Ontario — Things to Do
Most Ontario activities fall into two distinct categories - big city attractions within Toronto and other major southern Ontario cities and the plethora of ways to enjoy the outdoors in Ontario’s far more sparsely populated north. Centrally located Georgian Bay is a popular sailing spot in summer and a skiing destination in winter, while northwestern Ontario alone boasts no fewer than 3,355 miles of canoe routes, more than anywhere else on Earth.
Wasaga Beach, the biggest freshwater beach on the planet, is just one of the surprisingly numerous beaches along the four Great Lakes surrounding Ontario. Niagara on the Lake may be Ontario’s most famous wine growing region, but Pelee Island, the southernmost point in all of Canada, and Essex County aren’t far behind.
Ontario also hosts a large number of live theater performances. George Bernard Shaw’s plays are spotlighted at Niagara on the Lake’s Shaw Festival, the Bard’s works are the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s main focus, and Toronto ranks third only behind New York City’s Broadway and London, England’s West End as an important theater center.
Paddling Ontario offers no fewer than 83 different canoeing trips through the province’s 3,355 miles of paddling waterways. From relaxing weekend retreats to Algonquin Park, to rigorous white-water runs through northern Ontario’s most rugged wilderness, paddlers can easily choose the canoeing trip which best suits their experience level. Many of these canoeing excursions also include lessons and lodging.
The Ontario Trails Council helps visitors decide which parts of Canada’s biggest province they want to explore by hiking. Much of Ontario’s extensive trail network belongs to the larger National Trail network, which stretches coast to coast across Canada. The Voyageur and Bruce trails will eventually merge into a single 1,118-mile trail connecting the northwest Ontario city of Thunder Bay with the Niagara region.
Ontario boasts an equally large number of scenic cycling trails, many of which can be explored with the help of Bike On Tours, one of Ontario’s most reputable bicycle tour companies. Eastern Ontario’s Bay of Quinte, the Rideau Canal, the Trent Canal, and the St Lawrence River are among the province’s most popular cycling routes. The Bruce Peninsula, the Niagara region, and the shores of Lake Erie are also pleasant to explore by bicycle.
The Georgian Bay area is Ontario’s most popular sailing spot, with several chartered boating tours to choose from. Companies like Discovery Yacht Charters and Cosmos Yacht Charters take passengers across Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, and even to the world’s biggest freshwater island, Manitoulin Island.
Ontario’s numerous freshwater lakes and rivers are also loaded with fish waiting to be caught. Lake Huron is the territory of Dwindle’s Dream Fishing Charters, while Salmon Express, as its name suggests, organizes Lake Ontario salmon fishing excursions not far outside of Toronto.
Polar Bear Outfitters, based in the northern Ontario community of Cochrane, organizes moose hunting excursions to isolated James Bay wilderness regions which are accessible only by air. Hunters content with smaller game, however, may prefer the deer, turkey, goose, or duck hunting expeditions by Grey Bruce Outfitters.
Snowmobiling becomes the most popular way to explore Ontario once the snow starts falling, and each of the province’s diverse regions has its own experienced snowmobile tour guides. Come Play In The Snow specializes in northeastern Ontario snowmobile rides, while North-X-Ride organizes northern Ontario excursions around the James Bay coast.
Ontario Uncorked allows wine lovers to plan their own customized tours of the province’s finest wineries, but most other Ontario winery tour companies specialize in specific regions such as Grape and Wine Tours, based in Niagara’s world famous wine country. Ontario’s wineries stand at the same latitudes as two of the world’s other most renowned wine producing regions, northern California and France’s Bordeaux area.