Explore the Province, Favourite Things to Do in Ontario
1. Algonquin Provincial Park
The oldest provincial park in Canada is frequented by moose, beavers and a varying species of birds. Partake in lake activities such as canoeing, kayaking and fishing! There are over 1,500 lakes in the park. Go for a short hike or a full day hike for even better views. Within Algonquin Provincial Park there are lots of places to camp. The developed campgrounds (suitable for RV’s and motorhomes) include: Archray, Brent, Canisbay Lake and Kearney Lake. Kiosk, Lake of Two Rivers, Mew Lake, Pog Lake, Rock Lake, Tea Lake, & Whitefish Group Campground are also great for RVs.
2. Stratford Festival
The Stratford Shakespearean Festival is the biggest repertory theatre company in North America. The festival runs from April to October and features Shakespeare plays, as well as other classical, and contemporary plays. There are 4 venues; the Avon Theatre, the Studio Theatre, the Festival Theatre and the Tom Patterson Theatre.
3. Shaw Festival Theatre
Located in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario, this theatre holds the reputation as the “second largest repertory theatre company in North America”. The largest being Stratford ‘Shakespeare’ Festival in Stratford Ontario. The theatre aims to honour George Bernard Shaw, a leading playwright during his life (1856-1950). Shaw wrote more than 60 plays and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925. The theatre performs only plays written by Shaw or written about his life. Escape the heat into the air conditioned theatre to catch an afternoon matinee perhaps! This theatre is known for being professional and entertaining. Afterward take a short stroll through the Niagara Parkway Recreational Trail to see the Fort George National Historic Site.
4. CN Tower
CN Tower from across the water
One of the ‘must-do’s’ when in Toronto, the tower is a major landmark. With a revolving restaurant at the top and view from above the skyline! Try to time it when a Blue Jay’s game is playing, as you can see the field from the top. Paying extra to go up higher is worth the money, too.
5. Lakeside Park Carousel
This carousel was first gifted to the Township of St Catherines under the condition that the ride would always cost only 5 cents. So far, that hasn’t changed. Don’t believe it? See for yourself! This antique (circa 1890) carousel is for all ages. It is located near Lake Ontario beach (super sandy), and marina. Afterwards, take a walk to the lighthouse or enjoy a picnic on the beach.
6. St. Lawrence Market
St. Lawrence market
Named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in 2012, you are best to come hungry! Reasonably priced and yummy food make for a great afternoon. Definitely a stop for the foodie.
7. Konzelmann Estate Winery
Konzelmann Estate winery is located on the Niagara Peninsula, a wine region known for their icewines. Their vines slope down to the water, and the winery itself resembles a castle. The Konzelmann Estate has received a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor. The peach wine comes highly recommended.
8. Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm
Syrup at the Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm. Photo courtesy of: Sugarbush Hill management.
A family-owned Maple Farm will be your ‘sweetest’ visit in Ontario. Enjoy the live music, free tastings (including maple syrup, maple butter and maple mustard!), recipes, and a syrup making display. Make sure you visit the Farm for an educational afternoon. You can also buy your friends and family back home the most Canadian gift!
9. Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory
Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory
Photo Attribution: By Rlevse (Rlevse)
The butterfly conservatory is adjacent to Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture. It includes a mini video at the beginning, a gift shop, the conservatory itself and surrounding gardens. Take 1-2 hours to see everything. Wheelchair accessible. To get the butterflies to land on you, move slowly, wear perfume or cologne and bright colours.
10. Rideau Canal
Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario.
Photo Attribution: By Hussein Abdallah (Flickr), via Wikimedia Commons
The Rideau canal connects Kingston to Ottawa. The military originally constructed the canal assuming the US invading Canada in the 1820’s. The project was finished in 1832 and was never used as a military tool. In the 1840’s transportation companies used it to move people and heavy goods such as lumber, contributing to Montreal’s settling. Today the historical canal is reclaimed as a UNESCO world heritage site. In the winter there is ice skating offered, making it the ‘World’s Longest Skating Rink’. In the warmer months you can enjoy a scenic stroll with historical buildings, good restaurants and shops along the way.
11. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
The aquarium is well laid out and includes a kelp forest, gallery, discovery centre and a jelly fish exhibit. It also has a shark exhibit (including the tunnel below). Don’t miss the rainbow reef, a Canadian waters exhibit, a photo op centre or the gift shop. Ticket prices bought at the aquarium are just under $30 Cnd for adults, youth is $20, and children are $10. For more affordable pricing consider the city pass which saves you over 40% in total. The Toronto city pass is $72 and includes the Aquarium, CN tower and Casa Loma (North America’s only landmark castle). It also includes Royal Ontario Museum, and Toronto Zoo or Ontario Science Centre.
12. Toronto Island Park
Toronto Island park is located on the Toronto Islands. These are the only Islands in the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. The Park offers bike rentals, an amusement park, beaches, a zoo, playgrounds and restaurants. There are also plenty of places to picnic.
View of Toronto from Toronto Islands Park.
Attribution: By Benson Kua, from Toronto, Canada, via Wikimedia Commons
13. Parliament Hill and Buildings
By joiseyshowaa from Freehold, NJ, USA via Wikimedia Commons
The iconic landmark of Ottawa, built in 1859, sits overlooking the Ottawa River.
Tickets for the parliament buildings tour is free but limited. To ensure you get a ticket, arrive early in the morning.
14. Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum is a nice walk away from Parliament Hill. Learn about Canada’s earliest recorded violence and the nations peacekeeping history. There are many exhibits here including; Wars Fought in Canada, the First and Second World Wars. You will also find the South African War, the Cold War, and a memorial hall. The artifacts and accounts of Canada’s involvement in different wars is extensive and interesting.
15. Niagara Falls & Parks Garden Trail
A popular thing to do is bike the Garden Trail on your way to the falls. Make sure to take a stroll in the park when you are in the area. This is a nice spot to escape the crowds and find some shade before continuing sight-seeing!
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Here are some more great articles about Ontario tourism.