If you’re a fellow Torontonian like yours truly, you’ll already be walking around in shorts and a sweater in the 13 degree weather we’ve been having lately. Summer isn’t here quite yet but it’s slowly approaching – I mean the groundhog definitely got the ‘early spring’ wrong this year … Regardless, the days are getting longer and I can’t help but start to plan some adventures for this summer. While Ontario is a beautiful province, it takes its slogan “Yours to Discover” quite literally. It’s difficult to find unique places in and around Toronto and sometimes you have to go a little off the beaten path – but that’s just part of the adventure. So let’s get into my Toronto summer bucket list for 2019!
A secluded swimming hole just about an hour from Toronto, it’s safe to say that many have taken a trip to the Elora Gorge by now. If you haven’t, you’re missing out! There’s a little beach and picnic area and rocks to jump off into the water (although you didn’t hear that from me).
I’ve been to Elora Gorge twice now and would definitely make the trip again this summer!
Sand Hill Park
Only about 2 hours from Toronto, Sand Hill Park makes for the perfect camping spot for a weekend getaway. With mountains of sand surrounding the campground, you may even forget that you’re in Ontario.
Sand Hill Park is on the top of my list to check out this summer because it’s so close and most importantly for me, there are many beautiful beaches to choose from!
Those who grew up in the Hamilton area or studied at Mac will know Hamilton’s hidden gems like no other. For those who haven’t spent much time in and around Hamilton, it’s not just the ugly steel city that you think stands before you. There are actually 156 waterfalls in Hamilton, making it the waterfall capital of world! Yes, you read that correctly.
With so many waterfalls to choose from, it’s hard to pick favourites. With that being said, Albion Falls and Chedoke Falls have been a go to in the past. Make sure to check online if the waterfalls are open, as they have been closed sporadically in the past.
Is it just me, or do fields of flowers become more and more appealing the older you get? Don’t get me wrong, flower festivals can be a fun activity for all ages but I think I’ve only just developed an appreciation for flowers at the ripe age of 24.
After some research, I came across a few places you can stop by in the summer to see row upon row of beautiful sunflowers – the ultimate flower in my opinion. Luckily, there a few different fields in the Toronto area to check out. Make sure to check their website and/or Facebook pages to stay up to date with their hours or any closures, linked below!
Davis Feed & Farm Supply is located in Caledon which is just about an hour from Toronto. They charge $5 a person to see the flowers in full bloom (late July, early August).
Edward’s Farm Store is also about an hour from the city, in Innisfil.
Terre Bleu Lavender Farm is situated in Campbellville, just under an hour from Toronto as well.
The Bluffs make for a fun day trip if you’re after something more local. While you can no longer get too close to the edge from above the bluffs due to erosion, they still offer up a beautiful spot to check out.
There are a few walks you can do in the area, as well as a beach for when the weather is cooperating!
Sauble / Southampton Beach
Getting sick of Wasaga Beach? It may be time to make the journey to Sauble or Southampton Beach instead. Both beaches are about 2 hrs, 45 min from the city and offer beautiful sand and water to swim in.
Sauble Beach extends quite far along the Bruce Peninsula and doesn’t have the crowds that more local beaches have. Keep in mind that it does get busier as the summer season continues. See all that Sauble Beach has to offer here.
While I’ve yet to make my way to Southampton Beach, it really caught my attention when I found out you can sometimes catch the Northern Lights there! On top of that, the blue water and white sand is more than inviting for any beach fanatic like myself.
Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney is a beautiful Provincial Park approximately 4.5 hours from Toronto. The two specific places that caught my attention for summertime in Killarney are as follows:
Another hidden swimming hole that’s just waiting for you this summer. Topaz Lake is surrounded by the coast of Georgian Bay and the stunning La Cloche Mountains. Can’t get much better than that!
This moderate – difficult hike takes about 4 hours to complete, presenting you with outstanding views! Find info about how to get to the start of the trail and more here.
With August being it’s busiest month, I’d suggest making the trek sometime in July if you can!
Tobermory / Bruce Peninsula National Park
Situated a little further from Toronto (3-4 hour drive), Tobermory is definitely more of a weekend getaway. Don’t worry though, it’s definitely worthwhile! Grab a tent and find a campground before they get booked up for the summer. If you don’t have the gear you could always opt to sleep in your car!
Tobermory offers beautiful nature that you don’t typically find in Ontario. From the Grotto where there are caves you can climb through and bright blue water, to countless walks/hikes you can do, you won’t run out of activities here.
Bon Echo Provincial Park (Mazinaw lake)
About 3 hours Northeast of Toronto you’ll come across Bon Echo Provincial Park. The Main feature is Mazinaw rock which sits 100 m tall with over 250 indigenous carvings! You can spend time camping, on a boat cruise through the lake and more, all summer long.
St. Mary’s Quarry
Canada’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool, St. Mary’s Quarry is only about a 2 hour drive from the city and calling your name this summer! With beach volleyball, cliff jumping, paddle boarding, and a water trampoline at your fingertips, I don’t know how I’m only learning about this place now.
The quarry is opening by mid June this year and admission prices start at $3.50 for children and $4.75 for adults. Not too shabby if you ask me! Find more info regarding pricing for activities here.
If you missed the one year everyone went to the badlands in Cheltenham, why not check it out this summer? The exposed and eroded shale was once closed with restrictive access to visitors as the site was being destroyed. With the area newly reopened (since September 2018), it’s the perfect time for a weekend road trip.
Less than an hour from the city, I’d recommend checking them out before summer is in full swing and flocks of tourists come to explore and walk the different trails.
Lake Superior Provincial Park / Katherine’s Cove
While you’d need to set aside a good chunk of time to explore Lake Superior Provincial Park (due to it’s distance – 8.5 hour drive from Toronto), I couldn’t leave it off my list.
Katherine’s Cove has recently become well known for ‘Bathtub Island‘, aka the rock pool I’ve been waiting to discover in Ontario! Although the distance can be a deterrent, I’m hoping I can make it out to Katherine’s Cove at some point this summer.
Another beautiful camping spot, Manitoulin Island is about 6 hours from the city. Make sure to set aside a few days at least for this trip, as there are many activities you can do.
The hiking at the La Cloche Mountains are known to be beautiful, play a game of golf, horseback ride or check out the art galleries on the island!
If you grew up in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), you’ve probably been on about 5 school trips to Niagara. You’ve been to the falls and possibly even the wineries – because every economics class did a field trip to Niagara-on-the-lake right?
While it’s easy to look at Niagara as a tourist trap, I try to look at the glass half full. Did you know that there are many beautiful beaches in the Niagara region? I had no clue until I did a little research of my own.
Just a 25 minute drive from the falls, Crystal beach resides in Fort Erie and is the perfect place for a warm day in the sun!
Shrekston Shores is just down the road from Crystal Beach and is a beach resort, as well as campground.
Long Point Provincial Park
This Provincial Park caught my eye when I saw how beautiful Long Point Beach was – AND it’s only about 2 hours from Toronto! Of course there are other activities to do at this park such as canoeing, hunting and fishing and more.
Who’s Ready for a Road Trip?
Yes, it probably won’t be possible to get around to all of these places in one summer, but a girl can dream. Keep an eye out for a more detailed post in the near future about the best beaches and campgrounds in Ontario (once I’ve tested them out for myself) and stay tuned to see how many places I can tick off my Toronto summer bucket list!
Have any other must see spots to check out this summer in the Toronto area? Let me know in the comments below or slide into my DM’s on Instagram!