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13 Fantastic Family Day Trips Near the GTA

Day Trips Near the GTA

As great as Toronto can be in the summer, sometimes it’s nice to get back to nature and go for a hike, a swim or explore a quirky small-town attraction. And while multi-night, out-of-town trips are often an appealing option, they aren’t always feasible. Thankfully we’re surrounded with some amazing options that will let you and the kids escape the city for the day and be back in your own beds by nighttime.

Here are 13 destinations that make for fun, kid-friendly day trips. All locations listed are a little over two hours or less from Toronto, depending on traffic of course.

Blue Mountain Resort

bluemountain.ca

While many people associate this corner of Ontario with winter and skiing, the warm weather brings out another side of this popular tourist destination. Blue Mountain Resort is open to day visitors who, for a fee, can mini-golf, zipline, and soon, explore “the ultimate tree fort.” There’s even a private beach if you want some sand time. And if you’re a fan of apples, the nearby Apple Pie Trail, which lets you eat and drink your way through South Georgian Bay, is a must-do. Distance from Toronto: A bit over two hours

Bronte Creek Park

brontecreek.org
Oakville, ON

Here, set amongst grassy fields and trees, you’ll find one of the largest outdoor pools in Canada. It’s the ideal spot for families that want a beach getaway but aren’t a fan of what lies beneath a natural lake’s surface. When your kids want a change from the water, they can visit the play barn, a nature centre that offers interactive activities or a Victorian-era farmhouse that has its own live turkeys. Distance from Toronto: Less than an hour

Cobourg

cobourg.ca

Calling itself Ontario’s “feel-good town,” this lakeside destination is a great spot for families who want a little of everything. The town is home to a groomed beach with swimmable waters, assorted trails and picnicking spots and tons of playgrounds. There’s also a cute historic downtown. Want to add a taste of the country to your day? Then add on a side trip to the famous Big Apple country market, located in nearby Colborne (which can be a day trip all on its own). Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Crawford Lake

conservationhalton.ca
Milton, ON

Just because school’s out for summer doesn’t mean your kids have to stop learning. A visit to this Halton Conversation site will teach your family what a meromictic lake is as well as about the area’s rich First Nations history. On site, you’ll find a reconstructed 15th century Iroquoian village, interactive interpretive programming and authentic artifacts. Your family can also learn about species-at-risk on the Hide and Seek trail, which features giant carvings of some of Ontario’s threatened wildlife. Distance from Toronto: Just under an hour

Crystal Beach

forteriecanada.com/tourism/crystalbeach
Fort Erie, ON

The home of “Caribbean rated sandy beaches,” Crystal Beach is famed for its clear, swimmable water. There’s also a playground and plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Note that there is now a $5 admission for those over age 10 as well as an additional charge for parking, but for that fee you get access to real washrooms, showers and even Wifi. Also, note that this place can get busy, so it’s not your destination if you want peace and quiet. Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Eramosa Karst Conversation Area

conservationhamilton.ca
Stoney Creek, ON

This area is packed with streams, waterfalls and all kinds of “secret” spots perfect for exploring including actual caves that are surprisingly family-friendly (as long as your family isn’t afraid of a little water and the odd bug). There are also plenty of trails to wander through. Want to include some swimming in your day? Then stop by nearby Fifty Point Conservation Park, which offers some of Lake Ontario’s warmest swimming waters. Distance from Toronto: Around an hour

Grand River Park

grandriver.ca
Spread across southern Ontario

Families with older kids will love all the action-packed options that this trip offers. You can swim, hike, geocache and perhaps best of all, go tubing down the river while looking at the beautiful Elora Gorge. You can also rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboats. Various fees do apply, and this park, which is actually composed of 12 different conservation areas, is known to get busy so be sure to plan ahead. Distance from Toronto: An hour or more, depending on which part you choose to visit.

Halton County Radial Railway

hcry.org
Milton, ON

Do your kids love trains, buses and other forms of mass transportation? Then this museum should be a must-visit for your family. Admission starts at $10.50 and includes unlimited rides on a historic streetcar that travels two kilometres of scenic track and stops at an ice cream shop. The museum also includes a gift shop and the opportunity for a hot dog lunch. Distance from Toronto: An hour

Indian River Reptile Zoo

reptilezoo.org
Indian River, ON

A sanctuary for rescued reptiles, this zoo is home to over 400 animals including full-size crocodiles, alligators and pythons. It offers live animal demonstrations, a dinosaur exhibit complete with a “paleontology dig” and a giant crocodile slide. Admission rates start at $15. The zoo is located near Peterborough and, depending on timing and your family’s interests, you may want to add on a side-trip to the Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site of Canada. Distance from Toronto: A little over an hour

Mountsberg

conservationhalton.ca
Campbellville, ON

This Conservation Halton park offers two different barns: One filled with animals that your kids can interact with and another play barn where they can burn off some energy. Mountsberg is also home to the Raptor Centre where your family can have a “nose-to-beak” experience with some of Ontario’s birds of prey. Also on site are options to hike, bike and fish. Note that like all Halton Parks, this one does change a per-person admission fee. Distance from Toronto: Around 1.5 hours

Rattlesnake Point

conservationhalton.ca
Milton, ON

Take a nature break with a trip to this Niagara Escarpment destination. It offers geocaching, hiking and some gorgeous views that make a great backdrop for a picnic. It’s also home to some ancient cedar trees that are believed to be at least 800 years old. As for the name, don’t worry, actual rattlesnakes don’t live here. Instead, it gets its name due to the snake-like path left by retreating glaciers. Distance from Toronto: A little over an hour

Splash ON

okanaganwibit.com
Orillia, ON

Nestled between Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, the town of Orillia is surrounded by parks, beaches and water sports. It’s also home to Splash ON, a giant inflatable obstacle course that’s sure to entertain your family for hours. An all-day pass costs $25 and note that kids need to be at least five to participate. As well, children aged five-eight need a parent chaperone pass (which is free). Can’t make it out to Orillia? There’s also a Splash ON in Barrie. Distance from Toronto: A little over two hours

Turkey Point Provincial Park

ontarioparks.com

Located southwest of the city, this park is well-worth the drive. It offers three hiking trails (two of which are rated “easy”), a sandy beach and undertow-free swimming conditions. This portion of Lake Erie is also known for generally being warm. During the summer, the park also runs a free discovery program that help your kids learn about nature. Distance from Toronto: Almost two hours

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