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Get outside, Ontario!

July 3, 2024

Sometimes, the natural wonder of Canada can get lost in the pavement of the GTA stretch. Often mocked by those out-of-province, Ontario is larger than Spain, Germany, and France. It is home to breathtaking destinations that will allow you to appreciate the world around you fully. Below is a list of hotspot destinations to explore with friends or take a break yourself. Generally focused on low-cost, outdoor adventures, we hope this list inspires you to go beyond the cliche sightseeing of Niagara Falls and the CN Tower. 

1. Raney Gorge Suspension Bridge 

Open daily, year-round, and located in picturesque Campbellford. The Raney Gorge Suspension Bridge is unlike anything else. The bridge sits 30’ above Raney Gorge, south of the falls. Once you reach the other side, you can access Ferris Provincial Park's hiking trails. As a bonus, Campbellford is also home to Dooher's Donuts (Bakery), which offers an array of delicious donuts and was voted the “Sweetest Bakery in Canada!” in 2018.  

Address: Ferris Provincial Park entrance Trent Dr, Campbellford, ON K0L 1L

2. Tobermory

If you want to be taken out of Ontario and into a tropical destination, Tobermory’s crystal clear, blue waters achieve escapism like nowhere else. At the top of the Bruce Peninsula, the area is local to the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Biosphere Reserve and the Niagara Escarpment. It is one of the province's most beautiful and naturally preserved areas. Rich with history and activities for visitors, Tobermory offers the wildlife and natural heritage Canada is known for. 

Address: Bruce Peninsula National Park, Tobermory, ON N0H 2R0

3. Cheltenham Badlands

Once the bed of an ancient sea, this stretch of over 90 acres is a favourite for amateur photographers. Located in Caledon, outside of Brampton, the Cheltenham Badlands offer a sight similar to that of the badlands found in Australia or Alberta. Hike, walk your dog, bird watching, or use it as the set for your latest film project. This is the only destination on this list to charge an entrance fee, as most national parks do.

Address: 1739 Olde Base Line Rd, Caledon, ON L7C 0K6

4. Cobourg Beach - Cobourg

Cobourg Beach is a great place to escape for a beach day close to home. It is an accredited Blue Star beach that’s a short walk away, where the waters are much prettier than those along the shores of the GTA. A short 30 minutes east on the 401 will allow you to pass through picturesque small-town Ontario. With tons of patios and ice cream shops to beat the heat, your day will surely be a blast. Bonus stops include filming locations of hit movies and TV shows, such as blockbuster IT and Netflix’s Ginny and Georgia.

Address: 138 Division St, Cobourg, ON K9A 3P3

5. High Falls in Eels Creek - Peterborough

If you’re into chasing waterfalls, Ontario is the place for you. Many small waterfalls go by the name ‘High Falls’ regionally. Today, I’ll draw your attention to High Falls in Peterborough. Starting at Eel’s Creek and heading up to High Falls, this hike is popular and moderately challenging. However, there’s more to Peterborough than hiking trails. It is often called the ‘Gateway to the Kawartha” as Peterborough is home to the Otonabee River, which connects Lake Ontario to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It costs nothing to stop and watch boats be lifted to the water level by the historic lift locks or window shops along the eclectic storefronts downtown.

Address: North Kawartha, ON K0L 2H0

6. Ganaraska Parks

Located just outside of Port Hope and Peterborough, Ganaraska Forrest has a variety of experiences that will ensure you feel like one with nature. Their tree-top trekking courses are a great way to get outside your comfort zone! A physical adventure for those of any skill level, tree-top trekking is a great bonding exercise with a mix of physical thrill. Ganaraska Forrest’s tree-top trails are home to one of the most challenging courses in Ontario, and they offer night treks. If that’s not your style, enjoy feeling the rush of the zipline, a good game of geocaching, or just take a regular hike through the trails. Are you looking to end your day off memorably? Haute Goat Farm is nearby, offering combo packages so you can enjoy your afternoon to the fullest with some furry friends.

Address: 10585 Cold Springs Camp Rd, Campbellcroft, ON L0A 1B0

By Anjolina Rankin-West