6 fun fall getaways near Toronto

October 5, 2017

By Marisa Baratta

We in Ontario are some of the few to enjoy the rich colours of fall each year. Thanks to our many natural parks, conservation areas and celebrated Canadian beauty, Ontario offers a multitude of getaway spots for autumn leaf-gazing, historic adventures and guided ghost tours. Whether you’re looking for a fun day trip or a weekend getaway, Ontario’s treasure trove of trips offers many moments to remember. Here are six fun fall getaways to plan this year. [Photo credit: iStock]

6 fun fall getaways near Toronto


Beloved Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara-on-the-Lake is reputed to be one of the best vacation spots in Ontario thanks to its wineries, shops and charming downtown. On your way there take in the luxurious sight of the Niagara Escarpment’s changing red, orange and yellow canopy of leaves.

Stay at one of the many beautiful B&Bs, stroll down Queen Street to check out the lovely shops and picnic by the lake at Queen’s Royal Park. Be sure to make a pit stop at the iconic gazebo built for the set of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, starring Christopher Walken and Martin Sheen.

Speaking of history, Niagara-on-the-Lake is steeped in it. The town played a notable role in the War of 1812, which provides much fodder for ghost tour groups in the area. Get in the Halloween mood and get to know the area’s rich history through a guided ghost tour of Niagara-on-the-Lake or nearby Fort George.

Historic Hamilton
One of our biggest neighbours to the west, Hamilton is a one-stop shop for fall. And we mean waterfalls too – the city is home to more than 90 waterfalls and, this time of year, these incredible views are made even more spectacular against a backdrop of red, orange and yellow leaves.

Hamilton also offers a handful of museums for the history hungry. Feast your eyes on Dundurn Castle, a national historic site featuring an impressive 1830s home replete with resplendent columns, 40 rooms and sprawling grounds overlooking Burlington Bay.

After a guided tour, consider extending your historical hangout with one of Hamilton’s many ghost walks. Get a fresh perspective on downtown Hamilton, the Hermitage Ruins or Canada’s largest Masonic Cathedral, a 120-year-old building known as the Scottish Rite. Hamilton’s got plenty of history and conservation areas to explore!

Serene Stratford
A two-hour drive from Toronto, Stratford is a serene spot with many public gardens, perfect for autumn leaf-gazing. Centre your visit around the Avon River, bordered by trees displaying their changing colours. You can stroll along the path, rent a boat or bike, cruise along the river, or picnic at Upper Queen’s Park and soak up the sights. And be prepared to see swans – lots of swans – as Stratford is famous for them.

You may have heard of something called the Stratford Festival. It’s no surprise that this theatre-loving town is home to Shakespearean gardens, offering literature and nature lovers a chance to see more than 60 types of plants tied to Shakespeare’s time and his works. To dive deeper into the town’s history, pay a visit to the Stratford Perth Museum, located on seven sprawling acres of property off Huron Road. And if you’re a Belieber, be sure to visit Justin Bieber’s favourite hometown spots.

Should the brisk fall air get you in the mood for going indoors, browse the many local shops or cozy up with tea, coffee or your favourite treat at one of the local cafés or restaurants.

Craving culture in the Waterloo Region
There’s something about fall that makes us think of pioneer villages. Travel back in time to early Canada when you explore 35 historical buildings in Rockton’s Westfield Heritage Village. It’s easy to fill an entire afternoon with exploration, plus special events take place on site for autumn, Thanksgiving and Halloween.

If being outside surrounded by autumn leaves is your cup o’ tea, enjoy a peaceful nature walk among falling leaves at Cambridge Riverside Park, Dumfries Conservation Area, Shade’s Mills park or any of the city’s conservation areas and parks.

Not to be missed is one of the region’s most famous festivals: Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, taking place from October 6 to 14, 2017. Celebrating the area’s German heritage, Oktoberfest features plenty of food, music, entertainment and activities for the whole family.


Ottawa, our nation’s capital
In autumn, our green spaces wear some of the most colourful clothes in their wardrobes, so come see some fantastic fall foliage at Ottawa’s many beautiful parks and gardens, including Major’s Hill Park, the Arboretum, Hog’s Back Falls and Rideau Hall, the official workplace of Canada’s governor general. The Ottawa River provides a picturesque starting point, with historic monuments dotting the way to Parliament Hill, where you can take a free tour of one of our country’s most iconic buildings. Stop at the Byward Market for lunch (fellow Mexican food lovers: don’t miss Corazon de Maiz!) and continue along the Rideau Canal.

What’s a trip to our nation’s capital without a history lesson? The whole family will love the Canadian Museum of Nature and the unique experience located a one-hour drive away at the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum. Spice up your evening with one of Ottawa’s famous ghost tours – you won’t forget it.

So much to see and do in Kingston
History, restaurants, a lakefront – Kingston’s got it all.  Make it an overnight trip and spend a couple of days exploring Kingston’s many historic attractions. Start your day downtown with a walk by the lake, a self-guided tour of City Hall and lunch at one of the many nearby restaurants (make sure to leave room for Mio Gelato).

You can drive over to Fort Henry for a guided tour and potentially see the drum show, or take the trolley over to Bellevue House to visit the home of our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Hop in the car for a quick visit to the Canada's Penitentiary Museum and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a guided tour of the Kingston Penitentiary across the street (be sure to book in advance). Your evenings will be adventurous, too, with plenty of options for 1000 Islands cruises and guided ghost tours of downtown Kingston or Fort Henry.

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