Escape the cities of Ontario to discover some of its hidden gems


Many visitors to Ontario come to enjoy the many delights of cities like Toronto and Ottawa, but it is home to an abundance of other attractions many of which can be found in the province’s vast stretches of wilderness. Here are 10 of them.

Explore rugged coastlines and ancient rock formations

At Killbear Provincial Park, you’ll find a pristine wilderness along the Georgian Bay. Hike the Lookout Trail for breathtaking vistas of the bay and its rugged shoreline. Don’t forget your camera! The sunsets here are legendary, casting warm hues over the granite cliffs.

Count one thousand islands

The Thousand Islands archipelago in the St. Lawrence River is a hidden paradise. Take a boat tour and marvel at historic castles, private islands and lush greenery. Keep an eye out for playful river otters! For a truly magical experience, explore Boldt Castle, a fairytale-like mansion nestled on one of the islands.

Kayak or canoe along a grand waterway

The Grand River in southern Ontario offers a peaceful escape. Glide through calm waters, surrounded by lush forests and wildlife. Look for herons and turtles sunbathing on the riverbanks. Stop at a riverside picnic spot and savoyr local cheeses and fresh fruit.

Hike among geological marvels

The Niagara Glen beckons adventure seekers. Explore ancient rock formations, moss-covered boulders, and hidden waterfalls. The Whirlpool Rapids Trail offers heart-pounding views of the Niagara River. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy it overlooking the swirling rapids.

Zipline across a dramatic gorge

The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is an adrenaline lover’s dream. Soar above limestone cliffs on a thrilling zipline, then cool off with a dip in the gorge’s turquoise waters. Afterward, explore the charming village of Elora, known for its artsy vibe and boutique shops.

Discover sea caves and iconic rock formations

Hop on a ferry to Flowerpot Island in Georgian Bay that is within the Fathom Five National Marine Park. Explore hidden sea caves, hike to the famous flowerpot rock formations, and snorkel in crystal-clear waters. The island’s unique geological features include towering limestone stacks shaped like flowerpots, carved by centuries of wind and waves. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear—the underwater world here is teeming with colorful fish and aquatic plants.

Cycle through vineyards and spot migratory birds

Escape to Pelee Island, the southernmost inhabited point in Canada. Rent a bicycle and pedal through lush vineyards, where the island’s wineries produce award-winning wines. Keep your binoculars handy—the island is a hotspot for birdwatching during spring and fall migrations. Look out for colorful warblers, herons, and even the occasional bald eagle. End your day with a glass of local wine as the sun sets over Lake Erie.

Explore ancient underground passages

Descend into the mysterious Bonnechere Caves near Eganville. Equipped with a helmet and flashlight, venture deep into limestone caverns formed over millions of years. Marvel at stalactites, stalagmites, and underground streams. Your guide will share fascinating stories about the cave’s history and geology. It’s a thrilling adventure that takes you beneath the surface of Ontario.

Sail across Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island

Board the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry for a scenic voyage from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. As you cross Lake Huron’s turquoise waters, enjoy panoramic views of rugged coastlines and distant islands. Once on Manitoulin, explore indigenous culture, hike to Bridal Veil Falls, and savor fresh whitefish at a local restaurant. The ferry ride itself is an unforgettable experience.

Step back in time at Ontario’s Scottish-inspired castle

Visit Dundarave Castle on Manitoulin Island. This enchanting estate, reminiscent of a Scottish castle, overlooks Lake Huron. Take a guided tour to learn about its history, explore lush gardens, and imagine life in a bygone era. Don’t miss the afternoon tea service in the castle’s tearoom, complete with scones and clotted cream.

ENS Editors

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