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Where To See Fall Colours Around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

From Brighton to Trenton, Frankford and Belleville, the fall colours are coming out in full force!  It’s the time of year where the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go. And that we do. Quite frankly this is the time of year I love to be outside the most. The amazing array of colours spoil my eyes. Coupled with still moderately warmish days,  it’s a shame to stay inside and miss it. Before the short days of winter, get outside and get that final vitamin D boosts from the sun. While you are at it, enjoy the splendour of October. Here are some of the best areas to see the fall colours around Belleville and Trenton in the Bay of Quinte Region of Ontario. 

“How beautiful the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”

  • John Burroughs

HR Frink Centre red leaf on a rock on Thrasher Road, Plainfield, Ontario

Where To See Fall Colours Around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

Want to know where to go for the best viewing spots for seasonal colour in the areas between Brighton to Frankford to Trenton to Belleville? I have my favourites that I will disclose to you here. So read on to find out where I like to be for optimal colour viewing from east to west of the Bay of Quinte Region!

 

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

How lucky is the town of Brighton to have neighbourhood access to one of the best provincial parks in Ontario? Presqu’ile Provincial Park boasts Lake Ontario access, bird migrations, amazing camping and lovely areas to wander. The wifi isn’t weak here though, cellular reception is fairly decent.

The best place to wander for fall foliage viewing in Prequ’ile Provincial Park though is the Jobes Woods Trail. It’s only a kilometre long so no complaining that it’s too arduous. Getting out for a half-hour walk isn’t that wrong is it? While the greens stay strong for a long time here, when they turn, is’s a brilliant canopy of golden hues overhead.

If you’re ever interested in roofed accommodation camping at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, check out my experience camping with my son there: Presquile Provincial Park, Falling For the Minka Tent

One of the best places to catch sunsets in Ontario is from here as well. Curious to know where? Read Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

 

Presqu'ile Provincial Park in fall on the Jobes Woods Trail

 

 

Frankford Tourist Park and Lock 6 on The Trent Severn Waterway

When I was growing up in Belleville, I missed a high opportunity to explore the area of Frankford. Now that I am older and my mom has relocated there, I’m sure glad she has. About 15 minutes driving north of Trenton, Frankford Tourist Park is a great place to park the vehicle. From there, you can stroll the banks of the Trent River on the west side. At Lock 6, there are picnic tables and places to rest and take in the beautiful setting.

Frankford Lock 6 looking north at the Trent River on the Trent Severn Waterway. One of the best places to see fall colours in Belleville and Trenton area!

Not only is this one of the best places to view fall colours around Belleville and Trenton, this is also one of the best places to catch a sunset in Southern Ontario. I mean come on, look at that still water reflection! Read Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

Frankford, Ontario Lock 6 on the Trent Severn Waterway

Sager Conservation Area

Roughly 30 minutes by car north of Trenton and tucked in behind the Oak Hills Golf Course is Sager Conservation Area. From the top of the lookout tower is one of the best places in all of the Bay of Quinte Region to view the fall foliage.

It’s a challenge to get up there! The hike from the parking lot to the tower is only half a kilometre and there are stairs involved as the trail is steep.

Sager Conservation Area TOWER - one of the best places to see fall colours in Belleville and Trenton area

While this is a great place to go with the family, this area is not stroller friendly or good for the mobility impaired. There are 48 additional steps going up the observation tower after the steep trek. For the able-bodied, it’s worth the 30-foot climb for the panoramic views of the Trent Valley. On clear days, you can see all the way into Belleville, Trenton and Campbellford.

This happens to be a favourite spot of mine in the winter as well Sager Conservation Area Trail: Easy Winter Hike With Kids

“Wild is the music of the autumnal winds amongst the faded woods.”

  • William Wordsworth

Sager Conservation Area selfie from tower, with orange, yellow and red leaves in background

 

Mount Pelion

Here’s full disclosure on Mount Pelion, I’ve spent some time up to no good here in my teen years. Mostly it was late at night and I was trying to impress some friends. I didn’t appreciate how awesome the view was then.

Every local in Trenton knows how to get to Mount Pelion. The pity is, I don’t know how many actually go up there.  The other day when I was there, it was empty except for a runner who whizzed by. Of course, it is early in the fall foliage season. Great for the curious wanderers, visitors to the lookout point are well rewarded with a perspective of the area that nowhere else can provide. It’s a short, but steep, uphill hike, that is worth it.

From the vantage point of the 30-foot lookout tower on top of Mount Pelion, you can see all of Trenton, into Prince Edward County and even all the way to Belleville. In the fall, it’s the perfect great time to see the autumn hues colours that blanket the city. 

Mount Pelion early autumn look out view, one of the best places to view fall colours in Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

 

Riverside Trail Park

Fall is always one of my favourite seasons. The time when trees burst with its last beauty. As if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale. Riverside Trail Park is definitely where this is true.

On the trail that runs alongside the Moira River, there are several rest spots along the way to enjoy your surroundings. Pack a lunch, stroll with no destination in mind. You can park and start at the Canada flag planted on the hill that is used for toboggans and make your way along the river south and back again.

Bay of Quinte Riverside Park Trail autumn leaves

 

HR Frink Centre

This conservation area has a ton of lovely trails you can hike. I think I have some memories of my days as a Girl Guide on day trips here, that’s a lot of years ago by the way. Being a conservation area rich in a lot of trees, that’s a lot of colour bursts coming your way! There’s a marsh, a boardwalk trails in the woods and a ton of canopy tree cover. It’s a romantic spot for a socially distant date as well.

HR Frink Centre hiking trails to see the best fall colours around Belleville and Trenton, Ontario

For more ideas of what to see and out around the Belleville and Trenton area, be sure to visit the Bay of Quinte tourism website. Happy autumn hue hunting!

Where to find the fall colours in Belleville and Trenton and surrounding area. The most beautiful autumn hues in the Bay of Quinte Region.
PIN ME FOR LATER

Ride The Bine – Safe Wine and Beer Tours in Ontario

Amanda from Ride The Bine hosted me (again) and my colleagues on this tour so we can witness first hand how to safely take beer and wine tours during our current times.

Welcome to the summer of 2020. It will affectionately be forever known as the summer where we couldn’t go anywhere except exploring in our own backyard. While the past few months have been utter emotional garbage for many, including myself, I’m turning my thoughts to the silver linings. There are a lot of positives on staying local, less travel time in the air with the kids and hearing them ask “are we there yet?”. I’m becoming an expert in southern Ontario. Seeing some of the same highways in different directions and at different times of day means seeing something new all the time. On that vein, once again, I find myself in Norfolk County.

Happily, I’m back on Ride The Bine, a fully guided beer and wine tour with my friends and fellow co-founders of the Toronto Bloggers Collective, Chris Mitchell and his wife Bri, Chris Rudder and Kevin Wagar. We are safely, in our new COVID style world order, reconnecting and enjoying some social distancing fun.  It’s been months since we’d all laid eyes on each other in person and I cried like a baby all over Chris Rudder’s shoulder. For real, wrecked my eye make up before I even left Toronto. This period has been hard on everyone.

Back to our day trip – Ride The Bine was started in March of 2017 by Amanda and Susan – 2 local girls with a passion for all things Norfolk. Amanda was our tour animator for the day and she is FUN!

We are just about to board the Ride The Bine van at the Sobey's in Simcoe, it's bine time!

Ride The Bine New Safety Measures

Since the last time I had been on Ride The Bine, there’s been a bit of a change in the world. A global pandemic, health safety measures, that kind of thing. Not to sound too blaise about the whole scenario, but at this point in the journey, we have to have a laugh about something somehow. And really, I need a laugh, so bear with me.

Boarding the Mercedes Benz sprinter van, all passengers are required to put their masks on. There is a clear plastic barrier between the driver and the passengers in the back. I’m going to admit, it’s right out of a strange parallel world. I’m a hugger and very physical. Yet, I’m restricted from touching others. Hands to myself! I can do it, I can do it…

Boarding the Ride The Bine van with hand sanitizer

We were limited to a maximum group amount of eight people. In total, our group size was 5. We were able to safely spread out between the four rows of the cab. We also had generous amounts of hand sanitizer pumped into the palms of our hands as we boarded. Hand sanitizer was everywhere we stopped.

Inside the sprinter van with Ride The Bine - barrier between driver and passengers

Stop # 1: Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery

Like many places in Norfolk County, Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery is a former tobacco farm. As we were lucky enough to visit in July, the lavender fields were IN FULL BLOOM. Like, perfect. Lavender is in bloom from approximately the last week of June through to the first week of August here.

If there is a reason to come to Bonnieheath in the summer, this is it. Excuse me, here are some obligatory lavender field photos with us.

The founders of the Toronto Bloggers Collective in the lavender at Bonnieheath Lavender and Winery
Photo courtesy of Ride The Bine

Bonnieheath Lavender and winery, Kevin Wagar dancing through the lavender fields

Bonnieheath Lavender field with me in it. Photo taken by Kevin Wagar

Onto the winery! I visited Bonnieheath two summers ago and fell in love with their ciders. Happy to say that they are just as good as I remember! Known for their Folkin’ Hard ciders – named after the county of Norfolk, they are a blend of 100% Norfolk apples, along with other local seasonal fruits including sour cherries, blueberries, and strawberries. Good information to note – Amanda from Ride The Bine is an apple grower and her apples go into the cider blend. Hometown proud!

The tastings here were done in their production facility, which is inside. We were served by the owner who was wearing a face mask and a face shield.

Tasting the ciders in Bonnieheath, owner is wearing a face mask and shield, safety first!

We sampled their Fresh Apple, Cherry Bomb (cherry), True Blue (Blueberry and Lavender), and their Sweet Lips (strawberry and maple syrup) ciders. My favourite is Cherry Bomb by a long shot. It’s all for sale in their shop and yes I bought a couple of bottles to take home. 

Also for sale in the shop is lavender products! Lavender is harvested and distilled in former tobacco kilns on-site. From there, they create their array of lavender products including soaps, pillow sprays, essential oil and sanitizer.

Bonnieheath Lavender and winery 3 - the ciders, We sampled their Fresh Apple, Cherry Bomb (cherry), True Blue (Blueberry and Lavender), and their Sweet Lips (strawberry and maple syrup) cider

Stop #2: Burning Kiln Winery

 

For the third time, I find myself at one of the biggest and best wineries in all of Ontario – Burning Kiln Winery. The wines here pay homage to farm’s history as they are named after some element of tobacco farming. 

Before I talk about the wines, I’m going to tell you about their safety measures. In a usual year, Burning Kiln is host to multiple outdoor concert events and the vineyard provides a stunning backdrop for hosting weddings. The tastings were taking place in the outdoor canopy as weddings are not happening on the property this year. The staff all behind plexiglass poured the sample into a shot glass and then the shot glass into our sample glass. The sample glass was reusable and we all got to take our individual glasses home with us.

Burning Kiln winery safely serving us the sparks

Having sampled some wines there in the past, I know a little bit about what I like the most here. Normally I go for a red, however since it’s summertime, a chilled white wine is my preferred drink. On this day, my favourite was the Sparks, a sparkling rosé made in the Cuvée Close method. Since I was there, I also bought the flagship red wine, Kiln Hanger. At $50 for a bottle, kiln-dried grapes, and barrel-aged for close to 3 years, it results in an incredibly flavourful and complex red. I’m going to save it for a special occasion.

Burning Kiln social distance tastings

Lunch: Canned Heat on the Patio at Burning Kiln

Canned Heat is in its 2nd year running food service on the patio at Burning Kiln Winery. With a huge focus on local food and ingredients and showcasing the best of what Norfolk, Ontario’s Garden has to offer, daily menu items feature local seasonal produce and a great variety of local fish fresh from lake Erie and local beef and lamb. Spoiler – I had the lamb burger and it was divine!

 

Stop #3: Hometown Brew Co. at Long Point Eco-Adventures

A couple of summers ago, my kids and I stayed at Long Point Eco-Adventures. Some craft beer on-site would have been nice. My wish has seemingly turned into a command!

Started by 3 local young guys in their 20s, here you can sip on brews and enjoy incredible views of the Turkey Point marsh, Lake Erie and Long Point. Hometown Brew Co. has several beer styles available to try including their famous Blueberry Saison featuring blueberries from the farm of one of the owners. The logo for Hometown Brew Co. features a lighthouse – reminiscent of the one in Port Dover and also Long Point. Being “home” at the lake is huge for Norfolk County folks – many residents own boats, cottages, or simply just enjoy being down at the beach after a long week of work, or a long hot day of working on the farm.

Hometown Brew tasting flight at Long Point Eco-Adventures

Here physical distancing is not a problem. Lining up for your beer, you have to adhere to markers on the patio. Tables are spaced fairly far apart so you can cheers your friends from a distance.

My favourite beers to try here are the Southern Ale and Southern Light. I also sampled the IPA and the Blueberry Saison.

Hometown Brew cheers to Christopher Rudder from Rudderless Travel

Stop # 4: Inasphere Wines

 

Want to know where to enjoy incredible views of the Inner Bay of Lake Erie and Long Point? It’s at Inasphere Wines? Currently a family-run, working vegetable farm and winery, this is the lowest elevation farm in all of Norfolk County.

Ryan and his wife Shantel, are the 3rd generation to own and work the farm. Ryan is a winemaker and studied at Niagara College and Jackson Triggs to hone his winemaking skills. What’s incredibly unique is that he has grown up on the property, manages the vines and also produces the wine. Very intimate knowledge of the land and what he is putting in bottle for people to enjoy.

Admiring the view with my glass of wine at Inasphere Winery in Norfolk County

We didn’t enter their building except to use the washroom, we conducted tastings outside from a distance. We sampled their Dry Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Grey Area (lightly pressed Pinot Noir – red grape but produced as a unique white wine), and also their Cabernet Franc. Grey Area was fantastic!

Enjoying the view at Inasphere winery

Having done this tour with Amanda and Ride The Bine, I can unequivocally say that our safety, social distancing and hygiene was of the utmost importance. I have confidence recommending this tour to anyone wanting a safe and enjoyable guided beer and wine tour with a fantastic animator who knows everything there is to know about the area!

CHECK OUT OUR DAY HERE – VIDEO COURTESY OF RUDDERLESS TRAVEL:

And as a bonus, you might even be able to get a stop at Cider Keg Farm Market, a popular stop for boaters and cottagers to grab fresh, local produce to enjoy on their way to the lake. Ice cream, baked goods, meats, snacks, cheeses, preserves and a plethora of local produce is available for purchase. Heck, you’re in Ontario’s Garden, enjoy it!

Ride The Bine - Safe Wine, Beer and Cider Tours in Norfolk County. We safely re-connected, sampled some of the best cider, beer and wine Ontario has to offer and enjoyed some social distancing fun #itsbinetime #ridethebine #beertour #winetour #ontariosgarden

Top 5 Things to See And Do In Tobermory Ontario

One of my family’s favourite summer destinations is Tobermory, Ontario on the Bruce Peninsula. The first time we visited was in the summer of 2017. We designated Tobermory as a two night stop on our way to Lake Superior Provincial Park from Toronto.

The drive to Tobermory from our home in downtown Toronto is approximately 4 hours. However, with the rate at which my children (and ex-husband) need to exit the vehicle for a pee, hunger and leg stretching, it honestly took closer to 6, yes SIX hours at that time.

We enjoyed our time in Tobermory that summer so much that we decided we would return in the summer of 2018 as well. And you know what? It is safe to say, I will return again. Tobermory has an abundance of things to do!

Tobermory, Ontario Lighthouse

Here are our Top 5 things To See And Do In Tobermory, Ontario!

 

1.) Take a Boat Tour to see the two Shipwrecks in Big Tub Harbour

Really and truly, nothing beats scuba diving shipwrecks if you are a certified diver. If you are not a diver or a snorkeler or you are travelling with your children and do not have other care for them while you are on a dive, then viewing from a boat is the next best thing here. The two wrecks you can see in Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory are called Sweepstakes and City of Grand Rapids.

The Sweepstakes went down in 1885, spoiler alert – no treasures left and currently lies in roughly 6 metres of water. It is one of the best-preserved shipwrecks of its time in the Great Lakes. The City of Grand Rapids wreck is from 1907, it was a double-decker steamer that caught fire while mooring. It was released from the dock and left it to burn in the harbour. It sank where it lies.

Totally worth seeing – see if you can get on one of the glass bottom boats to do this!

Sweepstakes, shipwreck in Tobermory - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory #shipwrecks

 

2. Take a boat to Flowerpot Island

Flowerpot Island is only accessible by boat from Tobermory and is one of the best experiences in Fathom Five National Marine Park! The island is famous for its natural “flowerpot” rock pillars, caves, historic light station and rare plants. This is a great spot for easy to moderate level hikers – my kids had no problem. Here you will find great swimming and snorkelling, picnic areas and overnight camping if you are adventurous. Be sure to bring your bathing suit in a day bag with you and have sturdy shoes. Hiking pro-tip: I don’t recommend that you come in flip flops and try to do the hiking.

Flowerpot Island 3 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

We were not prepared for the beauty here – it is so awe-inspiring! The water really is the colour of these photos – no filter! The rookie mistake we made when we went was not packing a cooler. There is really nothing to purchase here, bring your own food and water! Also, there are not a whole lot of places to dispose of garbage here, so please plan to take back with you what you bring.

Word of wisdom to the Instagram Models of the world – please do not try to climb the Flower Pots. It’s dangerous to you if you fall, but it’s also disruptive to nature. Imagine being the asshole who damages one of these natural structures so terribly that it changes the appearance?

Flowerpot Island 1 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

There are a couple of boat charter companies to get you here from Tobermory, Ontario. You do have to pay for tickets to get out to the island and back. You can combine a shipwreck viewing tour or simply take an express boat direct and they have ticketed return times when they drop you off. According to the Parks Canada website, they recommend that you spend 4-5 hours to hike and see it all. Plan to spend the day – at least an afternoon, please don’t short change yourself on time here. Buying tickets from any of the suppliers in the harbour area of the town in advance is a good idea to ensure your plans for the day are not disrupted.

Flowerpot Island 2 - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

 

3.) Visit The Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park

The Grotto, found in Bruce Peninsula National Park, just outside of Tobermory, is a place that is so popular, we couldn’t get in the first year we tried. I severely underestimated that it is one of the top attractions in the province and that just showing up would suffice. It turns out it requires a little more planning to be able to see and experience this magical place.

We did our planning and did get into the Grotto in the summer of 2018. During the peak season of July and August, there are a couple of ways to make sure you are in Bruce Peninsula National Park and can access the Grotto:

1.) Be there already as a camper at one of the backcountry sites along Georgian Bay or in Cyprus Lake Campground.

2.) Reserve parking in advance if coming from outside the park. Parking is assigned by time blocks and only a certain amount of cars are permitted per time slot.

3.) Head up there in the off or shoulder seasons of April/May/June or September/October when the demand to visit is much less.

There’s a twitter hashtag you can follow for more information – #GrottoParking

As of June 1, some Parks Canada places began a safe, gradual reopening of some outdoor areas at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

Reservations for parking at the Grotto for the remainder of the 2020 season opened on Monday, June 29th, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Important to note – Visitors will not be permitted to climb into the Grotto since physical distancing is not possible. Parks Canada is asking that you enjoy the view from above.

feet over ledge at grotto - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

 

4.) Have ice cream at The Sweet Shop on Bay Street

There’s this sweet little ice cream shop with a lot of brilliant Canadian flavours of yummy ice cream. Located at 18 Bay Street, overlooking Little Tub Harbour, the locally owned Sweet Shop makes candy, fudge, chocolate and brittle onsite. Come after dinner, sit and relax! Walk around and see the boats in the harbour with ice cream in hand, you won’t be sorry!

5.) Visit Singing Sands Beach

Singing Sands Beach is located off of Dorcas Bay Road south of Tobermory. This large sandy beach with shallow waters is part of Bruce Peninsula National Park. I admit, when my family rolled up to this beach, we were not impressed. It looked like it was full of weeds, there were not a lot of people there and it was windy. My family is a little spoiled. The kids are used to Prince Edward County and Caribbean beaches.

The water was warm and you could walk really far out before the kid’s lower bodies became submerged. The kids even had a good time. For those who are squeamish about things touching their feet in the water, I recommend wearing a pair of water shoes. It’s not really so bad once you walk out in the water for a bit. Admission here is free.

Tobermory Beach, singing sands beach - Top 5 Things To Do In Tobermory, Ontario #topfivelist #tobermory #singingsandsbeach #provincialpark #brucepeninsula #flowerpotisland #thegrotto #brucepeninsulagrotto #parkscanada #smalltownsinontario #familytravelvlogger #familytravelblogger #ontariobloggers #ontarioroadtrips #thingstodoinontario #thingstodointobermory

And as a bonus for you history buffs – there are historical walking tours available in town.

mariner's monument on Bay Street in Tobermory, Ontario

For those of you looking for the video blog – here you go!

 

 

Take your family on a road trip – check out BOOKING.COM today (affiliate link, I make a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you)


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Best Hiking Trails For Families in Southern Ontario

Ontario is a mecca for outdoor activities. I have always been an avid hiker, camper and nature lover, making me well-positioned living in Southern Ontario. And as my children have gotten older, we’ve been out more and more and more. And I am constantly searching out the best hiking trails for families in Southern Ontario.

Travel is not recommended right now, but it does not mean that you have to stay inside. In a time of social distancing, we are being told to avoid contact with others. It’s safe to still enjoy nature and remain a safe distance from others. We can be outside and safe. We can stay a couple of metres away from other people, we can wash our hands frequently. It’s become prudent to carry hand sanitizer and we do. Lucky for us, there are a few less frequented hiking areas you can go to and I’ll tell you about them.

Best Hiking Trails For Families In Southern Ontario

Here are the best hiking trails for families in Ontario to practise social distancing. The list is completely unofficial and purely based on my personal experience over the years and that of fellow bloggers.

Skinner’s Bluff Loop Lookout on the Bruce Peninsula Trail

This section of the trail is on the Bruce Trail and it’s hard to find. Kind of for good reason because it’s a secret. Safe to say, it’s extremely safe for social distancing! To find the trailhead, you need to get yourself on a dirt road called Colpoy’s Range Road outside of Wiarton, Ontario. Look for the Bruce Trail markers. It’s well worth the hunt to see the amazing views of Georgian Bay.

Fairly safe and easy for kids on the trail sections. You’ll want to exercise an abundance of caution at the lookout points though. They are not protected by barriers. The view would be ruined if there were barriers, so please hold your children’s hands and keep pets on a leash. It can be quite buggy in the summer, you’ll want to pack bug repellent. Bring snacks and your camera.

My and my kids on Skinner's Bluff look out #brucetrail #skinnersbluff #wiartonontario #epichikes #hikewithkids #takeyourkidseverywhere

Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Park

The Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park can be accessed most easily from the Sand Lake Gates. That’s the eastern section, closest to Petawawa, Ontario. Normal provincial park fees apply.

The canyon trail is only 1.5 kilometres and is a loop. The loop takes you up to the amazing north rim of the Barron Canyon. And the view is outstanding. This is what you’re here for. Like Skinner’s Bluff, you have to exercise caution and common sense, don’t play around on the edges.

It’s an uphill hike for about 200-300 metres, but not difficult at all. Once you reach the canyon, it’s fairly level, few ups and downs. This trail is moderately trafficked in the summer under normal conditions. My four-year-old son basically ran up this hill, so it’s manageable for all family members. You can read all about it in more detail here: Epic Hikes With Kids – Barron Canyon Trail

Hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park, one of the best trails for families in Ontario

Hilton Falls Trail in Hilton Falls Conservation Area

A 10-metre spectacular waterfall view is a reward for this easy hike. To get to the falls from the parking lot, it’s a two-kilometre walk. Same distance going back, with kids, budget about two hours for this. It’s a great place to go on a hot day to cool off, to feel the mist from the water and get amazing Instagram shots. Seriously.

Last time I was there with my kids, other families were walking behind the waterfall and kids were frolicking in the water at the base.  This trail has been REALLY busy on nice days, so plan to go on a less sunny day for fewer crowds.

BUT – There is more to Hilton Falls than the actual waterfalls. Take a detour out onto the trails and see the best-kept secret out there – the reservoir.

This conservation area is closest to Milton, Ontario. Normally, there are entrance fees there for parking. Also, ice cream is sold at the visitor centre.

Hilton Falls at Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Halton, easy family hike

Mount Nemo Loop Trail in Mount Nemo Conservation Area

If you want to avoid crowds and have a nice hike in the Greater Toronto Area, this is the place to go. Mount Nemo is gorgeous, has caves and you can spot vultures circling in the air. Here, you can go rock climbing or find a lookout where the CN Tower can be spotted on a clear day. There’s a loop you can hike that’s approximately 5.3 kilometres and will likely take you 3 hours to do with kids.

Just north of Burlington, there are entrance fees, same as Hilton Falls. PRO TIP – visit Hilton Falls and Mount Nemo in the same day. Pay for parking in one location in the morning and your daily entrance fee receipt provides access to all Halton Parks for the same day. Same goes for Rattlesnake Point (below, under non-social distancing protocols).

Buffalo Crag Lookout – Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Just a six-kilometre bike ride or quick car ride from the Hilton Falls Conservation Area parking lot is Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area. An easy 3.2-kilometre trail to the Buffalo Crag lookout for one of the best views of the escarpment. If you are a fan of the Canadian TV show, Schitt’s Creek on CBC, this is the conservation area and trail where Patrick proposed to David on the episode called “The Hike”.

The views here are amazing. There are two ways to do the loop, you can side the side trail along the escarpment or you wan take the maintained walking path.

In full disclosure, these trails have just been given the green light to re-open and are only permitting people in for two-hour windows. You have to reserve online ahead of time. It’s a bit difficult to run your kids through here within two hours, to be honest, but if you move at a brisk pace, it’s doable. While we are under social distancing protocols, you cannot visit two conservation areas in one day. Hopefully, that lifts for 2021.

At the RattleSnake Point look out in Halton Conservation Area

Bennett Heritage Trail – Silvercreek Conservation Area

For all-season hiking, Silvercreek Conservation area boasts some of the best hiking for families in Ontario. Only an hour from Toronto, and part of the Bruce Trail, this is where you can get away from it all, including in the dead of winter.

When this trail is muddy, it can be very slippery. If you are here in the winter, be sure to bring your cleats (snow picks) for your hiking boots as it can be icy. This trail can be challenging, so if you’re looking for adventure, this is it. You’ll find some diverse terrain here and it will be a memorable day for the kids.

If you finish hiking around this conservation area, you can continue on an eight-kilometre trail to Terra Cotta Conservation Area. With the Bruce Trail, the possibilities are truly endless!

I ventured out to Silvercreek Conservation area on the Bruce Trail yesterday with members of Women Who Explore Ontario. #silvercreekconservationarea #brucetrail #womenwhoexplore #womenwhoexploreontario #discoveron #ontarioforyou  #girloutdoor #girlsthatwander #hikingculture #gogalavanting #girlswhohike

Cliff Top Side Trail via Carriage Trail and Spillway Trail – Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

If you have a day to spend hiking, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is the park to take the kids too. It’s a day-use park, so there is no camping here. However, there are a lot of areas here to toss out a blanket and hang out for a while. While I am recommending one trail and path, there are many here that wind around and intersect.

Getting to the Cliff Top Side Trail at Mono Cliffs takes a bit of time. It’s approximately an 8-kilometre trail from the parking lot and back. With kids, it could take you four to five hours, but it’s worth it. Some trails in this park are classified as moderate hikes, some are easy. Some trails are surrounded by forest while others are more of an open field setting. They range from well-worn, sandy paths to rocky trails to wooden boardwalks. That said, my kids basically ran through here like they were in their playroom.

If you’d like to know more details about this park and the trails there, I did an entire post on it here: Mono Cliffs Provincial Park – Best Place For Mother’s Day Hike

boardwalk at mono cliffs provincial park - best hiking trails for families in Ontario

Cataract Falls via Trans Canada Trail and Kettle Trail Loop – Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

The 6.6-kilometre hike to Cataract Falls and back to the parking lot looks like it’s going to be really easy, but has a lot of ups and downs. That said, you will find places along the way to take a moment to sit by the pond on a bench. I would also recommend that you could have a picnic once it is safe to do so (when restrictions are lifted) as it will be one of the best soul-refreshing moments of your day.

This trail is a great place for active kids to let them run and wear them out. Classified as a moderate trail in this provincial park which is only for day use. No camping is permitted here. Honestly though, you will forget you are anywhere near a city when you’re in Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. Only an hour from downtown Toronto in Caledon, you will need to obtain a valid Ontario Parks day permit at the parking lot.

kids at Forks of The Credit Provincial Park best hiking trails for families in Southern Ontario

Oak Ridges Trail at Seneca College

As beginner family hikers, and kids ages 3 – 11 years old, we chose the Oak Ridges Trail at Seneca College in King, ON for one of our first Winter treks. It’s a mostly flat provincial recreational trail running the full length of the protected Oak Ridges moraine. It was a level “easy” according to AllTrails (which is an app) and even with a bit of elevation very manageable for kids and all skill levels.
We entered from the Dufferin side and bypassed $2.50 parking at Seneca’s King Campus by parking along the road by the trail entrance (which is legal & many do). Lots of little streams and small bridges and a neat little stone-built fire hut the kids had fun chasing each other around.
Stumbling upon Eaton Hall overlooking Seneca Lake (former residence of Lady Eaton, gathering place for many Eaton Family celebrations & backdrop for several movies) made for a great history lesson and photo opp around the 1.5 km mark. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on a leash. The 9km trail is well marked, and since we only conquered under 3 km of it our first go, we’ll be back this summer to explore some more!
Said to be best hiked April – October, we really enjoyed a less busy experience in January.   With lots of little wetlands throughout, bring your bug spray if visiting in the warmer months.
Oak Ridges Trail; House of Kerrs

Spirit Rock Conservation Area

If you’re looking for a great place to go hiking with your family in Ontario then consider Spirit Rock Conservation Area. Spirit Rock is located just north of Wiarton, approximately two and a half hours north of Toronto. Spirit Rock Conservation Area is one of the best places to hike on the Bruce Peninsula. It offers picturesque hiking trails, incredible views of Georgian Bay and some amazing historic ruins. So clearly, this is one of the best places to hike with kids in Southern Ontario.

Spirit Rock is set over 87 hectares and is home to the ruins of the Corran. The Corran was once a lavish estate in the late 19th century. Now all that is left are a scattering of stone ruins that have been taken over by nature. There is also an old spiral staircase that you can carefully descend down to the water’s edge below. The main trail through the conservation area is the Bruce Trail. You can enjoy the loop trail that is approximately 2 kilometres and takes from an hour to an hour and a half. The trail takes you through the forest, past a few great lookouts and over the rocky and rugged Niagara Escarpment. And it’s a perfect place for a family hike with shaded trails that are manageable for children and kids will love exploring and climbing over the ruins.

Spirit Rock Conservation Area trail - the world as i see it travel blog

Old Ausable River Channel, Pinery Provincial Park

Located on the shores Lake Huron, just outside of Grand Bend, Pinery Provincial Park is a hidden gem in the Ontario Parks’ system. The 21 square kilometres of rare forests and rolling dunes offer excellent year-round outdoor recreation, including 10 walking trails, a 14 km bike trail, 38 kms of groomed ski trails and the Old Ausable River Channel (OARC), which runs the length of the park.

While we love to take a traditional hike during our summer family camping trips to the Pinery, we also like to “hike outside of the trail” and canoe or kayak the OARC.

Originally named “La Riviere aux Sables” by early French voyageurs, this river has a rich cultural history and, since its creation, has always been full of life. It provides habitat for more than 35 species of freshwater fish, several endangered freshwater mussel species and many reptiles and amphibians, including the threatened Eastern spiny softshell turtle. The surface of the river is covered in pond and water lilies, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot one of the resident beavers or river otters going about their day. Don’t forget to look for white-tailed deer along the banks, and bring your binoculars to view the many species of birds that call the park home.

Old Ausable River Channel - To & Fro

Marla Ward: www.toandfroblog.com 

Niagara Glen

Niagara Glen is a great activity for families visiting the Niagara Falls area because it gets you away from the almost carnival atmosphere of the falls and into pristine Carolinian Forest. It’s also one of the rare free-activities in Niagara Falls.

Located right next to the Niagara River near the whirlpool, Niagara Glen is only a 10-minute drive from the falls. Before starting your hike, there is a grassy picnic area and bathrooms above the gorge.

The 4km of trails are in a gorge so you have to descend down a spiral metal staircase. The terrain of the glen can be hilly or include staircases in some areas so it isn’t suitable for strollers. There are multiple looping trails here among the boulders to explore. My favourite is the River Trail as it gives you views of the turquoise water and the American side of the gorge as well.

Niagara Glen is a bouldering destination so you may spot some rock climbers on your hike. These huge boulders that dot the park are leftovers from when the river eroded the area thousands of years ago. Kids may enjoy exploring around the boulders as some of them have small caves and may even include ice of you are there in late spring.

It’s a great destination for families as you can spend as little as 30 minutes doing a short hike or as much as an afternoon exploring the whole glen.

Brianna – Website: https://curioustravelbug.com/

 

The Durham Regional Forest Trail

The Durham Regional Forest Trail is 35 km from Oshawa. Take the Lake Ridge Rd exit on the 401 W onto Goodwood. On Concession Road 7 you make a left to your destination. The trail is close to Uxbridge.

The reason I like it because it is a 12km loop, with moderate difficulty, an elevation gain of 400 meters and takes about 3 hrs to complete. Novices are going to love the fact that it is clean, neat, consistent and marked all along. It is accessible all year. If you take your dog with you it has to be kept on a leash. The trail has very few ruts, roots or rocks. If you want a nice, moderate work out this is the trail for you.

On the weekend it is an amazing escape with the scenery being luscious and robust. The plantation forests were set up more than 70 years ago and are constantly maintained. Even on a hot humid day you can be sure of lots of shade.

The forest is about 405 hectares and is famous for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, bird watching and mountain biking.

The parking is free, it is never crowded, quiet, peaceful and an easy trail to follow.

Jerry Godinho from https://fourcolumnsofabalancedlife.com/

 

Swan Lake Trail

We’ve always been an active family, but typically that’s skiing and zip lining and swimming, or learning a new sport. We’ve never done a lot of hiking together, but that changed when we were invited to do an RV trip with Ontario Parks last fall. We started with Grundy Lake Provincial Park and in the morning went for a quick walk before heading straight over to The Swan Lake Trail.

Swan Lake Trail is a moderate hiking trail that’s about 1.5 kms long and will take roughly an hour. It runs through the Swan Lake nature reserve and is ideal for families just starting to hike or families with young kids. The Swan Lake views through a boggy marsh and up over stunning rock formations will leave you wanting more. My kids loved that there’s an interactive research portion too. So, if you spy wildlife in a particular spot you can text a number and help researchers to document it. Gnarly trees and walkways through swampy bogs appealed to my young teens. This was the start of a new passion for our family and is definitely a place to find the best hiking for families in Ontario.

Swan Lake Trail, Grundy Lake Provincial Park

 

I hope this list inspires you and your family to get out and enjoy some of the many beautiful hiking trails this province has to offer. This post is meant to be a work in progress as we explore more. Have no fear, I’m always on the lookout for the best hiking for families in Ontario. The more trails I find, the more I will report back!

The best hiking for families in Southern Ontario, from Algonquin Provincial Park to Halton Conservation Areas to the Bruce Peninsula, know where to find the best hiking trails in Southern Ontario for families

Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

Being a professional sunset chaser means that I have seen some of the most beautiful and stunning sunsets around the world. I have said it before, and I will say it again – Ontario is a jewel. Ontario boasts some of the most alluring landscapes and scenery you can find. Some of the most bewitching sunsets I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing have been right here in Ontario. In our new world order, I’ve come to accept that Mediterranian sunsets are a pipe dream for the next couple of years. Who knows when I’ll be in the Caribbean again? Domestic travel only is going to be on the docket for most people. I personally foresee a lot of road trips and explorations closer to home this year.

If you’re going to be hanging around home, why not know where to go to see the best sunsets in Ontario?

Where To Find The Best Southern Ontario Sunsets

I have a slight bias in some of these locations. Each of these places holds a special memory, which likely makes the sunsets all the more special. That said, feel free to make your own memories during magic hour and dusk. Here are some of my favourite places to find the best sunsets in Southern Ontario. As I explore more and more I will have more to share, but for now, here’s my shortlist. I hope you are inspired to search some out as well:

Scarborough Bluffs Park, Ontario

The Scarborough Bluffs are an escarpment range in the east end of the amalgamated limits of Toronto. Not technically in Toronto, but they can claim themselves geographically that they are. In all honesty, the Bluffs are in Scarborough. As an old score Torontonian, I’ll never accept them as Toronto, but I digress…

The views of Lake Ontario and Bluffers Park from the escarpment are brilliant and there are a few lookout points to explore. In the interest of safety, do not cross barriers for photos. Unfortunately, people unfamiliar with the terrain and area have crossed the line and have put themselves in a position where they have required emergency extraction from the area. The Scarborough Bluffs are an eroded and environmentally sensitive area and you do have to take care when on the escarpment.

It is worth it to stroll or hike along the top of the bluffs where you are permitted to be. The best time of year to be up there, in my opinion, is summer and early fall. If you’re feeling adventurous, bring a bathing suit and towel and hit the beach while it’s still daylight.

Sherman Falls, Ancaster, Ontario

Sherman Falls, on the Bruce Trail just outside of Ancaster, Ontario is a 17-metre-high curtain falls, often nicknamed Angel Falls or Fairy Falls. Being there in any season is like being in a fairy tale. These waterfalls are one of the most Instagrammable waterfalls in the area and it’s rare to be there without other people around unless you go early in the morning or hang around in the late afternoon into dusk. From here, there are other waterfalls you can hike too. The area of the province is known as the City of Waterfalls (Hamilton). It’s a bit odd when you see Hamilton from the QEW highway to envision all the splendour of the area, yet here it is.

Summer is a very busy time at Sherman Falls, so if you are inclined, I recommend winter for a visit. These waterfalls are on private property, please respect the area. The owners graciously allow people to enjoy them but please do not climb the sides of the ravine or the waterfall

Sherman Falls, Ancaster, Ontario, magic hour pre-sunset

Windsor, Ontario

Before going to Windsor, Ontario in the fall of 2019, I had no idea of its beauty. The sunset I witnessed from the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel on Riverside Drive solidified my new found love for The Motor City. From the window of the “Justin Trudeau” suite, I spent good, quality time mesmerized by the sky. In the distance, the Ambassador Bridge.  This is a view I would want again and again and again.

Want this view on your next stay in Windsor? Be sure to book your stay at The Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel here (this is an affiliate link meaning I make a small percentage of commission when you book)

Windsor, Ontario sunset of the Ambassador Bridge

Long Point National Wildlife Area

You have to know a guy who has a boat to get to the secret beaches and sandbanks at Long Point. And once you’ve played around on the sandbanks, that boat has to bring you back under the setting sun. And there is no finer person to know than Captain Graham with Long Point Island Huggers.

It’s worth the drive to Long Point towards the sand and pit formation to see one of Canada’s UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. 

Captain Graham is so knowledgable about the area that you’ll leave the cruise with a whole new appreciation of the wetlands. He takes his pontoon boat that accommodates groups and people of all ages for wonderful cruises from sunrise to sunset.

sunset at long point national wildlife area

Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

I never knew that mother nature could paint us this palette just 2 1/2 hours outside of Toronto. This cotton candy sky view on the lake is only accessible by canoe. Everything about this moment was perfect, stillness in the water, spending time with good friends. Once the sun was down, we were treated to one of the best star shows I’ve seen in a long time! If you’ve never considered Peterborough and the Kawarthas (@thekawarthas) for your summer adventures in Ontario, then I definitely think you should.

Cotton candy skies - That's out food in barrels in the canoe so bears cannot get to them

Presquile Provincial Park, Ontario

Skipping rocks at sunset! Well, at least he’s trying hard too… My son and I camped in a Minka Tent at Presqui’ile Provincial Park in the autumn of 2019. We were treated to another amazing Ontario sunset. This stunning view is just outside of Brighton! Right on Lake Ontario.

This little slice of heaven is at the far west end of the High Bluff Campground area. There’s a small beach and a lot of flat rocks. Enjoy!

Skipping rocks at sunset at Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Frankford, Ontario

Sunsets in Frankford, Ontario are best viewed from the east bank of the Trent River. Full disclosure, this picture is from a private residence. Yep, this is where my Mom lives and I can have this view anytime I go visit.

Unless you know someone who lives along the river, you’re not going to get THIS view. I happen to have it on good authority that you can drive to one of the canal locks on the Trent Severn Waterway, park and witness a similar sunset from a private area.

Sunset from the west banks of the Trent River in Frankford, Ontario

I hope these sunsets have inspired you to seek out sunsets close to home. While this list is only a handful, I will be sure to update this post as I witness more. Make no mistake there are many more exceptional sunsets to be seen in many other areas of the province.

Looking for unique and memorable activities in Ontario to enjoy while sticking close to home? Be sure to check out Looking For Exciting and Unique Places To Explore In Ontario? We Have You Covered!

 

PIN ME FOR LATER!

Want to know where to go to find the best sunsets in southern Ontario? I'll tell you where here! From Windsor to Presqui'ile Provincial Park and places in between

Looking For Exciting and Unique Places To Explore In Ontario? We Have You Covered!

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I made it my mission to explore and take in as much of my home province of Ontario as I could. And take my kids along of course! I was born and raised here and I had come to the realization that as of a couple of years ago, I had explored less than 10% of it. Most of my travel had been confined to the 401 corridors.

Granted, landmass wise, Ontario is huge! Bigger than almost all European countries! Parts of Ontario are even uninhabited, so it’s not likely we will be hanging at a winery in Polar Bear Provincial Park anytime soon! One because it doesn’t exist and two because that provincial park is so far remote that the website warns you to pack an extra week’s worth of provisions in case the plane can’t come back and get you. However, there are a lot of towns with charm, beautiful trails, an abundant outdoor lifestyle and exciting places to explore in Ontario that are full of adventure and won’t leave you stranded.

If someone was travelling to Ontario for the first time to explore and take in an unusual or unique (only to) Ontario experience, I have a list of places to send them that I have been to. I’d tell them to head up the Bruce Peninsula to Tobermory to stay for a couple of days and to hike the Grotto! Send them yurt camping at any time of the year at either Algonquin Provincial Park or MacGregor Point Provincial Park. If they were looking to go glamping right across the street from a winery, they’d be going direct to Long Point Eco-Adventures in Norfolk County. If they were looking for some epic scenery while hiking, the Barron Canyon Trail, Dundas Peak and Skinner’s Bluff is where it’s at.

My Personal Favourite Places To Explore In Ontario

One of my favourite places to see sunset? It would be the Scarborough Bluffs pictured above and right below. Especially in autumn.

View from Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto Ontario. Unique places to explore in Ontario #autumncolours #fallfoliage #curiocitytoronto #visualizetoronto #scarboroughbluffs #scarborough #scarboroughontario #torontoviews #canadiancreatives #imagesofcanada #viewsfordays #cliffside #exploreontario #kathrynanywhere

Some of my favourite hiking trails fall within the jurisdiction of Ontario Parks. Check out Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Favourite Beaches? Sandbanks in Prince Edward County is top of everyone’s mind when you think of Ontario beaches, but consider Coburg Beach in Coburg or Pancake Bay Beach, just outside Batchawana Bay as well.

Beer and wine Tours? Forego the crowds in Niagara and Prince Edward County and head to Norfolk County instead.

I know for a fact that I am not the be-all and end of Ontario knowledge. And I’m on the hunt for new places to explore in Ontario for this year and next. I thought it would be smart to hit up some of my fellow Torontonians, travel bloggers for their favourite places in Ontario to explore and why.

Here are their secrets they have let me in on!

SAINTS AND SINNERS TRAIL

Just a few hours north of Toronto lies the province’s biggest secret. Grey County is a foodie haven, with gorgeous views, reasonable prices and none of the traffic you’ll see if you travel east or west of the city.

It’s home to the Saints and Sinners Trail, which features local beer, wine and cider. This region is family-friendly so don’t feel like you need to leave the kiddos at home. Accommodations range from traditional to quirky, you can stay in a treehouse or a yurt!

It’s called this because of the region’s fascinating history. Owen Sound was Canada’s last dry city. Well technically, prohibition lasted here much longer than the rest of Canada and so there’s a history of bootlegging and all the salacious stories that go along with it.

Today you can tour the Saints and Sinners Trail independently or take the Corkscrew Town tour, which partners with the Beer Bus. Local historian (and city council member) shows you the city’s sights and shares hilarious local stories of bootlegging in the time of prohibition.

Contributed by Ayngelina Brogan – Bacon Is Magic

DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL

The fact that Hamilton, a city more commonly known for steel and Tim Horton’s, has also been dubbed “The Waterfall Capital Of The World”, may come as a surprise to you. Of the more than 100 waterfalls located in the city’s limits, the one with the most unusual story is found in the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is a huge, horseshoe- shaped gorge. There is a larger, upper falls and a smaller, lower falls in it. With numerous trails around the area, it’s a perfect for hiking and scenic photo opportunities, especially if you are nimble enough to make it to the bottom near the waterfalls.

Beneath the beauty of the Punchbowl, though, lies a history shrouded in mystery. Where exactly did the name come from? Urban legends (unverified ghost and paranormal activity stories), and even tragedies (numerous deaths have happened there).  Adding to the unusual factor is the 10 metre high metal cross on the observational platform.  It was made to “bring light to the community”, but the idea of a giant cross planted in an area named after the devil is bizarre, to say the least. However, the views from the platform are admittedly spectacular (dare I say, heavenly), as you can see the waterfalls, Stoney Creek, Hamilton, and on clear days, even Toronto.

The Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area is definitely unique, but also a place that you won’t soon forget!

Contributed by Mike Armstrong – Daddy Realness

devils punchbowl, contributed by Mike Armstrong #daddyrealness #yourstodiscover #exploreontario #devilspunchbowl #hamiltonontario #hamont

PORT HOPE SALMON RUN

Watching the salmon run is often something associated with rural travel in remote destinations such as like Alaska. But Ontario actually has some pretty incredible salmon runs of its own. And surprisingly, one of the best places to see the Salmon run in Ontario is in the small town of Port Hope off the shores of Lake Ontario.

Port Hope, which is just an hour east of Toronto, is a quaint town with a vibrant history. But in the fall, it becomes home to one of the coolest wildlife spectacles in Central Ontario. Between late August and early October, thousands of Chinook salmon, some weighing up to 40 lbs make their way up the Ganaraska River.

The best place to view this spectacle is Corbett’s Dam, otherwise known as the Port Hope Fish Ladder. Just head to Jocelyn St. Turn right and continue on till you meet the river. There is a rocky shore that is easy to walk up and down. Just don’t step in the fish. Not all of them make it to the spawning grounds. The Port Hope Fish Ladder was put in place to help the struggling salmon make it up the river once the dam was put in place. Without it, these bright fish would have no way to continue up the “Ganny” to their spawning grounds.

Contributed by Kevin Wagar – Wandering Wagars

BATHTUB ISLAND

Located about 10 hours north of Toronto you can find Lake Superior Provincial Park. At over 1550 square kilometers it’s one of the biggest provincial parks in Ontario. The park is known for very unique things like the pictographs at Agawa Rock, the Burnt Rock Pool, Old Woman Bay and of course the most unique of them all, Bathtub Island.

Bathtub Island is located about a 15 minute walk from Katherine Cove and just like the name suggests, it’s a natural forming bathtub! The bathtub is refilled by the waves crashing over the rocks and because of the shallow rocks the water gets heated up really quickly so you can splash around and enjoy yourselves! It can be slightly challenging to get into the island because of the rocks and the water so do take care to walk carefully but as long as you’re paying attention to the walk you’ll be fine!

While there may be other natural bathtubs around, the one in Lake Superior Provincial Park is the only one I’m aware of in Ontario and it makes it such a unique place to explore! It doesn’t hurt that it’s located in such a stunning piece of nature. It’s a great reason to head further north than most visitors to Ontario do and you get to enjoy something super cool that nature itself formed!

Contributed by Liliane Fawzy – My Toronto, My World

ENJOY MUSKOKA DURING THE WINTER SEASON

In just four years, the Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park has become one of Muskoka Tourism ‘s most popular winter attractions, as thousands of winter-loving Ontarians flock north to glide along this breathtaking skate through the forest. Named one of 19 Stunning Natural Ice Skating Rinks Around the World by Travel + Leisure, the deep-woods ice path is nightly lit with torches as skaters slide through the dark winter woods to an icy, fiery glow. The Trail’s season-opening is always subject to weather but typically the trail opens the beginning of January until roughly the second week in March. The best ice conditions tend to be during the week, so if you can arrive midweek, you will be rewarded with no crazy line-ups as you visit one of the province’s most popular winter ‘bucket list’ items.

Bonus night activity? While in Muskoka, take the kids to look up at the night sky to experience the vastness of space, view the universe and marvel at the icy air viewing at the Torrance Barren’s Dark-Sky Preserve.

Contributed by Gregory George – followsummer

Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park #ONTARIOPARKS #exploreontario #followsummer

VOYAGEUR CANOE TO TORONTO ISLANDS

Have you ever seen Toronto from the water?  One of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever had in Toronto was to paddle across the harbour in a Voyageur Canoe to the Toronto Islands.  You can do this as a group or rent a kayak.  The view is spectacular and being on the other side of the islands take you from urban setting to natural oasis in the time it takes you to paddle across.  There is no shortage of interesting things to see from the flights taking off and landing from Billy Bishop Airport to the spectacular skyline.

Contributed by Margarita Ibbott – DownshiftingPRO

EXPLORE ONTARIO

NIAGARA JET BOAT

In June 2017, Hubs and I splashed out for a Whirlpool Jet Tour from Niagara-on-the-Lake. The tour took us up the Niagara River to the Niagara Devil’s Hole Rapids – which boasts up 4.5-6m waves and currents with speeds approaching 32 kph. Operating since 1992, the company’s Niagara fleet has 8 custom-built vessels operating from three locations on both sides of the border – Niagara-on-the-Lake, Lewiston and Niagara Falls. There are two types of boats, an open boat, for fast and wet, and a closed boat, which will keep you (mostly) dry.

Our youngest was three (almost four) when we took our tour, but still a little under the height requirement for the uncovered boat (safety first!!) We rode one of the covered boats – which kept us dry, but was still quite thrilling. The windows on the boat open for the parts of the tour that aren’t wet.

The expert navigation of our boat’s team had us feeling very safe despite tackling Class 5 rapids which “approach the limits of navigability” and “should only be attempted by white-water experts.”

The best part of the approximately one-hour trip – we learned about the history of the gorge, the falls, and various sites we passed along the way including historic Fort George, the hydro-electric plants on both sides of the border. The tour guides were very engaging, and more than willing to answer any questions we had.

As far as family fun goes, you can’t miss the thrills, chills (and the education) of a Niagara Whirlpool Jet Tour. In fact, our youngest is big enough for the outside boat – and we have plans to make another trip this year!

Contributed by Amanda Knapper – SillyMummyFT

Niagara Jet Boat, Amanda Knapper, SillyMummyFT

 

SOARING OVER NIAGARA FALLS IN A HELICOPTER

Visiting the majestic Niagara Falls is on everyone’s bucket list but not many have thought about flying over the falls. If you’re looking for unusual and breathtaking things to do in Ontario, soaring above Niagara Falls in a helicopter should be on your list!

This bird’s eye view will bring on all of the feels and while the ride is only about 12 minutes long, you’ll see it all. Our pilot did a great job of showing us the various angles of both, the American and Canadian Falls and we also saw the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture, followed the Niagara River from the Whirlpool area and rounded up near the Rainbow Bridge. It was like getting the best and fastest tour of the area. We had our infant and toddler with us for this Niagara helicopter ride and the kids were mesmerized from the moment we took off. Kids were given noise cancelling headsets and the adults ones had the option to listen to an audio tour that informed us about the history of the area.

This splurge worthy Ontario attraction is definitely worth every dollar and should be on your list of things to do in Niagara Falls Canada with kids or without!

Contributed by Yashy Murphy – Baby And Life

Soaring over Niagara Falls in a Helicopter with Yashy Murphy, Baby And Life

DINING IN THE DARK AT O NOIR

If you want a unique place to go to in Toronto that is indoors and involves food, you have come to the right spot to find out exactly where to go. The award for the coolest restaurant in downtown Toronto has to go to O Noir. You’re not just paying for food, but an experience of a lifetime!

The concept of the very well known restaurant, O Noir, is for people to try and understand what life is like for the visually impaired for a short amount of time.

When you entire O Noir, you are presented with the menu before you go into the darkness. There is even a “surprise” option to make your time there more exciting! The waiters you will be interacting with are blind, just as you will be when you enter the dining area.  When it is your turn to go inside, you will be asked to make a train with several other guests and your party while someone will lead you to a seat (a seat that you cannot see AT ALL). There, they will explain where your fork, knife, and napkins are before returning shortly with your ordered food.

This is where things get really tricky; try coordinating with a table full of people who cannot see ANYTHING. Your other senses are heightened to the max as you try to communicate with your company, guess the food in front of you, or simply eat without making a mess! Your imagination runs wild as you try and figure out which part of the restaurant you are seated in, how big the place might be, where the waiters are coming in/ out from and predicting how much of your food is left!

This experience will give you a feel of what it is like for the blind to do simple tasks every day. It is amazing to see the discipline that the staff have, working quickly and efficiently to ensure great customer service, which can require a lot of patience when you are dealing with people who are experiencing something for the first time.

Lucky for everyone, the paying process happens outside of the darkness, or that would be a whole other level of challenging. This is something I believe everyone should try at least once in their lives! Imagine being able to say that you have had the experience to dine in the complete dark.

Contributed by Akanksha Pandya – Akanksha.ca

 

PORT DOVER, EVERY FRIDAY THE 13TH

In 1981, a strange tradition was born in the relatively sleepy Ontario town of Port Dover. It was decided that every Friday the 13th a motorcycle rally would happen, and that riders from all across North America should come. Seems reasonable enough, right?

What started as a pipe dream turned into a reality, and nowadays any Friday the 13th in Port Dover can fetch as many as 100,000 riders from around North America and the world. It is, however, somewhat weather dependent as when the Friday the 13th falls in the winter it, sadly, attracts many fewer riders. However, the opposite phenomena is also true, with some summer events reportedly attractions 150 to 200,000 riders.

When I spoke to townspeople there, I expected people to scold the behaviour of the different motorcycle groups, but the response was quite the opposite. Many said that groups like the Hell’s Angels had even sold clothing and the like and donated some of the proceeds back to the community. Naturally, there was some mild trouble here and there but they said, for the most part, it was a really welcomed event in the community at large.

It doesn’t get much more unusual than that, and tourists and Ontarians come from far and wide to take it all in. Take note of the next Friday the 13th, and head to Port Dover!

Contributed by Chris Mitchell – travelingmitch

port dover, every friday the 13th

I hope this list from some of my favourite Toronto based travel bloggers has helped to inspire you on your next trip to Ontario! And if you already live or work in Ontario, hopefully you have some inspiration to go looking for exciting and unique places in Ontario to explore!

Looking for exciting and unique places to explore in Ontario? I asked a bunch of local travel bloggers and here is where they recommend #greycounty #salmonrun #porthope #portdover #devilspunchbowl #exploreontario #discoverontario #bathtubisland #niagarafalls #jetboat #helicopter #onoir #Kathrynanywhere #torontobloggersco #Torontotravelbloggers