Did you know that every year, 43 million folks choose Toronto as their destination in Canada? In fact, the city, which was once called “lac de Taranteau” (and now, “The 6”), welcomed 43.7 million visitors in 2017! 5 million of those were international visitors, with the rest being Canadians themselves.
As impressive as those stats are, these also mean being elbow-to-elbow with other souls. Finding yourself in a cramped High Park can no doubt put a damper on your adventures.
The good news, there are tons of other outdoorsy and less-packed places to visit near Toronto. Heads up, as these are Canada’s natural gems that aren’t Niagara Falls (although you should still pay it a visit).
Ready to satiate the dendrophile or limnophile in you? Then let’s get this list of the top places to visit around Toronto started!
Elora Gorge Conservation Area
If you’ve been to the Highland Titles Nature Reserve in Scotland, we’re 100% sure you loved it. Don’t worry though, as there are many Ontario spots you’ll love as much (or even more so).
One such magical place is the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, found in Elora, Ontario. It’s one of the best day trips from Toronto, as it’s only less than two hours by car.
Hikers will love the scenic views of the Grand River rushing past below them. If you want to be in the water, then better get yourself in a tube or a kayak to conquer the rapids. The river also affords access to some of the best fishing spots in town.
Plus, the Elora Gorge is only one of the 12 conservation areas you’ll find in the Grand River valley. That means more outdoor spots for you to lose yourself in (or maybe do some soul searching). If you still have time, head to the Elora Quarry for a quick, refreshing dip!
Regardless of the season you’re in Toronto, adventures await you at Rattlesnake Point. It’s super easy to get to, as it’s situated less than 45 miles from the city (about an hour drive).
Ready yourself for some jaw-dropping views from one (or all) the five scenic lookouts in the area. It also has 17 campsites to choose from, where you can gaze at the night sky and catch (or maybe wish upon) falling stars. It’s one of the best areas for hiking near Toronto too, as the park has three trails for you to enjoy a nature walk on.
If you’re visiting during the fall season, be sure to hike up the Buffalo Crag Lookout Point. This is one of the best spots to see the park in its full autumn colors. You can enjoy winter camping and hiking if you’re visiting during the snowy season.
Collingwood Scenic Caves
Only about two hours from The Six is the Town of the Blue Mountains. What makes this one of the special spots in the entire country is that it’s home to caves over 450 million years old!
So, go on and explore the glacial-carved, history- and heritage-packed Scenic Caves. Be sure to walk along the 420-feet Suspension Footbridge too. Not only is it the longest in Southern Ontario; it also gives you incredible 360-views of greenery.
There are plenty of other attractions near the caves, including conservation areas. If you’re looking for a more educational tour, there are plenty of historical sites here. You can also simply enjoy the scenery and pass by streets lined with apple blossoms.
Flowerpot Island is part of the fascinating Fathom Five National Marine Park. Its name comes from its rock pillars reminiscent of flowerpots. There are also caves to explore and rare plants that you’ll likely see for the first time ever.
There are also plenty of trails to hike and less-crowded swimming areas. What’s more, there are sunken shipwrecks for you to dive and discover! Picnicking is also allowed (and recommended), so be sure to bring some goodies with you.
Getting to Flowerpot Island requires more effort though, as you can only reach it via water. It’s to the north of Tobermory Town in Ontario, which is less than four hours from Toronto. If you can spare at least a day though, it’s one spot you shouldn’t miss.
Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve
For all you astrophiles out there, the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve is a must-see. Situated in Gravenhurst, ON, it’s only a couple of hours from Toronto by car.
Here, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind stargazing experience like never before. Embrace the pitch-black surroundings with only thousands of stars illuminating everything else. If you’re lucky, you may catch the sky in glorious yellow, pink, green, purple, and blue hues.
The Ghost Town of Balaclava
Ready to inject some serious thrills and chills into your vacation? Then you should consider driving to the Ghost Town of Balaclava, which is four hours from Toronto.
Balaclava is way better than all those creepy ghost towns you’ve seen in films. Because it’s an actual, real-life abandoned town in Eastern Ontario. It was once a thriving rural community made prosperous by the lumber industry.
Today though, what’s left of the town are its ramshackle buildings. The only sounds you’ll hear are those from creaking doors and windows. Those and the occasional cries of the wind.
You’re free to check out the town on your own but better if you have company. If you look closely, you may still see the lumbering machinery and tools the townspeople used. Or you may see something else that we haven’t.
Don’t Miss These Places to Visit Near Toronto
As you can see, there are plenty of other spots to head to if you run out of adventurous things to do in Toronto. These places outside of the city are sure to satisfy the nature lover in you.
So, be sure to update your itinerary to include these top places to visit near Toronto! Don’t forget to browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle and travel tips too!