A great escape only 300kms from Toronto is to the Bruce Peninsula. Here you will find the dramatic white cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment plunging 40m to the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay.
The famous Bruce Trail which begins in Niagara Falls and continues for 782 kms, ending in Tobermory, can be hiked (in smaller portions!!) here on the Bruce Peninsula.
See my Tobermory pages for more info.
If you find yourself in Toronto on a summer weekend and can't find any Torontonians, it's probably because they've all headed north to the cottage.
The Muskoka Lakes Region, only 200kms north of Toronto is considered "cottage country". Here, you will find crystal clear lakes, lush pine forests, rocky outcroppings and charming country towns.
You can see more views and info about Muskoka on my Parry Sound pages.
Blue Mountain is just outside of Toronto. It is a great place to ski and paying Canadian doesn't hurt at all. Their packages are great if you are planning to stay there for a couple of days.
In the summer they offer lots of other acitivities. I've only been there during skiing season.
It doesn't matter where it is in Toronto and area, some place there is some filming going on. Toronto is used for many American locations, for movies and tv shows.
Sometimes they move out of the city too. For example, the tv show Wild Card, which supposedly takes place in Chicago, is filmed in Toronto. I mention this show, because just recently there was an episode about a suspicious insurance claim on a bull, and for that episode they needed some real farm footage. My cousin's farm was one of the locations used.... but in typical fashion, you needed to know the property to realise where it was. My picture is of the "nursery" which wasn't in the show, but was part of the interior of the barn.
If you are like me and would enjoy a day of hiking and nature as a change from the big city, then head southwest to the small town of Dundas. Here you will find a great Conservation Area with access to two beautiful waterfalls and a hike along the Niagara Escarpment to a wonderful viewpoint. Pack the kids, the dogs and a picnic and make an entire day of it.
See my Hamilton pages for all the details.
East of Toronto is the Mountsberg Wildlife Center. Has some wild animals: bison, birds of prey etc. on the grounds, a lake to swim in, and some short to medium walking trails.
From Highway 401 go south on Guelph Line. Turn west on Campbellville Road for 4 km and then go north on Milburough Line for 1 km to park entrance.
The Toronto Islands:
The Toronto Islands make up one of the world’s most spectacular urban parks with over 600 acres of open spaces..
From biking, blading and boating to picnics, festivals and special events, the always picturesque Islands offer a full range of activities for all ages.
Highlights include Centreville Amusement Park, Far Enough Farm, the Carousel Café, The “Maze” (cedar hedge labyrinth), Toronto Harbour Tours, Island Tram Tour, 10km run course, jogging trails, supervised wading pools, the boardwalk, bike and boat rentals, and numerous picnic areas.
the “Island” is actually composed of nearly two dozen islands. These include Ward's Island and Hanlan's Point, both named in honour of early Island settlers, while the popular Centre Island (originally Island Park) defines where it is located, right between the other two.
Canada's nature is spectacular, so get out of the city!
If you like the outdoors, (and if you drive) take highway 400 N to Muskoka and go camping, canoeing or hiking in the wild. Exit on Georgian Bay Rd. to Six Mile Lake, it's about a 2hr drive from TO. Lakes in this area are interconnected so you can portage and camp out where ever you please, and it's free!
If you feel like driving even further, go to Algonquin. It's one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario.
I just found out there are badlands in Ontario near Caledon. It is probably about a 45 minute drive and the site is actually quite small, so it shouldn't take you more than 15-30 minutes to see everything. I also recommend going there early in the morning as I understand this is quite busy later in the day with families visiting. Also, if you have very limited time in Toronto, I would not go out of my way to check this out but if you want to get away from the city, you can visit this as well as the many towns and parks in the Caledon / Niagara Escarpment area.
Please note that the badlands are in danger of erosion, so do not walk around on them, even if you see other people ignoring the warning signs put up by Bruce Trail Organization. You can get a really good view from the top and surrounding so there really is no need to go on them. I have posted a few pictures below. My friend said that in winter, you can see the different sedimentary layers (?) even clearer because of the snow. I guess I will probably go check it out at that time.
The Caledon area is also very popular with cyclists, though the hills seemed quite intense. The cyclists I saw on that day stopped by to check out the view, then continued on to the Spirit Tree Estate Cidery. I went there for an early lunch and they got a good selection of cheeses and other local farm products. They offer free cider tasting, which includes a pub cider, a perry (pear alcohol), still cider (sort of like wine), and an ice cider. I actually quite like the ice cider, which reminds me of ice wine, but less sweet. One of the patrons recommended the artisan farmer's platter, which got a selection of local products. I would probably try that next time.
Directions to Badlands: If you drive from Toronto, take Hwy 401W and exit on Hwy 410. 410 will become Hwy 10, which is also called Hurontario Street. Go North for a few blocks until you hit Olde Base Line Road. Turn left. It is on the left hand side of the road just before Creditview Road. If you have a GPS, try searching for 1600 Olde Base Line Road. There is no official parking but there is a shoulder where you can leave your vehicle.
Directions to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery: It's near Missassauga Road and Boston Mills Road (1 block south and 1.5 blocks west of the badlands).
Midland is a very nice little town, at about 1.30 hours from Toronto. It is famous for its colorful walls, painted as murals reconstructing the history of the province. It is also the gateway for a Georgian Bay boat tour.
In VT the 1000 Islands are referred as an US attraction, and I believe they should be. But the fact is that they follow the border between USA and Canada, in St. Lawrence river, occupying both sides of the border.
I didn't have time to visit them, and only saw some of them from distance, in our way from Toronto to Montreal.
It seems (surfing VT tips about it) that the most interesting points are in US side. But... this is what I saw! And where I saw it. Maybe it will be fun, riding a boat around them.
Georgian Bay is a great day trip from Toronto. You can drive yourselve, take a bus or a tour. You'll be amazed by the beauty of this bay, its charming houses and islands. A very worthy day trip to scape from the crowded cities.
Just 40 Minutes east of Toronto is the Cullen Gardens. located at Whitby.
The Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village is open from Mid April to early January.
They usually have a Festival of Lights events around Christmas time, check out if it is still ocurring.
I will be putting pictures of the miniature Village on a travelogue page in the future when time allows, so watch this space.
There are Group discounts available, Free parking, and Senior discounts.
There is also a restaurant, Lynde House Heritage Home, gift shops, and a cafe.
About an hour and a half East of Toronto you'll get to Canada's Capital a city called Ottawa. Ottawa is a classic city with the outskirts resembleing a Scandianiavian town. Though in the heart of the city it has a old english feel to it with classic buildings (parliment included) and stylish arctitechture. Ottawa is a fantastic place to visit in in the Wintertime. There's plenty of ice festival's and there is the Ottawa canal miles of frozen ice where thousands of people enjoy skate on every year.
If you only go to Toronto, you're missing the real Canada - and the real Ontario. Tourists really should plan a day in the summer at Sauble Beach (It's like Florida, only not as crowded, no algae attacks, jelly fish or SHARKS, and the water is much more comfy in the heat of the day). Algonquin Provincial Park is also a must-see. Northern Ontario - well, that is my own little secret (some things we like to keep from tourists!). The photo below was taken by me (I have to brag a little) and is watermarked (I hate piracy).