canada.  

Amtrak offers services between various cities in Ontario and cities across the border in New York.

Lastly, Ontario Northland connects southern Ontario to northern regions including Moosonee and James Bay.

Bus travel is another widely available transportation method in Ontario!

‍ Greyhound services the entire province including the northern regions, whereas, Ontario Northland services Toronto, central Ontario and Northern Ontario.

Megabus and Coach Canada service the southern region of the province.

Where to Stay in Ontario

Where to stay in Toronto

When it comes to places to stay during your travels around Ontario, the possibilities are endless. 

Since accommodation is one of the things that tends to eat up a huge portion of anyone's travel budget, it's a good thing that there are many deals to be found on top-quality accommodation. 

Looking for a quiet, fully-equipped space to kick back in the center of Toronto? Booking.com has a wide range of accommodation options such as this lovely guesthouse !

How about a centrally-located hotel in Ottawa that features a restaurant, gym and hot tub?

If a treehouse overlooking a lake in Thunder Bay sounds like a dream, Airbnb has you covered. They feature a wide range of other unique accommodations all over the province.

There are some fantastic deals to be found in Ontario and we've got some great tips on how to find cheap hotel rooms ...

15 Best Places to Visit in Ontario

Toronto

Canada is a land of diversity but the city of Toronto is a major cultural hub where hundreds of different cultures come together. 

Situated along Lake Ontario, this capital city is home to over two million people , but that doesn't mean there aren't many parks, trails and even beautiful sandy beaches.

Toronto is a hub for ethnic foods so you can try a different type of world cuisine every day that you're there.

Some of the must-see attractions include Ripley's Aquarium of Canada , Kensington Market , Fort York , and the Royal Ontario Museum .

If you've got time you'll also want to head to the Art Gallery of Ontario , Casa Loma , Toronto Zoo , High Park and, of course, the iconic CN Tower .

A great way to get to know the city and see the attractions at the same time is to do some sightseeing with the city's Hop-on Hop-off bus tour .

Check out our guide on things to do in Toronto for more inspiration!

2. Algonquin Provincial Park

travel in ontario

Located in southeastern Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the best places in Ontario to visit for the weekend. 

It's also a perfect escape into nature with 4,000 square miles of pristine wilderness consisting of lakes, bogs, rolling hills, forests and rivers.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park and some of the top trails include Whiskey Rapids Trail, Barron Canyon Trail and Centennial Ridges Trail.

Because much of the park can only be accessed via waterways, kayaking is also popular and the area is home to some of the best trout fishing spots in the region.  

As you explore Algonquin National Park, make sure to watch for moose, bears and many species of birds.

Some of the must-see attractions in the park include the Algonquin Logging Museum , Head Lake Waterfall and Lookout Point.  

If you're looking for somewhere to view spectacular autumnal colors, Algonquin National Park is one of the top places to visit in Ontario during the Fall.

3. Niagara Falls

niagara falls

No trip to the province is complete without a visit to world-famous Niagara Falls !

These falls are one of the best places to visit in Ontario for a weekend getaway, as they're located close to the capital of Toronto.

While you're likely familiar with the beautiful waterfalls of this name, perhaps you didn't realize that Niagara Falls is also a city! This city is home to many other world-class sights besides one of the top Ontario tourist attractions.

There are many ways to experience the Falls and just as many ways to get a spectacular view of them. 

Escape the city at Niagara Falls State Park or get aerial views of the Falls from atop the Niagara SkyWheel .

You can also explore the world behind the Falls with a Journey Behind the Falls Tour or enjoy spectacular views of the Falls whilst you dine on a gourmet meal at the Skylon Tower . 

There are also plenty of gorgeous hotels that offer views of Niagara Falls so you can even wake up and walk right to your window for epic views! 

Other popular attractions in the city include the Butterfly Conservatory and Rainbow Bridge .

Don't forget to check out our guide of the best things to do in Niagara Falls !

4. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake

Only a half-hour drive away from Niagara Falls is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ontario; Niagara-on-the-Lake .

It might only be a short distance away but the old buildings, rolling hills, fields and scenic location on Lake Ontario, make it seem like a whole world away.

The historic 19th-century town itself is characterized by lovely tree-lined streets, flower gardens and a scenic waterfront area. 

As you walk around the pretty little town, you'll find many art galleries, antique shops, cafes, parks and historic sites. You might even see a horse-drawn carriage making its way along the streets.  

Just outside the town is Ontario's Wine Country where you'll find many of the province's top vineyards, wineries, breweries, distilleries and fine dining restaurants. 

There's Peller Estates Winery and Restaurant , Trius Winery & Restaurant , Reif Estate Winery , and Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery .

See them all on an Ontario Wine Country Tour !

paris ontario

Not quite the Paris that first came to your mind, but Paris, Ontario is a very nice place nevertheless. 

This scenic little town is known for its cobblestone architecture, old-world feel, and narrow streets filled with cozy cafes, boutique shops and galleries.

Pleasant days should be spent exploring the nature trails at Barker's Bush or kayaking/canoeing in Lion's Park.  

Whereas, rainy days are best spent learning about the history and culture of the area at The Paris Museum & Historical Society , Woodland Cultural Centre , Glenhyrst Art Gallery , and Mohawk Chapel . 

Other attractions in the area include Penman's Dam, The Paris Wincey Mills Co. and the Bell Homestead National Historic Site.

Here's some more information on the best things to do in Paris , Ontario!

6. Pukaskwa National Park

Pukaskwa National Park

Situated along Lake Superior near the town of Marathon in Northern Ontario, Pukaskwa National Park is a large wilderness area that protects an area of undeveloped shoreline. 

E njoy hikes through boreal forests with lake views on some of the park's trails including The Coastal Hiking Trail, Boardwalk Beach Trail, and the Southern Headland Trail. If you've got time then why not check out the Bimose Kinoomagewan Trail, Hattie Cove Fire Walk, and Manito Trail?

As you explore the park, you'll see many beautiful sights including picturesque suspension bridges, sandy beaches, Chigamiwinigum Falls, Otter Island Lighthouse and the Pic River Dunes. 

If you're up for an epic water adventure, try paddling along the Pukaskwa River or White River. However, just make sure you take along an action camera or pack a dry bag!

For some reason, this amazing national park doesn't see as many visitors as some of Ontario's other parks which makes it all the more desirable. 

A remote location without the crowds. Sounds like paradise!

7. Bruce Peninsula

bruce peninsula

As part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, The Bruce Peninsula is a vital area for plants and wildlife. 

The region is home to the biggest area of forest and natural habitat in southern Ontario and this forest has some of the oldest trees in North America.

The Bruce Peninsula is popular with both locals and tourists who enjoy an array of outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, camping and nature viewing. 

These activities and more can be enjoyed in the region's two national parks, Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park .

However, the Bruce Peninsula is one of the top places to go in Ontario!

As you explore the region, you'll see rugged cliffs, dense forests, pristine lakes and a variety of unique ecosystems. 

It's a great place to see a variety of beautiful wildflowers and wildlife too including black bears, foxes and chipmunks.

Some of the popular attractions in the region include Lion's Head Beach, Greig's Caves, Devil's Monument and Lion's Head Harbour Lighthouse. 

A number of provincial parks are also located on the peninsula including Black Creek, Ira Lake, Hope Bay Forest, Smoky Head and Johnston's Harbour.

Ottawa Ontario

While Toronto is the capital city of Ontario, Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and it's one of the best cities to visit in the whole country. 

Ottawa is known for its beautiful parks and green spaces, and its world-class historical and cultural attractions. 

This is where you'll learn about much of Canada's history along with the history of the city and surrounding region. 

Located along the Ottawa River, the Victorian-style buildings of Parliament Hill are the center of this bustling city.

Other attractions include the National Gallery of Canada , the Canadian War Museum , Peace Tower, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral .

You'll also want to visit the Canadian Nature Museum and Canada Aviation and Space Museum !

When you need an escape from the crowds, head to one of the parks along the Rideau Canal and watch all the boats coming and going. 

Or better yet, take a Rideau Canal Cruise and spend an afternoon taking in the sights and sounds of Ottawa from the water.

Ottawa is also one of the best places to visit in Ontario during winter! People come from all over to enjoy skating on the Rideau Canal and the great downhill skiing areas.

9. Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney National Park, Ontario

Located on Georgian Bay along Lake Huron in southern Ontario, Killarney Provincial Park is an immense wilderness.  

It features spectacular scenery consisting of mountains, coastline, wetlands, forest and more than 50 lakes. When it comes to day trips, it’s one of the best Ontario destinations to spend time in nature. 

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in this park and some of the top trails include Cranberry Bog Trail, Silver Peak, Granite Ridge Trail, La Cloche Silhouette Trail, and The Crack and Chikanishing Trail. 

If canoeing or kayaking is more your thing, there are several routes connecting various lakes in the area.

As you explore Killarney Provincial Park, you'll see a wide variety of plants and likely spot some wildlife too including moose, deer, black bears, wolves, beavers, lynx and more than 100 species of birds.  

If you stick around until nightfall, you can enjoy unspoiled views of the night skies at Killarney's Dark Sky Preserve.

10. Thunder Bay

Sea lion rock formation at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Thunderbay, Ontario

Thunder Bay is the largest city in Northwestern Ontario but it's not big enough to be away from the pristine wilderness that the area is known for. 

Situated on Lake Superior, Thunder Bay is one of the top places to see in Ontario. 

Whether you're interested in historic architecture or stunning natural vistas, you'll find what you're looking for and more.

Within the city itself, enjoy a wide variety of attractions including the Thunder Bay Art Gallery , Thunder Bay Historical Museum , Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Thunder Bay Military Museum. 

At the Fort William Historical Park , you'll learn about the history of fur trading and be able to hike a trail that leads to the top of Mount McKay.

Outdoor lovers can also escape the urban landscape and head to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on the nearby Sibley Peninsula. Here, you'll find hiking trails and have opportunities to view wildlife. 

Other nearby nature areas include Kakabeka Falls and Cascades Conservation Area.

11. Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island

If you're thinking an island in the middle of a lake would have to be small, you don't know Manitoulin Island . 

Lake Huron is one of the biggest lakes in the world and Manitoulin Island, which is located on this lake, is the biggest freshwater island on earth. 

Another fact that you may not have been aware of is the island was also the site of the first European settlement in Canada.

Manitoulin Island is so big that it has more than 100 lakes so you can only imagine the kayaking, canoeing and fishing adventures that are to be had. 

The pace here is laid back, the crowds non-existent, the scenery incredible - making it a nature lover's dream! 

Disappear into the wilderness and along the way see the stunning Bridal Veil Falls, Providence Bay Beach, and Misery Bay Provincial Nature Reserve.

During your time here, you'll also want to see the 10-mile Point Lookout, Strawberry Island Lighthouse, and Little Current Iron Swing Bridge. 

Enjoy a day of hiking along the trails that include the Great Spirit Circle Trail and Cup and Saucer Trail. This way, you've got the chance to see wildlife and a variety of birds.

Manitoulin Island is also a place with a long history and vibrant culture. You can learn more about the island, its past and its people at the Mishibinijima Private Art Gallery , Ojibwe Cultural Foundation and the Old Mill Heritage Centre .

For some inspiration and tips on how to best see Manitoulin check out these self-guided tours that cover almost every inch of the island.

Trust me, once you've visited you'll see why Manitoulin Island is one the most unique destinations in Ontario.

12. Thousand Islands National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

It's Canada's smallest National Park, but it's also one of Ontario's most popular ones. I'm talking about the Thousand Islands National Park which is situated in The Frontenac Arch Biosphere in the Saint Lawrence River.  

The park has 21 islands, many islets and a mainland area with a day-use park, exhibits and a visitor center where you can learn all about the nature and history of the park.

Known for being the most biodiverse area of the country, you should have no problem spotting some wildlife here including raccoons, rabbits, foxes, coyotes and deer.

You'll need to rent a canoe or a kayak or take a tour to access many of the areas of the park and as you explore it, you'll see beautiful rugged shorelines and hike around some of the islands.

Some of the area's top attractions include the Thousand Islands Bridge, Fort Henry National Historic Site, 1000 Islands Tower, Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Brockville Museum and 1000 Islands History Museum .  

You can even embark on a ziplining adventure at Treetop Trekking 1000 Islands .

13. Prince Edward

Vineyards of Prince Edward County,Ontario

Prince Edward County is situated along Lake Ontario in the southern region of the province. 

The County, as it's known locally, is a popular place for locals to escape the nearby cities and indulge in a more laid-back pace. 

The area is widely known for its vineyards and wineries such as Norman Hardie Winery , Sandbanks Estate Winery , and Closson Chase Vineyards .

Another notable feature of Prince Edward County is the Sandbanks Provincial Park where you'll find hiking trails and some of the nicest sandy beaches in the region.  

Nature lovers also love the Little Bluff Conservation Area and sailing and fishing on the Bay of Quinte.

Other top attractions in Prince Edward County include Macaulay Heritage Park , the National Air Force Museum of Canada , and Birdhouse City.

You can also explore Mariners Park Museum, Oeno Gallery , and Ameliasburgh Heritage Village.

14. Pancake Bay Provincial Park

View from Lookout at Pancake Bay in Ontario

Situated in the Algoma Country Region on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario, Pancake Bay Provincial Park is mostly known for its fur trading history and beautiful sandy beaches including Pancake Bay Beach. 

The park was established to protect the fragile dunes of the area's beaches. These beaches are known for their clear blue waters similar to many places in the Caribbean.

Hiking and biking are popular activities in this park.  Some of the top trails include the Pancake Bay Nature Trail and the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail. 

Kayaking, canoeing and fishing are also great activities to do here and it's possible to enjoy swimming in the summer months. 

Other attractions include Coppermine Point Lighthouse and Batchawana Falls.

wawa

The first thing you'll likely see upon entering the town of Wawa is the giant 28-foot-tall Canada goose monument that graces the entrance to this pretty little town. 

Situated in northern Ontario, people from all over flock to this area for the incredible sport fishing opportunities, kayaking adventures on Lake Superior and nature escapes.

Hike along the Voyageur Hiking Trail, kick back in the sun at Sandy Beach or take a stroll along the Lion's Waterfront Park Boardwalk. 

Scenic High Falls and Silver Falls are two waterfalls located along the Magpie River and you'll find picnic areas and incredible views at both of these sites.

Nearby Michipicoten Post Provincial Park offers even more opportunities to escape into the area's pristine wilderness.

Ontario Travel Tips and FAQ

When is a good time to visit ontario.

The best time to visit Ontario is between May and September. This is when the weather is warmest and there's less chance of rain. 

The months outside of this period are too cold and snowy unless you're coming to the province to enjoy the many popular winter activities including downhill skiing and snowmobiling.

October is a nice month to visit if you want to see the Fall colors but some attractions may be closed for the season during this time.  

What is a good budget for Ontario?

On average, visitors spend about $180 a day when traveling in Ontario and this includes meals and attractions but not accommodation which runs at about $200 a night on average. 

Of course, this is just a guideline and you can budget for far less than this by opting for hotels outside the cities, camping, and enjoying picnics rather than gourmet meals in top restaurants.  

Can you just book a tour for Ontario?

There are no guided tours that explore the whole province but you'll find tours in almost every city and region, including city tours, bus tours and sailing tours.

Some examples of tours you'll find in various areas of Ontario include:

  • City Sightseeing Toronto Hop-on Hop-off Bus
  • Journey Behind the Falls Tours and Tickets
  • Niagara: Half-Day Winery Tour with Tastings & Optional Lunch
  • Rideau Canal Cruise

Is Ontario safe?

Yes, travel in Ontario is very safe, but it's important to be as vigilant as you would be anywhere else you travel. 

In the cities, there are petty crimes that are more widespread in certain districts than others. That being said, the city of Toronto is said to be the 6th safest city in the world.

One of the dangers to be aware of while traveling in Ontario is the driving conditions on some major highways, such as the 401, which can be overwhelming for first-time visitors.

Some areas of Ontario are hotspots for severe thunderstorms too which are more common during late spring and summer. 

Stay on top of weather conditions and follow instructions from local emergency personnel if you find yourself in the middle of one of these storms.

When exploring Ontario's wild areas, be cautious around animals.  

Ticks are also a common nuisance in many areas so make sure to wear bug spray when venturing into the wilderness and do a tick check afterwards.

What is the weather like in Ontario?

Ontario enjoys a continental climate with four distinct seasons. 

Summer is hot and muggy and the winter is very cold with lots of snow. Spring tends to be warm and rainy while Fall is cooler and drier.

Where to go after Ontario

And that’s the beautiful province of Ontario in a nutshell! 

One of the best things about Ontario is its central location which allows for easy access to other nearby Canadian Provinces and the United States.

Whether you want to head East and explore the Maritime Provinces, or head west and explore the Rocky Mountains and the state of Alberta - there are endless options when it comes to Canadian road trips .

You could even head to the Pacific Coast, or veer south of the US border; the possibilities to extend your epic road-tripping adventure are endless!

If you're planning to spend some more time exploring Canada then here are some guides that you may find useful:

  • The Best Things to do in Winnipeg
  • The Best Things to do in Montreal, Quebec
  • The Best Things to do in Quebec City

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Must Do Canada

The Best Things to Do in Canada

The ULTIMATE Guide to the Best Things to Do in Ontario

June 9, 2020 By Matthew G. Bailey

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Last updated: May 15th, 2022

things to do in ottawa

Ontario is one of the biggest and most populated provinces in Canada and is home to some amazing cities, attractions, and nature. Ranging from the massive cosmopolitan city of Toronto to the scenic landscapes of Algonquin Provincial Park, there are so many things to do in Ontario. From kayaking next to loons to experiencing Canada Day on Parliament Hill, Ontario is definitely one of the most popular provinces to visit in Canada.

Some of the wonderful attractions in Ontario included taking a helicopter tour over Niagara Falls , visiting world-class museums in Toronto, enjoying the thrill of some of the world’s best roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland, canoeing some of Canada’s best lakes and rivers, and visiting some of Canada’s top wineries, just to name a few.

Whether you’re visiting in the summer or in the winter, looking to do one of the many Ontario road trips , or looking for the best activities and attractions for your next trip to Ontario, we’ve got you covered in this extensive guide to the best things to do in Ontario.

Table of Contents

Travel Video: What To Do in Ontario

Back in 2017, we embarked on a 150-day road trip to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Since Ontario is home to the nation’s capital, we made sure we were in Ottawa for July 1st to enjoy one of the biggest Canada Day celebrations Canada has ever had. But that’s not all. We also visited many of the best museums in the country in Ottawa and in Toronto, went into an underground bunker that was built during the Cold War, enjoyed some of the best views of Niagara Falls thanks to a short cruise and helicopter ride, went canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park, and sampled some of Canada’s best wine. We’ve since been back many times to continue going deeper and deeper into the best things to do in Ontario, but that trip will forever be in our hearts. Watch the video above to see it all in action!

romantic things to do in ottawa canada

Things to Do in Ontario: Ottawa

Ottawa is a beautiful and vibrant city, which is also home to Canada’s federal government. Here you’ll find incredible museums, the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, and so much more. You can also walk across the bridge and visit Quebec!

Canadian Parliament Buildings

Without a doubt, the icon of Ottawa is Canada’s parliament buildings. It’s just one of those sights you simply shouldn’t miss when visiting Canada’s capital city. From the Clock Tower to the gothic architecture, the buildings are stunning to admire from the lawns in front of the building. In addition, if you want to go inside, you can take one of the free tours and learn about Canada’s political system.

Rideau Canal

Located right next to the parliament buildings, the Rideau Canal is well worth a visit. In fact, it’s hard to miss. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was actually built to protect against war with the USA but has now become a very popular spot with boaters, connecting the city all the way to Lake Ontario. While you’re there, stop into the Bytown museum as well, which we’ll talk more about below.

Bytown Museum

This great little museum is a great place to visit if you want to learn about Ottawa’s history as well as the Rideau Canal, which is located right outside the front doors! There are a lot of cool artifacts and we learned so much about Ottawa and Canada’s confederation.

Canadian Museum of History

This massive, fascinating museum explores Canada’s 20,000 years of human history while offering some of the best views of Parliament Hill from across the river. Although it’s actually located in Gatineau, Quebec, it’s walking distance from Ottawa.

I really loved the strong emphasis on Canada’s first peoples and learning about the aboriginal culture both before and after the Europeans arrived. It was also cool to learn about some of the most important moments from Canada’s last 150 years.

Walking into Diefenbunker Cold War Museum

Diefenbunker Canada’s Cold War Museum

How often do you get to go into a massive 100,000-square-foot underground bunker built for a nuclear war? Well, a visit to the Cold War Museum allows you to do just that! Thankfully, this place was never used for its intended purpose and it’s now the perfect location for the world’s largest escape room, which we got to try out after our tour of the facility.

We loved running around an actual military bunker as if we were action heroes, solving clues with limited time. Very cool experience!

Nordik Spa-Nature

Although this spa is located in Chelsea, Quebec, it’s only 20-minutes from Ottawa by car. As of now, it’s North America’s largest spa and it truly is an incredible place to spend the day. Think of it as a relaxing adult playground.

They have multiple steam rooms, a variety of hot and cold pools, a salt-water floating pool, fire pits, saunas, and so much more. We always spend a good 8 hours or more when we visit, taking the time to also indulge in a massage as well as some food and drink.

For more, check out our guide to the best things to do in Ottawa !

Meeting Chris Hadfield

Fun Things to Do in Ontario: Niagara Falls

As one of the world’s most popular natural attractions, Niagara Falls is a beauty to behold and one of the tourist attractions in Ontario. There are so many ways to experience the falls and we tried every possible way there is, except go over them in a barrel, which is not recommended.

Besides seeing the falls, there are lots of other things to do in the area, including wine-tasting and food tours in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Niagara Helicopters

Helicopter rides are always awesome and you can probably imagine how cool it is to take a helicopter over one of the world’s biggest waterfalls. We got a birds-eye perspective of the falls and the huge cloud of mist rising into the air. It really looked like a hole in the Earth. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a former world wonder from the sky.

things to do in niagara falls

Journey Behind the Falls

This may just be my favourite way to see the falls. Not only do you get to go right beside the falls but you can also take your time to enjoy the view for as long as you want. It’s really incredible to admire the falls from so close and if you’d like, you can also go down a tunnel and be just a few feet behind the falls, which is a good way to see just how powerful they really are.

Hornblower Niagara Cruises

There’s a reason why taking a cruise into the mist has long been a favourite activity for visitors to Niagara Falls. The boat gets you super close to the bottom, allowing you to get soaked from the mist and experience the force while looking up as the water flows over the edge.

Things to do in niagara falls

White Water Walk

Some people admiring the falls forget about the raging river it creates after the water makes its plunge. This walking path gets you right next to the river, allowing you to walk next to class-6 rapids and a raging river flowing along at around 40 km/h. The water is too dangerous for boats but is perfect to admire from the sidelines.

Whirlpool Aero Car

Another popular attraction in the area is the whirlpool, which is located downstream from Niagara Falls. Here you can take an antique cable car over the whirlpool to get beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Niagara Culinary Tours

If you’re looking to sample wines and food, head to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a beautiful little town right on the edge of Lake Ontario and the U.S. Border. If you’re looking to sample a variety of foods while learning about the history, take a food tour with Niagara Culinary Tours. We walked all over town with our guide, Chris, learning about the area’s history while trying a variety of food, including Thai soup, beer and cheese pairings, and some of the town’s famous desserts. It was awesome!

Butterfly Conservatory

Located just 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) north of Niagara Falls, this 99-acre Butterfly Conservatory is home to a 200-seat theatre, gift shop, and climate-controlled greenhouse. Most importantly, it’s home to over 2,000 tropical butterflies from over 60 different species.

The conservatory glass dome is a whopping 11,000 square feet and is home to 180-metres worth of paths. Whether you’re wanting to have a butterfly land on you or just admire them from a distance, this is the place to go.

Skylon Tower

If you’re looking for a view somewhat similar to a helicopter, you might want to head up to the top of the Skylon Tower to see Niagara Falls from 520-feet above street level. The tower also has two restaurants at the top, including the Revolving Dining Room and the upper Summit Suite Buffet for those looking to have a bite to eat with an incredible view!

Niagara SkyWheel

Where else can you take a ride on a Ferris wheel while enjoying views of one of the world’s natural wonders? This 175-foot (53.3 metres) tall Ferris wheel offers 42 fully enclosed passenger cars that each carry nine people for a 12-15 minute ride with views of Niagara River, Horseshoe Falls, and American Falls. In the winter, the cars are even heated whereas, in the summer, they are air-conditioned.

For a more exhaustive list of things to do in the area, check out our guide to the best things to do in Niagara Falls as well as our guide to the Best Views of Niagara Falls

things to do in toronto

Toronto, Ontario, Things to Do

Canada’s biggest city is home to a vast amount of incredible museums, attractions, restaurants, and more. There’s also a beautiful harbour, Toronto Island, and a multi-cultural scene unlike anywhere else in the country. We had only four days in the city and made sure to pack in as many things as we could.

The CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline and is a great place to get a view of the entire city as well as Lake Ontario and Toronto Island. It might not be the tallest building in the world anymore but it’s still an architectural marvel and a great place to go for sunset.

Royal Ontario Museum

This is the biggest museum in Canada and one of the biggest in North America. Home to more than six million items and 40 galleries, you could explore this place for days.

We happened to be there during a special exhibit called “Out of the Depths, the Blue Whale Story”. This was incredibly interesting and beautiful and gave us insight into the world’s biggest mammal. We saw the real skeleton and an actual heart, which is almost as big as a smart car! If you’re interested in nature or history or art or almost anything else, this is the place to go.

Art Gallery of Ontario

This massive art museum consists of 480,000 square feet of space, housing around 95,000 works spanning the first century to the present day. It’s one of the largest galleries in North America, including significant collections of Canadian art, Renaissance art, European art, African art, and a vast modern and contemporary collection.

You’ll also find photography, sculptures, and other kinds of art such as miniatures, frames, books, film and video art, installations, architecture, and more. The Art Gallery of Ontario is the second most visited museum after Toronto’s ROM and is recommended for anyone interested in, well, art!

Hockey Hall of Fame

For those interested in hockey or insight into the sport that Canada is most known for, head on down to the Hockey Hall of Fame . The beautiful building houses exhibits featuring players, teams, NHL records, memorabilia, and even trophies, including a replica of the Stanley Cup. There are even some interactive games where you can play games and test your hockey skills.

Tasty Tours Food Tour

The food tour with a sweet twist. If you’re looking to try some interesting food while getting a taste for the culture, this is a great tour to take. I loved meeting the shop owners and learning their stories. In fact, that’s what makes this tour special.

I enjoyed hearing about how the businesses got started and we actually ended up interviewing a lot of the people we met through this tour. Highly recommended!

Best Food Tours toronto

Bruce Bell Historical Walking Tour

I really think historical walking tours are the best thing to do when you first arrive in a new city. They really help bring the city to life and that’s what happened when we took a tour with Bruce Bell, a man well known for his incredible St. Lawrence Market tours. This is where Toronto got its start and it was so interesting to learn about the market and the surrounding area.

uFly Flight Simulator

I’ve been wanting to try a flight simulator for quite some time and finally got the chance in Mississauga! Home to North America’s only 180-degree full HD screen to the fully motorized throttle quadrant of the 777-200LR in the country, this is one of the best public flight simulators in the world.

This is a really cool way to experience life as a pilot without actually leaving the ground. It’s incredibly realistic and you get a real pilot next to you to help you take off, fly, and land while answering any questions you might have. This simulator is located in Mississauga and is a 40-minute drive from downtown Toronto.

Steam Whistle Brewery

As one of the most photographed places in Toronto, the Steam Whistle Brewery is a really cool place to visit in downtown Toronto. Take a tour, sample the beer, and learn about the history behind this really cool iconic Canadian-owned beer company. In fact, they’re so cool that they even hosted our Road to 150 Toronto meetup! Thanks, Steam Whistle!

things to do in toronto canada

It’s hard to believe that a big city like Toronto is home to one of Canada’s very few castles. While it’s not really a “real castle”, it is a Gothic Revival style mansion that was built back in 1911 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt.

Not only is it quite close to downtown Toronto but it also offers a beautiful view of the city, including the CN Tower. If you decide to take the popular Hop-on-Hop-off bus, this attraction is one of the stops.

Toronto Islands and a Toronto Harbour Cruise

The best way to see Toronto’s stunning skyline is to go for a cruise along the harbour . This is also a great way to see the Toronto Islands, a chain of small islands in Lake Ontario that provides summer fun for locals and tourists alike.

The islands host a variety of hiking trails, picnic areas, beaches, yacht clubs, and even an airport. In addition, if you decide to take the popular Hop-on-Hop-off bus , this attraction is included in the price.

Canada’s Wonderland

Located just outside Toronto in a suburb called Vaughan, you’ll find the largest amusement park in Canada! In fact, it’s one of the best amusement parks in the world, with more than 330-acres of excitement, including 70 attractions, 17 of which are roller coasters.

There’s also a 20-acre water park and a month-long “Canada Day” celebration called Celebration Canada. For those seeking thrills, our favourite rides are Leviathan, Behemoth, and the new Yukon Striker, which is the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest dive coaster.

For more, check out our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Toronto !

things to do in algonquin provincial park

Things to Do in Sudbury, Ontario

If you’re planning to drive west towards Manitoba or explore the Lake Superior region, you might end up in Sudbury. Here are some of the wonderful things you can do.

Visit the Big Nickel

If you love huge roadside attractions, this is one you don’t want to miss out on. This nine-metre high nickel is the city’s most famous landmark. And is a replica of a 1952 Canadian nickel, which can be found on the grounds of the Dynamic Earth science museum, which we talk about below.

Explore Dynamic Earth

After looking up at the giant nickel, head in and explore Dynamic Earth, an interactive science museum focusing on the city’s mining history. This is the city’s top attraction and is operated by Science North, another one of the top things to do in Sudbury . It’s an interactive science museum established in 2003 that focuses on the city’s mining history. Dynamic Earth has a wide variety of displays and exhibits where the kids can learn how to mine, climb a mineral wall, look at diamonds, and identify different minerals. There are gold panning experiences and displays of fossils and meteorites. They can also go on an underground tour of the mines that takes them deep into the earth and displays the work done by the miners over the years, as well as the technological changes that have taken place. There is also a giant sandpit complete with manually operated diggers, and huge mining machinery they can climb around.

Lake Laurentian Conservation Area

This 97-hectare Lake Laurentian Conservation Area stretches from Lake Ramsey to the Southeast Bypass, creating an excellent conservation area filled with lakes, trails, and wildlife.

It’s a lovely place to get into nature and consists of many hiking trails or even cross-country skiing trails in the winter. It’s also great for bird-watching. In addition, we totally recommend visiting the A.Y. Jackson Lookout to see the impressive 55-metre cascading Hall Falls.

Go Snowmobiling

It’s not tough finding fun things to do in Ontario, Canada. Take this wonderland adventure for example. If you happen to be in Sudbury during the winter, the city has one of the largest groomed snowmobile trails in the world, with over 1,200 kilometres of trails connecting several communities.

These are maintained trails, complete with parking, washrooms and designated rest areas. You can even stay in lodges along the way!

kingston tourism winter

Thrilling Stuff to Do in Ontario: Kingston

Another popular city is Kingston, which is just 2.5 hours east of Toronto by car and just 2 hours south of Ottawa. It’s located right on Lake Ontario and has a beautiful historic waterfront core. You can also arrive via the ViaRail train or the regional airport.

Take a Kingston Trolley Tour

One of the most popular things to do in Kingston is to take a tour on the red Trolleys, a “hop-on-hop-off” style tour that takes you to all the city highlights. The trolleys have live commentary from the driver and/or audio guide, which also makes it a great way to learn about the historical points of the city.

Take a 1000 Island Boat Cruise

Another awesome thing to do around Kingston is to visit the 1000 Islands via the 1000 Island Boat Cruise . This is one of Canada’s national parks and is both a historic waterway and a beautiful place. There are many different boat tours, some of which are short and some of which are long. You can even take a sunset dinner cruise if you want to enjoy the sunset and a delicious meal.

Go Shopping on Princess Street

Since many people love to do some shopping when they travel, the place to do so in Kingston is Princess Street, which cuts right through downtown and proceeds right to the waterfront. There are many shops here, including local food and artisan crafts and clothing, and it’s also a beautiful area to just walk around and enjoy.

Visit Historic Fort Henry

If you’re up for some military history, you’ll want to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort Henry. This fort is actually part of a larger historical site known as the Kingston Fortifications National Historic Site.

This site includes the old fortifications around Kingston Harbour and the entrance to the Rideau Canal. It also includes the historic Shoal Tower (located in the waterfront downtown), the Murney Tower, and the tower/walls of Fort Frederick.

Other Cool Places to Visit in Ontario

Muskoka Ontario Weekend Getaways from Toronto

While so many tourists go to the main areas of Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls, there is SO MUCH MORE for those wanting to get deeper into the province and see some of its more natural beauty. Here are some Ontario highlights and ideas for your next road trip around the province.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is a beautiful slice of nature just a couple of hours north of Toronto. It’s a great place to go canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or hiking. In the fall, it’s one of the most spectacular places in Canada to witness the changing fall colours and it’s one of the most popular places to go camping in Ontario .

During our brief two nights in the park, we stayed at Arowhon Pines, a luxurious rustic lodge overlooking a lake with gourmet food served three times per day. We spent our days canoeing next to loons, paddle boarding around the lake, and jumping off the dock and into the water before watching the sunset and sitting next to the fire inside our lodge.

Getting to Ontario Canada

There are many ways to get to Ontario, including cars, buses, trains, and planes. Some people even arrive by boat from other parts of Canada.

Getting to Ontario by Plane

Ontario is home to some of Canada’s biggest cities and a variety of airports. The most popular options for arrival are the four international airports in Toronto, Ottawa, London, and Thunder Bay. Most tourists will likely arrive in either Toronto or Ottawa. There are also a number of other airports as well.

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport: Toronto’s airport is one of the busiest airports in the world and is definitely the busiest in Canada. More than 180 destinations around the world are served from this airport via 65+ airlines. Being in Toronto, Toronto Pearson is connected to major highways, public transportation systems, rental car companies, express trains, taxis, and more. It’s also a 30-minute drive from the US border.
  • Ottawa International Airport: Serving more than 4.5 million passengers each year, Ottawa is also one of Canada’s busiest airports. The airport is home to 11 airlines and is only 20-minutes to Canada’s capital city and only a two-hour drive from Montreal, Quebec.
  • London International Airport: London’s international airport is located near the city of London, Ontario. It’s also one of Canada’s busiest airports and serves five different airlines with direct flights to 14 destinations.
  • Thunder Bay International Airport: Ontario’s Thunder Bay airport is on the other side of Lake Superior, almost a 15-hour drive from Toronto. It serves around 700,000 passengers annually.

What To Do in Toronto

Getting to Ontario by Car

If you’re driving to Ontario, the province is bordered by Manitoba to the west, Quebec to the east, and the US to the south. It’s a massive province, taking close to 24-hours of driving to cross from west to east. The busiest area is the Toronto-Niagara-Ottawa corridor, which is at the far southeastern edge of the province. The rest of the province (to the north and to the west) is largely made up of forests, lakes, and smaller communities.

The Trans-Canada Highway crosses through the province, providing an easy way to navigate from east to west (and vice versa). It’s a great place for a Canada road trip, whether you decide to explore only Ontario attractions or other nearby provinces as well.

If you need to rent a car, there are many options, including Avis, Budget, Discount, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty.

There’s also a variety of taxis, as well as Uber and Lyft.

Getting to and Around Ontario by Bus

Just like cars, Ontario is easily visited by bus. There are a variety of bus lines offering service throughout the province including:

  • Greyhound: This bus company services all regions of the province.
  • Ontario Northland: This bus company services Toronto, Central Ontario and Northern Ontario.
  • Gray Line: This bus company provides sightseeing tours in Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Ottawa.
  • Coach Canada: This bus company services Windsor to Montreal along the 401 corridors.
  • Parkbus: This bus company services between Toronto and Ottawa and various provincial and national parks.
  • GO Transit: This is the regional public transit service for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Getting to and Around Ontario by Train

Ontario is home to the VIA Rail lines, which offer services to and from the province, but there are also regional train lines as well.

  • VIA Rail Canada: This company offers passenger service in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Southwestern Ontario and Northern Ontario, with express service available between larger communities on most routes. You can also go to other provinces across Canada.
  • Ontario Northland: This company’s Polar Bear Express train provides service from Cochrane to Moosonee.
  • Agawa Canyon Train Tour: Algoma Central Rail offers popular train excursions through the spectacular scenery of Algoma Country.
  • Union Pearson Express: This service is an innovative air-rail link connecting Toronto Pearson International Airport and Union Station in downtown Toronto. For groups of 50 or more please complete the on-line form for special rates.

Getting to and Around Ontario by Boat

Ontario is also accessible by boat, although only from within Canada. There are a couple of ferry services you can make use of, including:

  • Chi Cheemaun: This ferry runs between Tobermory and South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island.
  • Glenora: This ferry connects Glenora and Adolphustown in Eastern Ontario.
  • Pelee Island Ferry: This ferry runs between Leamington or Kingsville and Pelee Island in Southern Ontario.
  • Toronto Islands: This ferry departs from the downtown Toronto docks and services the Toronto Islands.
  • Wolfe Island: This ferry connects Kingston and Wolfe Island in Eastern Ontario.

Things to do in Toronto

Best Time to Visit Ontario

Ontario can be hot and humid in the summer and freezing cold in during the winter in Canada . Timing your visit will likely depend on what you’re interested in doing and what you’re comfortable with.

If you’d like to experience snow and/or partake in winter festivals or winter activities in Ontario, then you’ll want to come sometime between December and March. Other advantages to this time include fewer visitors and cheaper hotel prices.

If you’d rather experience hot temperatures and a wider array of Ontario activities, you may want to visit during Canada’s warmer months from May until September. The hottest months are July and August, which also happen to be the busiest months. Spring can also be nice and during the fall season around October, Ontario is home to some of the best fall colours in Canada .

Either way, travel in Ontario can be done all year-round, especially in cities like Ottawa and Toronto. In the summer, temperatures can reach as high as 40 degrees Celcius whereas the winter can bring temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius or even colder if you travel to the northern part of the province. However, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.

Fun Facts About Canada Ontario

  • Toronto is now known as the most multicultural city on Earth.
  • St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto is known as the best food market in the world.
  • One of the main reasons Ottawa was chosen as Canada’s capital is due to its proximity to both English and French Canada.
  • Toronto is home to Canada’s only NBA and MLB sports teams.
  • With more than 250,000 lakes, Ontario is estimated to have 20% of the world’s freshwater stores.
  • Horseshoe Falls (part of Niagara Falls) is the most powerful waterfall in North America by volume and is often cited as one of the world’s natural wonders.

Want more? Check out our guide to the best Ontario facts .

Things to do in toronto

Final Thoughts on What to Do in Ontario, Canada

As you can see in the video, we had a great time in Ontario. There are so many things to do in this massive province, including big-city entertainment and boundless nature. From massive waterfalls and beautiful lakes to vibrant multicultural cities and international cuisine, Ontario is a really cool province to explore.

For more cool things to do in Ontario and beyond, check out our other articles below:

  • Ottawa in the Winter
  • Things to Do in Quebec
  • Things to Do in Montreal
  • Things to Do in Manitoba
  • Interesting Toronto Facts

Bonus Fun Fact: There’s actually an Ontario historic site located outside of Canada! It’s called Wolford Chapel and it’s located in Devon, England.

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Best Things to Do in Ontario

About Matthew G. Bailey

Matthew G. Bailey is the founder and editor-in-chief of Must Do Canada. Growing up in Alberta to a mother from Quebec and a father from Newfoundland, Matt spent his childhood playing hockey under the Northern Lights and hanging out in the forest before moving to Calgary and travelling to more than 250 cities spanning 42 countries and 6 continents. He loves travel, learning new things, playing sports, writing, making videos, photography, and scuba diving. You can also find him at LiveLimitless.net .

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Toronto Travel Guide

Last Updated: August 30, 2023

Toronto, Canada skyline lit up at night reflecting over the calm waters of Lake Ontario

With half of its 3 million population (6 million if you count the greater metro area) born outside of Canada and over 160 languages spoken in the city, Toronto is often considered to be the most multicultural city in the world. It offers tons of diversity and culture, with not only a Chinatown and Little Italy, but Greektown, Koreatown, Little India, Little Poland, Little Portugal, Little Malta, and more.

There are plenty of free and cheap activities that can make this an affordable place to visit too. The more I visit, the more I love it.

This travel guide to Toronto can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most of your visit to this incredible city.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Toronto

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Toronto

People enjoying the scenic Centre Island near Toronto, Canada in the summer

1. Visit the CN Tower

This iconic 550-meter (1,804-foot) tower is a fixture of Toronto’s skyline. Built in 1975, it was the world’s tallest free-standing tower from 1975-2007 (when the Burj Khalifa surpassed it). You can head up to the top to get spectacular panoramic views of the city and enjoy 360-degree views if the weather is good, and if you’re feeling daring, take the circular, hands-free edge walk 116 stories above Toronto. For a unique splurge meal with a view, their 360-degree rotating restaurant has two-course meals for 75 CAD and three courses for 90 CAD. Tickets cost 43 CAD.

2. Tour the Art Gallery of Ontario

Established in 1900, the AGO is home to almost 100,000 items in its permanent collection. It’s one of the biggest museums in Canada, with a rotating calendar of temporary exhibits as well as an artist-in-residence program. Admission is 25 CAD, except for Wednesday nights from 6pm-9pm when admission is free. Visitors 25 and under always enter free too. Get your skip-the-line tickets here .

3. Wander the Royal Ontario Museum

Home to over 6 million items and 40 different galleries, the ROM has exhibits on dinosaurs, ancient China, indigenous Canadians, Medieval Europe, Ancient Egypt, and much more. It’s the best museum in the city and fun for adults and kids alike. They have rotating exhibitions of photography, prints, modern art, and unique themes like the T-Rex exhibit. Tickets are 26 CAD .

4. Spend a day at the beach

The beaches of Lake Ontario are a relaxing place to spend the day during the summer. You can stroll along the boardwalk, eat at one of the many restaurants, or rent a boat and head out on the lake. The best beaches include Woodbine (Toronto’s most popular), as well as Canada’s famous nude beach, Hanlan’s Point, which is reachable by Hanlan’s Point ferry. For something more sporty, Cherry Beach, is the place for kitesurfing, kayaking, windsurfing, etc., and is reachable by bus. Lastly, Sunnyside beach is popular for picnics, stand-up paddle boarding, and its many cafes.

5. Enjoy Toronto Island Park

Spend an inexpensive day at Toronto Island Park and enjoy the city views, hang out on the beach, play volleyball, or picnic. Take a stroll down the boardwalk with its beautiful scenery of Lake Ontario, Thompson Park, and Ward’s Island Beach. Or take advantage of other activities like bird watching, boating, fishing, swimming, gardens, and hiking. There is also a small amusement park that’s great for kids. A return ferry ticket is 8.70 CAD, which can only be purchased online (the ride is just 10-15 minutes). Check ferry schedules as they are seasonal.

Other Things to See and Do in Toronto

1. take a free walking tour.

The first thing I do in a new city is to take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to see the main sights and connect with a local guide who can answer all my questions. Tour Guys offer 90-minute free tours that cover the main downtown sights and give you a solid introduction to the city. Just be sure to tip your guide at the end! If you’d rather do a bike tour, 3.5-hour tours with Toronto Bicycle Tours cost 63 CAD.

2. Enjoy the Harbourfront Centre

This cultural hub is a great spot to visit during the warm summer months. Located on the water at Queens Quay, it hosts over 4,000 events a year, including many free festivals and concerts. Check their website to see what’s happening during your visit. There are also a couple of free art galleries with rotating exhibits (Artport and The Power Plant) and in the winter, they create an outdoor skating rink here too.

3. Bike the Don Valley

These trails are perfect for any outdoorsy travelers. The trails range from easy to very hard and are accessible from the city (beginning at the intersection of Lakeshore Blvd and Cherry St.). While on the trails, you’ll not only enjoy being in an urban green space but you’ll also be treated to a mini art gallery of ever-changing outdoor art installations. If you’re not into biking, there are also walking and running trails. Check out the park map to plan your route .

4. Go ax throwing

If you’re looking for a unique way to spend an afternoon, the city has a couple of different ax-throwing venues, such as BATL, where you can book a timeslot and then compete against your friends in an ax-throwing competition. Think of it like bowling, but with throwing axes. You don’t need to bring your own ax (but you can) and you can also bring your own drinks too! It’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours. One hour costs 30 CAD per person.

5. Wander Kensington Market

One of the oldest and most well-known neighborhoods in the city, this bohemian and multicultural hub offers an eclectic mix of alternative restaurants, street food stalls, and unique shops. There are often free concerts and festivals here during the summer too. It’s one of my favorite places to wander around ( you can take a tour around the area too ). Don’t miss Bunner’s Bakeshop if you have a sweet tooth!

6. See the Hockey Hall of Fame

Canadians take two things seriously: hockey and hockey. Opened in 1943, this museum is dedicated to the history of their favorite sport. It is both a museum and a hall of fame, full of memorabilia, artifacts, and even an interactive game where you can test your slapshot against a virtual goalie. Admission is 25 CAD.

7. Explore St. Lawrence Market and Gallery

Originally established in the early 19th century, this historic public market has endless rows of local treats to taste and buy. . There are three different sections: the North Market, South Market, and St. Lawrence Hall. With over 100 vendors, the markets have everything from bakers, butchers, artisans, produce stalls, and on Sundays, there’s an antique market with over 80 antique dealers. Food tours are available as well . The Market Gallery is located on the second floor above the markets and inside you can learn about the evolution of the city via historical documents, film, photography, and artifacts. Admission to both is free.

8. Eat Chinese food

Toronto’s Chinese community is one of the largest in the city, making up over 12.5% of Toronto’s population. As a result, Chinatown in Toronto is gigantic and still retains a lot of the authenticity that’s missing in many other Chinatowns around the world. After the original Chinatown was demolished in the 1950s to make way for government buildings, the local Chinese population relocated to the intersection of Spadina and Dundas Street West. Definitely visit and eat a few meals — they are delicious and super cheap. For tasty eats, don’t miss Mother’s Dumplings, Happy Lamb Hot Pot, and Red Room.

9. Visit the Ontario Science Center

This interactive museum is perfect for anyone traveling with kids. There’s an indoor rainforest, tornado machine, soundproof tunnel, balance testing machines, planetarium, tons of interactive exhibits, and so much more. There’s also an IMAX Dome which plays educational films. Admission is 22 CAD.

10. Tour the Steam Whistle Brewery

Steam Whistle Brewing is an award-winning independent brewery located in the historic John Street Roundhouse (previously a steam locomotive repair facility), near the Rogers Center and CN Tower. The brewery offers tours for 20 CAD (which includes a sample of their beer). Tours operate on a first-come, first-served basis and can be booked in advance on their website. There is even an art gallery on-site, showcasing local artists. Check out the Steam Whistle Biergarten and Taproom and enjoy a beer and some tasty food like burgers, pasta, fish and chips, or their Steam Whistle brined chicken with gravy.

11. See Casa Loma

Constructed between 1911-1914, Casa Loma is the former estate of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, an entrepreneur and soldier. Touring this real-life ‘medieval’ castle is awesome. There are four levels to check out through a self-guided tour. Highlights include an indoor conservatory with its own fountain, and the Oak Room, an ornate drawing room with tons of wood paneling that took over three years to complete. They also host an amazing haunted house here every Halloween. Admission is 40 CAD ( get your tickets in advance here .)

12. Enjoy Canada’s Wonderland

Filled with rides, roller coasters, food, games, shops, theaters, a water park, and live shows, this is the largest amusement park in Canada and loads of fun. Located just 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the city, you’ll want to arrive early as the park fills up quickly in the summer! Tickets start at 29.99 CAD.

13. Catch a ball game

Toronto’s major league baseball team, the Blue Jays, have been doing quite well in recent years and their fan base has exploded. Last-minute tickets can be found online with prices for their spring training starting at 25 CAD. Located right downtown and on the waterfront, this is a great activity for sports fans.

14. Attend Word on the Street

Every September, Queen’s Park is host to Canada’s largest annual outdoor book and magazine festival. You can browse through hundreds of books, magazines, and literary exhibitor booths. There are also readings from famous authors like Margaret Atwood and David Suzuki. Admission is free.

15. See the Toronto International Film Festival

Toronto plays host to the stars every September, so if you’re in town be sure to grab tickets — there’s a good chance you’ll see some great films and you might just bump into a celebrity too! With almost 500,000 visitors, this is one of the largest film festivals in the world. Screenings cost 20-30 CAD, with discussions, workshops, and other events to attend as well. The festival has lots of volunteer opportunities available as well.

16. Gorge at Summerlicious & Winterlicious

Every summer and winter, the city’s best restaurants take part in a massive prix-fixe food festival. Over 200 restaurants take part, with plates starting at 23 CAD for a multi-course meal. It’s an amazing way to sample the city’s best dishes on a budget!

  For more information on other cities in Canada, check out these guides:

  • Calgary Travel Guide
  • Montreal Travel Guide
  • Nova Scotia Travel Guide
  • Ottawa Travel Guide
  • Quebec City Travel Guide
  • Vancouver Travel Guide
  • Vancouver Island Travel Guide

Toronto Travel Costs

Toronto, Canada skyline with tons of trees and greenery in the foreground

Hostels – Toronto only has a few hostels. Dorms with 6-8 beds cost between 30-45 CAD per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard, and most hostels have self-catering facilities to cook your own food. A couple of hostels include free breakfast. Private rooms begin at 75-90 CAD per night.

Hotels – Budget two-star hotels start at 115-125 CAD per night. These usually include free Wi-Fi and basic amenities like a TV, coffee/tea maker, and occasionally a continental breakfast.

Airbnb is widely available in the city, with private rooms starting at 60 CAD per night, though they average closer to 100 CAD. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 140-180 CAD per night.

Food – The food here is a collage of dishes from other cultures, owing to the country’s diverse history of immigration. There’s a lively Chinatown, a Little Italy, Little Tokyo, Little Portugal, and much more. If there is a cuisine you’re craving, you can find it here. The city is also a hub for vegan and vegetarian fare, with much of it centered in Vegandale (a stretch of Queen Street with a host of vegan places). Be sure to sample some of Canada’s famous staples like poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds), beaver tails (fried dough with maple syrup), Canadian bacon, and the oddly tasty ketchup chips.

A meal at an inexpensive restaurant is about 20 CAD for something like a burger and fries. A quick hot dog or sausage on the street (which are incredibly popular) costs 3-4 CAD. A three-course meal with a drink is at least 50 CAD.

McDonald’s (and other fast food) costs around 13 CAD for a combo meal. A medium pizza is 15-20 CAD while Chinese food costs 9-15 CAD for a main dish.

Beer is around 7 CAD while a latte/cappuccino is around 4.75 CAD. Bottled water costs 2 CAD.

If you cook for yourself, you can spend around 50-65 CAD on groceries per week, which includes basic staples like bread, veggies, rice, pasta, and some meat.

Some of my favorite restaurants include Bar Chef (high-end, innovative cocktail bar) and Planta Yorkville (upscale and plant-based).

Backpacking Toronto Suggested Budgets

On a backpacking budget of 70 CAD per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, cook all your meals, limit your drinking, take public transportation to get around, and do mostly free activities like relaxing at the beach and taking free walking tours.

On a mid-range budget of 160 CAD per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or hostel room, eat out more, have a few drinks, take the occasional taxi, and do more paid activities like visiting the ROM or the CN Tower.

On a “luxury” budget of 325 CAD or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink more, rent a car or take more taxis to get around, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury, though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in CAD.

Toronto Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in the country. However, like any big city, there are plenty of ways to save. Here are some tips to keep you from breaking the bank when you visit Toronto:

  • Get a City Pass – Tourists can purchase a City Pass for 82.91 CAD that includes admission to the CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, the Toronto Zoo, and more. You’ll save a ton if you’re planning to visit most of these attractions.
  • Stay with a local – Toronto doesn’t have many hostels (and the hostels aren’t super cheap either) so try to Couchsurf with a local to save money. It’s a great way to learn more about the city and get insider tips from a local.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money. LifeStraw makes a reusable bottle with a built-in filter to ensure your water is always safe and clean.
  • Eat street food – You can find cheap hot dogs for around 3-4 CAD all around the downtown core. Fill up on them if you’re on a budget.
  • Skip the taxis – Taxis and rideshares in Toronto are expensive. Stick to the TTC (public transportation), which can get you anywhere you need to go.
  • Visit the AGO on Wednesdays – The Art Gallery of Ontario is free on Wednesday evenings. If you want to visit, be sure to visit then to save money.
  • Get a PRESTO card – This public transportation card costs 6 CAD but it offers discounts on rides as well as the ability to get a day pass (13.50 CAD), which saves you a ton if you plan on exploring the whole city.

Where to Stay in Toronto

Toronto doesn’t have a ton of hostels. Here are two suggested places to stay:

  • The Only Backpacker’s Inn
  • The Parkdale Hostellerie

How to Get Around Toronto

A TTC streetcar driving around downtown Toronto, Canada on a rainy day

Public transportation – Toronto has a comprehensive system of buses, trams, and subways that link the entire city called the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). Cash fares are 3.25 CAD or 3.20 CAD if you have a reloadable PRESTO card. You can purchase a day pass for 13.50 CAD with a PRESTO card as well (the card costs 6 CAD).

The TTC also manages the bus to Pearson Airport, which takes around 45-65 minutes from downtown and costs 3.25 (regular fare). There is also an express train to the airport called the UP Express. It costs 12.35 CAD and takes 25 minutes from downtown.

Taxi – Taxis in Toronto are expensive, starting at 4.44 CAD and costing an additional 1.75 CAD per kilometer. With traffic being relatively slow in the city, it’s best to skip the taxis.

Ridesharing – Uber is available in Toronto.

Bicycle – Bike Share Toronto offers daily passes for 7 CAD and 72-hour passes for 15 CAD. They have over 7,185 bikes spread across 630 stations around the city. You can buy a pass via their app .

Car Rental – Car rentals can be found for as little as 30 CAD per day. However, unless you’re planning to head out of the city, I would skip the car rental. Parking is expensive and you don’t need a car to get around.

When to Go to Toronto

Toronto is busiest in the summer, with June-August being the most popular time to visit. The beaches are open, there are tons of events and festivals, and the weather is hot (bordering on stifling due to the humidity). Expect daily averages around 27°C (80°F) though the humidity can make that feel well over 30°C (87°F).

Winters in Toronto are cold, windy, and snowy. It’s not a good time to visit if you want to do lots of outdoor activities, but you’ll avoid the crowds and flights are cheaper as well. Expect daily highs around -7°C (19°F) though it’s common to experience dips to -20°C (-4°F) as well.

Both early fall and late spring are excellent times to visit. The weather is warm, you can do all the outdoor exploration you want, and there aren’t many tourists around. Accommodation is the most plentiful and affordable around this time too and there are lots of farmer’s markets happening as well.

How to Stay Safe in Toronto

Toronto is very safe and you’re unlikely to have any problems while you’re here (it’s actually ranked as one of the safest cities in North America). Your greatest risk is a petty crime like pickpocketing. Just make sure you aren’t flashing your valuables around and that you keep an eye on your wallet when on crowded public transportation.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here. However, the standard precautions you take anywhere apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). For more information, check out one of the many solo female travel blogs in the city.

While no areas are off-limits, travelers might want to avoid walking around alone at night in the areas around Regent Park and Jane & Finch as you’re likely to have more petty crime in those areas late at night.

Scams are rare here, but if you’re worried about getting ripped off you can read about the common travel scams to avoid right here.

If you’re traveling in the winter, be careful as severe winter storms can occur. Conversely, in the summer, the city can get sweltering. Be sure to stay hydrated when walking around as the humidity can be taxing.

When in doubt, always trust your instincts. If a taxi driver seems shady, get out. If your hotel or accommodation is seedier than you thought, go somewhere else. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID, in case of an emergency.

The number for emergency services is 911.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Toronto Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

Canada Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more information? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Canada travel and continue planning your trip:

The 6 Best Hotels in Toronto

The 6 Best Hotels in Toronto

Where to Stay in Quebec City: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Quebec City: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Vancouver: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Vancouver: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Toronto: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Toronto: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Canada Road Trip: A One Month Suggested Itinerary

Canada Road Trip: A One Month Suggested Itinerary

How to Road Trip the Yukon on a Budget

How to Road Trip the Yukon on a Budget

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Amazing Places to Visit in Ontario This Summer

Ontario is filled with great places to visit this summer, ranging from stunning provincial parks to incredibly charming towns. During the summer, the weather is perfect for swimming and hiking, making it a great time to explore nature destinations in Ontario.

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

I love to adventure as much as I can during the summer to take advantage of the gorgeous weather! While there are plenty of amazing things to do in Ontario during summer, I tend to visit parks and beaches mostly during the season.

Continue reading to discover the best places in Ontario to visit this summer!

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Table of Contents

The Best Places to Visit in Ontario during Summer

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Muskoka is definitely one of the most stunning summer destinations in Ontario. The area is known for its beautiful lakes, the craft beer scene, shopping, and hiking trails. Some visit as a day trip from Toronto and others head out for a weekend getaway. It is a popular place to book a campsite or rent a cabin to take full advantage of the beautiful area.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga is home to the longest freshwater beach in the world. It is a popular summer destination for those wanting to relax at the beach and have a few drinks! The beach looks immaculate any time during the day and is definitely one of the most-visited places during the summer in Ontario.

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

travel in ontario

Located just off of the highway is Presqu’ile Provincial Park. This park is a great spot for those looking for an escape from the city. Visitors set up at a picnic table and enjoy the beautiful park. It is located right on the water with many places to swim. There’s even a neat lighthouse at the edge of the water!

Inglis Falls

travel in ontario

Ontario is filled with incredible waterfalls and Inglis Falls is definitely one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southern Ontario ! Located within Inglis Falls Conservation Area, the waterfall drops over an 18-meter cliff and is a cascading type fall. The well-maintained paths are great to explore the surrounding nature. It is a great spot to take the family for a day in nature and a picnic!

Niagara-on-the-Lake

travel in ontario

During the summer season, you will surely find me outside on patios or visiting local wineries. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a great wine destination in the province, with a variety of vineyards and wineries conveniently located near one another. During the summer, you can go on a bike wine tour, visiting many wineries, and taste delicious wine. Within the town, you stay at one of the dreamy boutique accommodations and try out the food at local restaurants!

Lake Superior Provincial Park

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Lake Superior Provincial Park is an amazing place to visit this summer in Ontario due to the lake and forested trails. Within the large park, you can swim, hike, canoe, and partake in many more outdoor activities. There are many hiking trails for great walks through the forest with great views of the lake! It is located near the city of Sault Ste. Marie and is one of the best places in Northwestern Ontario to visit in the summer.

Arrowhead Provincial Park

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Arrowhead Provincial Park is a beautiful park located near Huntsville, Ontario. It is well-known for amazing hiking trails, camping, and canoeing. Summer is a great time to visit the park as the weather is amazing to spend the day outdoors. It can get busy during the summer, so opt to visit on weekdays or early in the day.

Check out places to stay in Huntsvill e!

Canada’s Wonderland

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Canada’s Wonderland is one of the most popular places to visit during the summer. It is the biggest amusement park in Ontario, featuring many different roller coasters and rides for the whole family. While tickets can be fairly steep, it is worth visiting at least once in your life. The park also hosts a number of fun events , including a beer and BBQ fest, which is lots of fun!

Bruce Peninsula National Park

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Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the best places to visit in Ontario during the summer. With the warm weather, it’s a great place to get lost in nature for a day or a weekend getaway. Between the amazing hikes and views of Georgian Bay, you won’t want to leave!

In the nearby town of Tobermory, there are great local shops and restaurants open during the summer. From the town, you can take a boat to Fathom Five National Marine Park to explore another stunning park that is a must-visit!

Places to stay near Bruce Peninsula National Park: Bruce Anchor Motel and Cottage Rentals | Adventure the Bruce Inn | Grandview Motel | …and more!

travel in ontario

Kingston boasts four Rembrandt paintings, two film festivals, and one vibrant downtown shopping scene. Home to Ontario’s oldest public market and Canada’s hippest live music scene, Kingston is a walkable city, where hidden alleyways contain antique markets and restaurant patios. With dozens of museums and historic sites, and dozens more unique shopping and dining experiences, Kingston offers you something old and something new around every corner.

Learn more about Kingston:  https://www.visitkingston.ca/

Places to stay in Kingston: Best Western | Four Points by Sheraton | …and more!

Sandbanks Dunes Beach

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Sandbanks Dunes Beach offers a stunning view of Lake Ontario. I really enjoyed visiting the beach with a picnic after an afternoon winery tour to take in the sunrise. It is a beach frequented by those wishing to escape from the city, as it’s the prettiest beach near downtown Toronto.

Toronto Islands

places to visit in ontario in summer - toronto islands

Toronto Islands is definitely one of the best places to visit in Ontario during Summer. To get there, there are both water ferries and taxis available for hire. Once you arrive at the island, there are a lot of different things to explore.

There is Centreville Theme Park for all sorts of fun including a wooden roller coaster. If you’re looking for an interesting time, visit Hanlan’s Point Beach – but beware, clothing is optional at Hanlan’s.

A popular place to visit on the islands is Ward’s. Most weekends you’ll find pickup soccer or volleyball around the area. There’s always a drink or two and some music nearby as well!

Prince Edward County

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Prince Edward County is one of the most amazing places to visit on a day trip from Toronto as it is only about 2-hours away from the downtown core. On a trip to the county, you can visit two parks – Sandbanks Provincial Park and Presqu’ile Provincial Park. Both offer great hiking trails and stunning views of the water.

Prince Edward County is known for wineries and vineyards. With the beautiful summer weather, plenty of people take advantage of the outdoors and visit some of the 40 wineries in the area! Most places offer small eats to enjoy while you taste a range of different wines.

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Hamilton is one of the best places in Ontario to visit this summer due to the 100+ waterfalls around the area, yummy restaurants, and amazing nature hikes. Conveniently located near the city of Toronto, it makes for a great day trip from the city.

Some of the best waterfalls to visit in summer in Hamilton include:

  • Albion Falls
  • Webster Falls

Head to the downtown area to explore the charming boutiques and restaurants. There are also plenty of bars and clubs in the area too!

Places to stay in Hamilton: Sandman Hotel | Homewood Suites | Days Inn | …and More!

Algonquin Provincial Park

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Algonquin Provincial Park is an amazing place to visit in Ontario in the summer. The park covers over 7,500 square kilometres and boasts great hikes, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and much more. It is one of the most popular places to go portaging and camping!

Elora Gorge

The Elora Gorge is a popular place to visit in the summer for tubing, swimming, and hiking. Here, there are very tall limestone cliffs with a pretty waterfall plunging over the edge. The swimming area is visited by people from all over Southern Ontario and is a must-visit during the summer.

Crystal Beach

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Crystal Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve visited in Southern Ontario. The waters are crystal clear and the sand is very white. As it’s located quite close to Niagara Falls, it’s a great place to visit on a weekend getaway to the area!

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Toronto is definitely a great destination in Ontario to visit during summer as the city is lively and full of events. Locals and visitors alike love to explore High Park for scenic walks and picnics, along with visiting the shops along King Street or Queen Street. During the summer, it’s a great time to go bar-hopping and visiting one of the many patios in the city for a drink.

Things to do in Toronto: Buffet Dinner Cruise | Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour | Helicopter Tour | …and more!

Blue Mountains

Another one of the best places to visit in Ontario during the summer is Blue Mountain Resort near Collingwood! Many people don’t think to visit during the summer as it’s typically known as a ski and snowboarding destination. But, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area!

It’s a perfect time of the year to visit for golfing or a spa getaway. Better yet, the summer season offers discounted rates and perfect temperatures to spend the day outside exploring the area.

Check out places to stay in Blue Mountains!

Niagara Falls

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Niagara Falls is a great place to visit in the summer, but can definitely be busy during peak tourist season. During this time, gardens boast beautiful flowers and there are plenty of events around Clifton Hill. It’s a great time to visit the arcade, haunted houses, and other attractions while snacking on soft-serve ice cream!

Things to Do in Niagara Falls: Helicopter Tour | Skylon Tower Observation Deck | Niagara SkyWheel

Places to stay in Niagara Falls: Fallsview Hotel and Suites | Niagara Falls Marriott | Sheraton Fallsview Hotel | …and more!

Scarborough Bluffs

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Located a short drive from downtown Toronto, Scarborough Bluffs is a great place to enjoy stunning views of the lake and immerse yourself in nature. On a trip here, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including:

  • Adventuring around the waterfront paths
  • Relaxing at the beach
  • Having a picnic
  • Canoeing or kayaking
  • Photography

Best places to visit in Ontario in summer | Ontario summer destinations | cities to visit | parks to visit

Ottawa is one of the best places in Ontario to visit in summer due to the stunning photogenic buildings and great events throughout the city. Outdoor markets are lively during this season, with ByWard Market welcoming locals and tourists alike. Visitors can explore the city on foot, enjoy outdoor music, or even take a cruise along Rideau Canal.

Places to stay in Ottawa: Holiday Inn Express & Suites | Sandman Signature Ottawa Airport Hotel | Fairmont Chateau Laurier | …and more!

Book a Summer Activity in Ontario

Book your hotel stay.

Best places to visit in Ontario in Summer | summer destinations | travel in ontario

Summer is a perfect time to visit amazing places in Ontario. Be sure to visit plenty of nature-filled places to take advantage of the warm weather. I for one, tend to put off visiting places during this time then completely regret it once the cold winter hits! You bet you’ll find me out and about for most of this upcoming summer!

What are your top places to visit in Ontario during summer? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to Pin this post for later!

travel in ontario

You might also like:

  • Breathtaking Places to Visit in Ontario This Fall
  • 9 Stunning Waterfalls to Visit in Southern Ontario
  • Inglis Falls: The Most Beautiful Waterfall in Grey County, Ontario
  • One Day in Montréal: How to Spend an Amazing Day Exploring Highlights
  • A Scenic Day Trip to Prince Edward County
  • A Day Trip Guide to Bruce Peninsula National Park
  • Best Fall Hikes Near Toronto

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A Scenic Day Trip to Prince Edward County: Best Things to Do

18 comments.

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Steve Collins

Cant wait to get back out for weekend day trips all around the province

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deventuretime

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Great list, I didn’t know there were so many things to do in Ontario! I’d love to visit Algonquin Provincial Park and Hamilton to check out the waterfalls.

The waterfalls are so amazing!!!

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Wow, there are so many beautiful spots in Ontario. Bruce Peninsula National Park looks absolutely beautiful. I love how blue the water is. I also still need to visit Niagara Falls at some point. It looks so breathtaking! 🙂

Both such amazing places! Hope you can visit soon! 😀

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This is giving me some great ideas for when I hopefully get over to Ontario this summer to visit family. Bruce Peninsula has been on the list for a while but I think I added a few other places too

Bruce Peninsula is my favourite place in Ontario! So amazing!

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Looks like Ontario has a lot to offer for everyone! The Niagara Falls are definitely on first place for me but I’d also love to visit the big cities like Toronto and Ottawa 🙂 Great post!

Niagara Falls is so amazing! 🙂

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Hopefully I’m able to travel back home to Ontario this summer and check off some of these places from my list! Canada is beautiful during the summer that’s for sure.

I hope you can too! 🙂

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Rachel - Rays of Adventure

Looks great! I’m really hoping to go to Canada next year and Ontario is now at the top of my list. Thanks for sharing!

Hope you have a great time!

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I used to adventure in Ontario when I grew up in Michigan. It’s gorgeous but I haven’t been there in years. I’d love to check out some of these places when the border opens up again. Beautiful choices of outdoor adventures.

It really is an amazing place to explore in the summer. So many beautiful waterfalls and hikes!

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I am so new to most of these places. All I knew about Ontario was Niagara on the lake. This Canadian destination has so much to explore. Thanks for sharing this knowledge.

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Ultimate Ontario

30 Exciting Weekend Getaways in Ontario: Your Top Places to Visit in Ontario for the Weekend

Planning weekend getaways in Ontario is a great way to see all the beauty of our province bit by bit. We’ve put together a list of 30 different ideas for weekend getaways in the province. We’ve organized the list by region, but make sure you check out all the ideas to help plan the perfect weekend for you to hit the road and savour Ontario.

Weekend getaways in Ontario

If you’re looking for ways to mix up your day-to-day routine at home, then consider taking one of these exciting weekend getaways in Ontario.

Ontario is full of so many fantastic options for things to do. The main thing to keep in mind when you’re planning weekend getaways in Ontario is to choose something that’s close enough to justify going there for a weekend.

That’s why we’ve organized this list of weekend getaways into regional areas in the province, so you can think about how far you’re looking to go, and plan accordingly.

Putting together this list was a lot of fun, and there are so many different types of getaways on this list: quaint and quiet, zen and natural, unique and creative, or urban and entertaining.

Please note that this post may contain some affiliate links. This means we get a small commission for sharing our recommendations, at no cost to you.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s Southwest

Go on a bike tour around the lake erie north shore wine region.

On this weekend getaway, stay in Kingsville for the weekend. Jaunt out to the Lake Erie North Shore wine region for one of your two days.

There are over thirteen wineries and five restaurants in the region, along with some great shops in Kingsville and some of the surrounding hamlets. There are some breweries in the area, too.

If you’re looking to add a little something extra, this weekend getaway in Ontario can also lead you over to Leamington for some great beer , food, and views of Lake Erie at the Point Pelee Observation Tower.

Head to the Southernmost Points in Mainland and Island Canada

Start your weekend in the region by heading to Point Pelee National Park. The scenic drive down to the southernmost tip of mainland Canada is a neat experience. There are hiking trails and boardwalk paths you can explore. If you’re short on time, head to the Observation Tower .

Next, take the ferry from Leamington (make sure you book your ticket for the ferry well in advance!) to Pelee Island. The ferry ride is about 90 minutes, depending on weather conditions. Make sure you bring a book. We are big fans of The Wandering Dog Inn on Pelee Island, and there are plenty of great places to check out once you’re there.

Carve out some time to rent a bike, explore the island, go swimming, head to some restaurants, and enjoy living the island life. A Point Pelee winter getaway is another great way to experience this incredible park.

Dip Your Toes into Exciting Outdoor Experiences and Delectable Wineries in Norfolk County

woman walking through a lavender winery in Norfolk County Ontario

Welcome to “Ontario’s Garden.” Stay at Long Point Eco-Adventures or the Port Rowan Inn* as your base for a weekend in the region .

To book your stay at Long Point Eco-Adventures, click here .

While you’re in Norfolk, head to different wineries and breweries, check out some lavender fields if you visit in the summer months, or enjoy many of the farm-fresh markets and roadside farm stands. This is, after all, a great growing region, so whether you visit in the summer or fall, the heaps of farm-fresh foods are a delight.

Make sure you plan to stop at Burning Kiln Winery during your stay–their famous “Kiln Hanger” is award-winning and one of the top-rated wines in the province. Long Point Eco-Adventures also has some exciting outdoor activities like zip-lining and mountain biking, or educational experiences like apiary tours and mushroom foraging hikes.

*Note: The Port Rowan Inn is closed for renovations as of May 2023.

Go “Retro” in Chatham and Nearby Small Towns

Stay at the Retro Suites Hotel in Chatham. This neat hotel has over twenty suites, each with its own unique theme. It’s a destination in and of itself. If you happen to visit in June, or if you love learning about and seeing vintage cars, then make sure you check out their annual Retro Fest .

To book a memorable stay at the Retro Suites Hotel, click here .

Head to their restaurant, the Chilled Cork, for breakfast or dinner, and head to Sons of Kent brewing before you walk around town.

After you’ve enjoyed some time in Chatham, there are some adorable towns in the region to check out, too. Dresden is one of our favourites!

Relax on the Shores of Lake Huron in Grand Bend

Head to Grand Bend for the weekend. This spot is one of the most charming towns in Ontario . Grand Bend is a great place to visit in the warmer months to enjoy the beaches and its access to Lake Huron.

We’re also big fans of Pinery Provincial Park, which is just down the road. It’s a great park for taking long, scenic walks and enjoying more of what the shores of Lake Huron have to offer.

A Weekend in London, And Then Some

A weekend getaway in London is a great option for those looking for an experience in the city. Stay at The Park Hotel; it’s a really impressive property.

To book your stay at The Park Hotel, click here .

London is home to a ton of great restaurants. There are also a lot of unique and local things to do in the area .

If you’re looking to explore a few fun nearby places, there are some great golf courses near London . The town of Strathroy is also beautiful. The Clocktower Inn is a great place to stay overnight or enjoy a meal. MJ’s Roadhouse in Lucan is also a restaurant worth stopping at.

To book a stay at the historic Clocktower Inn, click here .

If you’re keen to venture a little further, the town of Port Stanley is also very charming!

A Weekend in Windsor

Windsor is another great city in Ontario’s Southwest. The range of different activities and things to do in Windsor is pretty exhaustive! If you’re looking for a Las Vegas-style getaway without the flight, Caesar’s Palace in Windsor is an excellent place to stay. They even have their own casino!

If you want to experience Caesar’s Palace right here in Ontario for yourself, click here .

Aside from casinos, Windsor’s Ford City is a neighbourhood well worth checking out .

A weekend in Windsor can also easily be combined with an extension to Pelee Island Wine Country if you have the time.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s South Central

Things to do in Collingwood, Ontario

Take in the Scenic Rolling Hills and Hamlets of Mulmur

There are so many beautiful hamlets to be explored on this weekend getaway in Ontario. This is more of a relaxed pace for a weekend escape than others. Stay at Foxingham Farm B&B in Mansfield to enjoy the rolling hills in the spring and summer, brilliant fall colours in autumn, or downhill skiing in the winter.

To book your stay at the charming Foxingham Farm Bed & Breakfast, click here .

Head to Mrs. Mitchell’s Restaurant for a delicious breakfast, dinner, or afternoon tea. Explore the Dufferin Museum and plenty of shopping and farms in the region. Don’t forget to visit the Schitt’s Creek Rosebud Motel and the region of Hockley Valley while you’re here, too.

Head to Lake Scugog and its Surrounding Charming Towns

Regardless of what time of year you visit, this corner of Durham Region is a pretty place. In the warmer months, heading out kayaking off of Lake Scugog is the perfect way to get out on the water. During the winter, ice fishing on the same lake is a favourite local pastime.

Round out your visit by spending some time in Port Perry. Learn various crafts in art classes at Meta4. Sample some delicious local craft beer at Old Flame Brewery. Or enjoy lunch or stay overnight at the Piano Inn and Cafe, or head just outside town to the charming Nestleton Waters Inn.

On your way in our out of Port Perry, you can head to Uxbridge. Make sure you stop at a local favourite, Haugen’s, on your way. Their rotisserie chickens have been spinning for over 60 years! Stop in Goodwood, too, before arriving in Uxbridge. Goodwood is the home of downtown Schitt’s Creek–think Cafe Tropical and Rose Apothecary .

In Uxbridge , there are a lot of great restaurants, hiking and biking trails. You can catch your breath at The Second Wedge for a pint after your adventures.

Enjoy a Weekend of Neighbourhood Culture in Toronto

Of course, it’s challenging to cram all the ideas for things to do in Toronto into a little blurb, but we’d recommend planning your weekend based on a region. We’ve outlined a few neighbourhoods and ideal hotels you can stay at in each one.

Maybe you’d like to book a stay on the waterfront at the Westin Harbour Castle and check out the surrounding areas. Or, perhaps you’d like to stay in the eastern neighbourhoods of the city and book yourself into the Broadview Hotel in Leslieville .

Or maybe you plan to stay more centrally, like booking a stay at The Chelsea Hotel . And if you head to the west, you might be happier booking a few nights at The Drake .

Regardless of which direction you choose on this weekend getaway, Toronto is chock-full of fun-filled activities , water sports , hiking trails , fun facts , and bars for you to check out on your visit.

It’s always fun to see what’s on at the Royal Ontario Museum or the Art Gallery of Ontario when you visit the town, too! There are even some ways to visit these Toronto museums for free .

If you’re looking to take a tour while you’re in Toronto, we’d highly recommend taking an evening helicopter tour of the city. You can book your ticket here.

Head to one of the Most Charming Towns Near the Grand River

This is a bit of a stretch, since not all of these towns connect to the Grand River, but take your pick between a charming weekend in either Stratford, Elora, or Paris.

Both Elora and Paris, while distanced, are situated on different spots along the Grand River. Both are scenic and charming. Stratford is a little further west along Lake Victoria.

Take in the History and Nature of Niagara

White Water Walk in Niagara Falls

This weekend getaway combines the historic charm of Niagara-on-the-Lake with family fun and excitement in Niagara Falls. Depending on the type of weekend getaways in Ontario you’re looking for, you can easily pick one or the other, or do a combination of both.

Begin with all the excitement that Niagara Falls’ attractions offer. You can do exhilarating things like:

  • Zip-Line over the falls (you can book your ticket here )
  • Take a jet boat tour of the Niagara Rapids (make sure you book your tour here )
  • Head to the Butterfly Conservatory

To round out the exciting portion of the weekend, take a breath in charming Niagara-on-the-Lake. Rent a bike and visit local wineries or nature paths along the Niagara River, or simply stroll around town, stopping to shop, have a bite to eat , or just admire the beautiful buildings in the area. Either Niagara Falls or Niagara-on-the-Lake can be its own weekend getaway, but if you’re interested in both areas, it’s definitely worth it to find time to work them both in.

Relax and Enjoy the Outdoors in Collingwood and The Blue Mountains

This is one of the weekend getaways in Ontario that takes you to the scenic mountains of southern Ontario. Collingwood is a wonderful jumping-off point to see the region. They have a lot of great breweries and restaurants, and plenty of fun things to do.

Just a stone’s throw away, The B lue Mountains also offer a ton of fun things to do in the region. If you’re keen on outdoor activities, it is a great place to be. If you prefer more of a relaxing weekend getaway in the surrounds of nature, then this is also the right spot. This is especially true since there are plenty of relaxing spas in the area for you to enjoy during your stay.

To book your stay at Blue Mountain Resort while you’re in town, click here .

Relaxation and Neighbourhood Walks at Langdon Hall and Cambridge

For those who have visited this corner of Waterloo Region, it is certainly a very special place. Langdon Hall is a well-known and renowned place to stay. This historic and impressive estate will certainly leave a lasting and memorable impression on you well after you leave. They offer packages that include spa credits and multi-course meals on the property.

Book your unforgettable stay at Langdon Hall by clicking here .

When you’re ready to explore beyond the relaxing environment and grounds at Langdon Hall, the city of Cambridge, most specifically in the town of Galt, makes for a great place to walk around and explore. Galt has beautiful views of the Grand River, and a lot of great coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants in the area.

For TV and film enthusiasts, its historic homes and charming streets are the places of numerous filming locations, namely for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit . Keep an eye out for these locations as you walk around town. And don’t forget to stop at Foundry Brewing before heading back to Langdon Hall.

Take in the Food, Culture and History of St. Jacobs and Kitchener

Plan to stay in or near the quaint town of St. Jacobs over the weekend. The brand new Hampton Inn & Suites is an impressive building with great design and functionality, and it’s right across from the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

If you’d like to book a stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in St. Jacobs, click here .

Enjoy a walking tour of the town of St. Jacobs and check out street art, shops, and great public spaces along the way. Plan to head to the famous St. Jacobs market on a Saturday for plenty of farm-market goods and freshly baked and cooked foods from different corners of the world. The market is famous for its apple fritters, but be prepared for long lines on Saturdays the longer you wait. Aim to go early, if it’s possible! Head to their Antique Stores, too. You’ll be sure to find something unique.

Finish the weekend with a guided Stroll Walking Tour around an area of your choice. Their Downtown Kitchener Mural Arts walk is a great way to learn about local artists in the region. Downtown Kitchener is also home to several wonderful places to grab a coffee or a drink, and restaurants for after you’ve finished your walk.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s Highlands, Kawarthas & Northumberland

Stewart Park in Perth Ontario

Relax at St. Anne’s Spa and Visit Charming Local Towns

Plan an Ontario weekend getaway at the spa! St. Anne’s Spa in Grafton is a renowned and relaxing place to get away. While you’ll likely want to spend most of the weekend soaking in the relaxing delights of the spa, make sure you carve out some time to explore one of the local charming towns.

To book your relaxing stay at St. Anne’s Spa, click here .

Port Hope and Cobourg both made our list of the most charming small towns in Ontario ! Each is set on the shores of Lake Ontario and is worth exploring in its own right. Depending on the time of year, each town also has its own theatre with local shows, which would well be worth checking out during your visit.

Meander Through the Charming Small Towns of Lanark County

This region of Ontario is chock-full of charming small towns. We are big fans of Perth, Westport, and Almonte in Lanark County. Each of these towns has historic charm, great restaurants, and local businesses to support, and they are excellent for walking around.

Consider staying locally at a charming bed and breakfast. Clyde Hall B&B is a great place to stay , and its owners are talented pastry chefs.

To book your stay at Clyde Hall B&B, click here .

On top of being home to beautiful small towns, Lanark County is home to both the Lanark County Chocolate Trail , in addition to being the maple syrup capital of Ontario!

Wheeler’s Pancake House is a local favourite sugar shack to visit, with great walking trails through their sugar bush on the property. If the historic charm of the region isn’t enough to convince you, then we hope these sweet culinary delights will be.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s Southeast

The Old Third Prince Edward County Winery

Take Your Own Personal Food Tour in Belleville and the Bay of Quinte

Belleville is a great place for a weekend getaway in Ontario. Their downtown district is full of great places to eat, with everything from authentic Mexican food to gourmet restaurants. A bonus is that it’s very walking and bike-friendly, so there are plenty of ways to enjoy the fresh air as you wander.

Take some time to head out of the downtown core to Zwick’s Park or north to Signal Brewery on the Moira River. South to the harbour area is also great for beautiful views over the Bay of Quinte. We’re big fans of grabbing a sunset bite to eat or a drink at The Pier Patio Bar and Grill. This weekend could also easily be combined with…

A Weekend in Prince Edward County

Start your weekend by staying overnight in the charming small town of Picton, or at one of the cute bed and breakfasts across the region.

Merrill House is an incredible historic bed and breakfast in Picton, and makes for an excellent place to stay. Click here to book your room .

You can plan your days around spending time in nature, like at Sandbanks Provincial Park or Lake-on-the-Mountain. Aside from that, the adorable hamlets in the area are great to explore while you’re sipping your way through some of the most amazing wineries and breweries in this region.

Enjoy Quiet Island Life on Amherst Island and Mainland Bath

This is a special little corner of Lennox and Addington County. Amherst Island is a relaxing island, just off the coast of mainland Bath, Ontario.

Stay at The Lodge on Amherst Island in Stella. Make sure you check out all the things to do on Amherst Island . Either on your way there or on your way back from the island, be sure to stop in Bath for a coffee and a snack or lunch at The Lodge Coffee House . The owner is wonderful, and the food and coffee are worth the stop. It’s a great excuse to check out the small and charming historic town of Bath, too, and patronize their local businesses in the region.

Spend a Weekend in Canada’s Intended Capital City

Kingston is a great place to get away for the weekend in Ontario. Its history is one of great importance to our province and country, and the views from downtown out to Wolfe Island and Lake Ontario are beautiful. There are plenty of historic places to check out, and beautiful neighbourhoods to walk around.

Queens University campus also makes for a great place to explore and wander. There are plenty of other awesome things to do in Kingston that you can choose from on your weekend away.

We’d recommend booking your stay at The Smith Hotel , or booking a few nights at The Secret Garden Inn .

Boat and Wander Through the Thousand Islands and Gananoque

Gananoque is the perfect access point to the famous Thousand Islands region. Stay at the Comfort Inn and Suites in downtown Gananoque (we know, this sounds like an odd choice, but it’s honestly the best location to visit the area!) or a local inn or bed and breakfast downtown.

To book your stay at The Comfort Inn and Suites Gananoque, click here .

From central Gananoque, you can head on a boat or kayaking tour of the islands. There are long and short boat tours, some of which go all the way across to the mansions on the American side of the islands.

For a complete list of all the different types of tours your can take to see the Thousand Islands, click here .

You can also rent bikes and bike along the Thousand Islands Parkway, which is a beautifully paved and preserved road along the Canadian shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Gananoque also has a wonderful restaurant scene and a great brewery. While you’re in town, check out what’s on at the Thousand Islands Playhouse.

On your way out of town, be sure to stop at BUSL Cider in Mallorytown for some scenic rural views and tasty samplings at this modern cidery.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s East

Skating on the Rideau Canal at Night

Explore Canada’s Capital

Ottawa is a fantastic city to visit on a weekend. There are so many fun things to do and see that would easily fill up more than a weekend. We’d recommend pinpointing what makes you tick when you plan one of your weekend getaways in Ontario based in Ottawa.

Plan to stay at a central hotel. The Andaz Hotel in the Byward Market is a great option, with beautiful views of Parliament from the top floor. If you’re looking to splurge a little, staying at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is a very special experience.

To book your stay at the Andaz Hotel, click here . To book your stay at the Chateau Laurier, click here .

You can use this list of fun facts about Ottawa to help you plan. Ottawa is home to many informative tours , walks, experiences, markets , and finer things . If you plan to visit in the spring, that’s the perfect time to experience Ottawa’s famous tulip festival while they’re in bloom. You’re sure to find something that’s just right for you when you visit Ottawa.

If you are a fan of guided tours, there are also so many exciting ways to see Ottawa by tour. You can take biking tours, river cruises or walking tours, and far more. To discover all the great tours in Ottawa, click here.

Hire a Houseboat to Cruise the Rideau Canal

This is a very neat experience that would lend itself well to a weekend getaway. If you weren’t aware that you could rent a houseboat in Ontario, then you should definitely check out Le Boat Vacations. Le Boat offers experiences all over the world, but their boat trips along the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston are not to be missed.

You are essentially given a boat, instructed on how to use it, and you’re off! You’ll need to bring your own food and supplies, so it’s kind of like an elevated camping experience on the water. Plus, you’ll take in the sights of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Rideau Canal the way it was intended: from the water.

Weekend Getaways in Ontario’s North (Sudbury and Beyond)

Aerial shot of Providence Bay Beach on Manitoulin Island

Spend a Weekend in “The Soo”

Sault Ste. Marie is a great place for a weekend getaway, especially for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are so many awesome things to do in “The Soo” . Make sure you save some time to check out the many great restaurants in town while you’re there, too!

Enjoy the Urban and Natural Attractions in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is home to some really fun activities and outings . You can go sailing in the summer months, or hiking and downhill skiing in the winter.

It has some pretty phenomenal historical sites to check out in the region , too. And their food scene and culinary delights aren’t to be missed.

Plan to Take in Some Stars in the Dark Sky

We are so lucky to have some incredible places for stargazing in Ontario . Not only can we enjoy the stars from so many different parts of the province, but we have several designated dark-sky preserves right here in the province of Ontario.

One of the newest official dedicated preserves is in Quetico Provincial Park . It’s a rugged park, located north of Lake Superior and bordering Minnesota. It’s one of several excellent places to see the Northern Lights in Ontario .

Head to Enchanting Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron

Manitoulin Island is another excellent island worth checking out on an Ontario weekend getaway. You’ll likely want to make a long weekend out of it if time permits, but it will certainly be worth it.

There are plenty of cruises and hikes that you can take to fully immerse yourself in the nature of the island. There are also several ways for you to learn about the Indigenous peoples of the island, and better understand the history of the place you’re visiting. The North Channel Cruise is especially one of our favourites to take in on this weekend getaway in Ontario.

Enjoy Science and Nature in Sudbury

There are so many exciting things to do in Sudbury . With everything from “sciencey” sites like The Big Nickel and Science North, to the Bell Park Walkway and the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area, it’s perfect for a family weekend getaway.

Sudbury is also an excellent destination for restaurants and delicious food . You’ll be sure to leave happy and satisfied after a visit to some of their amazing restaurants.

The Importance of Taking Weekend Getaways in Ontario

stella-ontario

We are so thrilled that you’ve taken the time to read through our list of weekend getaways in Ontario.

The options are truly endless for exploring this province, and with each trip, you’ll encounter small business owners, passionate hosts in hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and places perfect for reflection.

Our emphasis on “slow travel”, and taking in local delights is a philosophy we truly hope will stick at Ultimate Ontario. We see it as the future of travel here, and we hope you do, too.

There’s a lot worth exploring in this province. We hope you find that by the end of your weekend getaways in Ontario, you’ll come back happy for what you’ve seen, but also yearning for your next opportunity to get back on the road.

We’ll see you there.

Bri Mitchell

Bri Mitchell is a travel writer and content creator from Toronto, Ontario. She loves to highlight all things nature, food, wellness, history and adventures in her work. Bri writes and shares her travel experiences from across Canada and beyond on Instagram and TikTok @brimitchelltravels, and in her articles for travelingmitch.com , Ultimate Ontario, and here on We Explore Canada.

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Spelt Lake Erie incorrectly, " the Lake Eerie North Shore Wine Region

On this weekend getaway, stay in Kingsville for the weekend. Jaunt out to the Lake Eerie."

Kevin Wagar

Thursday 26th of August 2021

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Road Trip Ontario

13 Best Places To Visit In Ontario During Winter

places to visit in ontario during winter

Ontario is a large province with many activities and attractions for all kinds of people. Whether you love spending your time in the confines of a city or being out and about in nature, you won’t go wrong with these places to visit in Ontario during winter.

The province turns into a winter wonderland packed with dozens of activities during the cold months. From skiing trails and outdoor rinks to Christmas markets and art galleries, deciding where to go in Ontario can be difficult. If you find yourself in that predicament, don’t worry any further. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the best places to visit in Ontario in winter. With this guide, you’ll be fully informed about your preferred winter getaways in Ontario .

How Cold Does Ontario Get In Winter?

No matter how one looks at it, winter in Ontario can get cold. Frozen lakes, beautiful frozen waterfalls and vast blankets of snow type of cold. Being the second-largest province in Canada, Ontario has a variety of climates, ranging from extremely cold to relatively mild.

The secret to managing the coldness of Ontario during the winter is to dress in layers. Walking outside, you may find yourself in temperatures of -30°C or lower (when taking wind chill into account), but the cities generally stay around 0°C. Hence, we Torontonians start crying the minute mercury goes below 0°C.

Multiple layers on your body help you quickly adjust to the temperature changes while going in and out of buildings.

What to pack for winter in Ontario

It is important to dress appropriately for the coldest months of the year to make the most of winter. Layering is essential for staying warm, and materials like wool and thermal fabrics are great choices.

Adding a high-performance winter coat and snow pants to your wardrobe is also advised for outdoor activities. You also want to cover your extremities, as gloves, a toque, balaclava, scarf, and thick wool/thermal socks should all be included in your winter wardrobe.

Lastly, winter boots should reach up to the calf to allow you to traverse the snow easily.

The Best Winter Destinations in Ontario

If you’re set on spending winter in Ontario, here are some of the best sites to visit in this wonderland. 

Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival-style mansion dating back to the turn of the 20th century, is one of Toronto’s most renowned tourist attractions.

It is a popular spot for TV filming, photoshoots, weddings, and special events, boasting the awe-inspiring architecture and stunning estate gardens. Every year, the estate is transformed into a winter wonderland with enchanting decorations and lights. For an even more magical experience, visitors can explore the castle and its century-old artifacts.

best places to visit in ontario during winter

Toronto Christmas Market

The Toronto Christmas Market is one of the most highly-rated Christmas markets worldwide and is a must-see if you’re in Ontario during this period.

Every year, in November and December, the market is held in the Distillery Historic District. It offers many attractions, such as light canopies, cobblestone pathways, red-brick buildings, entertainers, and a 50-foot-high, fully adorned Christmas tree.

Whether you’re looking for unique gifts, souvenirs, stocking stuffers, clothes, handmade jewelry, or even a festive atmosphere, the Toronto Christmas Market has something for everyone. There are a variety of specialty shops selling an array of items, from postcards to pottery, and you can even indulge in some sweet treats from Eva’s Chimney Cakes or Brick Street Bakery.

To top it all off, nothing beats a cup of hot mulled wine or hot chocolate in the wintery weather! Trust us!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, one of North America’s most famous landmarks, draws in millions of visitors annually. This natural wonder sits on the Canada-US border by the Niagara River and is a great visit all year round. However, the falls turn into a peaceful paradise without crowds in the winter — which is why I recommend visiting around this time.

Pathways boasting trees covered in snow, chunks of floating ice, and 50-meter cascades await here. If lady luck is on your side, you may see frozen parts of the falls. 

You can also enjoy 360-degree views from the Skylon Tower or on a 12-minute scenic helicopter flight above the falls. The former even features a revolving restaurant that ensures you enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery with delicious cuisine.

Stay until evening to enjoy the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, where 8 km of the Niagara Parkway is lit up. This spectacle is especially mesmerizing in winter as the falls reflect the rainbow lighting.

places to visit in ontario

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain is easily one of Ontario’s best places to go in winter. This winter wonderland is a treasure trove for anyone who loves winter sports. Skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, tubing, and the like are all offered.

I recommend going to the wondrous Blue Village to make the most of your visit. There are 42 tracks and 16 chairlifts, and lessons and gear rentals to help you take on the slopes. Once here, be sure to skate at the Woodview Mountaintop to enjoy panoramic views of the Niagara Escarpment.

Don’t fret if you aren’t a fan of adrenaline-filled winter activities — there are plenty of relaxing things to do in the town. Take in waterfront views and misty air while strolling through Sunset View Park. As an alternative, I recommend visiting a spa and enjoying serenity as the most capable hands pamper you. Since I consider the resort one of the top places to visit near Toronto in winter, I recommend you visit as part of a day trip from Toronto .

places to visit in ontario in winter

Rideau Canal Skateway

Rideau Canal Skateway is considered one of the quintessential winter places to visit in Ontario. Every winter season, this UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts thousands of visitors ready to put their feet to use. 

Once the canal has frozen over, it takes shape as the world’s largest skating rink, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The 7,8-kilometer-long rink offers you 165,621 m² of ice to skate on.

Tie your skates and glide around downtown Ottawa for the best stretch of the rink. Skaters here zoom past many of the iconic landmarks uniquely entrenched in Canadian history. Perhaps my favourite part of the downtown section of the canal is the opportunity to enjoy some delicacies from one of the kiosks here.

winter destinations in ontario

No winter trip is complete without a visit to the nation’s capital. During winter, the trees, buildings, streets, and everything in between get covered in fluffy white snow that makes for landscapes just begging to be photographed.

Not only does Ottawa look good during winter, but it also offers many Ontario winter activities . That is, of course, in addition to the marvellous Rideau Canal Skateway.

Top of the list is the Ottawa Winterlude *, a festival with something for everyone. For two weeks, attendants participate in ski racing, ice sculpting competitions, dancing parties and more.

Another activity you can’t miss is the Gatineau Loppet, a cross-country ski event with several races. Annually, over 2,000 skiers participate — and you can join in on the fun as anyone can register for it. Set up on the sides and watch the racers zoom down the slopes if you aren’t ready to compete in the competition.

*The Ottawa Winterlude has been cancelled for 2022, but keep an eye on their website for any changes.

winter destinations in ontario

Another city destination to consider as one of the places to visit in winter in Ontario is Kingston . It’s a student city on the Lake Ontario shore renowned for its beautiful scenery and limestone buildings.

Start your Kingston exploration with a stroll around Lake Ontario Park, which boasts scenic lake views. For more adventurous outdoor fun, opt for Frontenac Provincial Park, a haven of trails winding through a lush forest.

Afterwards, visit old Kingston to fill up some of the best coffee and food the city offers. Stroll the snow-covered streets admiring the landscape with a coffee in hand.

During the Christmas season, you’ll find dozens of Christmas markets selling everything from baked delicacies and light displays to gifts. For the other months, I recommend skating at Springer Market Square.

Kingston is also the gateway to the “Thousand Islands,” an archipelago with myriad outdoor activities.

winter in ontario

With good reason, Toronto is arguably Canada’s most popular tourist destination. It has a plethora of Ontario winter attractions in addition to the splendour on offer in the summer.

Many people come to Toronto for the Christmas markets, with the Distillery District being the most famous. During the festive period, raid these markets for spectacular gifts, ride a Ferris wheel, and get serenaded by local performers.

If you’re visiting after the Christmas decorations have been taken down, don’t worry, you won’t be left out to dry. The first stop should be Nathan Phillips Square, where you can skate in a rink with live DJs often around. Glide across the ice underneath brightly lit archways with the iconic Toronto sign in the background.

There are also some landmarks to stop at, the first being Casa Loma. The gothic mansion looks straight out of a fairytale and is even more majestic when the light displays are brought to life.

Secondly, visit the iconic CN Tower and stop at the observation deck or the restaurant. Once here, you’re spoiled with 360-degree views of the city’s skyline. If you’re brave enough, people-watch those on the ground through the tower’s glass floor.

places to go in winter

The Niagara Escarpment, museums and art galleries, a skiing center and hiking trails — that’s what Burlington has to offer . This city is one of the nicest places to visit in Ontario in winter, with a good selection of indoor and outdoor fun.

In the outdoors, shred the slopes while snowboarding or skiing at the Glen Eden Ski and Snowboard Center or take to the snow on a toboggan. Try snowshoeing through a part of the Bruce Trail for something less serious. During the hike, you’ll see plenty of greenery and awe-inspiring waterfalls.

Afterwards, replenish your energy at one of the bars, restaurants, and cafés driving the booming culinary scene.

Plenty of engaging activities await indoors if you aren’t down for some frosty outdoor fun. The first stops should be the ECHO Leahy Center or Ireland House Museum for any history buff interested in the city’s history. Check out over 1,000 ceramics from national artists at the Art Gallery of Burlington for the art enthusiast.

places to visit near toronto in winter

When it comes to natural beauty in winter, there may not be a city in Ontario that compares to Hamilton. This small town is home to over 100 waterfalls, all of which are worth chasing. They make for fantastic photo ops and are also a marvel.

Besides Niagara Falls, Hamilton is the best place to visit in Ontario for frozen cascades. Often, the waterfalls here freeze solid and create a mesmerizing palette of snow whites and pale blues with stone backgrounds. 

If you’d like to enjoy this fantasy-like phenomenon, it’s best to visit around January. Some of the more popular cascades here are Tiffany Falls, Webster Falls, and Felker’s Falls.

Unlike the more popular cities of Ottawa and Toronto, Hamilton’s downtown area isn’t too lively. However, it boasts incredible light display decorations during the festive season, with a large Christmas tree as the show’s star.

places to see in ontario

Kitchener isn’t high on most people’s destination bucket lists for Ontario, which is what makes it a great getaway in my eyes. Despite its small-town vibe, there are a lot of fun things to do in Kitchener during the cold months.

At the top of the list is skating, skating, and skating. Okay, I may exaggerate a little, but the town has over 30 outdoor skating rinks, including those in neighbouring Waterloo. The one at Waterloo Public Square is arguably the most popular among these rinks.

If skating isn’t your thing, take to the slopes for more winter sports. The Chicopee Ski Club is most people’s go-to, with skiing, snowboarding, and tubing all waiting for you. You can opt for Chicopee Tube Park for some kid-friendly tubing for families. McLennan Park is a great alternative spot if you find Chicopee too crowded. 

Once you’ve had your fair share of fun, take in scenic snow-covered natural greenery and landscapes at the Huron Natural Area.

Indoors, you can enjoy a few interactive exhibitions at TheMuseum — they rotate every few months, so I can’t recommend any specific one. If museums don’t pique your interest, marvel at contemporary artwork by local and international artists at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (closed on Mondays).

places to visit in winter in ontario

West of Kitchener, you’ll find the quaint city of Stratford , which is most famous for being Justin Bieber’s hometown. Pop sensation aside, the city is another good place to visit in Ontario during winter.

Firstly, make your way to River Valley Winter Tube Slide and tube slide down one of eight lanes. Alternatively, you can move over snow on foot while snowshoeing, hiking, or trekking on various trails in Stratford. This can be done at the beautiful Wildwood Conservation Area and the Avon River Trail.

For a trail of a different kind, take a walk on the Chocolate Trail, that’s famous among those with a sweet tooth. This stretch of road is sprinkled with various chocolate stores selling some of Stratford’s best chocolates. Grab a bite at the Stratford Slow Food Market for more filling food between 10:00 and 13:00.

The Stratford Winterfest is probably the city’s most famous event. This fantastic festival is a real winter wonderland, with ice carving competitions, fat biking, sledding, and igloo building on offer. It’s incredible fun for the entire family and shouldn’t be missed.

ontario winter attractions

Algonquin Provincial Park

A national park should always be part of any travel itinerary for nature lovers. Ontario doesn’t disappoint in that regard, with Algonquin Provincial Park a quintessential visit for enjoying the province’s natural beauty.

The park has a network of trails varying in difficulty and length, so bring your snowshoes and get ready for a scenic hike amongst snow-covered trees. There are also some ski trails if you’d rather slide your way around the park, with the Fen Lake Ski Trail among the popular choices.

For the adrenaline junkies, you can explore the vegetation atop a snowmobile on the Bon Echo Loop. With 200 km of pathways and diners scattered around the area, you can make this a frosty full-day escape.

where to go in ontario

Matthews Maple Syrup

Canada is renowned for its sweet Maple Syrup. You will always find a bottle of that golden elixir in our place.

During the winter months, frozen maple taffy is a must-have and Matthews Maple Syrup is the place to experience it. At Matthews Maple Syrup’s sugar shack, guests have the opportunity to learn about maple syrup production and observe maple syrup being poured onto the snow to create frozen taffy.

As spring approaches and the weather warms up, visitors can gain further insight into maple syrup production and watch how sap is collected from maple trees and transformed into maple syrup.

Huntsville and Muskoka

Muskoka and the town of Huntsville are some of the most incredible places to see in Ontario during winter. It spoils visitors with many winter activities while surrounded by beautiful trees draped in snow.

In Hunstville, you can go back to when dogs were the chosen method for sledding. The trusted husky team will take you on a winter journey through the winter wonderland in Muskoka.

If you’d rather rely on your own two feet, go ahead and cover some of the skiing trails in Muskoka. For anyone who wants to go beyond the surface, grab your snowshoes and venture deeper into the backcountry.

Some outdoor skating rinks are begging to be shredded, offering excellent skating through a snow-covered forest.

best place to visit in ontario

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Visiting the Bruce Peninsula National Park in winter is a great way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the snow-covered landscape. The park is surrounded by Lake Huron, offering a peaceful environment to explore on foot or cross-country skis. You can admire the majestic icicles, snow-covered trees, and cozy cabins for rent for longer stays. For those who enjoy winter activities, there are plenty of trails to explore. Pack some books and warm clothes, and you will have a memorable winter experience!

Lake Nipissing

If you’re a Canadian or have been in the country for a while, you know how popular the sport of ice fishing is. Every year, millions of people carve holes and wait with bated breath (no pun intended) to catch a big one.

For this activity, Lake Nipissing is easily one of the top places to visit in Ontario. Create a hole on top of the frozen lake, get out your rod and wait. While the cold may be an obstacle, it will be worth the amount of joy of catching a fish.

Once you’ve caught one, get back into your cabin and start working on your meal. You can sink your teeth into it or enjoy a stroll outside while admiring the lake’s landscape. Tip: Since you may be outside for a long time, layer up for the best warmth.

best places to visit in ontario in winter

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is the place to go if you’re looking to experience nature and its unique winter landscapes.

This park is the perfect winter getaway with its scenic hiking trails, lookouts, and stunning rock formations. For a truly unforgettable experience, take the 1.3 km Spillway Trail and weave through vertical rock walls, frozen canyons, and caves while admiring the snow-covered trees and valley from the lookout point.

To avoid crowds, it’s best to plan your trip during the off-season and reserve a permit in advance if visiting in peak season, as parking is limited. Despite being close to Toronto, you won’t be the only one there, but it will still be a peaceful and memorable visit.

Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve

The Torrance Barrens Conservation Area is ideal for sky-gazing, with its notably clear night sky, unobstructed horizon, and a limited number of trees. On a clear night, visitors to the Dark Sky Preserve can observe the Milky Way, satellites, and perhaps even shooting stars!

napanee tourism

Final Thoughts: Places to Visit in Ontario in Winter

Ontario is a massive province with many big and small towns and cities, parks, and natural attractions. Each place has a unique profile that offers myriad winter activities in Ontario for anyone willing to brave the cold. From tubing with family and zooming down the slopes to marvelling at local art and skating outdoors, there’s no shortage of fun here.

Pack your warmest items and prepare for an incredible winter wonderland. Whether you go to Ottawa, Hamilton, the Blue Mountains, or any other destinations here, you’re in for a fulfilling, frosty time.

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Lavender farms in Ontario are opening for the season this month

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Lavender farms in Ontario are darling destinations for a relaxing day trip or to snap some enviable Instagrams.

As spring turns to summer, rows of aromatic, purple flowers sprout up at farms across the province, prepared for throngs of visitors to walk the grounds, take pictures and pick up a fragrant souvenir.

Some farms, like Avalon Lavender Farm in Mono, which is set to open on June 21, offer Cut-Your-Own experiences, so you can walk away with a bundle of fresh lavender for $17.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Michelle Alam (@michellealam_)

Campbellville's Kelso Lavender is set to open on June 15, welcoming visitors to explore their 25,000 lavender plants and pick up some homemade skincare, linen sprays or candles made with the farm's flowers.

On June 26, the 155 acres of lavender fields at Lavender Polo in East Gwillimbury will open up, and welcome visitors to picnic on the grounds. They even have a VIP picnic package that includes lavender lemonade and a table setup.

Collingwood's South Bay Fields offers not only 5,000 lavender plants to wander through, but also fields of sunflowers, poppies and wildflowers to ogle.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Lavender Polo Farm (@lavenderpolofarm)

If you're too excited to wait, Christel Lake Lavender in Greenbank, Purple Haven in Canfield, Hereward Farms in East Garafaxa, Cuttle Cottage in Colbourne and Apple Hill in Windham Centre have all opened already.

If the craving to get your farm fix in this summer is growing, you can also explore farms in Ontario that offer pick-your-own strawberries .

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The essential guide to visiting Canada

Here’s what you need to know about the world’s second largest country—when to go, where to stay, what to do, and how to get around.

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Why you should visit Canada

The majesty of Niagara Falls and Banff National Park . Champagne powder at British Columbia ski resorts. Dense forests, teal waters. Polar bears and spirit bears and loons. Poutine in Montreal , lobster rolls in Halifax. The most lakes of any country in the world.

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Best time to visit Canada

Spring: Whale-watch at Clayoquot Sound (pronounced clack-what) as some 20,000 gray whales migrate past the coast, a UNESCO Biosphere Region. A million tulips bloom in Ottawa as part of a spring festival .

Summer:   This is prime season for canoeing Ontario’s many lakes, driving the glorious Sea-to-Sky Highway   from Vancouver to Whistler, rock-climbing at Squamish, and golfing at a world-renowned seaside course, like Nova Scotia’s Cabot Cliffs or Cabot Links . End of summer sees the stars come out at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Autumn:   Polar bears gather in large numbers in Churchill , Manitoba , waiting for ice to form on Hudson Bay so they can hunt seal. For fall colors, take a boat trip up the Saguenay River, in Quebec.

Winter:   Dogsled, ice-fish, and snowshoe at the Carnaval de Québec winter festival. Ski or snowboard at any of a score of high, steep, powdery ski resorts that populate the west, including Whistler Blackcomb , Kicking Horse , and Revelstoke , the last being one of the snowiest places on Earth. At Whistler, ride the bobsleigh track featured at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

People on a whale/bird watching trip look to the sky with binoculars.

Lay of the land

Cities:   Mountains and ocean sandwich outdoorsy Vancouver.   Lakefront Toronto’s dramatic skyline is interspersed with museums and vibrant ethnic neighborhoods. Sophisticated cobblestoned Montreal is where Canadians go to let their hair down. Colorful houses cling to the rock of St. John’s while icebergs drift offshore. “Any boat ride that has you entering St. John’s Harbour at dusk is a divine experience,” says legendary Newfoundland folk-rock musician Alan Doyle .  

West:   In British Columbia, get lost among the islands of Haida Gwaii,   home to some of the densest, most concentrated coastal temperate rainforest left on Earth. In Desolation Sound,   cultural interpreter and bear guide Klemkwateki (Randy) Louie teaches visitors how to weave with cedar bark and to carve miniature canoe paddles. He also takes guests by boat up the Toba Inlet (Yekwamen), among whales, orcas, seals, and sea lions, to the Klite River to watch grizzly bears in their natural habitat. “I’ve been involved in my Coast Salish teachings for 30 years, singing, drumming, dancing, giving visitors some Klahoose history. We’ve handed this down to the younger generation and to our guests to help with building a connection in working together.”

The 47-mile backcountry West Coast Trail (WCT) crosses beaches studded with flowerpot rock formations, and passes through groves of old-growth trees. Down the Vancouver Island coast is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail , a shorter but more hilly option. “Both trails zigzag through thick coastal rainforest with lots of muddy sections and ladders to help you up and down the steep slopes,” says Taryn Eyton, founder of HappiestOutdoors.ca .

Theforest suspension bridge over Pete Wolfe Creek on the Juan de Fuca trail on the way to Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island.

North:   In the Northwest Territories (NWT), paddle the Nahanni River through Canada’s deepest river canyons, along rapids, and past Virginia Falls, nearly twice the height of Niagara. NWT is also where you can canoe and swim in enormous Great Slave Lake and spot the northern lights , visible here 240 nights per year.  

Prairie provinces:   Elk Island National Park , in Alberta , is home to bison, elk, and more than 250 bird species. Nearby on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, Métis Crossing features a cultural center, historic exhibits, and dome accommodations with transparent ceilings for night-sky viewing. In early fall, Jasper National Park holds a Dark Sky festival with family-friendly events like night hikes.

Fly in by floatplane to lodges in Saskatchewan or Manitoba for trophy catches of northern pike, walleye, and lake trout. “Since there’s very little fishing pressure, the fish are typically giants, and more than willing to hit just about any lure you show them,” says Patrick Walsh, editor of Outdoor Canada   magazine.  

Ontario:   Charter a boat and cruise the 120 miles from the capital Ottawa down the 19 th- century Rideau Canal (the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America), through a series of lakes, locks, and rivers. Drive west alongside Lake Ontario to Prince Edward County , one of the hottest vacation spots in Canada, known for its wineries, food, hip hotels, and historic small towns like Wellington and Picton. Climb the immense sand dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park, the largest freshwater barrier beach and dune system in the world. Continuing west along the lake, a new Canadian Canoe Museum opened in Peterborough in May 2024.

Quebec:   Montreal comes alive in summer with a series of events, such as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal . In compact, French-speaking Quebec City, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in a charming town in northern France. Off the beaten path, drive the Gaspé peninsula, encompassing four national parks and iconic offshore limestone formation Percé. Stop in at the International Garden Festival at Grand-Métis, Quebec.

Atlantic Canada:   A magical place of mountains and verdant coastline, Gros Morne National Park,   in Newfoundland , is one of the few places where you can stroll atop the Earth’s mantle , exposed when two continental plates collided. Visitors can hike to the top of Western Brook Pond fjord for an iconic view , or board a boat . The oldest known European settlement in North America—beating Columbus by centuries—is at L'Anse aux Meadows . Windswept homes of timber, peat, and sod, the Viking site lay undiscovered until 1960.

At the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Geopark in Nova Scotia   marvel at the world’s highest tides in action.  

Cape Breton Island is home to one of the world’s great drives, the 185-mile Cabot Trail. A few hardy types bike the steep winding hills. Offshore, visitors whale-watch or fish enormous bluefin tuna.

Flower Pot rocks, Soley Cove, Five Islands area, Nova Scotia, Canada, Cobequid Bay, Bay of Fundy; Ocean tides

Getting around Canada

By plane:   Leading carrier Air Canada has more than 900 flights daily. Floatplanes operated by small companies connect remote locations. U.S.-bound passengers can pre-clear U.S. customs and immigration at nine Canadian airports.  

B y train:   Rail is the time-honored way to see Canada, and operators run specialized services for tourists, like Rocky Mountaineer’s deluxe routes from Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies to Banff or Jasper. Regular train service by Via runs a limited number of routes.

By bus:   Intercity bus service has declined across Canada.

By car:   A car is essential for moving about within regions of Canada, but some top tourist spots—like Churchill for polar bears—are accessible only by plane or train.

By boat:   Bounded by three oceans and with an abundance of lakes and rivers, a cruise or boat trip is a great way to see the country.

Know before you go

Cultural heritage:   Native rights and the debts owed by settlers have become front and center in the public discourse, with land acknowledgements , which originated in Canada, now standard practice. Canada’s newest (1999) territory, Nunavut , is governed by the Inuit , and Torngat Mountains National Park , on the northern tip of Labrador, is owned and managed by the Inuit, the first of its kind.

The transcontinental railway helped establish Canada as a nation, but at the same time pushed aside Indigenous peoples and their rights. Blasting through the Canadian Rockies, untold numbers of imported Chinese workers died and were buried by their fellow countrymen, often in unmarked graves.

Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, but when Great Britain declared war in 1914 Canada automatically joined too as it did not yet control its own foreign affairs. Canada gained legislative independence from Britain in 1931, an official flag of its own only in 1965, and constitutional independence from the U.K. as recently as 1982.

Visitors arrive at Saglek Fjord's North Arm by boat and can fish for Arctic char. This site has been used for thousands of years as a summertime camping ground for the Inuit.

Hours: Bars in Canadian cities typically stay open until 2 a.m. Drinking age is 18 or 19, depending on province or territory, while some remote northern communities place restrictions on alcohol use. Marijuana is legal for both recreational and medicinal uses.

LGBTQ+:   Canada is consistently ranked the world’s best country for LGBTQ+ rights and safety of travelers. The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2005—at the time only the fourth country in the world to do so. Pride Toronto (June) is one of the largest organized gay pride festivals in the world.

How to visit Canada sustainably

Greenpeace was founded in Canada and today the country ranks a respectable 14 th out of 76 countries on the Green Future Index . Keep your distance from wildlife. Bring your own reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and toiletries. Put all garbage and recyclables into designated bins. Support Indigenous peoples by taking guided walks and visiting Indigenous art galleries.

What to read and watch

Anne of Green Gables , by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This globally loved 1908 children’s book set on Prince Edward Island was adapted most recently into a Netflix series. November 30, 2024, will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Montgomery.

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands , by Kate Beaton. This autobiographical comic from Cape Breton’s Kate Beaton recounts her experience as one of the few women working in the rough-and-tumble oil patch of northern Alberta. Beaton’s story also captures the never-ending tale of Canadians from the Atlantic provinces migrating westward for work.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America , by Thomas King. This history of Indigenous peoples in North America has been turned into a 2020 documentary .

The Sleeping Car Porter ,   by Suzette Mayr. The award-winning 2022 novel focuses on a 1920s Black closeted gay Canadian working as a railway porter to save money to attend dental school.

The Hockey Sweater , by Roch Carrier. This 1979 short story about a Quebec boy who receives a hated Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in error has been an enduring favorite of Canadians, managing to capture the importance of both hockey and winter to Canadian children, and also serving as an explainer of relations between English and French Canada.

Schitt’s Creek.   The pandemic’s surprise hit series was written by and stars Canadians, and more than anything has a gentle, Canadian-defining vibe to it. If these characters are your people, you’ll feel at home in Canada.

Kim’s Convenience.   Written by Ins Choi, this sitcom about a Korean-Canadian family who own a corner store in downtown Toronto captures the intimate feel of the city’s many ethnic neighborhoods, as well as the common multi-generational immigrant experience in one of the world’s most international metropolises.

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Father who killed one-year-old son with axe may be allowed to travel in southwestern Ontario

A Mennonite father who killed his one-year-old son with an axe may be allowed to travel to parts of southern Ontario in the coming months, but a long-term plan for reintegration into his tight-knit community remains unclear.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service was called to a property on Powell Road in Wellesley Township on Sept. 18, 2021, where they found the child’s body in the basement of a home.

Within minutes of the first officer’s arrival, Isaac Martin, the child’s 31-year-old father, was arrested.

Martin was charged with first degree murder. In January 2024, a judge found Martin not criminally responsible (NCR) on account of mental disorder for the death of his son, Mahlon.

“It was obvious that Mr. Martin was suffering from a severe major mental illness operating at the time of the incident itself that deprived him of his ability to realize that these acts were wrong,” Martin’s lawyer Steve Gehl tells CTV News.

Martin is now at Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care in St. Thomas and is under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Review Board, a body that gets updates on his treatment and determines what privileges he may have, with the long-term goal of eventual reintegration into society.

Martin’s first review board hearing was held in April, and a detailed report into the hearing before a five-person panel and their subsequent decision (called the reasons for disposition) has now been released.

That report describes how in a police interview after his arrest, Martin said he received a message from God to murder his child, though he expressed regret for his actions and said he didn’t know what came across him.

The panel determined Martin is still considered a significant threat and has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychotic features.

Martin will remain detained at Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health but depending on his progress in the coming months, he may eventually be allowed to visit Elgin and Middlesex counties with indirect supervision and go to Southwestern Ontario while accompanied by staff or another approved person.

“The way that works is that the board authorizes maximums that the hospital can allow. The hospital will then determine whether or not Mr. Martin is ready to exercise those privileges,” Gehl says.

Martin’s psychiatrist Dr. Ajay Prakash told the Review Board panel that Martin’s symptoms have recently improved and one of his key strengths is a respectful attitude towards authority.

However, it is noted that the major issue to address will be Martin’s reintegration to the Orthodox Mennonite community he has lived in for his entire life.

The report notes that a return would need to be unanimously approved by the tight-knit community, and that a lengthy in-person ‘soul stripping’ would be expected by them.

Gehl says it will be up to the community whether they wish to explore having Martin return.

“They do have a process for that, so they’ll have to decide if they want to do it, when they want to do it, and whether or not when they do it if it’s successful,” says Gehl.

The panel heard that attempts have already been made to contact community elders and Martin’s wife, but so far there has been no response.

Dr. Prakash told the panel that if the Mennonite community ultimately refuses to readmit Martin, then the plan to transition from the hospital is unknown.

The review board report goes on to say Martin’s adaptive and cognitive skills would be explored before determining what an appropriate group home for him would be.

Gehl says there are other options for Martin.

“It will be difficult for him to integrate into other communities, but he’s never tried, and he has assistance from the hospital and from his team and from others who will assist him in trying that experiment at some point in time, as well as considerations of returning to his own community.”

Dr. Prakash told the panel it seems unlikely that Martin would be ready to live in the community in this coming year.

Ontario Review Board hearings are held annually for patients, but the report notes that if Martin progresses faster than expected, his next date could be held earlier than planned.

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    2023. 4. Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. 20,731. Aquariums. Explore the Waters of the World at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto at the base of the CN Tower, the aquarium is Toronto's must-see attraction for tourists and…. See ways to experience (12) 2023.

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  20. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Ontario (UPDATED 2024)

    Toronto Island Park. 8,570. Islands. This park in Toronto is a haven for travelers looking to spend a fun-filled day in the great outdoors. Rent a bike at Centre Island Pier—which has fantastic views of Lake Ontario—and explore the park…. See ways to experience (11) 2023. 6. Konzelmann Estate Winery.

  21. 13 Best Places To Visit In Ontario During Winter

    A national park should always be part of any travel itinerary for nature lovers. Ontario doesn't disappoint in that regard, with Algonquin Provincial Park a quintessential visit for enjoying the province's natural beauty. The park has a network of trails varying in difficulty and length, so bring your snowshoes and get ready for a scenic ...

  22. Train trips Ontario

    Toronto. Your train will let you off at the magnificent Union Station in the heart of downtown. It's the perfect spot to begin your discovery of Ontario's capital, Toronto one of the most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in Canada. Take in an impressive view of Toronto and its surroundings from CN Tower's SkyPod - the highest observation platform in the Western Hemisphere at 447 meters above ...

  23. Lavender farms in Ontario are opening for the season this month

    Lavender farms in Ontario are darling destinations for a relaxing day trip or to snap some enviable Instagrams. As spring turns to summer, rows of aromatic, purple flowers sprout up at farms ...

  24. Top 12 Scenic Train Rides In Ontario, Canada

    8. Muskoka Heritage Place. Source: Photo by Flickr user Huntsville Ontario used under CC BY 2.0. Muskoka Heritage Place is a three-in-one place which consists of a museum, a pioneer village, and a train. This place is located close to downtown Huntsville as well as the Algonquin Provincial Park.

  25. Border crossing

    Border crossing information. In addition to arriving by air, travellers can enter Ontario by road, rail or boat. There are 14 road border crossings into Ontario from the United States. Get up-to-date information about border crossing locations and border wait times. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) provides more border information ...

  26. 12 amazing places to visit in Ontario

    Ontario is a destination filled with lakes and endless outdoor activities. Located about 2 hours north of Toronto, Georgian Bay Islands National Park is one of the best places to travel in Ontario for nature lovers. It's made up of 63 small islands in Georgian Bay and only accessible by boat.

  27. Travel resources

    Travel resources. Whether you're just starting to plan your trip to Ontario or you're on the go exploring this beautiful province, these handy travel resources provide valuable information on what you need to know to come to Ontario, including important travel requirements, health and safety details, local tips and more.

  28. The essential guide to visiting Canada

    Drive west alongside Lake Ontario to Prince Edward County, one of the hottest vacation spots in Canada, known for its wineries, food, hip hotels, and historic small towns like Wellington and Picton.

  29. Father who killed one-year-old son with axe may be allowed to travel in

    Ontario woman forced to pay $23,000 hospital bill despite having travel insurance. An Ontario woman who took a trip to the Cayman Islands in January was hospitalized after a heart attack and even ...

  30. 32.0 Flagstaff Classic 832FLSB Travel Trailer RV Rental near Ontario

    You can view the nightly mileage and generator hours that are included when renting this RV, as well as fees for excess mileage and generator usage, in the Rates and Availability section. Top Rated 2020 Travel Trailer Rental Starting at $135/night in Ontario, CA. Sleeps 6 People, View 8 pictures.