You may not have planned on staying in the province this summer, but everything you need for a memorable summer 2020 is here in our own backyard. Ontario has some of the world’s most beautiful parks, beaches, lakes, and recreation opportunities - all of which are starting to open up to in-province visitors. Here are some ideas to spark up your summer, whether you’re looking to plan an amazing vacation or some sweet days out.
Cruise the Rideau Canal in a Houseboat
Luxe houseboat operator Le Boat has a fleet of 24 boats that you can use to explore the gorgeous lakes and waterways of the Rideau Canal. Perfect for couples, groups, and families of all sizes, you can book a two to five cabin boat that can sleep up to 12 people - and each cabin has a private bathroom with shower. With an equipped kitchen, top deck with BBQ, spacious stateroom, and the option of adding paddle-boards, kayaks, and bikes to your rental, Le Boat offers a self-contained accommodation that’s heaps of fun and easy to navigate through some beautiful places.
Day Trip to Toronto’s Islands
Located in Lake Ontario just a short ferry ride from downtown Toronto is a string of islands that offer a completely different pace of life. Take the ferry to Ward’s Island to hang on the beach there while admiring spectacular views out over the city, walk amongst the quaint cottages with their English-style gardens, and grab a bite to eat on The Riviera’s spacious patio. Because the islands are connected by bridges and walkways, you can explore the other islands by bike or foot to find a lovely children’s park, 200-year-old-lighthouse, more beaches, artists’ retreats, an amusement park, and other sweet little spots.
Pitch a Tent in a National Park
As Parks Canada opens up, this could be the perfect time to dust off your old camping gear and get back to nature. From the wilderness of Pukaskwa National Park where you can camp by pink and slate-granite beaches and hike a suspension bridge above rushing waterfalls, to island-hopping by kayak at Thousand Islands National Park, there are many pretty Parks Canada locations to explore throughout the province.
RV to Beautiful Beaches and Remote Lakes
Not into tenting? Pick up a CanaDream RV in Toronto and park up somewhere ridiculously gorgeous like Sandbanks Provincial Park, which has three long white sand beaches and dunes, or drive North to Algonquin Provincial Park to swim and kayak in clear waters, and be surrounded by wildlife. CanaDream offers a range of RVs that sleep up to six people, with all the amenities you need to enjoy life on the road (and they’re easy to drive, and deal with, so no worries if you’re a first time RVer).
See Shipwrecks and Geological Spectacles in Tobermory
Always an Ontario bucket-list destination, Tobermory on the stunning Bruce Peninsula is a sweet lakeside town where you can take a boat trip over shipwrecks submerged in the clear waters of Fathom Five National Marine Park and hike amongst flowerpot rocks, and swim off the pristine beaches of Bruce Peninsula National Park. Rent a cabin, or pitch a tent in one of the many campgrounds in the area.
Plan Epic Urban Hikes
Torontonians don’t even need to leave the GTO to get out into nature. Evergreen Brick Works has trails through downtown, and Rouge National Urban Park offers more than a dozen hiking trails of varying length and difficulty. Green’s Creek in Ottawa has 5.5k of beautiful and naturally diverse trails, there are 7k of trails at gloriously pretty Shirleys Bay conservation area, and many easily accessible trails that take you along the Rideau Canal. Find the gems in your city, and get walking.
Enjoy the Beach and Small Town Charms of Erieau
On the shores of Lake Erie, Erieau has beautiful beaches (that have been made wheelchair and stroller accessible - which is awesome) and some of the warmest water in Ontario to swim in. Back from the beach, you’ll find great places to grab dinner or an ice cream, conservation areas to hike, a children’s park, and other laid-back attractions that make for a perfect family trip.
Plan a Self-guided Food Tour
One way to experience a completely different side of your home city is to let your appetite guide you. The ice cream scene in Toronto has become incredibly diverse and over-the-top in recent years, and you could easily plan out a day of walking neighbourhoods to try and find the absolute best scoops and soft-serve. You could check out the stellar Asian food scene in Markham, sampling Taiwanese bubble tea, Japanese cheesecake, amazing dim sum and noodle dishes, and other culinary delights you may never have encountered before. Pick a location and a cuisine or theme, and enjoy.
Appreciate a Less Busy Stratford
With the Stratford Festival on hold, and no Shakespeare, visiting this beautiful city on the Avon River just became a lot more peaceful. Head there to enjoy the art, boutiques and antique stores, museums, golf, and amazing food scene without the usual summer crowds.
Go Biking in Hamilton
There are more than 100k of biking trails in and around Hamilton. Though some of trails through busier locations are closed for now in order to aid social distancing, there are still plenty open that suit casual free-wheelers to those who love long distance rides through beautiful settings. There are lots of bike rental places in Hamilton, so you don’t need to own the equipment to go for a ride, and when you’re back in the city you can fuel back up by exploring the tasty local food scene.
Know Before You Go:
- To avoid disappointment, book accommodations early, as many places are limiting numbers or reducing occupancy in order to maintain stricter cleaning and distancing protocols.
- Call in advance to check that the places you want to visit are open, and for any special requirements that may be in place.
- Check destination websites before you book, and before you leave for your trip, to get a better understanding of what stage they are at in reopening, and rely on information from your own region’s reopening phase regarding how far from home you should stray.
- The same COVID-19 safety rules apply, even when we’re on vacation. Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask when entering shops and businesses. Remember to wash your hands and use sanitizer often, and respect social distancing.