Travelzoo Tips: Ontario
We asked our members to share the must-see places in their own communities. Here are their tips for Ontario.
Visit the world’s largest freshwater archipelago at Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Ontario
“For people interested in nature and wildlife -- and in beaches -- this is the best place to go. It is a great place to visit for one to three days to see examples of southern and northern plants and wildlife. The beaches on the east side are sheltered and calm, while the west side offers moderate surf. I recommend a two-day sea kayak trip around the main island, Beausoleil.” --Brian, Travelzoo member
Go Back in time on the Magical Lakeside Park Carousel in St. Catharines, Ontario
“This is truly a hidden gem! The Lakeside Park Carousel [built between 1898 and 1905] is an amazing antique carousel that you can ride for just 5 cents. All of the animals are hand-carved. The accompanying music takes you back to days long past and is played on an antique band organ that uses paper music rolls. My granddaughter thinks she is a princess while riding the horses that also move up and down. It’s an experience connecting our past to the present!” -- Marilyn, Travelzoo member
Glide on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal during Winterlude
“My tip would be to check out Winterlude in Ottawa -- and while you’re there, strap on some skates and go for a glide along the Rideau Canal. It’s so cool to see all the commuters in the morning skating to work. How Canadian is that!?!”--Meredith, expat
All the sand dunes, none of the sharks at Ontario’s Sandbanks Provincial Park
"Sandbanks Provincial Park is one of the many great travel sites in Prince Edward County, Ontario. You’ll find great beaches with hiking trails and camping grounds -- and wineries, resorts and entertainment are a short drive away. It’s like being at a freshwater ocean park with no sharks :-)!" -- Travelzoo member Greg
Try the sophisticated evening offerings at Toronto’s museums
Travelzoo deal expert Amanda Blake suggests avoiding the busloads of schoolkids and checking out the special evening events at these popular Toronto attractions.
ROM: Friday Night Live at the ROM is a great way to see the museum, taste local Toronto cuisine and enjoy local musical talent. There are two seasons per year, fall and spring, with additional off-season events. It is a 19+ event. Early bird tickets are $15 — or become a ROM member and only pay $5. I think as an adult, this is the only way to visit the museum. Ripley’s Aquarium: Friday Night Jazz happens the second Friday of every month from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. There’s live music and cash bars located throughout the aquarium. Friday Night Jazz is included with Sharks After Dark or Express Anytime general admission or you can buy a Jazz Night only ticket; prices vary by age and ticket type. Bonus tip: If you buy an Express Anytime Aquarium ticket, you will also receive 25% off the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Niagara Falls. AGO: Held the first Thursday night of every month, AGO First Thursdays are a 19+ event with a cash bar and live music. Check out the latest exhibition, then join the party! Admission and party tickets start at $23 for non-members; party-only tickets are $13. Tickets sell out fast so book in advance. Bonus tip: The AGO is free to visit every Wednesday from 6pm-9pm.
Call up some history at the Bell Homestead in Brantford, Ontario
“It’s where Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone -- possibly the most important invention in history. The tour is worth the visit, but they also offer lunches and dinners at certain times.” -- Travelzoo member Christopher
Visit Almonte, Ontario, the birthplace of basketball inventor James Naismith
“While you're downtown, take a stroll along the River Walk, stop in at Baker Bob's for coffee, amble along Mill Street, maybe head over to The Barley Mow Almonte for a bite to eat, or Cafe Postino. Sit and have your photo taken next to the statue of James Naismith. Stop in at Hummingbird Chocolate Maker -- a world class chocolate manufacturer -- and head over to Equator Coffee Roasters. We also put on outdoor festivals. In summer, the Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival and Light Up the Night in celebration of the Christmas season.” -- Sandra, Travelzoo member
Rise and Dine at the CN Tower
"If you reserve a table at 360, the restaurant at the CN Tower, your trip up the tower is free! -- Travelzoo deal expert Mandy Michals
Chuck Hughes suggests tasting the bounty of Prince Edward County
"There’s something unique about how they grow vegetables and produce the wine. You can taste it. You can actually taste it in the food," says celebrity chef Chuck Hughes. Read more in our special feature that follows Chuck and colleague Danny Smiles across Canada on their new Food Network show, “Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip.”
Enjoy Family Saturdays in Toronto
Take the Labatt Brewery Tour in London, Ont.
"It's a really well-done tour that includes a lot of information, from the role the brewery has played historically all the way through to the packaging plant, which is super-cool to see up close. Did I mention you get to sample five different brews too? All for $12. It's great bang for your buck and a lot of fun!" -- Member Jenny
Dive into the Grotto at Bruce Peninsula National Park
Who said you had to head south to scuba dive? With numerous shipwrecks to explore, Tobermory, Ont. is sometimes called the scuba diving capital of Canada. The Grotto, a rock cave in Georgian Bay, is "an underwater National Park" and can be enjoyed by snorkellers too. -- member Vickie
Try a new take on camping in Canada's National Parks
Explore Ontario's Maple Trail
Bike the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto
"Get a great view of the city after a long hike or a bike ride. This is a conservation project in the city so it is a great place to see some of the projects at work. Great for bird watchers. In addition there is a lighthouse by the end of the location. Best of all it is free. Although, parking spaces maybe an issue but you can get to the entrance by bus." -- Jason
Visit McCrae House in Guelph, Ont.
"This is a fascinating look at the life and times of John McCrae, the author of "In Flanders Fields." Close by you can visit the awesome edifice of the Church of Our Lady, which overlooks Guelph, then pop next door to the Civic Museum, which is the converted nunnery and offers some amazing artifacts and insight to Guelph's history. The old Albion Hotel directly across the street offers great food and drinks to sustain you after all that sightseeing." -- Member Sandra
Spend some time in Stratford, Ontario
It has everything you need to find peace: a historic downtown with picturesque shops, restaurants that offer delicious local food, art festivals and of course theatre. There’s also an amazing lakeshore, as well as parks, bridges, flowers and swans. It is an authentic Canadian town full of kind, lovely people. -- Member Dilek
Go Boating on the Rideau Canal, Ontario
Check out the Big Nickel in Sudbury, Ontario
"The Science North science centre is the best, and there are lakes and nature to enjoy all year round."
See Canadian Sites Named for the Queen
Visit the Firefighters’ Memorial in Kitchener, Ont.
“It’s a gorgeous bronze statue situated in a small park near the library and the Centre in the Square theatre. There are many benches to take a moment to relax and reflect.” -- Member Jacqueline
Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site in Dresden, Ont.
"When we have visitors from away, Uncle Tom's Cabin heads our list of great places to visit. The small staff is very friendly, educating visitors about that period in history. There is a very good film, as well as artifacts that have been gathered and well displayed in a museum and in reconstructed buildings. We think it would be a nice couple of hours for most people!"
-- Member Marilyn
See the Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay, Ont.
"Terry Fox was a great Canadian hero, and this is a special place to reflect on his outstanding achievement and memorialize how far the research of The Terry Fox Foundation and the Terry Fox Run have come." -- Member Marlene
Go to the Caribana Parade in Toronto
"It's fun, colourful and a memorable experience. There's music, costumes, food and people of all ages having fun and celebrating the Canadian West Indian culture." -- Member Heather
Hike Beamer Memorial Conservation Area in Grimsby, Ont.
"It has beautiful hiking trails through an old Carolinian forest. Viewing platforms allow for stunning views of Lake Ontario. On a clear day you can see both Toronto and Niagara Falls in the distance. Beamer Falls itself is magnificent, especially during the spring run off. In spring, hawks and other raptors use the warm updrafts as they migrate north. An elevated raptor viewing platform is provided for those with cameras and/or binoculars to get a closer view of the spectacular birds of prey passing overhead. And the best part of all this - it's free!" -- Member Alistair
Travel by Rail to Agawa Canyon, Ont.
"In Canada we are blessed with natural phenomena that can compare with the best anywhere," writes member Armand. His example is Tip 96: Take the train from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. to the Agawa Canyon and glide past "pristine lakes and rivers, undulating mountains, huge granite rock formations and dense mixed forests of the Canadian Shield." -- Member Armand
See Places Associated with Famous Canadian Books
In her guest blog, travel writer Ilona Kauremszky shares places associated with beloved children's classics.
Taste the Bread and Honey Festival in Streetsville, Ont.
"The Bread and Honey Festival in Streetsville, Mississauga, is the perfect size, with enough rides, games and activities to keep teenagers or families entertained, but never overwhelmed. Now in its 45th year, it's held the first weekend of June with a parade on Saturday and pancake breakfast on Sunday. Two elements really set this fair apart: the idyllic setting on the banks of the Credit River, and the free slices of bread and honey handed out to hungry guests." -- Member Susan
Head to Collingwood, Ont., for the World's Largest Elvis Festival
Each summer, the Collingwood Elvis Festival attracts fans and performers from around the world; even Priscilla Presley has attended.
See the Flowers at Ottawa's Ornamental Gardens
"The Ornamental Gardens at the Central Experimental Farm should definitely be on the list when visiting Ottawa. Access to the Gardens is free from dawn to dusk, and great collections of specimens of roses, lilacs, irises and many perennials are there for everyone’s viewing pleasure."
Relax at Alexander Muir Park in Toronto
"It's named after the man who composed 'The Maple Leaf Forever.' The summer garden is beautiful -- it's a beautiful park in the middle of the city." -- Member Imelda
Spend the night in Algonquin Park, Ont.
"Camping out far from city lights, the dark, starry sky is absolutely amazing. Wonder at the Milky Way and count shooting stars. If you're lucky, you might even see the Northern Lights." -- Member Jan
Discover Canada's First National Urban Park
Rouge Park, Toronto is Canada’s first national urban park "There's a lagoon off Lake Ontario with all kinds of water life and birds," says member Dawn. "Wander through the plant life along the creek, see various birds and plants and be pleasantly surprised by an elegant crane standing in the tall grasses along the river."
Road Trip Along the Niagara River
Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake has "great wineries" and the drive from Niagara Falls is "spectacular," says member Sonia. "You drive along the Niagara River with plenty of places to hike and picnic, and lots to see and do, including the cable car over the whirlpool, the floral clock and the butterfly sanctuary."
Tour Toronto's Casa Loma
"The history of how Casa Loma became an outstanding landmark and the rags-to-riches-to-rags-again story of the man behind it was captivating. A worthwhile day excursion to take it all in, including the estate, the stables and the beautiful gardens." -- Travelzoo member Dana
Visit St. Jacobs Farmers' Market in Waterloo, Ont.
"Going to the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market on Saturday morning has become a habit for our family. Not only because of the farm-fresh produce, meat, cheese, baked goods and even fresh-cut flowers from hundreds of vendors, but also for the history, culture and heritage of the Mennonite people. Every visit is full of pleasure and sometimes surprises." -- Travelzoo member Annie
Head South to Ontario's Pelee National Park
"The southernmost point in Canada is also home to many of Canada's migrating birds. Don't forget to stop at nearby Pelee Winery." -- Travelzoo member Hugh
Celebrate Canada Day on Parliament Hill
Ottawa is the spectacular epicentre of Canada Day celebrations. Plan to pay a visit on July 1, or pay tribute to this amazing country in your own community -- fireworks optional!