If you’re looking to give your family the ultimate “together” experience this year, you could rent a cottage or vacation home in one of Ontario’s most popular waterfront communities—or you could take the road less traveled and experience one of these truly unforgettable destinations in the province.
Fun fact: There are actually 1,864 islands in this scenic St. Lawrence River archipelago, which sits between Ontario and New York State. In the region, you can go on scenic boat tours, spot lighthouses and castles, visit a number of National Historic Sites, and explore Thousand Islands National Park. Book a stay on a boat or on your own private island, and really get away from it all!
Butter Tart Tour
There are a number of delicious food trails in Ontario, but one of the most popular might just be the one formally known as the Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour, introduced in 2011. Today, the year-round attraction—which can be experienced by car, motorcycle, bike, and even (in part) by boat— includes more than 50 sweet stops in the Kawarthas Northumberland region. And if that’s not enough tarts for your sweet tooth, you can always extend the journey by completing the Butter Tart Trail in nearby Wellington County, too.
Rideau Canal Skateway
For a few months each year, typically from January to March, Ottawa’s iconic Rideau Canal becomes the Rideau Canal Skateway, a 7.8 kilometre naturally frozen ice rink that’s popular with tourists and locals alike. If you can, visit during the first three weekends of February, and you’ll also get to experience the Winterlude annual festival while skating on a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Bruce Peninsula
Avoid the summer crowds and schedule your next trip to the stunning Bruce Peninsula in the fall instead. It won’t be as difficult to schedule a visit to top attractions like Flowerpot Island in Fathom Five National Marine Park and the Grotto cave in Bruce Peninsula National Park, and you’ll be able to capture the fall colours on the peninsula’s many hiking trails.
Located less than an hour from Toronto, Caledon’s Cheltenham Badlands are provincially designated as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) and an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). Available to visit by reservation, this otherworldly site includes an accessible boardwalk and two short trails. The best time to visit the Cheltenham Badlands is in the fall with the beautiful foliage, nearby apple orchards, and a number of conservation areas.
Lake Superior Ice Caves
For a truly one-of-a-kind winter adventure, book a vacation home near Sault Ste. Marie in February or March, and plan your trip around the ice caves of Lake Superior. You should consider booking an expert-led tour—these snow-and-ice formations aren’t always accessible or safe to visit—but it’s sure to be an awe-inspiring experience if you get lucky with your timing.
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve
Designated in 1999 as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s first-ever Dark Sky Preserve, this unique conservation area in Ontario’s cottage country offers 360-degree views for stargazing and 5,000 acres of trails for hiking and mountain biking. Bonus: Rent a vacation home or cabin near Torrance Barrens, and you’ll also be a very short drive from the amenities and attractions of Gravenhurst.
Want to embrace the ultimate “together” experience this season? Learn more about renting a cottage with the help of Vrbo.