Every year as the weather warms up and the spring flowers begin to bloom, I start dreaming of weekends spent visiting Ontario’s greatest attractions with my husband and three daughters.
We are on a limited budget and typically stick to destinations that can be travelled by car, but we’ve managed to take our family of five on some fun adventures throughout Ontario.
This year I’m dreaming of day trips and extended vacations in our beautiful province; below I’m sharing ten of my favourite family-friendly Ontario destinations.
Location: Tobermory, Distance from Toronto: 4 hours
Tobermory is located on the Bruce Peninsula, where there is no shortage of breathtaking visuals and family-friendly adventures; from hiking the rocky terrain of the Niagara Escarpment, swimming in the blue waters of the Georgian Bay, and visiting 19th century lighthouses.
The Blue Bay Motel is a top-rated motel at the heart of the village, overlooking Little Tub Harbour in Tobermory. The motel offers a perfect place for families to rest between sightseeing.
Location: Belfountain, Distance from Toronto: 1 hour
This beautiful Conservation area located nearby the hamlet of Belfountain offers many fun trails and activities for families. Kids and adults will be amazed by the historic Belfountain, waterfall and suspension bridge, and various trails throughout the park.
Families can also enjoy shops located within the other-worldly Hamlet of Belfountain, located a few short minutes away.
The Agawa Bay Campground felt like a tropical paradise this past weekend ☀ How have you been taking advantage of the unusually warm September weather? @ontarioparks . . . . . #AgawaBay #AgawaBAE #LakeSuperior #LakeSuperiorProvincialPark #OntarioParks #HPHP #GetOutside #DiscoverON #ComeWander #GOTParks #AlgomaCountry #ExploreCanada #FreshCoast
Location: Wawa, Distance from Toronto: 10 hours
Every Ontarian should head north at some point in their lives to visit the spectacular views in areas like Wawa. Visiting Lake Superior Provincial Park is the ultimate trip for the outdoorsy family. Hiking, canoeing and kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming are all popular activities. Families can camp at the park or stay at a nearby hotel.
Location: Waterloo, Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours
A recreational passenger train that runs historic railway branches to the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market, Village of St. Jacob’s, and Town of Elmira, all located just outside of Waterloo.
Families can enjoy stepping back in time while travelling on the steam train. Trains will drop passengers off at their destination and pick them back up to bring them back to the station. A variety of trains and events are offered, including themed train events.
Location: Sudbury, Distance from Toronto: 4 hours
There are plenty of fun attractions in Sudbury for families, including the popular science centre Science North, which offers inspirational and educational science experiences for all ages.
There are many high-rated hotels within Sudbury for out-of-town visitors, and other spots to check out in this often overlooked Northern Ontario city.
Location: Ottawa, Distance from Toronto: 4 hours
Canada’s capital city has a lot to offer for a family vacation, but one of its most recognizable attractions is Ottawa’s Rideau Canal. The Canal has a strong history that would make for a wonderful educational experience for children, and also plenty of fun attractions.
Attractions include fishing, hiking, exploring wildlife, canoeing, shopping, museums, and also many winter sports.
Location: Muskoka, Distance from Toronto: 2.5 hours
Treetop Trekking is the perfect adventure for families with older children (9+), and there are many parks around Ontario that offer the activity. Muskoka offers the quiet surroundings of large trees and a rustic feel.
Families can find a variety of places to stay in Muskoka, from campgrounds, trailers and cottage rentals, and motels and hotels.
Location: Milton, Distance from Toronto: 1 hour
A hidden oasis off of a rural road in Milton, Wildhagens Adventure Garden offers a full day’s worth of fun and activities over the summer season.
The Adventure Gardens feature a 6,000 square-foot barn that has been converted into a fun play space for kids, as well as a pizzeria for lunch. The perfectly maintained forest trail is ideal for youngers kids and involves a search for lost treasure. The Scavenger Hunt around the children’s garden, complete with animal topiary, is always a hit with my kids.
Location: Hillier, Distance from Toronto: 2 hours
Picturesque lavender farms are a huge trend, thanks to Instagram. But a lavender farm is best experienced in person, not through pictures. The heady aroma of a lavender field is something that stays with you for days after.
PEC Lavender Farm offers a variety of lavender-related activities, and a two-day summer festival in July that is a guaranteed hit for the entire family.
Location: Port Stanley, Distance from Toronto: under 3 hours
Port Stanley Beaches are some of the most stunning beaches in all of Ontario, located on Lake Erie.
The Main Beach is a bustling place for swimmers and water enthusiasts; Little Beach is the perfect spot for families with younger children; and Erie Rest Beach is a small beach with no lifeguards or amenities, and limited parking – perfect for the early riser looking for a quiet spot.