Best Waterfalls Near Toronto To Hike

Being a resident of Toronto, and a lover of nature, I am incredibly lucky to be able to explore so many conservation and green spots in the surrounding area. Of all of the exciting parts of the outdoors to hike and appreciate are waterfalls near Toronto. There are no waterfalls in the City of Toronto. There is a mini-waterfall in Evergreen Brick Works that is more like a sewer runoff.

You’ll find waterfalls outside Toronto and the suburban areas. Some you can swim at the base of too! Bet you only thought there was one waterfall in Ontario and it’s Niagara Falls?!

Where to Find Waterfalls Near Toronto

All of the waterfalls near Toronto, Ontario that I am recommending are ones I have personally visited and hiked the surrounding area. I will be focusing on two main areas – Grey County and around Hamilton, Ontario. Not on this list is the obvious location of Niagara Falls because there are so many other areas to enjoy!

The waterfalls I am listing in this post and are on the map above are:

Hilton Falls, McGowan Falls, Hoggs Falls, Eugenia Falls, Inglis Falls, Tews Falls, The Devil’s Punchbowl, Sherman Falls, Tiffany Falls and Smokey Hollow Falls.

All of these waterfalls are within two hours of driving from Toronto. You should have your own transportation to reach these locations. It’s fairly impossible to get to all of these waterfalls relying on public transport.

Waterfalls Near Toronto To Hike

Hiking in the area of waterfalls means there is always a chance of getting wet! It is a good idea to pack extra articles of clothing in your vehicle. I always recommend bringing a second pair of shoes and socks in my vehicle when you hike. If you do get wet, you will have dry socks and shoes as a backup. Alway hike safely by letting others know where you are going. Bring a daypack with you that contains sunscreen, bug spray and a small first aid kit.

Hilton Falls, Milton

Hilton Falls is a 10-metre spectacular waterfall view roughly a two-kilometre hike from the parking lot in the conservation area. That’s the feature photo for this post! It’s an amazing place to go on a hot day to cool off, to feel the mist from the water and get amazing Instagram shots. Seriously, search these waterfalls up on Instagram!

The last time I was there with my kids, other families were walking behind the waterfall and kids in bathing suits at the base. These waterfalls have been REALLY busy on nice days and weekends. Plan to go on a weekday and early for fewer crowds. This one has always been a personal favourite of mine as I discovered it back in my Sheridan College days and would make many treks out there to clear my head.

This conservation area is closest to Milton, Ontario. There are entrance fees there for parking and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to reserve your space online in advance of your visit. It’s one of the best hiking areas in the area for families and it a very easy trail for everyone to hike.

Hilton Falls, Milton. The author taking a selfie in front of the waterfall with kid

McGowan Falls, Durham (Grey County)

I visited McGowan Falls in Durham after a trip out to the area butcher. It was my first time there and was kind of amazed that to access them, I walked up a residential street. How lucky are the people who live there?!  Imagine having a waterfall at the end of your street! The locals told me that on a normal summer day, people fish at the base of the falls and kids swim above them.

Although it is only partially natural (the head of the falls is controlled by a man-made gate), I still enjoyed watching the waterfall over the rocks. When I visited, there was minimal water flow. Others have witnessed much more water flow.

There was no fee to park at this conservation area. It’s a great place to bring a picnic basket and blanket on a nice day.

McGowan Falls in Durham Ontario, part of Grey County is a lovely waterfall about 90 minutes from Toronto

Hoggs Falls, Flesherton (Grey County)

From the parking lot, it’s a short, half a kilometre and gorgeous hike on the Bruce Trail alongside the Boyne River to the waterfall. It will not take you more than 5 minutes.

At the top of the falls, there is no viewing platform or fence. Please hold onto your children and exercise caution when viewing from the rockface overlook. You CAN get to the bottom of the falls two ways. One is climbing down a rope. Or there is a side trail that takes you down to the river. You can if you’re okay with risking getting wet, hike alongside the side trail. I have made the trek to Hogg’s Falls a couple of times and have done the viewing both ways.

If you are feeling ambitious and the trail is open, you can hike all the way over to Eugenia Falls too!

Read more about Hoggs Falls and the history of the area here. No charge for parking here.

Hoggs Falls in Grey County, waterfalls near Toronto

Eugenia Falls, Eugenia (Grey County)

If you’re not in the mood to hike the trail or are physically unable to do so, you can drive between Hoggs Falls and Eugenia Falls in under 10 minutes. The loop trail between Hoggs Falls and Eugenia Falls is 12.6 kilometres. You’re more likely to find crowds at Eugenia Falls as it’s stunning and is found just off the main road. Head there early or on a weekday to try to avoid others. 

The falls can best be described as majestic, tranquil, spectacular. Eugenia Falls is 30 metres high and is the tallest waterfall in the area.

Eugenia Falls can also be accessed from the Bruce Trail, which is one of the longest marked hiking trails in all of Canada. The trails and area used to be very open for sightseeing, however, there have been many accidents lately. Exercise caution, do not climb the wall for a better look. The area can be slippery when wet. Access to the base of the falls is closed.

Parking here is handled by a private company. The charge is $6.

Eugenia Falls, Grey County in early autumn, September 2020

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound (Grey County)

There are a handful of waterfalls around Owen Sound and Inglis Falls is the most impressive! Inglis Falls is an 18-metre cascade waterfall. The hike from the parking lot is roughly ten feet to see this waterfall at the top. However, the hike in the conservation area to see the falls from other angles is worth it.

Inglis Falls is very powerful, beautiful, rugged and spectacular. When I was there, rough paths to the gorge’s bottom were closed off. I would guess that they would be very risky to attempt, so stick to the marked and accessible trails.

As with other waterfalls, the falls were initially a mill, fallen into disrepair now a conservation area. Parking at Inglis Falls is handled by a private company (MacKay). The charge is $6 through the app or online.

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound, waterfalls about two hours from Toronto

Tews Falls, Hamilton

Tews Falls are gorgeous! This is a must-do hike in the fall for the gorgeous colours. This trail is only a kilometre between the falls and the Dundas Peak lookout, it’s a breathtaking vantage point.

There are areas where railings/barriers are in place so that visitors do not fall. This means do not try to climb around them. Safety first! Stay on the marked trail at all times. Due to the popularity of the location on the day we visited, instead of taking the main trail to Tews Falls from the lookout, we took a side trail for 0.8km. Then, we joined up with the main trail for the remainder of the hike to Tews Falls.

 This is a pretty epic hike and one of the best ones I like to take my kids on. Check out more photos here for Tews Falls and Dundas Peak.

The parking lot for the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is open from the end of May until the end of October. Your spot must be reserved in advance. The parking fee for each vehicle is $10.50 and there is a reservation fee of $10. There is also a per-person admission fee of $5 for each visitor aged 5 and up.

Tews Falls, Hamilton Ontario, waterfalls near Toronto

The Devil’s Punchbowl, Hamilton

Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area in Hamilton’s east end, is on the Bruce Trail and offers up two separate waterfalls: Upper Falls is a 33.8-metre ribbon waterfall and Lower falls, is a 5.5-metre classical waterfall.

Devil's Punchbowl, waterfall in Hamilton Ontario. On the Bruce Trail
The Devil’s Punchbowl Falls can be a trickle when it hasn’t rained in a while. The photo above best illustrates that! And it’s what you will see in the video here. The steep gorge with colourful layers of rock encircles the falls. The formation of the Devil’s Punch Bowl occurred 1 million years ago after one of the four great ice ages.

It’s a bit of a tough hike for younger kids and it’s a very steep incline both up and down, but manageable with the right attitude and shoes. Best accessed from the Dofasco 2000 trail.

If you park at the conservation area at top of the Devil’s Punchbowl, the cost for parking at the lot is $6 for the day.


Sherman Falls, Hamilton

The first thing you need to know is that Sherman Falls is on private property and the owners can close the area off at any time. It is not your right to hike here, it is a privilege.

Sherman Falls is a 17 metre-high curtain waterfall that is between two other local waterfalls, Tiffany Falls and Canterbury Falls. The water flow here is good at all times of the year. The trail is easy to navigate. This is an extremely popular place to come for romantic walks and photos and you can walk quite close to the base of the falls. Other nicknames for this waterfall are Angel Falls or Fairy Falls.

There is a paid parking lot approximately 400 metres away from the waterfalls. The daily charge is $5. It’s a moderate-level hike from Sherman Falls to Tiffany Falls on the Bruce Trail and takes roughly thirty minutes.

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

Tiffany Falls, Hamilton

Tiffany Falls is a lovely 21-metre cascade waterfall. From the parking area, you hike approximately 10 minutes into the woods along a dirt pathway that crosses Tiffany Creek a couple of times. It’s an easy hike for most family members, but as with most of these areas, it’s not wheelchair accessible or easy to get to for the mobility impaired.

This waterfall can be accessed all year long. In the winter when the falls are iced over, you can climb them with a climbing company from the area. To get your photos, it is strongly recommended that you utilize the wooden platform that gives you a great view of the falls and stay out of the water.

Parking is in high demand. The cost is $5 and is limited. On busy days, a by-law officer will ticket vehicles that are not parked in proper spots or did not pay for parking.

Tiffany Falls Ancaster Hamilton Ontario frozen in winter with two kids standing in front of it

Smokey Hollow Falls

At only 10 metres tall, this isn’t the biggest waterfall around, but this powerful waterfall is on an amazing section of the Bruce Trail. It’s a steep hill and there are a lot of steps on this portion of the hike, so it’s a good glute workout!

Parking here is free. Be cautious of staying ON the trail. Venturing off the trail is dangerous and could get you a trespassing citation.

In case you have not figured it out, one of my favourite Canadian winter activities is waterfall chasing! Some people might think that the only time to be viewing waterfalls, or be anywhere near the base of them is summertime. There is something truly majestic and absolutely beautiful about chasing waterfalls in winter and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I took my kids on a tour of some of the above-mentioned waterfalls. Check out the video below!



I’m so grateful to live in this part of Ontario where all of this beauty is a short car ride away. Hope you feel inspired to check some of these waterfalls close to Toronto in the future.

Please plan on packing out any trash and litter that you bring in. Respect the trails and the people who maintain them. Waterfalls are located in environmentally sensitive areas – please stay on marked designated trails and obey closure signs.

There are no waterfalls in the City of Toronto, but there are waterfalls NEAR Toronto, Ontario to hike and explore! Come and check some of them out with me! We're going to Hilton Falls, Hoggs Falls, Eugenia Falls, Hilton Falls, McGowan Falls, Inglis Falls, Sherman Falls, Tiffany Falls and Smokey Hollow Falls!

Travel Safety Tips – Help Keep Your Family Safe

Leaving on a vacation to a foreign land for a family vacation is really exciting, a ton of fun and requires serious planning. However, some of the finer details that can actually make or break your holiday happens on the road. No amount of planning can predict whether or not you’re going to face rain for three days in the middle of your trip. Or have your wallet pickpocketed on transit. While the weather is not a factor you can control, you can make sure that you take proper precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe. Keeping your family safe on the road is a key strategy for a successful vacation. I have all the travel safety tips for you from my personal experience.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that I was raised by a retired police officer. My Dad groomed me to not trust everyone, to look people in the eyes during greetings and discussions. I also have a handshake that’s deadly, we can discuss that one another day. I’m always wondering what’s the ulterior motive when approached by a stranger. My Dad did teach me a lot about personal safety, self-defence and protecting my hard-earned money. Training karate for almost 30 years helps with that too!

Having travelled coast to coast and around the globe, I carry those lessons with me. As a solo travelling mom with kids, I’m a target. There’s no “man to protect” me anywhere in sight. Thankfully, I’ve been able to identify potential issues and deal with them before there has been any loss of documents, cash or personal safety. 

Easy travel safety tips for parents

To keep your wallet, cash and passports safe while travelling abroad, there are a few foreign travel safety tips and tricks I like to use with myself and have taught them to my children. Here are a few of my vacation safety tips and easy travel safety tips for parents:

  1. Use a slim money belt under your clothing. When I travel with my kids and we are without a vehicle, I conceal a money belt on my daughter, under her shirt, with a small sum of cash. Folding cash in a Ziploc bag in your running shoe is another alternative – this is what I do with my son. The biggest reason why I like to keep cash on me when travelling is that I am a scatterbrain on the best of days. Cash will always be king and accepted anywhere. The chances of me losing my iPhone with my Apple Pay on it is high. Not only will I keep cash in my jean jacket pocket, but I will likely slip one of my credit cards in there as well. 
  2. Wear clothing that has zippers and buttons. This way cash or credit cards can’t slide out when you sit down and it’s harder for someone to quickly reach in if they have to tug at a button or zipper first. I like to utilize the front breast pockets on my jean jacket for this or the leg zipper pocket or my cargo green Halla Pants from prAna.
  3. Invest in a purse and/or backpack with slash-proof straps to avoid the cut and run. I have found there are places where it’s best to carry your backpack on your front or find a traveller’s backpack with inside zippered pockets for your passports and cash. I prefer zippered compartments that lock.
  4. Use a backpack with outside locking zippers.  It’s less likely for would-be thieves to tug at your backpack or try to slide their hands in the compartments when there’s more effort involved to get into it. I have a laptop bag that does just this and travel Western Europe with my kids with it.
  5. Keep your hands free. I absolutely despise carrying on a purse with my kids, to begin with. Personally, I would rather have my hands available to hold my child’s hand to lessen the chance of them wandering away.
  6. Never open a map or tourist brochures in public. Ther’s is nothing that screams that you are vulnerable louder than stopping on the sidewalk and consulting large, colourful pieces of paper.
  7. Lock wallets, laptops and cameras in trunks. If you have a car hire or rental, please do not leave valuables on back seats when you’re sightseeing or exploring. That is tempting for a thief to break in. Keep valuables out of sight.
  8. Utilize safes. If your hotel room or accommodations have a safe in your room, store your passports and important documentation there instead of carrying it around with you.
  9. Line up shoes behind your hotel room door at night. When the kids and I are in our hotel or accommodation rooms at night, I line our shoes up in front of the door. If anyone has s spare key to open it while we are sleeping, the shoes will act as a barrier to opening the door quietly. One shoe might even get stuck under the door and prevent it from opening further.
  10. Be seated with your back against the wall. In restaurants or other public seating areas, make sure you can see what is going on around you. If your back is to the wall, you won’t miss anyone coming up behind you and removing your possessions.

The kids and I outside of the town of Cascais on the Atlantic Ocean. With some common sense, you too can enjoy family travel with my travel safety tips.

How To Watch Out For Scams

Often, when you’re travelling in a country where English is not the first language, there are linguistic issues that can arise. Avoid being taken advantage of when out shopping or dining by dealing directly with shopkeepers and restauranteurs. Here are just a few of the scams I’ve encountered when travelling with my children:

Sign Your Name For World Peace

When in line at tourist attractions, beware of teams walking beside the line with clipboards in their hands. On the clipboard, they have “a petition to sign your names in support of world peace” or any other cause. When you sign this petition, you are asked to donate any sum of money at your disposal. Only give cash to a registered charity, not people preying on tourists in a lineup for a popular attraction.

The Innocent Old Lady and Her Gang of Kids

Be mindful of being stalked in a tourist attraction lineup. An elderly lady will target you and send a group of children to alleviate you of your wallet and electronics. My children and I were in line with hundreds of other tourists outside security for the Eiffel Tower. Not more than 5-6 feet away from me was an elderly lady with a cane. She was standing in the shade, watching my children and me. My children were taking turns playing a game on an old iPhone. As we moved up in the line, she moved up, staring at us, we were her target. Soon, there were 3 children, roughly the same age as my kids with her, now watching us. I made sure to let the elderly woman know that I was watching her. Feeling that my children were in danger of losing their device, I motioned from my eyes to her and pointing at the children gathered beside her and I mouthed “no”. Then, I shook my head as a warning. I stood in front of my children, blocking them from their sight and removed the iPhone from their hands. I told my children what was happening, pointing to the elderly woman and the children with her. We watched as they moved away and then fixated on another family in line behind us.

My key takeaway from this experience is to try to buy your tickets for popular attractions in advance. Skip these big lineups if you can. It will hopefully save you time as well.

Is This Your Ring?

On the banks of the Seine River, a gentleman walked up on my left side and dropped what looked like a wedding band. He picked it up and showed it to me, asking me if I thought it was real gold. I immediately started laughing as soon as he asked me the question. I politely said no thank you. He tried to insist that he would “give” me the ring for good luck if I could give him 10 Euros. I refused to open my purse in front of him and wished him a good day. About a half-hour later, we saw him trying the same trick with other tourists a little further up the river.

I had heard about this potential scam in a YouTube video about travelling through Paris. The con artist reaches directly into your purse to grab whatever they can when you open it. Or attempts to sell you a brass ring that turns green a couple of days later under the illusion that it is real gold. The latter sounds a lot like what we encountered. Please do not fall for this!

Your Shirt Feels So Nice

Be on the alert when a couple of children walk up to you and touch your clothing. The kids will tell you they like the fabric and keep touching you. They are skilled pickpockets. These kids are getting their hands in your pockets and taking whatever is not sewn onto you. They can lift your mobile phones and possessions faster than you realize. 

The Cup Game

“Trile” is the cup game that is played on the streets and beaches all over Spain. This game involves three cups and a small object that is hidden under one of the cups. Often you will see this game played on a table. Bystanders can guess which cup contains the object under it. The thing is, you have to pay a small sum of money to place your bet. They’ll tell you if you win, you win a bigger prize. They might tempt you into betting more money by letting you win a couple of times. Once you place more money on the table, that object under the cup mysteriously disappears. And you’re out your money. It’s a gamble. One you will lose.

Another scam I have heard of is the rental car scam. I have heard of travellers being tailed on a highway, outside of a city or town from the car hire place. The other vehicle’s occupants will try to get your attention by telling you that your gas cap is open or that your tire is almost flat. Once they get you to pull over, one person will start trying to speak to you loudly and distract you. Another person will quickly perform a “spot check” on your vehicle. They’ll have your doors and trunk opened quite quickly and will take your possessions while you are distracted by the other person. Please consider this a safety tip for international travel – inspect your rental vehicle all over and ensure everything is in working order.


Final Travel Safety Tips

A little bit of common sense can be your best friend on the road. Like a college girl in a bar, always protect your drinks. Please do not leave your drinks unattended anywhere, not even at a cafe. You never know who is watching you. If you have seen the Serpent on Netflix, you’ll know what I am talking about.

If you’d like to read more about the scams the kids and I encountered on our trip to Europe, you can read all about them here in SavvyMom

Hope these travel safety tips are of use to you and your family. Everything I have written about can apply domestically as well as internationally.

Family Travel Safety Tips - Knowing How To Be Safe and How To Avoid Scams When Traveling With Kids


Ontario Road Trips – Get Your Car Road Trip Ready

Heading into the second summer of the pandemic means more local travel. Since we cannot fly internationally yet, I am planning a series of small, shorter Ontario road trips for the kids and me. From our home in Toronto, I am planning trips within a five to six-hour driving radius. However, because these trips are more local, I cannot negate the care and maintenance of my vehicle. I have a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, which to me – is the absolute best road trip vehicle known to mankind and I’ll go into those reasons in another post. Jeeps are rugged, but still, require the same love I would have given to my Ford Escape or to my Grandpa’s Buick.

Ontario Road trip - Jeep Wrangler at the Colonial Inn and Spa where we stayed in Gananoque, Ontario

Before you pack your cooler with food, bathing suits, towels and your kids into the car, you need to make sure that you have taken care of everything else. Ensure you are not at risk of having a weird smell of that spilled orange juice basking that you cannot get rid of in the back seat. Or smeared, dead bugs all over your windshield that you cannot get rid of, no air conditioning or even worse, breaking down on the side of the road. Believe it or not, there are still areas of Ontario that have minimal to no cell phone service. I know this because I have been there. Roadtripping in Ontario is great fun. It’s awful when you end up with a problem on the road that you could have tending to beforehand.

Woman with blown tire on the side of the road

Preparing for Ontario Road Trips

Like I mentioned before, in preparing for a road trip in Ontario, clean out the car! Our summers can be hot. Remove all the garbage and things that kids have leftover before they cake into the seats due to sun and heat. Wipe and clean up cracker crumbles. Vacuum it all up.

I’m a huge fan of washing the exterior and the interior. If anything else, it’s a feeling of pride to have a clean vehicle inside and out.

Want to know where some of my favourite places in Ontario are? Consider a road trip to any one of these Ontario destinations:

Gananoque / 1000 Islands – one of the best places to take the kids in summer

Tobermory – also one of the best places to take the kids in the summer

Sudbury – awesome in winter with the family

Windsor – it’s actually one of the best places for a girl’s trip.

Land Rover Defender being driven by Kathryn at Alton Mills, Caledon, Ontario Road Trip. Photo by Jay Kana / Modern Mississauga

Below is my recommended checklist of what you need to do to get your vehicle road trip ready for the summer of driving in Ontario.

Get Your Vehicle Road Trip Ready

  • Take your car to your mechanic and have them do an inspection. Have them check your oils (brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant strength and power steering fluid). Also check coolant, belts, hoses and timing belt, battery, air filter, brakes, battery and fuel injector. If your brakes are worn out, get them serviced.
  • A clogged air filter restricts airflow in the cabin of the car. Replace it. Unless you have CAA or AAA, it’s cheaper to get these items serviced than to pay for a tow truck and a motel room in an unintended place.
  • Replace those worn-out windshield wiper blades and top up the wiper fluid in your vehicle. Dead bugs on the glass will come off easier with some fluid! It’s not hard to change your wipe blades on your own either. Websites like Canadian Tire make it easy to locate the correct size for your vehicle. Often you can find instructions on the manufacturer’s website or in the blade packaging.
  • Make sure you have adequate air in your tires and that you have a kit to fix a flat just in case. Check on your spare tire. Locate your tire iron and know where the release mechanism is if you have to change a flat. Make sure you have all the tools needed or be sure to have a CAA or AAA membership that you can call for assistance.
  • Fill your gas tank! Often the price of gas in remote areas is more expensive than in the urban/suburban areas. Once you get an hour outside of Toronto, the price of gas decreases by a few cents per litre but will increase the farther away you go. Be sure you leave your home on a full tank, but fill up along the way when presented with the opportunity.

Ontario road trip - Rearview mirror of a vehicle with the road behind you.

Vehicle Packing List

I’m a strong believer in having adequate equipment in your vehicle as well. I’m not talking about packing snacks, although that isn’t a bad idea to have in your cooler. Same with ice and water in your reusable bottle.

Here is my packing list of items for your vehicle to make your Ontario road trips a success:

  • Get or make a decent first aid kit. Accidents happen – even a scratch on your arm while out for a hike, so be prepared with bandaids and antiseptic.
  • Invest in an Ontario road map. If you are travelling to areas with very little to no population – think of signs like “last gas for 50 miles”, then make sure you have a road map. Chances are, there will be no cellular service to access your maps app on your smartphone. I do have an Ontario road map in my glovebox.
  • I like having a blanket packed in the trunk at all times. Great for stargazing or planespotting stops and drive-in movie theatres
  • A change of clothing is great to have on hand too.
  • Boots. Take it from me, I’ve gotten stuck in mud and snow before. Having a set of boots in the trunk that you can put on is a lifesaver.

Rural Ontario Routes

Looking for some Rural Ontario Routes to check out?

Durham is developing a reputation for harvesting award-winning, craft beer and cider products!


Pre-Planned Routes and Itineraries in Lennox and Addington

Beaches and The Big Apple in Brighton 

Where to go in Ontario, how to prep your vehicle and what to pack to make your road trip in Ontario a success!

Florida Bucket List For Post-Pandemic Travel

This past winter was the first one in many years that my kids and I did not feel that Southern Hemisphere sun on our pasty, cold Canadian bodies. Double pain for me, I used to travel to Florida every winter growing up to visit my Grandparents who were snowbirds and had a place to live there. In the spirit of missing those Florida sunsets and weather, with the help of VISIT FLORIDA, I’ve put together a Florida Bucket List of travel for Canadians to set their sights on once we are able to safely travel to the sunshine state again. This list will not include the theme parks.

The places I’m listing below are places the kids and I have NOT visited. If you’re looking for inspiration for where we have visited, you’ll have to check out Sanibel Island here (a favourite of the kids), our resort review of The Island Inn here, read up on how I fell in love begrudgingly at a Walt Disney World Resort value level hotel here or how I had an amazing time hanging out with Republicans at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort here.

Florida sunsets are the most inspiring I have ever seen. Especially Sanibel Island sunsets.

Florida Bucket List

Visit Florida certainly put together an amazing list of things to see and do there. Once our border restrictions are lifted, there’s a lot of Canadians who are going to flock south for some post-pandemic travel. You can count on the kids and me lining up at the airport! Here are some of the places we want to see and experience.


If it’s not already, you will want to add St. Lucie – and the historic city of Fort Pierce – to your Florida vacation list. Located on the East Coast, approximately halfway between Orlando and Miami, in downtown Fort Pierce you will find a rather unusual sighting of birds… not seagulls or pelicans, but wild peacocks. And it’s not just a few, but dozens of these beautiful, brightly coloured birds. The Peacock Arts District – named after the birds that have been here since the 1970s – is gaining notoriety for its emerging, dynamic art scene. Vibrant, terracotta pots hand-painted by local artists line the main corridor. Murals, decorative banners, street murals and various works of art are now adding colour to the once-empty storefronts and are reinvigorating this historic area while still managing to maintain that “Old Florida, small-town” feel. 

downtown Fort Pierce wild peacocks
photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA


Along the Gulf Coast near Carrabelle, the Tate’s Hell State Forest in Franklin County is well-known for being a wild place. Its name is derived from the legend of a lost farmer who vanished in the wilderness. It is also home to one of Florida’s most unusual nature wonders – a dwarf cypress swamp featuring 300-year-old cypress trees no taller than 15 feet. The Ralph G. Kendrick Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk is the best place to visit this natural phenomenon. Managed by the Forest Service, the boardwalk provides a safe and accessible area to take in the views, including this unique strand of cypress trees often referred to as Bonsai or Hat-Rack Cypress. If you’re looking for a bigger outdoor adventure, the forest also encompasses more than 202,437 acres with designated camp areas, hiking trails, paddling trails, salt and freshwater fishing, five boat ramps and several canoe/kayak launches. 



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Known for its fresh-squeezed orange juice, family-owned Maxwell Groves in Sebring has been a staple for locals and popular with visitors since its establishment as a fruit stand in 1935. Along with the famed OJ, the shop here also features various fruit wines and some of the best citrus-flavoured treats, such as preserves, jams, honey, and a dairy-free orange soft serve ice cream. Be on the lookout for Mr. Maxwell himself who will be happy to tell you stories about his family, the business and the citrus industry over the past several decades. Once refreshed, the area is also home to the Sun ‘N Lake Preserve, the go-to place for hiking and biking trails. This area is home to a variety of fauna due to its collection of ecosystems on-site, including freshwater marsh, cypress swamp, cutthroat grass seeps and other biomes. 

Maxwell groves florida
photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA


Often overlooked and driven right by on the I-95 as visitors enter Florida, Jacksonville is made up of an eclectic collection of neighbourhoods that each offer their own small-town feel and southern hospitality. Whether visitors are looking for a charming, historic place to retreat to, or a casual beach town to explore, the city’s neighbourhoods offer unique and diverse experiences to immerse yourself in local culture. Within minutes you can tour urban hotspots, experience breathtaking natural landscape, or hit the water on a boat or paddleboard. Jacksonville’s new “Neighborhood Conversations” video series takes you through three of the city’s most popular areas – Riverside Avondale, San Marco and The Beaches.

I’ve also recently learned that Jacksonville has a huge craft beer scene so that automatically means I’m interested in this city for many reasons!


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The United States’ first permanent underwater museum of art is located off the coast of South Walton in about 17 metres underwater. In addition to providing a site for SCUBA diving that is unique to the world, the sculptures are designed and selected with their suitability as marine habitats in mind, so even in the absence of divers, the Underwater Museum of Art is certain to have many visitors, including schools of bait fish, grouper, sea turtles and dolphins. Earlier this month (Feb. 2021), the museum added eight new sculptures, featuring artists from across the country.


The Stetson Mansion, located in West Volusia County, was built in 1886 for famed hat maker John B. Stetson, and is often hailed as Florida’s first luxury estate. The home was lost to the public for years but has now been renovated and updated and is open for tours and celebrations. It’s been named “Florida’s Most Popular Attraction” and one of the “Top 10 Places to Visit in Florida” by TripAdvisor. 



Amid the rural roadways, historic towns and pristine waterways, there are plenty of surprises in Northwest Florida, which stretches from east of Pensacola westward toward Tallahassee, along Interstate 10 and beyond. Many visitors come to enjoy the paddling, diving and fishing in the local waters, however there are also some quirky, one-of-a-kind sites here. In Carrabelle, you can stop in at the world’s smallest police station, which was upgraded from a call box bolted to a building to a cozy telephone booth in 1963; while the possum monument in the town of Wausau was erected in 1980 in honour of the marsupial, praised for providing both food and fur to the region’s early settlers.

Possum Monument, Florida
photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA


Located on the idyllic barrier island of Anna Maria Island, Bean Point is one of the destination’s top hidden gems and is arguably one of the quietest, intimate settings on the island. This beach features power-soft white sand, sweeping views of Tampa Bay (and the iconic Sunshine Skyway bridge), and an unobtrusive, relaxed atmosphere that is so difficult to find on most public beaches. While in the area, be sure to check out The Village of the Arts in nearby Bradenton, a vibrant community of artists featuring a collection of restored 1920s and 30s cottages, that is home to more than 30 businesses, including galleries, studios, cafés, healing arts, jewellery, fashion, books and more. 


On extended loan to the Marco Island Historical Museum by the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural Museum of Natural History, the world-famous Key Marco Cat – a half cat/half-human figure – is considered one of the finest pieces of pre-Columbian Native American art ever discovered in North America. Standing just 15 centimetres in height, the feline has captured the public’s imagination for over a century. Carved from native hardwood, the Key Marco Cat was created some 500 to1,500 years ago by Southwest Florida’s early Calusa people, or their Muspa ancestors, and was discovered on Key Marco in 1896 by a Smithsonian-sponsored archaeological expedition led by archaeologist and anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing.

Marco Island Historical Museum 2021-02-09 17.57.58
photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA


I’ve heard that some of the best snorkelling in all of Florida is to be had is in Silver Glen Springs in the Ocala National Forest.

Enough said. Put this on your Florida Bucket List. I’m coming with my fins!

Snorkel Silver Glen Springs bass fish
photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA


I’m totally inspired by the amazing paddleboard and kayak adventures my friend, Rob and his family have around the area of St. Augustine. If paddling with manatees hanging out peacefully in the water by you is your idea of a good time Blue Springs State Park is the place to go! And that’s exactly where we want to be.


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A post shared by Rob Taylor (@paddleyourstate)

From pristine beaches and historic preserves to local treasures and diverse neighbourhoods, there are plenty of surprises just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed in Florida. It’s a big state with a lot of exploring beyond the theme parks. Any recommendations of what else to see that we should add to our Florida Bucket List? Add them in the comment below!


How Facebook Fails To Protect Kids

Here’s a huge lesson for us all on how Facebook does not protect the users, our intellectual property and Facebook fails to protect kids. I never thought this could happen to me, but here we are. This is my experience and this is what I am trying to do about it.
On February 26, one of my followers pointed out to me that someone had stolen photos of me and my children taken from my branded Facebook page (or potentially my Instagram page) and are using them on a fake profile using the name Solphie Ann.
The profile picture in this stolen account is me and the kids atop the Duomo in Milan. The cover photo is of my children on a boat cruise in Norfolk County, Ontario.
This is the facebook account that stole my photos of my children and I and is passing them off as themselves.
There are photos of my daughter sitting on my Jeep, my friend Kasia and I drinking beer in Latvia. My girlfriends and I at a social media conference in Los Angeles. My kids and I hiking at Mount Nemo here in Ontario.
More from the Facebook Profile that stole my photos

I and numerous friends have reported the profile and the stolen photos to Facebook. I have messaged the account and asked them to remove my photos, no luck (the scammer has blocked me and blocks everyone who messages them about this). At this point, the account and the stolen photos have been reported over 100 times. Believe it or not, Facebook has repeatedly told me that this account DOES NOT go against their Community Standards.

Friends and family of mine are commenting on the photos staying they are stolen, but that account has not been removed or reprimanded and the images of my children remain on this account. The images of my children and myself cannot be associated to this spammer account any longer. My children are quite terrified that they are going to be damaged by this in the future. I am terrified that this will be detrimental to my personal online footprint and existence.

Facebook has yet to take action. Facebook is failing to protect my children. This is an exploitation of my minor children and myself. It’s incredibly baffling that Facebook does not find this to be a violation of their community standards.
One of my followers saw the scammer profile in a group selling tickets to an art show. She decided to bait them for me. This screengrab is their message exchange on Facebook.

One of my followers saw the scammer profile in a group selling tickets to an art show. She decided to bait her for me. This screen grab is there message exchange on Facebook. Conversation with one of my followers with the Fake Profile

This account is stealing money from vulnerable families posing as a seller of tickets to an artist’s workshop and I’m not the one behind it. According to my follower, this account stole $100 from a young family in her community.
At this point, I have pretty much exhausted ALL of my options with Facebook’s platform. There is no phone number to call to complain. Not a single live person has responded to a single request for help with the spammer. My ex-husband, who is livid that these photos of our children are being used in a fake profile and aren’t being removed has reported this story to several media outlets with this story, however, this is something that happens with great frequency on Facebook, so it’s not news.
Facebook ignoring all of these reports - I have pages and pages of emails of friends of mine reporting this profile and Facebook responding that this does not go against their community standards.
Can you imagine that this happens so much that not a single media outlet seems to care anymore? A friend of mine was able to obtain an email address of someone who works at Facebook through a family connection and I have sent them a detailed email. Truly I hope this gets resolved.
Honestly, I always thought I was moderately careful with my posting and my children. Sadly, their likeliness is now associated with a crime. Going forward, here’s how I am changing my approach to posting photos on my branded Facebook page:
  1. I will not be showing my children face on, not even on paid campaigns
  2. Every photo I post on my Facebook page will be watermarked
  3. My personal Facebook profile is completely locked down and I have begun unfriending people I don’t really know anymore.
  4. I am utilizing the services of Copytrack to find stolen images on other websites and enforce copyright
Aside from this bogus art fair ticket scam, I can’t help but wonder how else our photos are being used? Is my face on a fake dating profile catfishing someone? Did someone set this up to collect welfare funds? Trick someone into paying child support? One thing is for sure, I am relentless and if I have to ironically set up a fake profile to catch this jerk, I will.
If anyone finds my photos anywhere else, please do let me know. And if a profile with my picture is trying to sell you tickets to an art fair in Denver, it’s definitely not me. Please continue to report the profile.

Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre – behind the scenes

*COVID-19 TRAVEL ALERT – I am writing and providing you information on Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre.

I am not encouraging you to travel there right now. It is currently closed due to the pandemic* ⁠

Chances are good, if you have been to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario in the past couple of decades, you may have been to the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. It opened in 1993 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Algonquin Provincial Park. Algonquin was the first provincial park in the system in Ontario. Created in 1893 as a public park and forest reservation, fish and game preserve, health resort and pleasure ground.

Algonquin Provincial Park visitor centre building exterior face on - photo by Brian Tao

As a city-dwelling camper, one of the perks of visiting the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre is the flush toilets and free wifi! Aside from that, the Visitor Centre is a wealth of knowledge and exhibits about the Park’s natural and cultural history, has a quick service canteen type restaurant, a bookstore maintained by The Friends of Algonquin Park and an excellent observation deck with panorama views of the park.

Algonquin Provinicial Park visitor centre kathryn on panorama observation deck

How To Find The Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre

I’ve embedded this Google Map for you here. If you are diving up to the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre from Toronto or any other place in Ontario (or Canada), click on “directions” and type in the address you are starting from.

To get from Algonquin Provincial Park to Toronto, the drive is approximately three hours south on Highway 11. The same in the inverse, it takes approximately three hours to drive north from Toronto to Algonquin Provincial Park via highways 400 and 11.

What Is Inside The Algonquin Park Visitor’s Centre?

Some say this is one of the best visitor centers they have been to in Ontario Parks. There are lots for every age kids to be entertained. In the foyer, there is a large board displayed where you can add your wildlife sightings for the day. During winter, even if you’re not actually seeing the wildlife, you can feel it all around you because you can see their tracks in the snow or on the ice. It’s the kind of feeling you don’t get other seasons of the year.

Algonquin Provincial Park visitor centre wildlife sightings board in foyer

It is a very large visitor centre and doubles as the Algonquin Park information Centre. Here you can pick up park maps, canoe route maps, get information on camping. The displays are all very detailed, exhibits are interactive and there is a theatre as well. Educational programs are run out of the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre.

Algonquin PP visitors centre bear exhibit

One of the coolest things housed in the building is the archives of the park. Even cooler is the flora and fauna specimen room downstairs. It’s actually not open to the public. Assistant Park Superintendent Rick Stronks – who is incidentally the Chief Park Naturalist, gave me and my friend and photographer, Brian Tao a backstage tour that blew our minds.

Algonquin Park visitors centre chief naturalist and assistant park superintendent, Rick Stonks behind the scenes tour with Kathryn

Rick’s job is to manage and administer the Natural Heritage Education program, oversee all operations of the Algonquin Visitor Centre, Logging Museum, Art Centre, Staffhouse and Outdoor Theatre. He coordinates the procurement of all natural and cultural history records as well. On this day, it was also to provide us with incredible entertainment and stunning knowledge.

Algonquin Provincial Park visitors centre bald eagle reports circa 1990

What is contained in this room is a record of every single type and species of bird, fish and mammal to have graced their presence into the park. It’s a huge catalogue. The undertaking of a job for Rick and his staff to have organized this over the years is gigantic. Some of the taxidermy and written records we saw are more than 50 years old.

Bird specimen taxidermy samples in the basement of the visitor centre in Algonquin Provincial Park

It’s incredibly important to mention that these specimens were not captured in any way. We were assured that each one of these specimens was already deceased when found. By and how whatever natural reason they were already dead and preserved for learning and cataloguing. Each specimen that is brought in is treated with care and respect and restored.

Algonquin PP visitors centre behind the scenes with Rick Stonks showing a mammal skull

Naturalists are wildlife specialists who track and study animals. Every single one of these specimens is used to track the movements throughout the park and area. The primary role of naturalists is to educate the public about the environment. They also maintain the natural environment on land specifically dedicated to wilderness populations. Their primary responsibilities are preserving, restoring, maintaining, and protecting the natural habitat.

Algonquin PP visitors centre behind the scenes with Rick Stonks showing a collection of flora

What To Do At Algonquin Park In Winter

Some of the hiking trails closest to the Algonquin Visitor’s Centre and handy to some of the Algonquin Provincial Park Campsites are Spruce Bog Trail, Beaver Pond Trail, Big Pines Trail and Lookout Trail. If you’re looking for a good place near the Algonquin Provincial Park Visitor Centre to launch your canoe, you’re in luck. The Sunday Creek Access Point is in the vicinity. A map of Algonquin Park can be obtained at the Visitor Centre when they are open. Or check at one of the gate offices when they are open.

Algonquin PP Blue Jay visits camp site

Please note that this is not the place to go if you want to rent snowshoes or other equipment. Head to East Gate Gatehouse for those. During the lockdown, these facilities are not available. Before heading into the park, please consult the Ontario Parks website. Be sure to check which facilities are open to the public at this time.

You can read about my experience camping in a Yurt at Algonquin Provincial Park by clicking here. If you would like to read about my favourite hikes on the Barron Canyon Trail with my kids, you can do that by clicking here.

If you aren’t into glamping, or any other Algonquin Provincial Park camping and lodging options, there are some alternative accommodations. Look to try accommodations on the outskirts of Algonquin Provincial Park. Check out some of these accommodation options (this site pays me a commission for booking at no charge to you!):

The Friends of Algonquin Provincial Park have an Algonquin Park Wild Bird Live stream on Youtube. If you’d like to see who is at the feeder, check it out there:

If you have been to Algonquin Park in Ontario, you may have been to the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. It opened in 1993 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Algonquin Provincial Park