Daytrips and Quick Spring Getaways in Ontario
After another looooonnnngggg winter (plus so much rain), we completely understand if your family is itching to get out of Toronto. But we also realize that getting out of this province, and maybe even southern Ontario, might not be a realistic proposition right now for many Ontario residents. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up nine fun, family-friendly daytrips and spring getaways in Ontario. We’ve included a mix of day trips as well as locations better suited for overnight road trips.
Daytrips & Spring Getaways in Ontario
Locations Across Ontario
If you have some flexibility with your destination but are set on staying somewhere memorable and surrounded by nature, consider seeing what Hipcamp has to offer. This site lets you easily search for available tent campsites, RV parks, and cabins and see such vital information as proximity to local attractions, on-site amenities, and whether a flush toilet is available. It even offers glamping options, for those families who are a bit higher maintenance. Hipcamp also recently launched its Day Pass program, which helps you discover activities like a “family farm experience” at a real, working farm near Chatham-Kent.
190 Gord Canning Dr., The Blue Mountains
Distance from Toronto: Just over two hours
The slopes might be closed for the season but there’s still plenty to do up at Collingwood’s Blue Mountain Resort this spring. Grab a Play-All-Day pass and then speed down the mountain coaster, climb high on the rope courses, and wrap up the day with a leisurely ride up the hill on the gondola.
Blue Mountain certainly can be a day trip, but many families like to extend the fun and book one of the resort’s various hotels (or one of the many nearby condos). If your kids are all about pool life, remember that anyone, hotel guest or not, can buy a pass to Plunge! Aquatic Centre, which has an indoor and outdoor pool and an indoor splash pad.
[Ed. note: Green Season at Blue Mountain is my family’s favourite.]
2500 Kossuth Rd., Cambridge
Distance from Toronto: At least an hour
Looking for a fairly quick, one-day getaway from the city? Then consider a drive out to Cambridge’s Butterfly Conservatory where your family can learn about, and interact with, hundreds of beautiful butterflies. Also on site are tree frogs, tarantulas, a variety of other bugs and insects and even an electric blue lobster. As of mid-April, timed tickets are required and pricing starts at $8, and kids under three are free. After you’re done at the conservatory, your family can check out one of the areas many scenic hikes, such as Shade’s Mills.
Distance from Toronto: Around 8 hours
If your family is up for more of an adventure —one that involves multiple days of driving—pack up the car and head north to Cochrane. Once there, check out one of the area’s top attractions, the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, “the only facility in the world’s dedicated purely to the care of polar bears.” Tickets start at $10, and kids under five are free. On the way there, or the way back, take a break and explore North Bay’s waterfront or the always popular Muskoka area (more on that location below).
Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours to 2 hours, depending on where you go
Rather stick to a daytrip that involves an easy drive? Then set your GPS for the Hamilton Conservation Authority, which is packed with options for hiking through the area’s scenic woods. Featuring over a dozen different specific locations, the Hamilton Conservation Authority is home to multiple waterfalls and lakes, as well as hikes for all abilities. Most areas do have some kind of visitor and/or parking fee, which varies by location. Some of the more popular spots, such as the waterfalls-rich Spencer Gorge, also require advance registration, starting May 21.
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Distance From Toronto: Just over 90 minutes
It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s tacky, and for countless kids and their families, Niagara Falls is one heck of a good time. Meet new feathered friends at Bird Kingdom, ride the SkyWheel, one of the country’s largest observation wheels, and challenge your kids to a go-cart race at the Speedway, North America’s largest elevated go-track course. And of course, make time to see the Falls themselves.
What’s nice about Niagara is that you can easily make it a day trip, or you can spend the night at one of its many hotels (be sure to check local coupon/discount sites for deals). Want to make it a getaway your kids will never forget? Spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge, Southern Ontario’s most elaborate indoor waterpark.
Distance from Toronto: Just over two hours
The lake water might still be a bit chilly for swimming however, there’s still plenty to do up in Ontario’s always popular Muskoka area. Go hiking, ride horses, and starting in May, check out Santa’s Village, which features rides, games, and other attractions. This theme park is located close to a couple of campgrounds, Santa’s Whispering Pines Campground and
Muskoka Ridge Campground, which offer a variety of accommodations, including cabins. If hotels are more your family’s style, check out Deerhurst Resort, which has an indoor pool and an indoor playground.
Distance from Toronto: Just over three-and-a-half hours
Tobermory is notoriously busy in the summer so skip the crowds and traffic by visiting one of the province’s most scenic spots over a long weekend in the spring. Several of the town’s boat tours open up in May and offer glass-bottom vessels that will let your family see the area’s famed shipwrecks as well as take you out to Flowerpot Island. Other local activities include hiking, wildlife spotting and even caving. A variety of accommodations are available in Tobermory, including cute cottages and cabins that overlook the lake.
Several locations across Southern Ontario
Do your kids have energy to burn but your schedule just allows for a one-day getaway? Then consider heading out to Treetop Trekking, which features everything from toddler-friendly adventure parks to thrilling ziplines. There are seven Treetop Trekking locations across Ontario, including spots in Stouffville, Brampton, and Barrie. All locations are nestled in the woods and are usually adjacent to other outdoor activities, allowing your family to craft a day jammed with
fresh-air fun. Rates vary depending on what activities you want to tackle but the Treewalk Village runs $22 for kids ages three to 17, while an adult pass costs $10; and kids two and under, and adults 65 and older, are free.