16 Breathtaking Places to Visit in Ontario

Ontario is the best of both worlds in Canada – it’s the largest economic hub, has the tallest buildings, and is also the most populated province. But Ontario has more than just city life – it’s also home to a million square kilometers of natural beauty. There are so many amazing places to visit in Ontario!

Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario aerial view, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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With 630 provincial parks and nature reserves, 250,000 lakes, and the beautiful rock formations of the Canadian Shield, the nature in Ontario is stunning and makes the province one of the best Canadian provinces to visit and spend time outdoors, getting the best of both worlds. 

In addition, Ontario has four distinct seasons which makes it beautiful year-round, with different things to do according to the season. From outdoor winter activities, to summer fun, there’s so many great places to visit in Ontario.

All The Best Places to Visit in Ontario

We’re going to go through all the amazing places to visit in Ontario so that you know the best gems in the province to visit on your next trip.

So, let’s jump in – places to visit in Ontario!

Ottawa 

Ottawa is a relatively small, scenic city bordering Ontario with the French-speaking province, of Quebec. As such, Ottawa is very bilingual and a hub for what it means to be Canadian. It’s Canada’s capital and home to a lot of national history. 

Cityscape skyline of Canada with Parliament hill in downtown Ottawa at sunset.
Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

In Ottawa, you can visit the Parliament Buildings and even take a free tour of them. There are some museums where you can learn about the history, geology, and culture of Canada, such as the Canadian Museum of Nature, the Canadian War Museum, and the Canadian Museum of History.

Be sure to walk around the downtown area, where there are shops, restaurants, and parks. Check out the Rideau Canal, a 202 km waterway that connects to the St. Lawrence River. In the winter, weather-dependent, the Rideau Canal is frozen and turns into the largest outdoor skating rink in the world. 

If you visit Ottawa in February, you’ll see Winterlude, where you can admire ice sculptures throughout the downtown core and take part in winter activities. In May, Ottawa hosts the annual Tulip Festival where there are over 300,000 tulips planted around the downtown – it’s the largest tulip festival in the world.

Kingston 

Kingston is a small city in eastern Ontario, which is often overlooked and relatively unknown to people outside Canada. Kingston was once Canada’s capital before it was changed to Ottawa a few years later. It’s also known as the “limestone city”, as many of the historic buildings downtown are made of limestone.

Late afternoon sunlight casts a warm glow on the marina and historic stone Martello tower fort in Kingston, Canada.
Photo Credit: WorldStock/Shutterstock.

Kingston is also the hometown of a few historically prominent Canadians, such as Canada’s first prime minister, and the lead singer of Tragically Hip.

Kingston holds a lot of military history, such as the Fort Henry Historic Sight, which 

Another interesting tour is of the Kingston Penitentiary, which is a former maximum security prison that closed in 2013 and is now a museum.

Head to Market Square downtown where farmers markets, festivals, and concerts are held throughout the year. From Market Square, you can walk to the Kingston waterfront which has a beautiful shoreline along the St. Lawrence River. You can take a ferry to Wolfe Island, to do outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin is the largest of all 630 provincial parks in Ontario, covering 7,630 km² (2,946 square miles) of protected forests, lakes, and trails. Algonquin is most popular in the fall as people flock there from province-wide and even worldwide to enjoy the stunning reds, oranges, and yellows of the foliage. 

Hiking the Arrowhead Lake Trail in early October in Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville, Ontario in the Algonquin Highlands.
Photo Credit: Phill Doherty/Shutterstock.

Algonquin though, can be visited any time throughout the year, including in winter. Most of the lakes in Algonquin do not allow motorized vehicles, which allows for a calm, serene way to enjoy nature and even see wildlife.

Algonquin is fairly centrally located, about 2.5 hours from both Ottawa and Toronto and receives around 800,000 visitors per year. There are some places to stay in the park, as well as in towns and villages nearby.

Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Provincial Park is located right in the heart of Ontario’s Muskoka region, about one hour from Algonquin Park. Arrowhead is much smaller than Algonquin Park and offers a great alternative to Algonquin which can get very busy in the summer and fall months.

Big Bend Lookout in Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville, Ontario is seen during a beautiful magenta sunset.
Photo Credit: jrtwynam/Shutterstock.

In addition, Arrowhead is famous for its efforts to create a ‘winter wonderland’ during the cold months. Arrowhead is famous for its skating trail open in the winter months, where you can skate on a trail through the forest, under the starry sky. The trail is open until late at night and is lit by flaming torches. 

In the spring through to fall, there are great trails, which are well maintained, as well as camping, and kayaking on Arrowhead Lake.

Huntsville

Huntsville is a small town in the Muskoka region located in Ontario’s cottage country, about 3 hours north of Toronto.  Only 10 minutes from Arrowhead Provincial Park and 30 minutes from Algonquin, Huntsville makes a great place to stay for people wanting to explore the outdoors of the Muskoka region.

The Rotary Village Station and Portage Flyer Train, part of the Muskoka Heritage Place. Train leaves the Rotary Village Station at Huntsville.
Photo Credit: Gilberto Mesquita/Shutterstock.

Huntsville has a quaint downtown lined with shopping – bookstores, souvenir shops, and good quality Canadian items. You can find Muskoka Bearwear, which is a local business that makes hoodies and pajama pants. There’s also the Muskoka Heritage Museum where visitors can learn about the indigenous and early settlement history of the area.

The Muskoka River runs through Hunstiville which gives the town a picturesque feel. You can rent a paddle board and go canoeing on the river. 

Toronto 

You can’t visit Ontario without spending at least a few days in its capital. Toronto is the largest city in Canada, and the most multicultural city in the world. It’s also home to a lot of record-breaking buildings and things to do, in both summer and winter.

Image of Toronto city, Canada. Modern buildings and blue lake. CN Tower, Canadian National Tower.
Photo Credit: Christian Inga/Shutterstock.

The CN Tower is the 8th tallest free-standing structure in the world at 1,515 feet (553 m) tall, the Royal Ontario Museum is the largest museum in Canada, and Canada’s Wonderland (the amusement park just outside Toronto) is home to the 7th tallest roller coaster in the world at ​​306 ft (93 m) tall.

As you can see, there are a lot of exciting things to see and do in Toronto. One of the best parts of Toronto though is the unique quality of distinct international neighbourhoods – this is part of what makes it so multicultural.

There’s a Greektown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Little India, and a Ukranian neighborhood. The list goes on. You can feel like you traveled the world while staying just in Toronto. 

Niagara Falls 

Niagara Falls is considered a world wonder, is the largest waterfall in Ontario, standing 174 ft tall, and also one of the widest waterfalls in the world.

It’s impossible to be bored in Niagara Falls – there’s so much to do for both families and groups of adults. Niagara Falls is known for being a ‘fun’ area, where people go to enjoy the beauty of the falls, but also party, experience nightlife, and do active and fun activities. 

Beautiful Niagara Falls on a clear sunny day. Niagara, Canada.
Photo Credit: TRphotos/Shutterstock.

There are casinos, indoor waterparks, haunted houses, a butterfly conservatory, and Bird Kingdom – the largest indoor aviary in the world.

To get up close and personal with the falls, consider riding the Hornblower, which is the ferry that brings you as close to the base of the falls as possible (be aware: you will get wet!) Consider visiting Journey Behind the Falls, which is the closest to the falls that you can get. 

Insider tip: Visit at night to admire the falls as they are lit up in different colors after dark.

Niagara on the Lake

Niagara on the Lake (not to be confused with Niagara Falls) is a town that sits on the shore of Lake Ontario, about 30 minutes from Niagara Falls. Niagara on the Lake is known for being the wine region of Ontario.

Clock tower in the streets of Niagara on the Lake. Niagara on the Lake is a town in Ontario, it is located on the Niagara Peninsula.
Photo Credit: milosk50/Shutterstock.

There are over 50 wineries in Niagara on the Lake where you can visit, do wine tours and tastings, and enjoy the view of hilly vineyards. There is also a quaint downtown, with historical buildings and plenty of places to eat and shop. Queen Street, the main street, has a lot of boutique stores, eateries, and high-end restaurants.

In the winter, Niagara on the Lake hosts its annual Ice Wine Festival. It’s one of the few regions in the world where ice wine is made. Visitors can brave the chilly weather, and try some locally made fruity dessert wine, as well as gourmet finger foods and appetizers made by local restaurants.

Stratford 

Stratford is a small city about 2 hours west of Toronto in Southern Ontario known for its festival of Shakespearean plays that are performed throughout the summer, known as the Stratford Festival which runs annually from April to October.

Vertical of the Stratford City Hall in Canada.
Photo Credit: Harold Stiver/Shutterstock.

The main theatre for the Stratford Festival can seat 1,800 people but no one is more than 65 feet from the stage – giving spectators a great experience as they watch a lot of elaborate, well-put-together plays with talented actors and professionally done music and costumes.

In addition to the Stratford Festival, the town is a nice place to visit and spend a weekend. Stratford has a historic downtown with Victorian buildings and there are lots of restaurants to choose from in the downtown core, from North American-style fast food to international delights. 

Collingwood 

Collingwood is one of the most touristy cities in Ontario and for a good reason. It’s home to Blue Mountain Ski Resort and Blue Mountain Village which are picturesque in summer and in the winter.

The blue mountains from the town with a picturesque background that you can see while walking through the downtown core. 

Blue Mountain Village in winter.
Photo Credit: MasterPhoto/Shutterstock.

The historic downtown of Collingwood is lined with restaurants, shopping, and cafes. Right in town, there is a Nordic spa called  Scandinave Spa, where you can soak in hot tubs and cool tubs, enjoy steam rooms and saunas, and relax in hammocks, reading a book and unwinding. 

About 15 minutes west of downtown Collingwood is Wasaga Beach, which is the world’s longest freshwater beach.

Tobermory

Tobermoy is a small town on the Bruce Peninsula, home to freshwater beaches, and rocky shorelines, and is known as the scuba diving capital of Canada. 

Tobermory is home to hundreds of shipwrecks in the Fathom Five National Marine Park which makes the area very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. Due to the cold water, the ships are relatively well intact and some can be seen from swimming, or from a boat.

Standing at edge of frozen cliffs in winter overlooking grotto surrounded by bright blue water, Tobermory, Ontario, Canada.
Photo Credit: Dan Sedran/Shutterstock.

The Grotto and Indian Head Cove near Tobermory in the Bruce Peninsula National Park are the most visited attractions in Ontario and provide stunning views of the rocky shoreline along the turquoise color of the lake.

To soak up more stunning views, take a glass-bottom boat tour to Flowerpot Island to see its unique “Flowerpot” shape rock formation. 

From Tobermory, you can take the ferry (called the Chi Cheemaun) to Manitoulin Island, which is the largest freshwater island in the world.

Thunder Bay 

Known as the outdoor city, there are a lot of great activities (indoor and outdoor) to do right in Thunder Bay as well as outside of it.

Thunder Bay, with its population of just over 100,000, is not a huge city – but it’s the largest city in Northwestern Ontario.

Longest suspension bridge in Canada at Eagle Canyon, near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Photo Credit: Gregor McDougall/Shutterstock.

Being right on the shore of Lake Superior, there are spectacular views from Thunder Bay’s harbor. From the harbor, you can see the Sleeping Giant, a large unique rock formation that looks like a giant sleeping on its back.

You can drive out to Sleeping Giant National Park about an hour from the city centre, and take part in activities like hiking and swimming.

Be sure to visit the Thunder Bay Museum and the Art Gallery, where you can learn about the indigenous heritage of the area, as well as the history of the early settlers in Thunder Bay.

While you’re in Thunder Bay, take a drive to Kakabeka Falls, the 2nd highest waterfall in Ontario after Niagara Falls.

Insider tip: Don’t forget to try a Persian while you’re in Thunder Bay (a local staple – a strawberry-flavored pastry.)

Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands is a region of about 1,800 islands located right along the St. Lawrence River, which borders the United States. 

The islands vary in size; many of them are inhabited, and filled with lush vegetation and rocky shores against the clear water.

Aerial image of Thousand Islands, Ontario, Canada.
Photo Credit: Russ Heinl/Shutterstock.

In Thousand Islands, you can do boat tours, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and even scuba diving. The water in Thousand Islands is known for being remarkably clear, and there are also a lot of 19th-century shipwrecks at the bottom of the river.

In addition to the natural beauty, there are also some great ways to gain knowledge of local history. Head to the 1000 Islands Museum to learn about the role the area played in the War of 1812. You can also visit Boldt Castle which was originally built by a millionaire for his wife, but is now a popular tourist attraction.

Sudbury

Sudbury is the largest city in Northern Ontario and is known as the Nickel Capital of the World. There’s a large Canadian nickel landmark, called “The Big Nickel”  that you can visit and take pictures in front of. It was built in the 1960s to commemorate Sudbury’s nickel production.

A beautiful red maple frames the shores of Ramsey Lake and Science North in Sudbury, ON.
Photo Credit: Boxcar Media/Shutterstock.

Sudbury is home to museums that allow you to learn about the history and geology of the area. Visit Science North and Dynamic Earth, are interactive science museums that are geared to both adults and kids.

Surrounded by lakes, Sudbury is popular to go swimming or kayaking on Lake Ramsay. In the winter, locals and visitors enjoy going skating on Lake Ramsay Skating Path.

Many people in Sudbury speak French, and it’s a great place to practice both of Canada’s official languages.

Owen Sound

Owen Sound is a small city on the shore of Georgian Bay, about 3 hours north of Toronto.

With a vibrant art scene, Owen Sound has a lot of street art and galleries on the main strip. One of the best art galleries is the Tom Thompson Art Gallery – Tom Thompson was a member of the Group of Seven, the famous Canadian art group.

Muskoka chairs on a dock over looking lake Huron and Georgian Bay.
Photo Credit: David Wayne Buck/Shutterstock.

Owen Sound is also a great place to visit on a Canadian road trip if you want to be close to waterfalls. The scenic Inglis Falls and Jones Falls are both located within 20 minutes of the Downtown Core.

There are eateries and shopping downtown on the main street. Only 30 minutes away from Owen Sound Sauble Beach, a popular tourist hotspot in the summer months.

Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world. It also has over 100 lakes on the island. It’s known for its beaches, hiking trails, scenic sights, and being virtually mosquito-free throughout the summer.

Manitoulin Island is home to many people of indigenous heritage, and there are many ways to learn about the indigenous culture of the island. You can visit a Pow Wow in the summer months, or visit one of the many art galleries that are located throughout the island. 

Aerial view of the Mississagi Lighthouse, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.
Photo Credit: Alex Dumitrescu/Shutterstock.

To explore the natural beauty of the island, go hiking on the Cup and Saucer trail which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete and brings you to a beautiful lookout. Bridal Veil Falls is another popular attraction, which is accessible by a nearby parking lot. Visitors can admire the falls, and even swim in the pool at the base of the falls.

Manitoulin Island is accessible via a ferry from Tobermory.

Places to Visit in Ontario

As you can see, Ontario offers a mix of cosmopolitan city life, history, and beautiful nature and is worth a visit year-round.

One of the most desirable things about Ontario is the beauty of the four seasons. The foliage is beautiful in fall, while spring and summer offer warm, sunny weather and lots of swimming and other outdoor activities. 

A small rainbow appears in front of High Falls in Pigeon River Provincial Park as the falls plunge down to a pool of water below.
Photo Credit: jrtwynam/Shutterstock.

In Ontario, in winter, there are many places to enjoy activities like ice skating, skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing, and other winter sports. Several of the towns in Ontario also host winter festivals throughout January and February.

Whether you’re visiting a national park, Niagara Falls, or admiring the shores of Lake Huron, Lake Superior, or Lake Ontario, or kicking it back in Cottage Country – there are so many places to visit in Ontario.

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Kristin Matthews

Kristin is an Ontario mom of 2 and a travel blogger who loves exploring everything that Ontario has to offer.

Welcome to xoxoBella! I am Bella Bucchiotti and I am a recipe developer, content creator and writer. Here you will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration, crafts, pet tips and more.

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