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Ontario sits along the shared Canada/U.S. border near the Great Lakes. Nearly half of Canada’s population calls this province home, and with its vast wilderness and cosmopolitan cities, it’s easy to understand why. Travelers can navigate the interior of Algonquin Provincial Park by canoe and never see a soul, or dive into the multicultural neighborhoods of Toronto for the ultimate entertainment scene. With attractions like Niagara Falls, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Toronto CN Tower, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, visitors will find plenty to keep them busy. These 25 things to do will inspire travelers to set their own agendas for exploring unforgettable Ontario.
1.Algonquin Provincial Park
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Algonquin Provincial Park is Ontario’s first park, and its largest. Located in southeastern Ontario, the park has been dubbed the Gem of Ontario Parks. This Canadian favorite hosts more than 800,000 visitors each year. The easiest way to experience the park is via the Highway 60 corridor that runs nearly 35 miles through it with lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors can access the Logging Museum, Art Centre, and Visitor Center along this stretch. Lake of Two Rivers, Barron Canyon Trail, and Whiskey Rapids Trail are park highlights visitors won’t want to miss. Adventurous types can navigate the park’s interior either on foot or by canoe.
Highway 60, Whitney, Ontario KOJ 2M0, CA, Phone: 705-633-5572
2.Art Gallery of Ontario
© Art Gallery of Ontario
Located in Toronto, Ontario, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is a massive gallery at over 147,000 square feet – North America’s largest. There are more than 95,000 works in the gallery’s permanent collection that range from today to as far back as the first century. Visitors can expect Central and Western African art, European masterpieces, Gothic boxwood miniatures, emerging Canadian indigenous artists, The Group of Seven 1920s landscape painters, a photography collection, and more. The building itself is a work of art. Gallery amenities include Café AGO, Galleria Italia Espresso Bar, ASO Bistro, and Shop AGO. Wednesday evenings offer free admission.
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5T IG4, CA, Phone: 416-979-6608
3.Bruce Peninsula National Park
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Ontario’s UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve includes Bruce Peninsula National Park, located on Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. Over 200 species of large and small mammals, amphibians, rare reptiles, and birds are at home in this park. Visitors can hike the front-country, trek the backcountry on multi-day adventures, scramble the rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay, and swim the pristine lakes. Camping opportunities are available in yurts, or at campsites. There is a Visitor Centre in Tobermory, which is the best place to start an adventure. Guests can expect a park film, 65-foot lookout tower, myriad trails with great views, and numerous interpretive programs.
469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory, Ontario N0H 2R0 CA, Phone: 519-596-2233
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Canada’s Wonderland is an Ontario amusement park that hits all the marks for families. Adventure seekers will thrill to an exhilarating collection of rides that twist, turn, and soar, including Lumberjack, Behemoth, Leviathan, and the new Yukon Striker with a record breaking dive. Kid-friendly entertainment is at Planet Snoopy and KidZville, where the little ones can pick from over 25 rides. Spash Works is a 20-acre water park with wave pools, slides, a lazy river float, water playgrounds, and Lakeside Lagoon children’s pool and play area. The park hosts events throughout the year including Camp Spooky on Halloween and Winterfest each November.
1 Canada’s Wonderland Drive, Vaughan, ON L6A 1S6, CA, Phone: 905-832-7000
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Casa Loma, once the estate of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, is now a local attraction, and an event space. Construction of the ‘medieval’ castle on a hill above Toronto began in 1911 and took three years to finish. The stunning castle offers sweeping views of Toronto. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the castle suites, towers, secret passageways, stables, estate gardens, and an 800-foot tunnel. Tours are available in multiple languages. There are three restaurants on the property – BlueBlood Steakhouse, which is a fine dining experience, Liberty Café serving breakfast and lunch in a coffeehouse setting, and Terrace Grill, which is a seasonal outdoor dining venue. Casa Loma Gift Shop offers unique souvenirs.
1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1X8, CA, Phone: 888-222-6608
6.LA Tour CN Tower
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CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, is one of the world’s tallest buildings. Set in the heart of the city, it offers visitors to Toronto, the best 360-degree views imaginable. Visitors can experience CN Tower a number of ways. The LookOut level has floor-to-ceiling window walls and a glass floor. At 1,136 feet, it easily provides epic views for all visitors. The glass floor on the LookOut level is above the original glass floor one story below, so visitors can see to the street. Thirty-three stories higher, guests will find SkyPod, one of the world’s highest observation platforms. Daring visitors can try Edgewalk, an outdoor hands-free, thrill walk 116 stories above ground.
301 Front Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2T6, CA, Phone: 416-868-6937
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A decade ago, a dream was born to turn 47 buildings of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery into a posh, SoHo-style neighborhood staple for artists, entrepreneurs, artisans, and businesspeople. Today, the Victorian industrial architecture is central to this internationally acclaimed village. Visitors will find unique shops, studios, theaters, galleries, boutiques, cafés, and restaurants in this entertainment and arts district. The 12-acre Distillery District is one of downtown Toronto’s best attractions. Three great ways to get an overview of the Distillery District is via a walking tour, foodie tour, or Segway tour. Myriad events take place here year-round from outdoor summer concerts on Trinity Square to the Toronto Christmas Market to the Toronto Light Festival.
9 Trinity Street, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3C4, CA, Phone: 416-364-1177
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8.EdgeWalk at the CN Tower
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EdgeWalk at the CN Tower is Toronto’s highest extreme urban adventure. The 1.5-hour experience includes 30 minutes of outdoor time walking the circumference of the main pod of the tower. Thrill seekers perform a hands-free walk 116 stories above ground on a 5-foot-wide ledge. Groups of six adventurers at a time are led by a guide who encourages them to stretch their limits and lean into the air off the edge of the ledge while attached to a safety rail via their harness. Following the daredevil walk, participants get complimentary access to the Lookout, SkyPod, and Glass Floor.
9 Trinity Street, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3C4, CA, Phone: 416-601-38333
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Skylon Tower is one of the most famous attractions in Niagara Falls providing jaw-dropping 360-degree views 775 feet above the falls. It boasts two restaurants, indoor/outdoor observation decks, and a main concourse outfitted with several shopping opportunities, as well as exciting glass blowing performances by the ‘King of Glass’, Angelo Rossi. The Revolving Dining Room restaurant is the most popular attribute of Skylon. It silently rotates 360-degrees every hour, providing diners with an ever-changing vantage point as they dine on award-winning continental cuisine. Summit Suite Buffet Dining Room restaurant is a more family-affordable restaurant providing an extensive selection of dishes from fresh seafood and carved meats to fresh salads and delectable pastries.
5200 Robinson Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2G 2A3, CA, Phone: 888-975-9566
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Flowerpot Island is one of the premier experiences of a visit to Fathom Five National Marine Park. It’s famous for natural rock pillars that resemble flowerpots, caves, rare plants, and a historic lighthouse. Visitors can access Flowerpot Island via boat tours out of Tobermory. Experienced kayakers can also make their way to the island. Once there, visitors will find lots to do. Those with limited time will want to spend it exploring the cave and admiring the flowerpots, which can be done in 90 minutes. Those with more time can add a visit to the lightstation, a hike around the island’s loop trail, and a picnic.
469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory, Ontario N0H 2R0, CA, Phone: 519-596-2233
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Georgian Bay is located on Lake Huron and is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The beautiful lake with 1,240 miles of granite shoreline, the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, and Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a must-see when visiting Ontario. Summers bring fishing, kayaking, and boating in full force. The annual Festival of Sound is held at Parry Sound in July. Providence Bay boardwalk and beach on Manitoulin Island delights beach-goers, as does Wasaga Beach at Georgian Bay’s southern end. It’s the self-described longest freshwater beach in the world. September brings a burst of fall colors reflecting off calm waters, and winter transforms the bay into a snow sports wonderland.
99 Lone Pine Road, Port Severn, Ontario L0K 1S0, CA, Phone: 705-538-2337
12.Hockey Hall of Fame
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Hockey Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to ice hockey in Toronto, Ontario. Visitors will find 15 exhibits featuring players, teams, and others who’ve built the sport like coaches, officials, and commentators. Arguably the most noteworthy display at the museum is the famous Stanley Cup in the Great Hall, also home to annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The Great Hall honors Hall of Famers, the NHL Zone features current players and teams, NHLPA Be a Player Zone is an interactive hockey exhibit, and World of Hockey Zone is dedicated to the sport around the world. Visitors will want to catch Stanley’s Game Seven, a 3D animation film with archival footage.
Brookfield Place, 30 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1X8, CA, Phone: 416-360-7765
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Horseshoe Falls is the grandest of three waterfalls that form Niagara Falls on the U.S. and Canadian border. On the Canadian side in Ontario, Horseshoe Falls is considered the ‘jewel’ of Niagara. There are numerous ways to enjoy Horseshoe Falls. One of the most adventurous is zip lining 2,200 feet toward the falls – close enough to feel the mist. Another popular choice is the Journey Behind the Falls experience at the base of Horseshoe Falls. White Water Walk takes visitors along the Class Six rapids of Niagara River. The Whirlpool Aero Car offers phenomenal views of the falls, and Hornblower Niagara Cruises take guests on a thrilling boat tour of the falls.
Oak Hall, 7400 Portage Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6T2, CA, Phone: 877-642-7275
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Silence is an artist-owned creative and community space founded in 2012 in Guelph, providing a unique space for the creation of inventive contemporary music and ambient sound art pieces. The fully-accessible performance space partners with local organizations such as the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, the Guelph Jazz Festival, and the Black Heritage Society to present more than 150 annual concerts, art performance exhibitions, and workshops, including live music performances by classical, folk, alternative, jazz, and world music artists. Risk-taking and experimental works are encouraged, with an emphasis on improvisational music and sound pieces. The nonprofit organization has also produced several albums of past artist work and held community-based Morning Music improv sessions weekly at its studio since 2012.
46 Essex Street, Guelph, ON N1H 3K8
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Kensington Market, a Canadian National Historic site since 2005, is located in Toronto, Ontario. This walkable bohemian neighborhood is filled with working art galleries, vintage clothing boutiques, and independently-owned shops. Visitors will find cheese shops, bakeries, and specialty grocers. There is an array of casual and fine dining restaurants, and trendy bars and cafés. Street art abounds with murals and public sculptures. Kensington Market Art Fair, supporting local artists, is held seasonally the last Sunday of the month May through October. A vibrant Winter Solstice Festival with a spectacular parade is also a must-see. Outside the market, guests will enjoy tree-lined streets, Victorian houses, and Bellevue Square Park.
Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, CA, Phone: 855-472-8687
16.National Gallery of Canada
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Located in Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada is the country’s premier art gallery. Housed in a beautiful granite and glass building designed by Moshe Safdie, it provides extraordinary views of the buildings on Parliament Hill. The gallery features a large and diverse collection of drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures. It primarily focuses on Canadian art, but it also has various works by several notable European and American artists. This includes a substantial contemporary art collection including some of the most famous pieces created by renowned artist Andy Warhol. The gallery offers numerous guided tours for adults, but they must have a minimum of ten people and make the reservation at least three weeks in advance.
380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 9N4, CA, Phone: 613-990-1985
17.Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory
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Nestled within the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory is a tropical paradise with verdant vegetation and waterfalls. More than 2,000 vibrantly colored butterflies of 45 different species flit around the glass enclosed conservatory. Inside, guests will meander along the winding pathways before ending at the emergence window where they’ll get the unique opportunity to watch hundreds of butterflies take their first flight. Many of the butterflies are imported with 60% coming from butterfly farms in El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the Philippines. The other 40% are raised in the quarantined greenhouse situated behind the Conservatory. Tours are self-guided and begin with a quick but informative video presentation.
2565 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario L0S 1J0, CA, Phone: 905-3358-0025
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Rideau Canal was built in 1832 for the military purpose of securing a supply route in case of a war with the United States. It uses a slack water system to subdue the rapids allowing watercrafts to go both upstream and downstream. This is done through a collection of locks that were handmade using locally sourced materials, a monumental feat of human genius and effort. A living piece of history, many of the original structures are still intact and the locks operate much as they did in the 19th century. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Canal’s historic sites to understand how and why it was built. Rideau is also a hub for outdoor recreation activities.
34 Beckwith Street South, Smith Falls, Ontario K7A 2A8, CA, Phone: 613-283-5170
19.Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
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Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, just southeast of the famous CN Tower. With 1.5 gallons of freshwater and marine habitats from all over the world, the exhibits feature over 20,000 specimens from over 450 species. The aquarium has ten unique galleries: Canadian Waters, Dangerous Lagoon, Rainbow Reef, Discovery Center, Ray Bay, The Gallery, Life Support Systems, Planet Jellies, Shoreline Gallery, and Swarm: Nature by Numbers. Animals featured include Wolf eel, Picasso triggerfish, sand tiger sharks, clownfish, electric eel, moon jelly, southern stingrays, and bonnethead sharks. In the Life Support System exhibit, visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at the life support systems room featuring equipment for Ray Bay and Dangerous Reef.
288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3L9, CA, Phone: 647-351-3474
20.Royal Ontario Museum
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Established in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is one of the top ten cultural institutions in North America, and the largest, most comprehensive museum in Canada. It is home to a world renowned collection of 13 million natural history specimens, cultural objects, and artworks displayed across 40 exhibitions and galleries. As an international leader in advanced discoveries and the nation’s most important field research institute, ROM plays an essential role in understanding the cultural, artistic, and natural world. Located in the heart of Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum is both a cultural destination and a national landmark. Prominent exhibitions include the Thorsell Spirit House, Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, and Roloff Beny Gallery.
100 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C6, CA, Phone: 416-586-8000
21.St Lawrence Market South
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An important piece of Toronto’s history, St. Lawrence Market is comprised of three primary buildings - the North Market, the South Market and St. Lawrence Hall. Mainly known for its Saturday Farmers’ Market, the North Market began this tradition back in 1803 and continues to be the place Southern Ontarians bring their seasonal produce to locals. It also serves as an antique hall on Sundays with more than 80 dealers filling and surrounding the space displaying their wares. The South Market is the main attraction, open daily with more than 120 specialty vendors offering a varied selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, grains, dairy products, and baked goods as well as several non-food items for sale.
92 – 95 Front Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1C3, CA, Phone: 416-392-7219
22.Toronto Eaton Centre
© Toronto Eaton Centre
The most visited attraction in Toronto, Ontario, the Toronto Eaton Centre is a massive office complex and shopping mall in the city’s downtown area. With its magnificent glass galleria and famous “Flight Stop" geese – an art installation created by legendary Canadian artist Michael Snow of what appears to be 60 geese in flight hanging from the ceiling – it is one of the most celebrated Canadian landmarks. It is home to more than 250 best-in-class services, retailers, and restaurants like Armani Exchange, Godiva Chocolatier, Hendricks Restaurant and Bar, Links of London, Toys Toys Toys, and Williams-Sonoma. It also hosts several events like Levi’s Tailor Shop, a DIY workshop, and Visit with Santa during the holiday season.
220 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2H1, CA, Phone: 416-598-8560
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Just a 13-minute ferry ride from downtown, the Toronto Islands are a collection of 15 interconnected islands located on Lake Ontario. Spanning a little over three miles from Hanlan’s Point to Ward’s Island it’s easy for visitors to walk from one end of the isle to the other via the pathways and bridges. The island offers a wealth of outdoor recreation activities for all ages including kayak, canoe, and kayak rentals as well as nature paths, grassy areas for picnicking, sports facilities, and a theatre. They also feature a 150-year-old community with 600 natives who live in quaint cottages year-round, a 200-year-old lighthouse, an artist’s retreat, trout pond, pier, boardwalk, restaurants, and formal gardens.
Jack Layton Ferry, Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2H3, CA, Phone: 416-392-8193
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Set in stunning Rogue Valley, the Toronto Zoo is the nation’s leader in wildlife rescue ensuring a rich diversity of nature is preserved for future generations to enjoy. One of the largest zoos in the world, it is home to more than 5,000 animals of over 450 species, six miles of walking trails, four rides, seven gift shops, seven exhibits, and the Discovery Zone. The latter features the Kids Zoo providing an interactive wildlife experience, a two acre water play area, Splash Island, and the Waterside Theatre. Toronto Zoo is split into seven zoogeographic sections – the Americas, Canadian Domain, Africa, Indo-Malaya, Australasia, Eurasia, and Tundra Trek. Rides include Zoomobile, Tundra Air ride, Conservation Carousel, and Gorilla Climb Ropes Course.
361A Old Finch Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M1B 5K7, CA, Phone: 416-392-5900
25.Blue Mountain Resort
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Blue Mountain Resort is one of Canada’s favorite alpine ski resorts located on the Niagara Escarpment northwest of Collingwood, Ontario. This popular ski and snowboard destination has five ski areas for visitors – the Village and the South area are best for all levels, including beginners. The Orchard area and Blue Mountain Inn area are best for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and North is reserved for advanced snowboarders and skiers only. The resort, nestled along Georgian Bay, offers tons of activities year-round from snowshoeing and snowmobiling during winter to riding the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster and zip lining during summer.
108 Jozo Weider Boulevard, Blue Mountains, Ontario L9Y 3Z2, CA, Phone: 705-445-0231
25 Best Things to Do in Ontario
- Algonquin Provincial Park, Photo: Courtesy of rruntsch - Fotolia.com
- Art Gallery of Ontario, Photo: Art Gallery of Ontario
- Bruce Peninsula National Park, Photo: Courtesy of filtv - Fotolia.com
- Canada’s Wonderland, Photo: Courtesy of helgidinson - Fotolia.com
- Casa Loma, Photo: Courtesy of Tharanga - Fotolia.com
- LA Tour CN Tower, Photo: Courtesy of anderm - Fotolia.com
- Distillery District, Photo: Courtesy of Curioso Photography - Fotolia.com
- EdgeWalk at the CN Tower, Photo: Courtesy of bakerjarvis - Fotolia.com
- Skylon Tower, Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Norris - Fotolia.com
- Flowerpot Island, Photo: Courtesy of skypics - Fotolia.com
- Georgian Bay, Photo: Courtesy of Vit - Fotolia.com
- Hockey Hall of Fame, Photo: Courtesy of klevit - Fotolia.com
- Horseshoe Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Olesya - Fotolia.com
- Silence, Photo: Courtesy of psousa5 - Fotolia.com
- Kensington Market, Photo: Courtesy of Adam - Fotolia.com
- National Gallery of Canada, Photo: Courtesy of Scott Wormington - Fotolia.com
- Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory, Photo: Courtesy of lucky-photo - Fotolia.com
- Rideau Canal, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Photo: Courtesy of Tharanga - Fotolia.com
- Royal Ontario Museum, Photo: Courtesy of skylarkstudio - Fotolia.com
- St Lawrence Market South, Photo: Courtesy of skylarkstudio - Fotolia.com
- Toronto Eaton Centre, Photo: Toronto Eaton Centre
- Toronto Islands, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Toronto Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of jhvephoto - Fotolia.com
- Blue Mountain Resort, Photo: Courtesy of RuggedCoast - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Elenathewise - Fotolia.com
Journey Behind the Falls
Journey Behind the Falls offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience of Niagara Falls. Guests are led 125 feet under the falls to 130-year-old tunnels carved out of bedrock. The thundering vibrations of Horseshoe Falls along the way to the base of the 13-story falls offer a hint of what’s to come. Once at the observation deck, visitors can watch the falls from viewing portals carved through the rock. About 2,800 cubic meters of water roar over the falls at 40 mph every second, making this an incredible spectacle to watch. All guests receive a biodegradable yellow poncho for viewing that they get to keep as a souvenir.
Oak Hall, 7400 Portage Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario L2E 6T2, CA, Phone: 877-642-7275