Ontario offers some of the best weekend getaway spots in the country. Whether it’s finding some fun outdoor activities or staying in luxury resorts, Ontario has it all. With the August long-weekend just around the corner, here is our list of top getaways for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city living. Read on for 14 picks of the best long-weekend destinations in Ontario that you can get to from Toronto.
1. Niagara Falls
It would be a crime not to include Niagara Falls on our top long-weekend destinations in Ontario list. Just under an hour and a half drive from Toronto, Niagara Falls has many hotels to cater to any circumstance. For a romantic couples getaway, Niagara Falls is the ultimate destination for a quick spontaneous trip or anniversary celebration. If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary, The Tunnel attraction at the Niagara Parks Power Station takes you 180 feet underground to the river’s edge. Travel down the tailrace tunnel in a glass walled elevator to emerge beside the thundering base of the Horseshoe Falls on a spectacular new viewing platform extending into the river.
For a family-friendly excursion, the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls is a perfect family-friendly place to escape for the weekend. This lodge offers guests a mixture of fun on-site activities and dining options, but it’s also very close to restaurants, shopping areas and visitor attractions near The Falls. Inside the resort, there are water rides, pools, mini-golf, and bowling, which makes the lodge perfect for all ages.
2. The Blue Mountains & Collingwood/Wasaga Beach
No long-weekend destinations list would be complete without mentioning one of Ontario’s most well-known getaway spots. Blue Mountain Resort is also open to visitors in the summer months. You can explore endless hiking trails along the Niagara ridgeline that will allow you to visit waterfalls and enjoy beautiful scenic views. Mountain biking couples will also enjoy this destination due to the trails just a few minutes out of town. After spending some time at The Blue Mountain resort, head into Collingwood for some great beer and restaurants!
There is no reason to stay in and feel bored when the world’s longest freshwater beach is within reach. With a busy boardwalk full of shops, restaurants and beach-side attractions, there’s something for everyone at Wasaga Beach. From good eats, waterside sports, sunbathing, or enjoying an ice cream, you’ll feel like you’re somewhere south of the border without going very far.
3. Bruce Peninsula & Tobermory
Near Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula National Park, and just under four hours away from Toronto, Tobermory provides amazing weekend getaways in Ontario during the summer months. If you’re after some outdoor activities, then the Bruce Peninsula National Park is a must-visit. The park has endless hiking trails to enjoy, but don’t forget to also explore old shipwrecks in the clear, but cold, turquoise waters. Organized tours can take you to see unique rock formations on Flowerpot Island; the clear water and beautiful rock formations make this destination look exotic. Camp out at the gorgeous Cypress Lake Campground. And be sure not to miss the otherworldly Bruce Peninsula grotto; this, in itself, makes the trip north worthwhile.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake wine region is located just south of Toronto. A stone’s throw from the Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and its fine hotels, award-winning restaurants, wine from nearby wineries, boutique stores and smalltown feel is both classic and classy. It is also the home to the acclaimed Shaw Theatre Festival. Many wineries offer tours and tastings, so you can learn more about how wine is made. Some of these wineries even offer cooking classes where you can learn how to cook using local ingredients. These places are often very affordable and come complete with kitchens so you won’t need to worry about bringing anything with you.
5. Prince Edward County
A two-hour drive out of Toronto is Prince Edward County. It’s the ideal place for those that want a weekend of wine tasting, dining and visiting the beaches in the Sandbanks Provincial Park. The park is famous for its soft, golden sand beaches that are a popular family destination in the summer. Dunes Beach and Outlet Beach are two of the most beautiful spots in the region. Visitors flock to PEC to take advantage of the area’s wine, cider and brewery tours. The area is also known for its excellent seasonal produce and artisanal foods. Cooking classes are popular amongst visitors, where they can learn to cook using ingredients from the surrounding areas, also known as farm-to-table meals. During the summer and fall, small towns in the area host festivals and events that offer many fun activities over the weekend. Another selling point to make it one of the best long-weekend destinations in Ontario is this: The tourism board has created the Taste Trail where you can follow the map and eat and drink your way through the city. For more information about the Trail, click here.
6. Napanee, Greater Napanee, Bon Echo (Lennox & Addington County)
If you’re looking for something a little different from the usual tourist spots, this could be it. Greater Napanee is a great stop on your weekend trip through Ontario, with lots of wineries and breweries. With a population of just under 3,000 people, the town of Napanee is small enough that you can walk around and explore the several galleries, studios, boutiques, cafés, and restaurants in a day or two.
7. Elora Gorge
Wellington County has some of Ontario’s most charming towns. Located in Ontario’s Grand River and about 25 km north of the Ontario’s Grand River Valley, there are scenic overlooks, 22-metre high cliffs and riverside trails. Immerse yourself in small wildlife viewing, fly fishing, kayaking and rock climbing. One of the famous Group of Seven painters, A.J. Casson, called Elora, “Ontario’s Most Beautiful Village”. There are many things to do in Elora; parks, extreme activities, like zip-lining and river tubing, as well as hiking. You’ll love the authentic, original mom-and-pop shops in the downtown area. At the end of a jam-packed day, spend the night at one of the campsites at Elora Gorge Park.
8. Sauble Beach
Ontario has its very own beach town. There is 11 kilometres of white sand located on Lake Huron near Owen Sound. Many may not know that Sauble Beach is the world’s second-longest freshwater beach. It’s a perfect beach for families with young kids because the sandbars keep the water warm and shallow. Also, a little known fact is that there’s great surfing to be had (yes, there is lake surfing in Ontario), if the conditions are just right. Explore the nearby shops or sit down and enjoy your morning coffee in a cafe. This is one of the must-see beaches to visit this summer. There are nearby falls, and if you’re wondering where to stay, there are campgrounds about a 15-minute drive away.
9. Thousand Islands
Thousand Islands, where the St. Lawrence River flows into Lake Ontario, encompasses 1,864 lakes in total. With all of these islands to explore, does the exact number really matter? Some are big enough to house old forts and castles; others have just enough room for a tree or two. Not all of the 1,864 islands in this archipelago are in Canada, though; some are part of the United States instead, so bring your passport. We bet there is at least one mysterious island to explore. For more information about tours offered, click here.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or just something fun and relaxing to do together, there are plenty of places to go on a long-weekend trip to the Country’s capital city. Byward Market is a lively market that takes place every Saturday morning in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Thousands of visitors come to shop for fresh produce, local arts and crafts, and delicious food. Be sure to take in the sites of our nations’ capital, like Parliament Hill in the city centre. You can marvel at grand Victorian architecture and museums, such as the National Gallery of Canada, with noted collections of Indigenous and other Canadian art. The park-lined Rideau Canal is filled with boats in summer, offering a great spot to rest and picnic.
11. Montreal, Quebec
Within a five-to-six hour drive, Montreal is a great place to visit any time of the year, but this is especially true for the summer months. Hardly a day goes by that Canada’s second-most populous city doesn’t have some kind of festival happening, including the famous Montreal International Jazz Festival. It is home to attractions, such as the Notre-Dame Basilica and Old Montreal. Get a taste of Europe without leaving the country! It promises to be one of the best staycation long-weekend destinations you never knew you wanted.
Stratford is located on the Avon River in southwest Ontario. This small town has lots of charm and has so much to offer visitors out for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Its Stratford Festival stages modern and Shakespearean plays in multiple theatres. Stroll through the town and enjoy the Victorian architecture that dots the city, including Stratford City Hall and the Perth County Courthouse. The city’s many parks and gardens include the Shakespearean Gardens, with plants mentioned in the playwright’s works.
Outdoor getaways in Ontario
Ontario is one of the best places in Canada for those that love exploring the great outdoors, so naturally, we picked the best outdoor locations below:
13. Algonquin Provincial Park
Three and a half hours from Toronto, this long-weekend destination is best suited for avid campers during the summer months. If you love the outdoors and can relish camping, fishing or hiking, you’ll enjoy the Algonquin Provincial Park. It’s one of Ontario’s getaways that’s excellent for exploring the area’s network of hiking trails, untouched lakes, and dense forests. If you love to camp under the stars, you will have a choice of eight campsites to choose from. If tenting is not your style, there are log cabins situated throughout the park. This makes the Provincial Park a cheaper weekend getaway option for anyone that wants to do multiple-day hikes.
14. Grand Bend
Just under three hours from Toronto, Grand Bend allows its visitors the best spot to relax on the beach over the weekend. This location is perfect for families that want to escape the city for the weekend and spend time sun tanning, swimming and playing beach games. Those that want an adrenaline rush can take advantage of parasailing, skydiving and jet skiing on Lake Huron. Visitors can also visit the Pinery Provincial Park that was created to protect the Oak Savanna and dunes, endemic to the area. There are areas where visitors can relax on the beaches, camp and hike the trails that zig-zag through the park.
Whether it’s a relaxing resort experience, exploring the outdoors or a couples getaway, Ontario has it all. Most of the long-weekend destinations mentioned above are close to Toronto, so there is bound to be a location that appeals to your preferred type of weekend getaway. Who wouldn’t love to experience the greatest weekend getaways Ontario has to offer?
We hope you get the chance to explore one of out top 15 long-weekend destinations for yourself. And remember, while traveling throughout Ontario, be mindful of the speed limits posted. Nothing can be worse than commencing or capping off a great getaway with a speeding ticket. To learn more about how traffic tickets can affect your car insurance, click here.