Ontario — Attractions
Many of Canada’s most famous attractions are situated within Ontario, from the world famous Niagara Falls to Toronto’s iconic CN Tower. Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, includes the world’s longest ice skating rink in winter as well as many of the nation’s finest museums. Canada’s oldest provincial park, Algonquin Provincial Park, contains more than 745 miles of rivers and streams, as well as over 2,400 lakes within its large land mass, which sits roughly halfway between Toronto and Ottawa.
The unparalleled view of Toronto’s skyline from the highest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere can be enjoyed in many ways. It takes under a minute for the CN Tower’s half a dozen glass elevators to reach the SkyPod observation deck on the 147th floor of this iconic structure which towers more than 1,815 feet above Ontario’s provincial capital. It takes the 360 Restaurant approximately 72 minutes to complete its full rotation around Toronto’s skyline, an especially lovely view at sunset. The view from the SkyPod extends as far as the state of New York and Niagara Falls on clear days, but looking down on the glass floor is not recommended for anyone who fears heights.
Address: CN Tower, 301 Front Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2T6
Although Niagara on the Lake’s vineyards have now surpassed the once popular honeymoon destination of Niagara Falls as Ontario’s most romantic getaway, the falls themselves remain among Canada’s most famous natural landmarks. Visitors can sail beneath Niagara Falls on the Maid of the Mist vessel, soar above the falls inside the Whirlpool Aero Car, or simply walk during the Journey Behind the Falls tour. Colorful lights between sunset and midnight on summer evenings, and fireworks displays on weekend summer evenings make Niagara Falls an even more spectacular sight.
Address: Southern Ontario
None of Canada’s family-oriented theme parks are larger than Canada’s Wonderland, open between May and October at its location north of Toronto, in the suburb of Vaughan. Canada’s Wonderland has welcomed more visitors than any other North American seasonal theme park, thanks in part to its 16 roller coasters, which amount to more roller coasters than any amusement park outside of the United States, and Splash Works water park, whose wave pool is Canada’s largest. Canada’s Wonderland contains a total of more than 60 thrilling rides and 200 attractions within its eight themed areas.
Address: Canada’s Wonderland, 9580 Jane St, Vaughan, ON L6A 1S6
Every 15 minutes, the Peace Tower’s 53 bells sound in the middle of Parliament Hill, Canada’s official seat of government. The government buildings surrounding the Peace Tower are intricately carved with gargoyles and hundreds of other figures. Although Canada’s House of Commons and Senate aren’t always in session, visitors are able to take guided tours of the chambers and enjoy the 360 degree view of Ottawa from the Peace Tower’s observation deck. Parliament Hill’s front lawn is the location of daily Changing the Guard ceremonies on summer mornings and impressive sound and light shows at night. Parliament Hill becomes even more colorful during Ottawa’s Christmas Lights Across Canada and Canada Day celebrations.
Address: 111 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The 126-mile long Rideau Canal may be most famous for its status as the world’s longest outdoor skating rink in winter, but after the ice melts, this canal, originally built in 1832 as protection against a potential war with the United States, transforms into a popular boating site. Each of the 45 locks on the Rideau Canal between Rideau Falls and Lake Ontario are fully staffed with picnic facilities, bathrooms, and places for people to dock their boats. Visitors can fish in the Rideau Canal’s waters or cycle or hike across the adjacent Rideau Corridor. Each August, Ottawa hosts the Rideau Canal Festival, the first festival in Canada to try to achieve a carbon footprint of zero.
Address: Rideau Canal National Historic Site, 34 Beckwith Street South, Smiths Falls, ON K7A 2A8
Algonquin Provincial Park
Spanning an area one and a half times larger than Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, Canada’s oldest provincial park, is part of the unofficial boundary between Ontario’s rural north and more urban south. Many of Algonquin Provincial Park’s more than 2,400 lakes and 745 miles of streams and rivers were created by retreating glaciers after the last Ice Age. Algonquin Provincial Park’s convenient location about halfway between Ontario’s two largest cities, Toronto and Ottawa, makes it a popular retreat from big city living. The park contains more than 1,200 campsites, 19 trails of various lengths and difficulty levels, a logging museum by its west gate, and even weekly August wolf howls.
Address: Algonquin Provincial Park, P. O. Box 219, Whitney, ON K0J 2M0
Bruce Peninsula National Park
As part of the UNESCO Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, Bruce Peninsula National Park is both one of southern Ontario’s biggest protected areas and most popular nature retreats. The same cedar trees have towered over Georgian Bay’s pristine waters for more than a millennium, while the Bruce Trail is merely the longest of the park’s many hiking paths. However, the park’s most spectacular landmarks are the rugged giant cliffs hanging high above Georgian Bay.
Address: Bruce Peninsula National Park, P. O. Box 189, Tobermory, ON N0H 2R0
Fathom Five National Marine Park
Flowerpot Island, named after its surrounding cliff stacks where trees and other vegetation grow, is the most unusual landmark in Canada’s only officially designated marine park. The other main attractions within Fathom Five National Marine Park are the numerous shipwrecks which lie beneath Georgian Bay and which visitors can see either aboard glass-bottomed boat tours or up close and personal by scuba diving.
Address: Fathom Five National Marine Park, P. O. Box 189, Tobermory, ON N0H 2R0
Point Pelee National Park
No point in all of mainland Canada lies further south than this sand spit just over six miles long on Lake Erie’s north shore. This small national park stands at the same latitude as northernmost California and its forest vegetation is more similar to that of North and South Carolina than northern Ontario. Bird and butterfly watching are Point Pelee National Park’s most popular activities, especially during the spring Festival of Birds, when the park celebrates the return of several migrating songbirds from their winter homes, and the fall migration of monarch butterflies.
Address: Point Pelee National Park, 1118 Point Pelee Drive, Leamington, ON
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Although Lake Superior Provincial Park is now easily accessible along the Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste Marie and Wawa, there was no road access to this sprawling park at the time of its original 1944 creation. This park on Lake Superior’s northeast shores includes one of Ontario’s biggest First Nations rock art collections, the Agawa Rock Pictographs. The park’s Coastal Trail, among Ontario’s most challenging hiking trails, takes between five to seven days to trek along a scenic 40-mile stretch of Lake Superior coastline. All 152 of the park’s campsites are situated within easy walking distance of the largest of the Great Lakes.
Address: Lake Superior Provincial Park, P. O. Box 267, Wawa, ON P0S 1K0