While Toronto has plenty of activities and attractions, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city and see some of the countryside. Whether you are living in Toronto and looking for a fun weekend trip or visiting on holiday and want to experience some of the incredible nature and attractions that Ontario offers, these are the best day trips from Toronto.
How to Get Around
While public transit within Toronto is fantastic, getting to some of these attractions outside the city via train or bus can be quite challenging. It is recommended to rent a car for most of these day trips as it is way faster than public transit. We recommend using Rentalcars.com, which filters through hundreds of rental car websites to give you the biggest bang for your buck!
Also, keep in mind that the traffic in and around Toronto is some of the worst in the country, so it’s best to leave as early as possible to beat the rush hour and make the most of your Toronto day trip.
1. Niagara Falls
Obviously, Niagara Falls has to make the list as it is one of the most popular places to visit in Ontario, possibly even Canada. Not only is this city home to one of the largest waterfalls in the world, it also boasts a fantastic nightlife scene and plenty of activities for travelers of all ages.
The main street in Niagara Falls is Clifton Hill. Here, tourists will find tons of attractions like the famous Nightmares Fear Factory, one of Canada’s scariest haunted houses, and the Great Canadian Midway, a large indoor arcade. Other attractions on Clifton Hill include fun houses, family-friendly haunted houses, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, the Niagara Skywheel, miniputt, go-kart racing, bowling, and much more! You name it, it’s here. For those looking for some adult fun on Clifton Hill, check out the Beer Garden, the Niagara Brewing Company, or the Casino Niagara.
On a day trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls, you are going to want to experience the falls, and there are plenty of ways to do this. Thrill-seekers can get incredible bird’s-eye views of the falls while zip-lining beside them at WildPlay Niagara Falls Zipline to the Falls. For those less inclined to fly through the air at high speeds, you can hop on a boat and get up close and personal with the falls on the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour or head to Journey Beyond the Falls and go behind the Niagara Falls via tunnels and observation decks. If you’re feeling adventuresome, another way to view the falls is with Niagara Helicopters. The company offers an incredible tour of the whirlpool rapids, Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Rapids, American Falls and, of course, Niagara Falls.
Other fantastic attractions in the area include Great Wolf Lodge and Waterpark and Fallsview Casino and Resort. Niagara Falls is about a 1.5-hour drive from Downtown Toronto. You can also take a two-hour train ride from Toronto Union Station or go by Megabus.
2. Wasaga Beach
Wasaga Beach, located roughly two hours north of Toronto, is one of the best places to visit near Toronto. This picturesque Canadian town is located on Nottawasaga Bay and offers 14 kilometers of beautiful sandy beaches and fresh water to swim in.
There are five different beach areas in Wasaga. Beach Area 1 is where you will find the most people as it is home to the boardwalk, which offers shops, bars, beach stores, and much more. Beach Area 2 is more family-friendly and offers plenty of grassy park areas and sandy spots to play, have a picnic, and enjoy the beach. There are also bathrooms and a playground here. Beach Area 3 has a dog-friendly area, while Beach Area 4 boasts a more quiet, local feel away from crowds.
While the beach is the main attraction in Wasaga Beach, there are other activities to check out in the area. Tourists can rent canoes or kayaks to paddle down Beaver River or the Nottawasaga River from Free Spirit Tours or take one of their paddle-and-wine tours. If you’re looking for some entertainment for the kids, then check out the Wasaga 500, where there is a 1.6-kilometer go-kart track, batting cages, and two miniputt courses, or Wasaga Adventure Park, where you’ll find ax throwing, paintball, archery tag, and much more! If skydiving is on your bucket list, you can do that here, too, with SkyDive Wasaga. If you’re going to throw yourself out of a plane, you might as well do it where you’ll get incredible views of Georgian Bay!
In winter, visitors can rent skis and go cross-country skiing on 24 kilometers of well-kept trails at the Wasaga Nordic and Trail Center, located in Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. There are also 7.5 kilometers of snowshoeing trails through the forest.
3. Cobourg Beach
Cobourg is a beautiful lakeside town located on Lake Ontario, about 1.5 hours from Downtown Toronto. The town boasts gorgeous 19th-century architecture, boutique shops, and plenty of small-town charm. Probably the biggest attraction here is Cobourg Beach and the town’s harbor. Visitors can lounge on pristine sandy shores or head over to the Cobourg East Pierhead Lighthouse to jump off the pier into the lake. There are plenty of restaurants near the beach to grab lunch at, or you can get a poutine from one of the food trucks on the beach. If you want to make your day trip into an overnight trip, you can also camp right on the beach at Victoria Park Campgrounds.
4. Hardy Lake Provincial Park
While Hardy Lake Provincial Park isn’t the most popular provincial park, it’s a local favorite and tends to be less busy than parks like Arrowhead or Algonquin.
The park is one of the best short trips from Toronto for those who want to get away from the crowds and do some hiking. It is a pet-friendly area that does not allow motorized vehicles or horseback riding, meaning hikers and bird-watchers only. If you own a canoe or rent one nearby, you’re also welcome to canoe through the lakes. There are many trails in Hardy Lake Provincial Park, and most of them go along Hardy Lake or nearby lakes, offering great views and swimming for those visiting in summer. The longest hiking trail here is nine kilometers long and will take you through tall pine trees, over bridges, and into peaceful parts of nature. All of the trails are well marked, so even beginner hikers won’t get lost. You can check out a map of the trails here.
The park is considered nonoperational, which means it doesn’t have a visitor center or operational hours, and it is maintained by the township. However, there is a small parking area and toilet at the starting waypoint. The trails are open all year round and are especially beautiful in fall with the changing foliage and in winter as the snow and ice are nearly untouched.
After a day of hiking, you’ll drive through the town of Gravenhurst on your way back to Toronto. There you can get a bite to eat at the popular Dock of the Bay Steak & Seafood Grill on the water. If you feel like you’ve earned a little more than water or juice after the hike, then head over to Sawdust City Brewery to sample some well-deserved craft beers.
5. Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain Ski Resort and Village is another obvious suggestion, but it’s a classic, so it has to make the list of the best day trips from Toronto!
For those of you who don’t know, Blue Mountain is one of the most popular ski resorts in Ontario; it’s located just outside Collingwood, about two hours from Toronto. Blue Mountain Village offers outstanding amenities and attractions. There are plenty of boutique shops and fantastic restaurants to eat at, as well as bars and clubs for aprés ski partying. Visitors can relax in outdoor baths or indulge in a massage at the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain, ride the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster through the forest, ride the Open-Air Gondola to the top of the mountain, or let the kids splash around at the Plunge! Aquatic Center.
In winter, the slopes open and offer some of the best skiing in Ontario, with 42 trails, 30 lit night trails, and three terrain parks. Enjoy skating through the forest at Woodview Mountaintop Skating or go snow tubing at the resort! Other nearby winter attractions include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the Scenic Caves Nature Adventure.
In spring, summer, and fall, there is still plenty to do at Blue Mountain. The Scenic Caves Nature Adventure offers zip-lining, minigolf, and hiking trails over suspension bridges and into caves. Blue Mountain Resort also offers fantastic golfing at the Monterra Golf Course and family-fun activities like low-rope and high-rope courses, rock-climbing, and much more at Blue’s Adventure Park. There are many hiking trails nearby to check out as well.
Are you looking to experience a charming Canadian small town? Then make your way to Bobcaygeon, located in the Kawartha Lakes, two hours from Toronto.
Legendary Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip sang about the beauty of Bobcaygeon for a reason. It’s perfectly perched on the Trent–Severn Waterway between Pigeon Lake and Sturgeon Lake, making both sunsets and sunrises unforgettable. Visitors can wander through small boutique shops, eat lunch beside the water, or stroll through the bustling farmers market on Saturdays. The town also hosts fun events throughout the year, including the Carnival of Chaos and Concerts in the Park. Check upcoming events in Bobcaygeon here.
If you’re planning on taking the little ones with you on a day tour from Toronto, then consider visiting the Kawartha Settlers’ Village, where you can stroll through a village of over 20 historic homes and buildings while learning about pioneer life. The bonus is that children under the age of five are free! If you want to spend a day on the water, then consider renting a boat at Buckeye Marine.
7. Webster Falls and Tews Falls
Both of these impressive waterfalls can be found in the Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area along the Niagara Escarpment in Hamilton.
This lovely conservation area features both the waterfalls and a panoramic lookout point that are not to be missed. There are two main trails in the park. The first is Tews Falls to Dundas Peak, which takes between one and two hours to walk. Within the first five minutes of walking from the Tews Falls parking area, you’ll come across two observation decks overlooking the 41-meter gorge at Tews Falls. The falls here tend to dry up in the summer months if there hasn’t been much rain, but it’s still a beautiful trail to walk. The real highlight of this trail is Dundas Peak, from which on a clear day you can see all the way to Hamilton Harbour and McMaster University.
The second trail is the Webster Falls hike, which is more stroller-friendly and shorter. The curtain waterfall here doesn’t dry up in summer like Tews Falls, so it’s the safest bet for catching a glimpse of a working waterfall. Local folklore tells the story of a native princess from the area whose hand was promised in marriage to a young chief of the Erie Nation. However, the young girl had fallen in love with another man from the Seneca Nation whom her father did not approve of. The two lovers lost all hope and decided a life without each other was not a life they wanted to live. They held each other close and jumped off the cliff edge into the rocky pool below at the waterfall. Legend says that the two can still be seen rising out of the water holding each other when the water levels are high and the moon is full, so keep an eye on the waters below when you visit! After the viewpoint of the falls, the trail will lead you across a beautiful cobblestone bridge to Dobson McKee Lookout, where you can get a look at Webster Falls from a distance. Further along the trail is the small cemetery of the Webster family, who once lived here.
Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area is roughly an hour’s drive from Downtown Toronto.
8. Pickering Museum Village
If you are looking for one of the best side trips from Toronto for families, then this is it! Step back in time with a visit to Pickering Museum Village. It is a living history village and museum depicting settlement life in the area from 1810 to 1920. It houses many historical buildings from the 1920s as well as an apple orchard, a church, a general store, and much more! Visitors can roam through the village, interacting with period characters and learning about the history of the area and how people used to live.
9. Scarborough Bluffs
The Scarborough Bluffs have become one of the most popular hiking trails outside Toronto in the last couple of years, and for good reason. The trails lead along the rocky cliff edges and shores of Lake Ontario, offering fantastic swimming spots and views of the bluffs, gardens, and water.
The bluffs stretch 15 kilometers along the lake and encompass 11 different parks. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Downtown Toronto or just over an hour by public transit. It is recommended you start at the Bluffer’s Park parking lot; from here, you can walk out to Bluffer’s Park Lookout and continue along the beach for however long you wish! If you are not fully into hiking, you can walk out to the lookout and back in 20 minutes, then head to Bluffer’s Park Beach on the other side of the harbor lot for a day of tanning and swimming on the sandy shores.
10. Brimacombe Ski Resort
Are you looking for a day trip from Toronto in winter? Then why not drive an hour east of Toronto to Brimacombe Ski Resort for a day skiing or snowboarding!
The resort features 23 runs, two terrain parks, a riglet park, and a snowcross course. There are trails here for every skier and snowboarder, too, from beginner runs and greens to eight black diamond runs. This is a great resort to get ski lessons for little ones as well, as the resort offers many packages and rentals for a reasonable price. Eleven of the runs stay open for night skiing, and visitors can get a warm meal at one of the two chalet cafeterias.
11. Mount St. Louis Moonstone Ski Resort
Another fantastic ski resort just two hours north of Toronto is Mount St. Louis Moonstone Ski Resort.
The ski resort has longer slopes than those found near Toronto, with the longest run being two kilometers. There are 36 trails, including 10 black diamond runs and an additional four terrain parks. Compared to Blue Mountain, Mount St. Louis has bigger terrain parks, so it’s better for those who are working on tricks. The resort also offers comparable rates for ski and equipment rentals.
12. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most popular in all of Ontario, but it does take a bit of a hike to get to. From Downtown Toronto, it is roughly a 3.5 hour drive, but trust us, it’s well worth it.
The park boasts stunning crystalline blue waters and dramatic cliffs, offering tourists a glimpse into Canada’s most pristine nature. Visitors can go hiking, mountain climbing, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and much more. The trail to the Grotto in Tobermory is probably the most popular one to go on as it leads to a small cave with breathtaking turquoise blue waters. Unfortunately, as of May 2022, you’re no longer allowed to swim in the Grotto, but you can swim on the shoreline in Georgian Bay beside it. The trail to the Grotto is about 45 minutes each way. If you want to make the hike longer, you can take the Halfway Log Dump trail to the cave. It’s roughly 7.7 kilometers long and takes three to four hours.
Another popular trail is the Burnt Point Loop trail. It is 4.5 kilometers long and takes about one hour to hike. Although short, it offers some fantastic scenic lookout points and views of the limestone cliffs.
The town of Bracebridge is located in the heart of Muskoka, which boasts some of Ontario’s best lake fun and activities. In this picturesque small town, visitors can spend the morning strolling through classic Canadian stores like Algonquin Outfitters as well as through boutique shops. There are also outdoor activities in the town, including hiking the Wilson Falls Trail and swimming in the river at Bass Rock Park.
In summer, tourists can head over to the sandy shores of Kirby Beach for a day of swimming in Lake Muskoka, then head to Muskoka Brewery to sample some fantastic craft beers. If you feel like having a picnic and chasing waterfalls, then drive to the High Falls Picnic Area and hike a few minutes to this incredible 50-foot waterfall! Another fantastic way to see the area is by cruising on the water with a 1.5-hour tour of Lake Rosseau and the surrounding cottage architecture with Lady Muskoka Cruises. One of the top attractions in Bracebridge for families is Santa’s Village: Muskoka’s Theme Park, a seasonal Christmas-themed park that offers tons of rides, a splash pad, a petting zoo and, of course, visits with Santa.
In winter, visitors can rent snowmobiles at Muskoka Wild or head to North Wood Ranch to go dogsledding. There is also ice fishing and skating on the lakes.
14. Fenelon Falls
Nicknamed the Jewel of the Kawarthas, Fenelon Falls is another fantastic small town to visit on a one-day trip from Toronto. Visitors can enjoy lunch at the Locker at the Falls Restaurant & Pub while overlooking the falls on the Fenlon River, then tour the town and shop in boutique stores. After walking through the town, head to Fenelon Falls Brewing Company for a pint of craft beer or make your way to Garnet Graham Beach Park for a swim. If you fancy a nice hike after lunch, then walk the Victoria Rail Trail through the town and surrounding forests. Every Friday from May to October the town also hosts a farmers market, where you can buy locally grown vegetables and goodies from vendors.
This charming small town is located 2.5 hours from Downtown Toronto.
15. Canada’s Wonderland
Located just north of Toronto in Vaughan is Canada’s #1 amusement park, Canada’s Wonderland.
The park boasts plenty of thrill rides, including the Yukon Striker, the world’s longest, tallest, and fastest dive roller coaster that features a 90° angle drop. There are 16 roller coasters at the park, as well as 13 high-thrill level rides and a large waterpark. For the little ones, there are plenty of fun rides in Planet Snoopy and Kidzville. Visitors of all ages can enjoy live shows like the Fall Out Stunt Show and the Victoria Falls High Divers, as well as kids-themed shows like Snoopy’s Symphony of Water and the Peanuts Block Party. The park transforms into Halloween Horror nights in October, with scary characters, themed haunted houses, and mazes for visitors to explore and get a thrill!
The park is located roughly 40 minutes north of Downtown Toronto by car or just over an hour by public transit.
16. Cedar Park Resort
Are you looking for a family-friendly day trip this summer for the kids? Well, then, visit Cedar Park Resort an hour from Downtown Toronto in Bowmanville.
This fun-filled park offers plenty of activities that are sure to keep the kids and adults busy. Play a round of minigolf at the miniature golf course, or head over to the tennis courts to work on your swing. There are also beach volleyball courts, a playground, and plenty of shelters where you can set up a picnic. The most popular attraction at Cedar Park Resort is the Aqua Play Park, which boasts waterslides, a splash pad, and pools! A day of playing at the park will definitely lead to a quiet car ride home as the kids will be wiped.
17. Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
Calling all car lovers! Want to catch a race at one of Canada’s top racetracks? Then head over to the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for a day of racing fun!
The park features three professional-grade race tracks, with the most notable being the Grand Prix Circuit. Here you can watch high-speed motorcycle and car races, including the Chevrolet Grand Prix and the Castrol Victoria Day SpeedFest. There are events pretty much every weekend from May to October, so keep an eye on the park’s event calendar to see what’s up next on the race track.
18. Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail
Get out of the city and into nature (grapevine-filled fields, we mean) with a day tour of some of the best wineries in the Saint Catharines and Niagara area. This area is known to produce grapes for the iconic Canadian ice wine. There are 53 wineries in the Niagara Escarpment area alone and an additional 37 wineries near Niagara-on-the-Lake, with the most notable wineries being Jackson Triggs Niagara Estates and Wayne Gretzky’s Estates.
You can plan your own winery day tour at Wine Country Ontario, or you can check out this half-day wine tour from GetYourGuide.
19. Glen Abbey Golf Club
Spend the day at one of the best golf courses near Toronto. Glen Abbey Golf Club was designed by legendary golf golfer Jack Nicklaus and is a public course, so it’s easy to access without a membership. Many notable golf events have been held here, including PGA events and many Canadian opens. The club is also home to the Canadian Golfers Hall of Fame and Golf Canada. Glen Abbey Golf Club is located about 45 minutes from Downtown Toronto.
20. Arrowhead Provincial Park
Last on our list is one of the most favored parks in all of Ontario, Arrowhead Provincial Park. Located about 2.5 hours from Downtown Toronto, this park is perfect for activities in all seasons.
In winter, visitors can go skating through the forest on the park’s 1.3-kilometer ice trail, cross-country skiing on 28 kilometers of trails, or snowshoeing on eight kilometers of well-kept trails. Don’t have winter gear? No problem. Rentals for snowshoes, skates, and skis are available at the park.
Summer and fall are the perfect time to go hiking or canoeing in the park. There are five hiking trails in the park, with the longest being Beaver Meadow Trail, which is seven kilometers long and takes about two hours to hike. Highlights of this trail include Porcupine Bluff, where there are leftover shorelines from an ancient lake, and the beaver pond, where visitors can try to spot otters, beavers, moose, and other wildlife! Canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and mountain bikes are available to rent at the visitor center, too.
There you have them, the best day trips from Toronto. Whether you’re looking to visit a small town, chase waterfalls, or go dogsledding, all these activities are here – and more. All you have to do is make sure your tank is filled with gas and hit the road. Happy day-tripping!