Looking for some easy day trips from Toronto to get out of the city? Ontario is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Part of the charm of living in this province is to hop in the car and seek out farmers markets, conservation areas (there are 500!), beaches and parks along the Great Lakes.
We like to find a stretch of the Bruce Trail that we haven’t explored yet, pack a lunch and hit the road. But if you want more concrete plans for your Ontario day trip ideas, we’ve got you covered!
The other day, we suggested the best weekend getaways from Toronto, well, today we want to share ideas for quick day trips from Toronto. Sometimes, you only have a day, and these excursions will allow you to get back to the city and tuck yourself into bed for a good night’s sleep.
Easy day trips from Toronto
As we continue to hear good news about vaccines coming to arms, I can’t help but start dreaming of getting away from it all. I don’t know about you, but I have COVID fatigue and even though I’m staying home right now, that doesn’t mean I’m not making plans for the future. It looks like Ontario is going to be my playground for the foreseeable future, and that’s awesome, because there are so many things to do in Ontario from Toronto. Be aware that some places may be closed due to restrictions, be sure to check with Ontario Parks, Conservation Authorities or Parks Canada for openings and reservations. Many trails require advance reservations.
Getting around Ontario
Most day trips from Toronto require a car. Ontario is a very manageable province, but if you want to get to some provincial and national parks, check out the Park Bus which offers trips from downtown Toronto.
When we didn’t have wheels, we rented a car. You can check rental prices here.
Our favourite day trip from Toronto is to head to Milton. Located just 40 minutes from the city, it’s an easy getaway with plenty of things to do. The Kelso Conservation area takes you to the Niagara Escarpment, where there is a great ski hill for snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter months.
In the summer, Kelso becomes a great place for mountain biking. You can park in the parking lot at the top so you don’t have to hike up the ski hill to get started (we made that rookie mistake the first time we biked here).
Located on the Bruce Trail, it also has some great hiking. The Lime Kiln trail does not allow mountain bikes, so it’s a great option.
(40 minutes from Toronto)
Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo.
For climbers, the nearby Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area and Mount Nemo have some of the best sport climbing routes near town. Located just 10 minutes from each other, we’ve often checked out the routes at Rattlesnake Point and moved to Nemo after doing the ones that were within our limits. They are also very close to Milton.
If you have no lead climbing experience, book a course with On The Rocks. We used them back in the day to first learn rappelling and top roping.
(45 minutes from Toronto)
Who would have thought Hamilton was so full of beautiful waterfalls, but it is. And Hamilton has become one of the most popular day trips from Toronto for that reason.
Take a day to hike to some of its waterfalls. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hamilton are Webster Falls, Albion Falls and Tews Falls. There are 100 waterfalls in the Hamilton area, so take advantage of the summer to take day trips from Toronto to see them all.
(1 hour from Toronto)Since this lovely pandemic ruined a lot of outdoor activities, you now have to book appointments to hit the trails in Ontario. In a way, this is a good thing, because in recent years the trails have been overloaded. So if you want to explore Hamilton Falls, be sure to book ahead here.
Spencer Gorge Conservation Area
In the Hamilton area, Spencer Gorge Conservation Area is one of the best places in Ontario to see fall colours. And most people know it. It’s very busy. But there’s a reason for that: the hike to Dundas Peak offers the best view in the area.
I know it’s part of Hamilton’s list of waterfalls, but it deserves its own space on our list. The Tews Falls Side Trail takes you along the Niagara Escarpment to Tews Falls and then up to Dundas Peak for views of Hamilton and Dundas. After the hike, spend some time exploring Dundas and Hamilton. There is plenty to do.
It’s a bit of a drive, 2 hours from Toronto, but Dave and I have driven to Blue Mountain Village many times for just a day. In the winter, we snowboard the Blue Mountain hills, and in the summer, there is great mountain biking and hiking. It’s nice to spend some time strolling around Blue Mountain Village while enjoying an ice cream cone or the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
Blue Mountain has plenty to keep you busy during the day with the Ridge Runner roller coaster, a zip line, and a golf course.
Scenic Caves Collingwood
I think one of the first day trips we took from Toronto was to the Scenic Caves in Collingwood. You can do a self-guided tour or book an adventure with Scenic Caves Eco Adventures.
Getting to the Scenic Caves is half the fun, as you have to cross Ontario’s longest suspension bridge. If you book an adventure, you’ll also do some ziplining!
Collingwood is 2 hours from Toronto
It’s worth going to Collingwood just for the Scandinave Spa. If you want a relaxing escape from the city, the Scandinave Spa is an outdoor system of hot pools, saunas, steam rooms and waterfalls. Spend the day in a spa surrounded by the Niagara Escarpment.
Learn to Dirt Bike in the Ganaraska Forest (1 hour and 10 minutes from Toronto).
If you’re looking for a day trip idea from Toronto, head to Ganaraska Forest, Trail Tours and take a dirt bike riding course. You don’t have to have any dirt bike experience and by the end of the day, you’ll be jumping over logs, and whizzing through the woods with ease.
Ferris Provincial Park
If it’s a suspension bridge experience you want, a visit to the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge in Ferris Provincial Park near Cambleford is a good option.
This suspension bridge, which spans the Trent River, is part of a 10 km trail network. So you can see this beauty with fantastic views while spending the day in nature. But you can access it in less than 1 km if you just want to see the bridge. Another trail allows you to reach the bridge after an easy 3 km hike.
I worked as a singer at Canada’s Wonderland for 3 seasons and they were the best summers of my life. If you like roller coasters, Wonderland is full of them and this huge amusement park is the perfect excursion from Toronto.
I’ve had friends who live in Toronto buy season passes to the water park so they can escape the city and relax in the pool or enjoy Canada’s largest wave pool. It’s a huge park and many people in Toronto purchase a season pass to escape the city on a regular basis.
(30 minutes from Toronto)
Stratford (1 hour and 40 minutes from Toronto).
Stratford is home to the world famous Stratford Festival. With three theatres in town presenting Shakespeare’s plays, it attracts top actors from Canada and the United States.
The festival has been running since 1953 and the town has taken advantage of the influx of crowds and tour buses. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, hotels and museums to spend a day exploring along the scenic Avon River.
Okay, it’s an obvious choice for a weekend getaway from Toronto, but Niagara Falls can also be easily visited in a day. Just 90 minutes from Toronto, you can be at the falls at sunrise and, with an adventure pass in hand, you can see the main attractions in a day.
Seriously, we’ve done Niagara Falls in a day several times. The trip behind the falls, the Hornblower (formerly Maid of the Mist), the Whitewater Walk, and the Whirlpool Cable Car can all be done in one day. We even included a couple of wax museums and Nightmares on Clifton Hill in our day trip.
Make things easier with these Niagara Falls day trips.
Niagara on the Lake
For a more relaxed Toronto excursion, Niagara on the Lake is the perfect place to stock up on Ontario wines. If you want to add some excitement to your leisurely stroll through the heritage buildings downtown, book a trip on the Whirlpool Jet Boat. Afterwards, you can head to historic Fort George for a reenactment of 1812.
Elora is a great day trip from the city. In high school it was the popular place to head to during a free afternoon to relax at the Elora Quarry, but today it has evolved into a quaint village with a charming pedestrian plaza, the Elora Mews, to do some shopping and grab a coffee while strolling the streets.
The star attraction is the Elora Gorge. With hiking trails along the cliffs for panoramic views of the Grand River. The Grand has become one of Ontario’s premier tubing and kayaking spots. The Elora Quarry has been featured in many Hollywood movies, most notably Stephen King’s IT.
(1 hour and 20 minutes from Toronto)
We recently moved to this small town from Paris and it wasn’t until we lived here that we realized how much there is to do here. Located on the Grand River, we regularly paddleboard and kayak along its banks. After a day of paddling, enjoy lunch at Stillwaters on the Grand and stroll down its unique shopping street. You can also bring your bike, as the bike trails in this area are incredible. We can go all the way to Ancaster on the bike trails through Brantord and the Ontario Centres.
Be sure to visit Quincy Mills Market to stock up on cheese and jams, and from there walk to Lion’s Park for a beautiful view over the Nith River.
(1 hour 10 minutes from Toronto)
Speaking of Brantford, it’s becoming a good tourist destination in Ontario. Visit the Bell Homestead, where Alexander Graham Bell made his first phone call. This historic place was the home of the Bell family, located on the Grand River. You can go tubing and kayaking along the beautiful river, and Brantford also has a Casino! I recommend combining Paris and Brantford in one trip.
(1 hour and 10 minutes to the city centre).
For awesome mountain biking in Ontario, head to Hardwood Hills. We’ve spent many a relaxing day at Hardwood Hills. It is the quintessential mountain biking destination in Ontario. You can easily spend the day here. We always start with an easy green run to warm up and then head out on some of the single track black diamond trails. They have a cafe to stock up on food, and offer mountain bike rentals and lessons if you’re inexperienced.
(90 minutes from Toronto)
Caledon has become super popular thanks to Instagram-worthy photos of the Cheltenham Badlands. While you’re in the area, stock up on cider at Spirit Tree Cidery and grab yourself a bushel of seasonal apples. (Yes, I can devour a bushel of apples in a couple of weeks).
Biking and mountain biking are also available in the area. Our favorite is Albion Hills Conservation, about 15 minutes from Caledon. It has great hiking and biking trails. And there’s also camping if you don’t want to go back to Toronto just yet.
(45 minutes from Toronto)
Another city on the banks of the Grand River, Kitchener Waterloo is another easy trip from Toronto. We’ve been frequenting Kitchener a lot lately, and it’s worth a trip out of town to see it.
Waterloo has quickly become a major tech hub in Ontario, with Google and Blackberry having offices there, as well as 500 tech startups. As a result, the cities Kitchener Waterloo boasts chic cafes, vegan restaurants and farmers markets in the downtown core.
(1 hour and 15 minutes from Toronto)
St. Jacob’s Farmers Market
One of the region’s main attractions is the St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market, Canada’s largest year-round farmers’ market. The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is an indoor tropical garden filled with fluttering butterflies.
There are great bike trails, in fact we’ve cycled from Paris to Kitchener Waterloo along the Grand and you can do some paddling and tubing on the Grand River. Part of the tri-cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, it’s a great destination for a road trip. Jacobs Be sure to also visit the quaint town of Galt.
(90 minutes from Toronto)
Toronto has great beaches on Toronto Island, the Beaches and Scarborough Bluffs, but if you’re looking for a day trip out of the city, check out Wasaga Beach. It has some of the warmest water in the province and the 14 km stretch of beach is the longest freshwater beach in the world.
(1 hour and 40 minutes from Toronto)
Dave and I used to drive up from Toronto just to get a hot dog in the Arbor, but it’s a lovely town to visit for a day out of Toronto. You can take a nice walk to the lighthouse pier, walk down main street and do some shopping and enjoy some sun on their sandy beach. We like to start here and then take a stroll along Lake Erie to Turkey Point and Port Burwell, stopping at the wineries and breweries along the way to help fill our bar at home.
Peterborough and the Kawarthas
Going to the cottage region is a good day out. Peterborough is in the centre of the cottage region and this city has plenty of things to do. Situated on the Trent Severn Waterway, there are quite a few day trip ideas for this area. Start at Lock 21, a National Historic Site that is the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world, and go from there. Visit the Canadian Canoe Museum, shop for art at the Whetung Ojibwa Craft Centre, where you can support local artists, and visit the Reptile Museum. Finish with dinner at the Publian House Brewery.
(90 minutes from Toronto)For more information about Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes visit The Kawartha’s.ca
Prince Edward County
It’s just a short drive from Toronto out of the city and into wine country. The sunflower and lavender flower fields have been a big draw in recent years. But be respectful and take photos from afar. Don’t wander into the fields and ruin the crops.
Presqu’ile and Sandbanks provincial parks are popular for their sandy beaches and dunes in Sandbanks Provincial Park. And the vineyards to explore the local wineries are one of the best things to do. We always enjoy touring Ontario wine country to fill our wine rack and discover new vineyards.
(2 hours 10 minutes from downtown Toronto)
Algonquin Provincial Park
We’re getting a little far out for a day trip from Toronto, but if you’re looking for a nice long trip, Algonquin Provincial Park is quite beautiful. Algonquin Outfitters offers guided day trips around Oxtongue Lake to give you a taste of what a multi-day trip through Algonquin Park would be like. Once you’ve been to Algonquin Provincial Park for a day, you’ll find that you’ll come back again and again for a longer weekend getaway.
These are our favourite day trips from Toronto. But there are so many places to visit in Ontario that are only a couple of hours from the city. Where have you gone on a day trip that you love? Let us know, we’re putting together our list for the summer!
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