Guides Toronto Toronto Beyond Toronto: 10 Places to Visit Near Toronto

Toronto Beyond Toronto: 10 Places to Visit Near Toronto

City Guide March 1, 2024



Exploring the vibrant city of Toronto is an adventure in itself, but venturing just beyond its bustling streets reveals a world of breathtaking landscapes, charming small towns, and unique attractions. Whether you're a local seeking a quick getaway or a visitor looking to extend your Toronto vacation, the areas surrounding Toronto offer a delightful mix of natural beauty, historical sites, and leisure activities. This guide will take you through 10 must-visit getaways from Toronto, inspiring your next adventure.

Before exploring the vibrant city of Toronto or the stunning getaways just a short distance away, leveraging the convenience of Toronto union station luggage storage can significantly enhance your travel experience. This simple yet effective solution allows you to roam freely, unhindered by the weight of your belongings, whether diving into Toronto vacation ideas within the city's bustling streets or venturing out to discover what to see around Toronto.

From the iconic CN Tower to the serene beauty of Niagara Falls, a short drive away, your exploration can be as diverse and enriched as the landscape of Ontario itself. Embrace the freedom to experience all the sights and sounds, knowing your luggage is securely stored and waiting for your return.


1. Niagara Falls: A Majestic Wonder

Located just a 90-minute drive from Toronto, Niagara Falls is a testament to nature's grandeur, attracting millions of visitors annually. This magnificent waterfall, straddling the border between Canada and the United States, offers an array of experiences beyond simply viewing the falls.

Visitors can get up close and personal with the falls through the thrilling boat tours operated by Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which bring you to the very base of the falls, enveloped in mist and the thunderous roar of cascading water. The scenic Niagara Parkway, a driving route that follows the curve of the Niagara River, provides stunning views and access to attractions such as the Butterfly Conservatory and the Floral Clock.

Just a short drive away, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a picturesque town renowned for its well-preserved 19th-century buildings, premier wineries, and the Shaw Festival, a major theatrical event celebrating the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. This region combines the awe of natural beauty with the refinement of cultural experiences, making it an essential visit for anyone exploring Ontario.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 130 km (90 minutes by car)


2. Prince Edward County: A Quaint Retreat

Approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Toronto, Prince Edward County offers a tranquil retreat from city life. This charming area is celebrated for its burgeoning artisanal food scene, award-winning wineries, and the pristine beauty of Sandbanks Provincial Park, with its expansive sandy beaches and dunes forming some of Ontario’s most beautiful shorelines. The park is a haven for swimmers, sunbathers, and nature enthusiasts.

Beyond its natural attractions, Prince Edward County is dotted with quaint towns like Picton, where history meets modernity. Here, visitors can explore an array of historical buildings, contemporary art galleries, and boutique shops that capture the essence of rural sophistication. The county’s relaxed pace and rich cultural fabric make it a favorite destination for those seeking relaxation and enrichment.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 200 km (2.5 hours by car)


3. Blue Mountains: Outdoor Adventures Await

The Blue Mountains, located approximately two hours northwest of Toronto, is a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering yearly activities. The region becomes a snowy wonderland in the winter, with Blue Mountain Resort providing ski slopes for all levels, snowboarding, and snowshoeing trails. As the snow melts, the area transforms into a summer playground, with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring the Niagara Escarpment's breathtaking scenery.

Blue Mountain Village, at the heart of the region, is a lively area filled with dining options, spas, and shops, making it the perfect spot to relax and rejuvenate after a day filled with adventure. This vibrant community atmosphere, combined with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, ensures a memorable experience for all who visit.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 160 km (2 hours by car)


4. Wasaga Beach: Sun, Sand, and Surf

Wasaga Beach, located about 2 hours north of Toronto, is famed for being the longest freshwater beach in the world. This expansive beach stretches over 14 kilometers along the southern shore of Georgian Bay. It is known for its warm, shallow waters, making it an ideal destination for families and swimmers of all ages. The beach area is complemented by a lively boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, offering plenty of activities for visitors.

Beyond the beach, the area is surrounded by natural beauty, with opportunities for camping, hiking, and bird watching in the nearby provincial park. Wasaga Beach's blend of natural attractions and recreational amenities makes it a popular spot for those enjoying Ontario's sun, sand, and surf.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 145 km (2 hours by car)



5. Algonquin Provincial Park: A Wilderness Escape

Algonquin Provincial Park, a sprawling natural reserve located a few hours north of Toronto, is a sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. As Ontario's first provincial park, it boasts a rich mosaic of forests, lakes, and rivers, creating a picturesque backdrop for various activities. Visitors can embark on canoe expeditions across its vast network of waterways, exploring secluded lakes and connecting with the tranquility of nature. Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of spots to cast their lines, with the park's waters teeming with bass, trout, and pike.

For those who prefer to stay on land, Algonquin's numerous hiking trails offer the opportunity to traverse diverse terrains, from dense forests to rocky ridges, all while keeping an eye out for the park's abundant wildlife, including moose, beavers, and countless bird species. The park also features educational programs at the Visitor Centre, making it a perfect destination for those looking to combine adventure with learning about the natural world.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 300 km (about 3-4 hours by car)


6. Georgian Bay: A Spectacular Shoreline

The shores of Georgian Bay captivate with their mix of natural beauty and adventure. Lighthouses perch atop rugged cliffs, overseeing crystal-clear waters that are a haven for boaters and anglers. The area’s natural beauty extends underwater, making it a popular destination for diving enthusiasts eager to explore shipwrecks in the clear waters. Bruce Peninsula National Park, situated along the bay, is a gateway to outdoor exploration with extensive hiking trails.

It invites visitors to traverse through forests, rocky outcrops, and deep caves. Among the bay’s treasures are its islands, including Manitoulin Island, recognized as a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve. These islands offer a quieter, more secluded experience of Georgian Bay’s spectacular environment, allowing for a deeper connection with nature through camping, hiking, and observing local wildlife.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 200 km to the southern edge (about 2-3 hours by car), with varying distances to specific destinations within the bay.


7. Cottage Country: Muskoka and Beyond

Just a few hours north of Toronto, Muskoka is the essence of Canadian cottage country, presenting a picturesque setting with its serene lakes and lush forests. This region is a haven for those seeking relaxation or adventure amidst nature. Visitors can rent cottages by the lake, partake in water sports on Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, or Lake Joseph, or explore the natural beauty on numerous hiking and biking trails.

The quaint towns of Bracebridge, Huntsville, and Gravenhurst dot the landscape, offering a glimpse into local life with their art galleries, museums, and seasonal festivals. Muskoka's blend of natural allure and community spirit makes it an iconic destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the quintessential Canadian summer experience.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 200 km (about 2-3 hours by car).


8. Sandbanks Provincial Park: Pristine Beaches and Dunes

Sandbanks Provincial Park, nestled in the heart of Prince Edward County, is a jewel among Ontario’s natural attractions. Known for its vast sandy beaches and impressive dune system—the world's largest baymouth barrier dune formation—the park offers a perfect backdrop for summer activities. Its beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball, while the park’s trails invite visitors to explore the unique dune ecology on foot.

Picnic areas scattered throughout the park provide serene spots for family gatherings or a quiet lunch amidst nature. Beyond the beach, the park's location in Prince Edward County offers easy access to the region's flourishing wine country and culinary scene, making it a comprehensive destination for those seeking relaxation and exploration.

Distance from Toronto: Approximately 220 km (about 2.5-3 hours by car).



9. Explore the Charm of Small Towns

Ontario’s landscape is dotted with quaint, charming small towns, each offering a unique slice of Canadian life. From the historic mills and the breathtaking gorge in Elora to the vibrant arts community in Stratford, known worldwide for its annual Shakespeare Festival, these towns are a testament to Ontario's rich history and cultural diversity. Visitors can enjoy leisurely explorations of local heritage sites, indulge in shopping at boutique stores, and savor culinary delights in cozy cafes and restaurants that showcase local flavors.

Other notable towns include Niagara-on-the-Lake, with well-preserved 19th-century architecture and thriving wineries, and St. Jacobs, famous for its Mennonite heritage and bustling farmers’ market. These small towns provide a peaceful escape from city life and a deep dive into the heart of Ontario’s cultural and historical fabric.

Distance from Toronto: Varies by town, with Elora approximately 110 km away (about 1.5 hours by car) and Stratford around 150 km away (about 2 hours by car).


10. Road Trips Along Scenic Routes

Embarking on a road trip is a quintessential way to experience the diverse landscapes and hidden treasures surrounding Toronto. Scenic drives such as the Niagara Parkway, hailed by Winston Churchill as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world,” take you along the winding Niagara River, offering stunning views of the falls and the lush, vineyard-dotted countryside. On the other hand, the drive to Algonquin Provincial Park immerses travelers in the rugged beauty of Ontario’s wilderness, with opportunities to stop at small towns, local markets, and scenic lookouts.

These routes, along with others like the drive through the Kawarthas or the route to Georgian Bay, provide a canvas for adventure, allowing for spontaneous explorations of Ontario’s natural splendor, historical sites, and artisanal local produce stands. Each road trip promises a journey filled with discoveries, scenic beauty, and the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Distance from Toronto: Varies by route, with the Niagara Parkway starting about 130 km away (about 1.5 hours by car) and the drive to Algonquin Provincial Park beginning approximately 300 km away (about 3-4 hours by car).

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