We love Niagara wine tours too, but Ontario day trip ideas certainly don’t stop there. Ontario offers so much to explore that we don’t even need to travel far to experience something exciting and new.
If you want to expand your horizons but don’t want to travel too far from home, why not check out one of these Southern Ontario attractions?
St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market
Located just a few minutes from Waterloo, St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market is a great choice for anyone who enjoys shopping for fresh local food, antiques, handmade goods and tons of other offerings from more than 300 vendors. The two-storey market building is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. During the summer, you can also enjoy the outdoor flea market.
This region has the largest population of Old Order Mennonites in the country, so you can partake in activities that celebrate tradition and the simple pleasures of rural farm life.
- Travel to a local Mennonite farm via a horse-drawn trolley
- Take a traditional buggy ride
- Tour a maple sugar bush during sap run season
- Enjoy sleigh rides during the winter
- Take a ride on the heritage railway
All of these activities are bound to make you hungry. In addition to farm fresh produce, this farmers’ market offers an amazing variety of ready to eat foods to enjoy. There’s truly something for everyone, so you don’t need to compromise on where to eat lunch. Indulge in delicious comfort food and international cuisine, with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options available.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens in the Burlington/Hamilton area is a family-friendly place for education and taking in the beauty of nature. On any given weekend, you’re likely to find a large variety of fascinating events taking place across RBG’s attractions, which include:
- RBG Centre
- Hendrie Park
- Rock Garden
- Laking Garden
- Over 27 km of trails
- Fishway dedicated to preserving aquatic habitats for native species
Start your tour at the main RBG Centre, where you can find spectacular indoor and outdoor garden displays and event spaces. We recommend the year-round beauty of the Cacti and Succulent garden and the outdoor Natural Playground for kids of all ages. Don’t forget to enjoy a locally sourced meal at the Greenhouse Café before you head out to explore everything else the botanical gardens have to offer.
- The Arboretum is home to a gorgeously landscaped park that features all of your favourite wooded plants. The Lilacs and flowering cherry trees are the sight to see in the spring, but there’s plenty to admire in the summer, and of course the fall as well.
- Laking Park is home to a collection of flowering perennial plants. You can walk through the garden path to a belvedere lookout where you can take in a breathtaking 360° view.
- Don’t miss out on the newly renovated Rock Garden (which has a lot more than just rocks), and Hendrie Park, the largest of the RGB gardens.
- There’s so much to take in at RBG, it’s a good idea to map out your points of interest ahead of your trip to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area
If you’re looking for a place that offers spectacular natural beauty, the 33.8-meter Devil’s Punchbowl ribbon waterfall is definitely a sight worth seeing. You can also check out the equally photogenic lower falls and fantastic lookout view of Hamilton Harbour, Stoney Creek, and even the Toronto skyline on a clear day.
The Punchbowl itself is an ancient geological wonder that was created during the last ice age. You don’t have to be a geology nerd to appreciate the multicoloured layers of rock (including: limestone, red shale, and grey shale dolomite) that the gorge has on display.
The Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area also offers 11.5 km of hiking trails that start at the gorge and go through the Stoney Creek countryside and the Vinemount Swamp Forest.
After you’ve worked up an appetite from all of that hiking and sightseeing, there are plenty of quality local eats, like the Punch Bowl Market & Bakery, which is located minutes from the falls.
Spirit Tree Cidery
If you’re looking for a destination that offers the best of food, drink, and nature, then Spirit Tree Cidery in Caledon might be the perfect destination for you and your crew. Spirit Tree offers the same amenities and natural beauty of a winery, but with apple orchards and award-winning artisanal cider.
You can choose from Spirit Tree’s selection of sweet (non-alcoholic) and hard ciders made from apples picked from their orchards and locally sourced flavours like pear, cranberry and pumpkin.
Spirit Tree is a choice local destination for foodies. Check out the bakery and farm shop where you can get mouth watering specialties to go. Best of all, you can enjoy food served up from the Ciderhouse Bistro while enjoying the gorgeous view from the patio dining area.
Stop by for a weekend tour or book a group tour, and keep an eye out for fun events like themed trivia nights.
Elora Quarry & Grand River Parks and Conservation Areas
Our favourite Grand River park, Elora Quarry, is closed for the year, but there’s a number of close-by alternatives to enjoy! This area features a wealth of outdoor activities that will help you get away from it all, if only for a day or weekend.
Enjoy the natural beauty of these parks while:
- Camping & picnicking
- Swimming and boating
- Tubing at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area may also be available later this season.
We’re fortunate to live in such a big, beautiful province, and day trips are the best way to explore our extended community without investing too much time and money into planning and travel. We hope that you and your fellow explorers get the chance to enjoy some of our favourite Ontario day trip ideas. Get out there and chart a course for your own day trip adventure!