7 alternative attractions in Ontario you may not have heard of

Haliburton Sculpture Forest in the Autumn

In between the cities of Toronto and Ottawa, the Haliburton Sculpture Forest in Glebe Park is a unique and unusual collection of outdoor artworks. Canadian and international artists have contributed pieces to the forest, with some inspired by Canada’s history and Indigenous people, and others inspired by nature. Walking or biking through the forest in each season brings a different perspective, but for a particularly colorful display head here a little off-season in autumn, when the orange and yellow leaves start to fill the forest floor.

St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market and Mennonite Country

Step back in time to experience a simpler life in quaint St. Jacobs, a village steeped in Mennonite heritage. Start your day at the famous St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, held on Thursdays and Saturdays year-round, additional on Tuesdays during Summer month, where hundreds of vendors display their wares. It’s a bustling place with Old Order Mennonite farmers, artisans, furniture makers and buskers. Be sure not to leave without trying an apple fritter!

Catch the horse-drawn trolley tour that provides the rare opportunity to visit a Mennonite farm. Or explore the countryside by bike with Grand Experiences. Browse antique, craft and furniture shops in the Village’s downtown, and purchase some of the finest quilt work in the world. Visit the Maple Syrup Museum of Ontario. Stay overnight in a charming inn and enjoy cuisine that showcases the bounty of regional growers.

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Spread out along the coast of Lake Superior, this provincial run park offers a wide variety of terrain and attractions. If you’re a fan of diverse, scenic campsites, adventurous hiking trails and ancient rock paintings, this is the place for you. The Agawa Rock Pictographs consist of 35 fascinating red ochre images thought to have been there for centuries. They’re accessible via a short but rugged trail off the Trans Canada Highway 17 in the park, and are among the few pictograph sites in Ontario accessible by foot.

Hike through the Algoma Hills or spend time by the water’s edge, trout fishing, paddling or exploring one of the eight canoe routes. More than 250 bird species have been identified within the park, which is also home to red foxes, beavers, reindeer, lynx and bears.

Wawa

Away from the calm waters of the beach, the rapids and waterfalls are a thrilling way to experience the municipality of Wawa

” height=”3753″ width=”5634″ layout=”responsive” class=”i-amphtml-layout-responsive i-amphtml-layout-size-defined” i-amphtml-layout=”responsive”>

Away from the calm waters of the beach, the rapids and waterfalls are a thrilling way to experience the municipality of Wawa

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The municipality of Wawa on the northeastern shore of Lake Superior is an amazing place for anyone looking for a remote wilderness adventure. Waterfalls and rapids thunder down its inland rivers while hiking trails weave across the entire Canadian Shield. Wawa Beach is the main beach for the local community in Algoma Country. There are long, sandy shores with calm waters perfect for paddling, canoeing, fishing and kayaking. There are picnic tables, a beach house and washrooms, plus the Heritage Walkway, which looks out over the lake and on to the connecting Lions Park.

Hamilton Waterfalls

Niagara Falls is undoubtedly the best known of Ontario’s waterfalls, but in the port city of Hamilton there are more than 100 others tucked in the trails of the Niagara Escarpment. They’re all found just minutes from the downtown core, making for great day and weekend breaks (while still having restaurants and shops close to hand). Head to Smokey Hollow Falls in Waterdown for a leafy forest fall, or to Devil’s Punchbowl for beautiful multi-coloured rock formations in the gorge. With June and July providing the least rainfall throughout the year in the province, this is the best time to experience them – early mornings and weekdays give the best chance of experiencing the waterfalls during a quieter time.

Burlington

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RGB), located on the border of Burlington and Hamilton, bristle with blooming tulips and forsythia in Spring

” height=”2832″ width=”4256″ layout=”responsive” class=”i-amphtml-layout-responsive i-amphtml-layout-size-defined” i-amphtml-layout=”responsive”>

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RGB), located on the border of Burlington and Hamilton, bristle with blooming tulips and forsythia in Spring

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

On the shores of Lake Ontario, Burlington is a smaller city between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Things move at a gentler pace here, with nearby parks and gardens providing hikes, rock climbing and cycling, plus plenty of farms and markets. But Burlington is best known for its cultural life and its Royal Botanical Gardens. Here, there are over 1,500 plant types. Meanwhile the Art Gallery of Burlington has a large collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics.

Blue Mountain

The Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood can be reached in just two hours from Toronto

” height=”3744″ width=”5616″ layout=”responsive” class=”i-amphtml-layout-responsive i-amphtml-layout-size-defined” i-amphtml-layout=”responsive”>

The Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood can be reached in just two hours from Toronto

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest mountain holiday resort, but it’s also the only one to be open throughout the year. It’s beneath the Niagara Escarpment, on the shores of Georgian Bay, reachable from Toronto in roughly two hours. The town is mostly known for its skiing, but the scenery is incredible throughout the seasons. The resort is very much family-focused, with activities that are child-friendly and softer on the adventure side, like scenic hikes and gondola rides. But for the slightly more hardcore there’s downhill biking and dramatic caves to explore, with Scandinavian Spa a perfect place to relax after a long day’s adventure.

Leave a Comment