A Local’s List of Things to Do in Ontario, Canada in All Seasons!
Whether you are a local looking up fresh ideas for places to visit in Ontario or a visitor looking for the best things to do, there is so much to see and do in Ontario.
With Eric having grown up in the province and driven around it numerous times for work and play, we like to think we can tell you about some of the best points of interest!
This post is designed to be a healthy mix of the best places to visit in Ontario (like beautiful towns and cities) as well as specific tourist attractions in Ontario.
We’ve also got things to do that are unique to Ontario and you can’t do anywhere else (or quite like in Ontario). That said, we know we still have lots of places to travel to in Ontario – and we’ll add to this article over time!
So, if you are wondering what to do in Ontario – whether this season or this weekend – we have got you covered.
From stunning wilderness and views to country stores and sightseeing in Ontario at popular tourist attractions, here’s our massive guide on the best and/or fun things to do in Ontario in all seasons!
This is a constantly growing article. Have we missed something great? Get in touch with us and we’ll be sure to look into it!
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Ontario in Most/All Seasons
The top part of this Ontario travel guide is all about great ideas for things to do in Ontario in all seasons.
This means that the things to do below are all things that you can visit most or at all times of the year. Trust us, Ontario tourism is alive and well in all seasons and we’ve tried to include a mix of Northern Ontario with things to do in Southern Ontario!
For example, there are lots of places to go in Ontario that simply change what they offer from the summer season to the winter.
Lots of the best Ontario attractions – especially the outdoor ones – do this. For example, you can visit Gretzky Estates Winery to taste wine in the summer and enjoy their outdoor skating rink in the winter!
So, keeping those criteria in mind, you can find great places to visit in Ontario and things to do in all seasons below.
If there is a famous seasonal-specific event at any one of these places, we’ll mention in specific things to do in Ontario by season posts (like things to do in Ontario in winter) so that you don’t miss them!
Visit an Ontario Wine Region
Starting off strong with one of our favourite things to do in Ontario – you can visit one of the wine regions. Many of them make for great weekend getaways in Ontario in any season.
Believe it or not, there are actually around four main wine regions with several emerging wine regions within Ontario. This makes sense since Ontario is right in the prime grape-growing climate region and the Niagara Escarpment also makes for fertile conditions!
There is nothing like heading to one of these regions for a day (or overnight) and visiting local wineries to do tastings.
Many wineries offer guided tours of their facilities and have food onsite so you can spend some time relaxing and enjoying! There are well over 150 wineries in the province so you’ve got some visiting to do if you like wine.
As for where to visit, we really like Niagara on the Lake. The region is one of the most beautiful places in Ontario to visit, has a small historic town (of the same name), and is close to Niagara Falls with lots of things to do.
Prince Edward County – between Toronto and Kingston – is another favourite wine region of ours.
This rural area on the shores of Lake Ontario is teeming with wineries. Head for Huff Estates Winery if you’re looking to get started. We’ve visited many times and written about other things to do and where to stay.
Of course, don’t forget about Twenty Valley (on the Niagara Peninsula), the North Shore of Lake Erie in Southwestern Ontario, and Grey County (south of Georgian Bay) if you are looking for other nice or up-and-coming wine regions.
Shop at a Farmers Market
Ontario has a rich agricultural heritage and produces a wide variety of products for itself, the rest of the country, and those abroad (maple syrup, anyone?). So, feel free to tap into those smells and tastes by visiting a local farmers’ market.
There are many farmers markets all over the place but you can usually find them in town and cities on specific days of the week.
From natural honey and cheeses to freshly grown fruits and vegetables or baked bakes breads, there is plenty of deliciousness to be tried.
If you are in Toronto, a stop by St. Lawrence Market is a great way to introduce yourself to the city and get a sense of what Ontario is all about. One of the best things to do in Guelph is to visit the Guelph Farmers Market that is open year round on Saturdays.
You can also check out the Kingston Public Market – the oldest market in Ontario – at Springer Market Square in downtown Kingston.
You’ll find antiques alongside the food items for sale. Wherever you live, there is sure to be a local market in your town or very close by. It’s also a great way to directly support local growers, too!
Go for an Ontario Hike
A sure-fire way to enjoy the vast Ontario outdoors is to go for a hike. To be honest, there are lots of places to see in Ontario if you are willing to put on shoes and walk a bit.
Hiking is great because there are so many trails around the province that you are sure to find something to suit your fitness level and time limits.
There are short hikes in Conservation Areas, longer hikes in Provincial Parks or National Parks, and free hikes along waterfronts for all to enjoy. These areas are particularly great in the summer sunshine or to enjoy fall colours, too.
We intentionally separated hiking from camping (even though both are generally done in Provincial Parks) because camping isn’t popular in all seasons. So, you can find camping in our summer in Ontario article.
Hiking, on the other hand, can be done at all times of the year, trail conditions depending. Some of our best hikes have been chilly winter hikes through quiet, snowy forests like in Scanlon Creek or Thornton Bales Conservation Area.
That said, there are many great hikes in areas that are popular for their accessibility, views, facilities, etc. One of the most popular provincial parks is Algonquin Park and – besides camping and canoeing – you can find many day hikes here (accessible from parking lots just off Highway 60).
Keep driving Highway 60 and you’ll end up in the Ottawa Valley where the Eagles Nest Lookout Trail in Calabogie offers some of the most stunning views in Ontario.
Back towards southwestern Ontario, head for Kelso Conservation Area in Milton, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park in the Caledon area, or Lion’s Head Provincial Park near Tobermory also for stunning views.
Ferris Provincial Park in Campbellford offers the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge, while Hardy Lake Park and Huckleberry Rock Lookout in the Muskokas make for good short hikes in pristine nature that are easy to do.
Check our detailed guide on the best areas to stay in Muskoka (with resort and accommodation options) if you’re planning on staying up in Muskoka.
Discover Niagara Falls
Even though we talk about Ontario waterfalls below, Niagara Falls – both the city and the waterfalls – deserve their own spot. This is because it’s one of the top attractions in Ontario and easily one of the best things to do in Canada!
To be clear, Niagara Falls is both the city in Canada and the name of the grouping of waterfalls on the Niagara River.
The “main waterfall” everyone likely knows as Niagara Falls is called Horseshoe Falls due to its U-shape. It’s also easy to get to Niagara Falls via the highways so it can be a doable drive if you’re in southern Ontario.
Visiting Clifton Hill and playing tourist in Niagara Falls is definitely something you should experience at least once in your lifetime. And you can visit the Falls in any season since they don’t turn off the Falls in the winter… contrary to what some may think.
Visit the Big Apple in Colbourne
Are you a fan of apples and all things apple-related? Then a stop at the Big Apple is for you. Located in Colborne, Ontario, this country store is located just off Highway 401.
You can’t miss it – there’s a giant smiling red apple you can clearly see from the side of the highway. Of all the points of interest in Ontario, we’d say this one is pretty unique!
Known for selling millions of their famous apple pies, they have an onsite restaurant, dog area, sweet shop, brewery, and more. So stop in to stretch your legs if you are making a long drive to Kingston or Ottawa or just stop in if you are in the area to pick up a sweet treat!
Having passed the Big Apple many times (Eric lived in Kingston for years), we finally stopped to check it out and it didn’t disappoint.
You can read more about visiting the Big Apple here. There are plenty of other great roadside attractions around the province which you can visit, too!
Take an Ontario Scenic Drive
Given that Ontario doesn’t have a great public transportation infrastructure (outside the GTA, at least), you need a car to experience most areas. Luckily, there are lots of places to drive to in Ontario.
Many great driving routes offer views or peaceful countrysides while others feature markets, attractions, and nature along the way. You might even stumble across sights like the West Montrose Covered Bridge – also known as the “Kissing Bridge”!
We have a number of favourite Ontario driving routes that we jump at the chance to take when we travel from place to place.
We really like driving Highway 60 that starts in Huntsville and extends through parts of Algonquin Park before spitting you out in Barry’s Bay, Renfrew, and eventually Ottawa.
Another great drive is heading from Huntsville to Kingston on Highway 35 through Dorset, 118 through to Haliburton and into Bancroft before heading south on 62.
A drive a bit further north that is also quite nice includes driving through Lake Superior Provincial Park on the Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa.
You get these great views of the water as you crest the high clifftops and there are places to stop along the way.
Go Chase Ontario Waterfalls
We already mentioned visiting Niagara Falls – but there are many more Ontario waterfalls that you can discover.
Due to the unique geography that includes lakes and rivers, the Canadian Shield (rocky layer of the earth), and the Niagara Escarpment, there are waterfalls all over the province.
Many of them are located in parks or conservation areas while others can be spotted from the side of the road. Some are even man-made due to hydro projects.
It’s true that there are many waterfalls around the Niagara Escarpment Area that runs between Georgian Bay and Niagara Falls. With well over 100 waterfalls, Hamilton is a great place to start.
We got the chance to drive around for a day and experience some Hamilton waterfalls like the Devil’s Punchbowl. However, there are other great waterfalls that can be visited year-round, for example in the Hilton Falls Conservation Area or Kakabeka Falls outside of Thunder Bay.
While we are here: If you’re going to check out waterfalls, please follow the guidelines/ boundaries set out by the conservation areas. Crossing a barrier or going off-trail to get the perfect Instagram photo is not worth it.
This can be dangerous, hurts the area, and impacts others wanting to visit. (At the time of writing, Eugenia Falls was closed off to visitors because people got injured and had to be rescued due to crossing barriers).
Tour an Underground Mine in Sudbury
Dynamic Earth in Sudbury is one of the cool places to visit in Ontario. No, seriously – you can tour an underground mine which is around 13 degrees Celsius at all times!
As one of the top things to do in Northern Ontario, a visit to Dynamic Earth Museum – part of the Science North brand – is worth your time.
There are numerous exhibits all about the earth, rocks, nature, and the local connection to mining. This is also where you can find the famous Big Nickel which is the largest coin in the world!
The highlight of Dynamic Earth is definitely the underground mine tour. You’re led seven storeys underground and guided through a demonstration mine to learn about mining from back in the day to today! If you are looking for things to do in Ontario with kids, this is a top idea.
Attend an Ontario Festival
As the most populous province in Canada, Ontario has a vibrant festival scene shaped by art, music, cultures from around the globe, food, seasons, you name it! You can find festivals all around the province in big cities and small towns and at all times of the year.
As for food, culture, and heritage, there’s the famous Toronto Caribana or the Taste of the Danforth (also in Toronto) and farm festivals like the Carrot Fest in Bradford West Gwillimbury or the Bala Cranberry Festival.
There are even smaller festivals like the CeltFest in Almonte. Eric went to CeltFest a few years back (it’s a cultural festival) and the traditional music was amazing, the beer was good, and the small-town atmosphere was super fun.
We’ll be sure to break down more notable festivals by season when we add to this post!
Eat and Drink on an Ontario Food Tour/Trail
We already mentioned checking out an Ontario farmers market but if you want to bring the food to you, you can follow one of the numerous Ontario food trails!
These taste trails have been established in different regions and usually highlight an area’s specialty product. Basically, if you are a foodie and have a car, this is the thing to do for you!
Of course, you can find actual foodie tours in Toronto but this isn’t what we mean by Food Trails.
There are a number of self-guided food-themed routes in different regions with different stores, restaurants, and vendors acting as places to visit to sample the item in question!
More broadly, The Taste Trail is a Prince Edward County initiative where growers, restaurants, and wineries commit to “farm-to-table” practices and promote locally-sourced ingredients.
If you visit these establishments, you can be sure you’re supporting local businesses and getting local tastes! There are more food trails in Ontario and we look forward to following them.
Discover an Ontario City
Of course, what would Ontario be without its big cities! There are many great cities in Ontario – all of which make for great places to visit.
Even if you have been to a city before, there is often more to do and see. We are big into city travel because we like discovering places – so we’ve got a good handle on Ontario cities to visit.
If you are into history, head for Kingston with its historic buildings, lake views, fun things to do and great waterfront hotels. If you want to learn more about Canada, a trip to Ottawa – the nation’s capital – is loaded with things to do like visiting Parliament Hill.
You can also enjoy the Rideau Canal in summer and winter. Here’s how to spend one day in Ottawa, if you’re interested!
There are other great Ontario cities to explore like Toronto with all its tourist attractions and great places to stay. That said, you should explore smaller centres like Guelph, London, Hamilton, Windsor, and Waterloo.
Even Barrie – which acts as kind of a gateway to northern Ontario – is worth a stop through. If there are any really great seasonal things to do in Ontario cities, we will mention them below in the right “season section”.
Dive into Ontario Historic Sites
Geographically speaking, much of what is now Ontario was once part of the oldest settled parts of what was Upper Canada.
So, it makes sense that Ontario has a lot of history to be discovered – from bloody battles to famous people, cultural highlights, engineering marvels, and more.
There are a lot of interesting places to visit in Ontario so we’ve listed many below. We’d recommend a visit to any of them.
Learning even a bit about the backstory of Ontario (and therefore about Canada) is not only interesting but really important to pass along. You can visit many of these places year-round and they change up what’s going on for different seasons!
- Fort Henry National Historic Site and Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston
- Locks 1-8 of the Rideau Canal in Ottawa
- Laura Secord Homestead in Queenston
- Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Midland
- Brockville Railway Tunnel in Brockville
- Diefenbunker Museum – a cold-war era military bunker (a great Ottawa day trip)
- Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay
- Fort York National Historic Site right in downtown Toronto
Explore Ontario Museums + Galleries
If you want to stay indoors and take in some art or fascinating exhibits, an Ontario museum or gallery is a great place to do that.
Ontario is absolutely packed with museums on all different topics as well as art galleries that feature art from all over. Some places highlight works just done by Canadians!
A nice thing about these places to visit is that they are generally indoors which means they are good to visit at all times of the year.
Often, they have rotating exhibits or seasonal displays so you might find something different to explore if you ever want to visit a museum or gallery again another time.
Of course, the unofficial rule is usually that you can find major museums in the larger cities and small galleries in smaller towns.
This doesn’t mean the smaller ones aren’t as good. In fact, the smaller museums are usually on more local topics which is great if you want a deeper dive into an Ontario-related theme… like canoeing or boats!
Check out this very short list of great museums and galleries in Ontario:
- McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan
- The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto
- The Aga Khan Museum in North York
- The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto
- Thousand Islands Boat Museum in Gananoque
- Bytown Museum in Ottawa
- Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa
- The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough
Explore the Bonnechere Caves
Another unique thing to do in Ontario is to head out towards the Ottawa Valley near Eganville and back underground to explore the Bonnechere Caves.
This cave system was formed in the limestone millions of years ago and today serves as a fascinating place to explore on a guided tour. There are many fossils down there and as well as the river and trails around the area to make a day out of it.
The caves are open from May through to October so you can visit for more or less three seasons of the year with summer being the most popular (summer break, warm weather, etc).
They host numerous events throughout their season – you can even eat down there – so be sure to check out the website for more information.
Get to Know a Small Ontario Town
Ontario may have a bunch of nice cities to visit, but the province was built by small towns. There’s nothing like a visit to a tiny town in Ontario to provide you with a relaxing backdrop to shop, eat, and explore locally.
While some towns are more well-known than others for their history, architecture, river views, food and breweries, or shops, we like to think that each town has something to discover if you look hard enough.
We can’t talk about small towns in Ontario worth visiting without mentioning Elora for the famous Mill, Paris for the photogenic buildings, Almonte for the donuts and inventor of basketball (true story), and Campbellford for the largest Toonie!
There are obviously more and we will write a whole post in the future about great towns to explore. Many of which make for great day trips from Toronto!
Just so we’re on the same page: When you visit a small town in Ontario, be sure to not show up and be a “silly tourist”. Do your best to learn about the place and support the community by shopping locally or going to a local brewery, restaurant, or coffee shop… and not to McDonald’s.
Visit Manitoulin Island
Another top thing to do in Ontario is something that gets overlooked quite often: visit Manitoulin Island. Considered the largest freshwater island in the world, there are many things to do on this island in Northern Ontario in all seasons.
It should also be noted that the island is home to a number of Indigenous communities so it’s likely to be different (in a good way) from other places you are accustomed to visiting.
There is top hiking, camping, and fishing here – the land is so large that it itself has over 100 inland lakes.
You can also check out the Dark Sky Preserve at Gordon’s Park or appreciate Indigenous culture through art galleries and cultural centres. There are other points of interest like lighthouses to hike to, as well.
That said, Manitoulin is mainly known for nature. It’s a fairly remote place to explore in northern Ontario without going all the way up into Northern Ontario by car (shout out to Pickle Lake, Ontario).
To get to Manitoulin Island, you can take the ferry from Tobermory in the warmer seasons and/or you can drive there if you head for Sudbury and take the only land route on Highway 6. To learn more, you can check out the Manitoulin Island tourism website.
Enjoy an Ontario Brewery
If you are feeling thirsty and fancy a beverage, you are in luck: Ontario is home to a number of breweries and newer craft breweries that you can visit!
In fact, there are so many craft breweries in Ontario. Usually, “drinking craft beer” wouldn’t be a thing you’d tell people to do unless it was important.
Well, Ontario had a craft beer Renaissance in the early 2000s and now there are over 250 beer breweries all across the province. It seems like every time you return to a city or small town there’s another brewery that popped up for you to visit!
Breweries are great because they are indoors – making for nice winter visits. When it’s warmer out, Ontario breweries often have great patios to enjoy the weather!
Now, there are definitely more established breweries in Ontario and we’ll give credit where it’s due. You can head for Flying Monkeys in Barrie, Steam Whistle or Mill Street in Toronto, and Creemore Springs in Creemore.
Engage with Ontario Nature & Animals
Given that Ontario has a deep connection to nature, it’s only fitting that you have the opportunity to engage with and appreciate that nature (and particularly with the animals).
Luckily, there are many centres around the province that cater to doing just that – and they can usually be visited year-round!
You might want to visit the Kortright Centre for Conservation which has programming for adults and kids all about nature. There are also countless other conservation areas (many mentioned in this article) to visit which offer education on local plants and wildlife.
If you’re in the right season, you might be able to catch a migration like the massive Monarch butterfly migration that happens in Point Pelee National Park.
You can also go to the animals at various farms and sanctuaries like The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada near Guelph or Cedar Meadows Resort and Wildlife Park up in Timmins. These places are usually open year-round which makes visiting easy to do!
Learn About Indigenous Culture
Related to the point about Manitoulin Island, another unique thing to do that I (Eric) bet you haven’t thought of is to make it a point to learn about Indigenous culture in Ontario. There are many ways you can do this.
For a hands-on experience, head to Petroglyphs Provincial Park in the Kawarthas to learn about the people behind the largest known grouping of rock carvings in Canada.
You can head to Smiths Falls and set out on a guided canoe tour with Voyageur Canoe Tours as the guides touch on Indigenous history or visit the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation on Manitoulin Island to see the museum, art, and attend cultural events.
If you’re really keen, there’s a museum/historical centre called the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre which is located west of Thunder Bay (almost in Manitoba).
Known as the Manitou Mounds, this area is known for the ancient burial mounds and village sites that date back millennia. Generally speaking, you can visit Indigenous Tourism in Ontario to learn more.
Get Thrilled at Canada’s Wonderland
If you are looking for a thing to do in Ontario and want to be thrilled, head for Canada’s Wonderland! This amusement park north of Toronto is actually really, really good.
Aside from the thrill rides and small attractions, the park has changed dramatically over the decades to include some roller coasters that are among the tallest and fastest in their category in the world. Just google “Leviathan” and tell us what you think!
The nice thing about Wonderland is that you can visit in three seasons (not winter) and there is something for the whole family.
In fact, you don’t even have to go on rides – the famous Wonderland Funnel Cake – a deep-fried batter loaded with ice cream, berries in sauce, and powdered sugar – might be reason enough to spend the money to get in.
Eric grew up not too far away so he spent many summer and fall evenings riding roller coasters as a kid. Good memories.
There’s also a water park which is popular in the summer. If you go, besides general admission, we’d recommend the “Fast Lane” Pass if you are short on time and/or don’t want to wait in the long lines.
For those looking for other amusement parks in Ontario, there are lots of Fall fairs that occur throughout the province (we will cover some in the Fall Section). If you’re close to Toronto, a trip to the Toronto Islands to go to Centreville Amusement Park is always a great activity to do with kids!
Attend a Sporting Event
Last, but certainly not least – if you are a local or a visitor to Ontario, a great way to experience the province is through a sporting event.
There are sports in all seasons and Ontario has it all: hockey (Leafs and Sens) and basketball (Raptors) in fall through spring, baseball (the Blue Jays) in spring through fall, Canadian football (yes, it’s different than American football) in the fall, major league soccer, lacrosse, and much more.
Of course, many of the sports teams are centred in Toronto but you can catch professional sports in Hamilton and Ottawa, too. You can also catch a junior hockey game in smaller cities and towns.
Check out Kingston for the Frontenacs, Barrie for the Colts, Guelph for the Storm, and London for the Knights, just to name a few. Usually, junior hockey is good hockey and much, much cheaper than tickets to a Leafs game!
There is plenty to do and see in Ontario any time of the year. Here are some more guides to help you explore no matter the temperature outside!
And there you have it – a rundown of ideas on the best things to do in Ontario. There are plenty more things to do and see in Ontario and we’ll continue to add to this post by season so it’s even more useful! Be sure to get in touch if there’s something else we should check out!
As always, Keep Exploring, eh?
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