Toronto offers plenty of fantastic things to see and do, but make some time on your vacation in Canada to step beyond this major city. There are many places in Ontario worth adding to your bucket list.
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1. Experience the best of Niagara Falls
Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Niagara Falls is a wonderful sight to see, especially at night when the falls are illuminated, or during the fireworks display that takes place at 10pm every evening in the summer months. The observation deck of the Skylon Tower is an incredible vantage point or you can watch from Table Rock. Take an unmissable ride on the famed boat tours of Horseshoe Falls (not available during the winter season) where you’ll feel the mist from the falls all around you.
But a trip to Niagara isn’t complete without a visit to the famous Clifton Hill Street. From wax museums and mirror mazes to haunted houses, there are tons of fun and carnivalesque attractions to explore in this little area. You can also enjoy sweet treats from the Fudge Factory and get an incredible view from high on the Niagara SkyWheel. It’s a great destination for both couples and families.
How to get to Niagara Falls from Toronto: Travel from Toronto to Niagara Falls through GO Transit starting from Toronto’s Union Station or through Megabus from near the Toronto Eaton Centre. Driving your own car or rental will take around 1.5 hours.
2. Go wine tasting in Prince Edward County
Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes
While the vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake are well-loved by many Torontonians, Prince Edward County is becoming another favorite destination for wine lovers. They may be newer to the scene, but with a few dozen wineries perfecting their craft in the County, they certainly know what they’re doing. Browse the directory of wineries to narrow down your hit list of vineyards and find the perfect terroir for you.
Prince Edward County is also a popular getaway destination for millennials, as it’s home to Instagram-worthy spots like the June Motel and the Drake Devonshire Inn. “Rosé all day,” as they say.
How to get to Prince Edward County from Toronto: If you’re visiting on a weekday, ride the Greyhound bus from Toronto to Belleville, then take the Deseronto Transit bus into Prince Edward County. Otherwise, you’ll have to rent a car for the 2.5-hour drive.
Hamilton is known as the “waterfall capital of the world” © benedek / Getty Images
3. Hike to a waterfall in Hamilton
Travel time: 1 hour
With more than 100 waterfalls in its vicinity, Hamilton has often been called the “waterfall capital of the world.” Some require hiking on rough trails (be very careful when the temperature drops), some you can walk right up to, and some you can see in the comfort of your air-conditioned vehicle. Tourism Hamilton has a helpful guide that can help you choose which falls to visit. Parking lots can get busy during the weekends, but don’t be tempted to park illegally – the Hamilton police keep an eagle eye out for infractions.
After you’ve exhausted the waterfall hikes, grab a meal (and perhaps a drink) along King William Street. This popular street in downtown Hamilton is filled with trendy and amazing restaurants such as Black Forest Inn (great German food) and HAMBRGR (unique burgers).
How to get to Hamilton from Toronto: To visit Hamilton from Toronto, take GO Transit from Toronto’s Union Station or rent a car for the hour-long drive.
The charming Blue Mountain Village is a home base for adventures no matter what time of year © benedek / Getty Images
4. Get outdoors at Blue Mountain
Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes
A popular skiing destination in the winter, Blue Mountain offers year-round adventure activities including canoeing, kayaking, zip-lining and mountain biking.
Once you’ve had your adventure fix, shop and dine in the adorable and picturesque Blue Mountain Village. While you’re there, check out the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, a rollercoaster-like ride up the mountain and through the trees. It’s quick but exciting, and you can control your own speed.
How to get to Blue Mountain from Toronto: Take an AUC Tours shuttle or Greyhound bus from Toronto to Blue Mountain Village or rent a car for the 2.5-hour drive.
5. See a Shakespeare play in Stratford
Travel time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Stratford is a beautiful town filled with arts, culture and a love for all things Shakespeare. The Stratford Festival is a theater festival running annually from spring to fall, with around half a million visitors each year.
Catch a live performance at the Avon Theatre, grab some of the best vegan food you’ll ever have at The Planet Diner and sample local stouts and ales at the Shakespeare Brewing Company. If you didn’t already know, Stratford is also famous as the hometown of Justin Bieber.
How to get to Stratford from Toronto: Take the VIA Rail from Toronto’s Union Station or rent a car. The Stratford Festival also offers a Direct Bus from Union Station to Stratford for theater ticket holders.
It’s a long drive, but Bruce Peninsula National Park can be done as a day trip from Toronto © jimfeng / Getty Images
6. Travel to Bruce Peninsula National Park and see the Grotto in Tobermory
Travel time: 4 hours
The Grotto might be the most beautiful natural wonder in Ontario. Located in Bruce Peninsula National Park, this limestone sea cave has stunningly crystal-clear water and is fun to swim through. If you have more time, take a short ferry ride to see Flowerpot Island. With incredible rock formations, clear blue waters and forested cliffs, the Bruce Peninsula is a stunner.
The drive to Tobermory from Toronto is around 4 hours and many visitors prefer to stay overnight. But you can definitely make it a day trip if you start early and leave later.
How to get to Tobermory from Toronto: Rent a car for the 4-hour drive. Alternatively, the Parkbus picks up near Toronto’s Bloor-Yonge Station at 8:30am with a drop-off at the Grotto for 1:30pm, then picks up from the Grotto at 5:30pm, returning to Bloor-Yonge Station at 10:15pm.