Leave all that city stress behind as you take in some of these natural or exciting adventures, making the most of living in beautiful Ontario without ever driving the 401. From Niagara Falls to Kingston, you have plenty of options for a getaway if you don’t have a car — whether you want to plan a day trip or a weekend getaway.
Listed here are 25 trips (arranged in no particular order) for your weekends. The trips use a combination of GO transit/Via Rail and the local transit. No trip will take more than 2.5 hrs (if on time) including change times (calculated through Google maps). Basic directions are from Union Station. From your location within the GTA, use Triplinx or Google maps to plan your trip.
The world famous Niagara Falls are three waterfalls that straddle the Canadian-American border — both sides of which have become an incredibly popular tourism destination. And for good reason! Niagara, Ontario has built a town ready to entertain you both in the daytime and into the evening. With cruises to get close to the falls, world-class restaurants, and even an amusement park — all of which boasts unique views of the falls — it’s easy to get your fill of falling water at this famous destination.
How to get there: Take the Aldershot GO Train from Union Station, then transfer at Burlington Station to the #12 Bus, which will take you to the Niagara Falls bus terminal, where you can catch a WE GO bus that will take you anywhere in Niagara that you would like to go.
Or take the seasonal Go Train.
In 2017, Monseysense Magazine ranked Burlington the ninth best city to live in in Canada, and the best mid-sized city overall. If you live here, at least hop on the local train and spend a day in this rapidly populating city to see what all the hype is about. Whether you want to spend a day exploring city attractions, or a day exploring the natural side of this lakeshore community, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Burlington.
How to get there: Take the Lakeshore West line of the GO Train towards Aldershot, where you can disembark in the heart of Burlington. For a faster, though more expensive alternative, you can take VIA Rail towards Windsor and disembark at Aldershot Station.
Three things to do: Check out the Royal Botanical Garden that showcases the best of Ontario plants, its rose garden, Art Gallery of Burlington to enjoy the art scene which has taken off in this beautiful city, or head down to the LeSalle Marina to look out at the Lake or even fish from the pier. If golf if your thing, you’ve come to the right place. There are nine golf courses in Burlington for you to tee off at — which even includes courses where you can winter golf.
Caledon is special for being the largest city or town by area in the Greater Toronto Area, and though previously a rural community, Caledon is becoming more and more urban by proximity. This little-known community outside of the city has all the amenities you could need or want, while still retaining that rural small-town charm.
How to get there: Take the KI line of the GO Train to Brampton and then hop on the #37 Orangeville bus to get to the heart of Caledon.
Three things to do: Once in Caledon, take one of the walking tours of this historic town to get a full feel for the community. You can also check out the Alton Mills Arts Centre or walk along one of the conservation trails in the area. Jump back on the bus once you’re tuckered out — Toronto is less than an hour and a half away.
The Stratford Festival is one of Canada’s most celebrated theatre festivals, and is internationally recognized for its quality and size. There are twelve productions planned for 2018 exploring the theme of Free Will. Though the festival began as a way to produce the works of Shakespeare, it has since grown to include contemporary works of theatre as well. The Stratford Festival takes place from April to October every year in the town of Stratford, and features exhibitions and events as well as the acclaimed performances. Many prolific film and theatre careers have been kickstarted at Stratford, so pay attention to the performers and see if you can spot a celebrity.
How to get there: Take the VIA Rail towards Sarnia and hop off at Stratford Station. This trip takes just over two hours. There is also a direct bus service from Toronto for those who are attending the festival that run on performance days.
Aberfoyle is a true country experience. Delight in farmhouse meals, farmer’s markets, and antique markets to your heart’s desire for a nostalgia-filled day of simple delights in the Ontario countryside. Located north of Puslinch, this day trip is one that will have you forgetting all your big city worries.
How to get there: To get to the town of Aberfoyle all you need to do is catch the #21 bus from Downtown Toronto then transfer to the #29 in Mississauga then disembark at Brock Road.
Three things to do: Once in Aberfoyle, you can spend your day shopping at the Farmer’s Market, which is famous for its variety, or stop by Days Gone By Antiques and see if you can find something to spice up your home. Not far up the road is the Aberfoyle Mill Restaurant which features a cozy farm interior inside a big brick house
Hamilton was nicknamed “The ambitious city” in the 1800s for it’s ability to stare down adversity and continue on. What used to be a city of industrialization has since built up a cultural heritage and has embraced its natural beauty. Explore Hamilton to explore the city that won’t give up, only an hour outside of Toronto.
How to get there: Take the #16 Hamilton GO bus for about an hour to get into Hamilton. Alternatively, you can take the VIA Rail to Aldershot Station then take the #18 Hamilton GO bus to Main Street.
Three things to do: Continue on Burlington bus #1 for fifteen minutes to get to Dundurn Castle, a neoclassical mansion and historical museum. You can also take the #4 bus or walk half an hour to the beautiful Bayfront Park, where you can have a picnic or take a stroll. Take the #20 bus to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum to learn about the history of Canada’s air force.
Barrie is known as “the gateway to cottage country”, which has made it a popular destination for people travelling to Ontario and those travelling out of Toronto alike. Whether you’re skiing and snowboarding on the multiple slopes in the winter, or you’re chilling on the shores of Lake Simcoe and enjoying the flourish of flowers that the city becomes enchanted with in the summer, Barrie is your destination for all-seasons fun.
How to get there: From Union Station, take the #1 Subway Line towards Towards Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station and get off at Yorkdale Station. Transfer at Yorkdale to the ONTC Sudbury bus for a one hour nonstop commute to the Barrie Transit Terminal.
Three things to do: For a thrill, take a ride in a hot air balloon and soar over Ontario by booking time with the Air Display Hot Air Balloon Team. For something a little more relaxing, check out Centennial Beach or relax along any one of the more than ten beach locations. To get exploring, book at tour at the Scenic Caves Nature Adventures for a mix of history, exploration, and fun. Summer Fun in Barrie
There’s something new happening in Guelph every day. Whether it’s a festival, an event, or a new meal or deal at one of the critically acclaimed restaurants and shops — there is always something to do. If the festival scene isn’t for you, enjoy the historic elements that Guelph is rich with: Victorian buildings, ghost tours, and all sorts of museums await you nearby in The Royal City.
How to get there: You can take the Kitchener GO Train from Union Station and get off at Guelph Central Station, or save half an hour and take the VIA Rail towards Sarnia and disembark at Guelph Central Station.
Three things to do: Wander through the wilderness without being far from amenities by visiting the Guelph Arboretum or check out the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate for a stunning glimpse of historic architecture. If you’re looking to check out Guelph’s thriving culinary scene, try Taste Detours, Guelph’s primary food tour of the city.
Streetsville is known as “The village in the city” because of its laid-back attitude and community values — all in the heart of Mississauga. Here you can find the largest number of historic buildings in Mississauga, all of which are celebrated as part of the town’s story. Visit Streetsville to explore history while stopping by the many delightful restaurants and coffee shops that give charm to the area.
How to get there: Hop on the #21 Go Bus to get to Streetsville in less than an hour. From there, you can take the MiWay transit system to explore the area.
Three things to do: One of the charms of Streetsville is the many events they host year-round, so check out the calendar to see what’s happening at the time of your visit. Summer highlights include The Candlelit Historical Walking Tour that takes place in August and the July celebration of Yoga in the Village Square. The Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza restaurant is also a must-try for the pizza lovers exploring Streetsville.
It doesn’t take long to get from Downtown Toronto to the city of Kitchener, where you can experience Ontario from another perspective and break out of your usual Toronto routine. Rich with parks, restaurants, cultural experiences, and festivals, Kitchener is a great place to spend a day seeing another side of city living.
How to get there: From Union Station, take the Mount Pleasant GO Train to Bramalea, where you can then get the Kitchener GO Train into Kitchener Station.
Three things to do: Kitchener has a whole host of activities that you can do for free, almost all of which are accessible through the Grand River Transit system. You can also check out THEMUSEUM, which has five floors of art, science, and technology. For a delectable meal, check out 271 West Restaurant and make sure to try one of their desserts to cap off a perfect day in this city outside of the city.
Port Perry is located in — and is the central hub for — Scugog, Ontario. Known as a tourist destination for its downtown made up of many Victorian buildings, this beautiful community offers a world of photos that will convince your friends you’ve gone back to a simpler time. In fact, it has been used as a filming location for film and TV shows, including Fly Away Home and Hemlock Grove. Port Perry features a variety of festivals through the summer, and a picturesque wonderland in the winter.
How to get there: Get on the Oshawa GO Train and get off at Whitby Station. Catch the #81 Port Perry bus at Whitby and ride until you’re in town.
Three things to do: Go for a walk in the Beaver River Wetlands Conservation Area to experience the natural beauty of the area, or get a game of golf in at Kings Bay Golf Club. For a taste of the area, take a tour of the Ocala Winery, located in a 100 year old barn and steeped in history.
“You have to stay here to believe it!” boasts the Kingston tourism — though even if you aren’t looking to stay the night, you can have a ton of fun on a day trip to Kingston. Between history, contemporary culture, and a love of their own geography, there is so much to do in Kingston that you’ll want to plan ahead just to not get overwhelmed.
How to get there: The VIA Rail will take you straight to Kingston from Union Station. Just get on the train headed for Kingston and enjoy the ride, which lasts just over two hours.
Three things to do: Visit Fort Henry, which is both a museum and a historic site. Once you enter, you’ll feel as though you were transported back in time to the 19th century. If you’re looking to take in the scenery, try a cruise with Kingston 1000 Island Cruises and be treated to delicious food as you see Ontario from the water. If you want to explore by land, try the Beer & Bites tour for a taste of Kingston’s craft brewery and restaurant scene.
The Town of Cobourg is a delightful place to spend a day if you’re looking to get away from the bustle of the city. The largest town in Northumberland County, Cobourg spent the 80s and 90s creating a picturesque environment to draw tourists and create a reputation for being a quaint getaway. Only a little over an hour away from Toronto, this is a great day trip for a breath of fresh air.
How to get there: From Union Station, the Cobourg Train Station is just an hour away on the Ottawa-bound VIA Rail.
Three things to do: Cobourg’s ecology gardens is only a 20 minute walk from Cobourg Station, as is the gorgeous Cobourg beach. To add some culture to your day, stop by the Northumberland Art Gallery, only 15 minutes away from the Station.
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"Mommy it's kachow!" The Canadian Automotive Museum made my nearly 3 year olds LIFE today — thank you!! When we left he kept waving to the building and saying "bye bye kachow house!" and is already asking to go back! #lightningmcqueen #canadianautomotivemuseum #familyday #explore #museum #local #wehavetocomeback
Oshawa is a city located on the gorgeous Lake Ontario shoreline that invites you to explore the eastern side of the Greater Toronto Area. With a history in Canada’s automobile industry, Oshawa now features a lively downtown core with all kinds of entertainment events, as well as natural park and conservation areas that embrace the fortune of being so close to the water.
How to get there: Take the VIA Rai/ GO Train from Union Station toward Ottawa for about a half an hour and get off at the Oshawa Train Station.
Three things to do: Durham Region Transit will take you to Lakeview Park, where you can stretch out and have a picnic while overlooking Lake Ontario. The #90 GO Transit bus will take you to the Canadian Automotive Museum if you want to celebrate Oshawa’s past glory as the heart of Canada’a Automobile Industry. Oshawa’s Botanical Gardens are only a 15 minute walk from the museum, and are also located along the #90 bus route.
Located to the north of the city of Toronto, Orangeville invites you to come and experience a way of living that focuses more on keeping the beauty of the land and working with the spirit of community. There are plenty of events offered year-round to plan your trip around, but there is always the opportunity to try a new restaurant, visit a conservation area, or take one of the many walking tours that this community offers.
How to get there: Take the Kitchener GO Train from Union Station for less than an hour, then get off at the Brampton Station. From there, take the #37 Orangeville bus into Orangeville.
Three things to do: Walk through the streets of Orangeville and see if you can find all of the Tree Sculptures. Over 50 of these art pieces line the streets. If you want to get some exercise in, try a kayaking trip in the Island Lake Conservation Area. For a perfect shopping experience, try the Orangeville Farmers’ Market, where you’ll be sure to find a great gift, souvenir, or treat.
Known for its natural splendour, tourism opportunities, and cultural events, Niagara-on-the-lake has been nicknamed “the loveliest town in Canada”. But this town has an important historical significance to Canadian history, as it was the original capital of Upper Canada, one of the original Canadian provinces that later became the foundation for Ontario. Delicious wine, beautiful trails, and lake adventures await you at Niagara-on-the-lake, so hop on that bus and let it carry you into a quiet paradise.
How to get there: Take the #18 Hamilton GO bus and transfer at Fairview Street and Maple Avenue. Then jump on the #12 bus towards Niagara Falls. Disembark at Niagara College. From there you can take the Niagara-on-the-lake transit system around the area.
Three things to do: You don’t have to drive home from this expedition, so why not indulge in a wine and cheese tour offered by Grape Escape Wine Tours. If wine tours aren’t your thing, visit the McFarland House to have costumed interpreters show you the grace and rhythms of how life used to be in Niagara-On-The-Lake. If you are visiting between April 4th and October 28th, definitely check out what’s playing at the world-famous Shaw Theatre Festival.
Bound by Lake Simcoe, Georgina is known for its beautiful lake views and conservation areas, its annual Ice Fishing Championship, and assortment of cultural and agricultural festivals. Legendary Canadian actor Jim Carrey hails from Georgina and grew up in the area. Georgina is not technically a town, but a township made up of communities in the area. This is a great, if little-known, place to escape into nature and stretch out on the beach.
How to get there: Take the GO Train from Union Station towards Bradford and get off at the Newmarket GO Station. From there, take the #50 York Region bus to High Street and Burke Street.
Three things to do: Bring a towel or blanket and sprawl out on the shores of Lake Simcoe, or head out on a boat from Jackson’s Point Harbour. If you’re feeling especially active, check out the ROC — an Adventure Challenge Course that will have your adrenaline pumping. For an exceptional meal at the end of the day, stop into Papa Luigi’s Pizza and Fish and Chips before you head back home.
330 acres of fun await you at Canada’s Wonderland, a popular day trip destination for people all across Ontario. With sixteen roller coasters (the third most in the world!) and five different themed areas — including Splash Works, a twenty acre water park — this trip is more than a day’s worth of fun. Keep yourself fuelled up with the many dining options or rest your feet at one of the touring shows that pass through. You’ll want to be coming back again and again over the course of the park’s season, which runs from May to September.
How to get there: Get on the #1 Subway Line at Union Station towards Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. At the Highway 407 Station, catch the #20 York Region Bus to Jane St and Springside Rd. From there, it’s a short walk to Canada’s Wonderland.
Royal Botanical Gardens
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Warm days mean tours of the #RockGarden are back! Follow a Garden Interpreter as they explore the historic Rock Garden at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., or just stroll through the gardens on your own and discover all the hidden corners and staircases that make this newly rejuvenated garden so unique! #RBGrockgarden #garden #gardeninspiration #HamONT #BurlON #discoverON #tourism #inspiration #travel #daytrip #botanicalgarden #botanical #RBG #royalbotanicalgardens #Historic #canada #canadian
The Royal Botanical Gardens celebrates colour. Come and see the multitude of blossoms and blooms that are cared for here and be inspired by the rainbow. If you come on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, you can cap off your day of exploring the 27 kilometres of trails and nature reserves, or wandering through the rose garden, with a concert in Hendrie Park. Nothing soothes like some live music before you make your way home. The Royal Botanical Gardens are full of magic. Come experience it for yourself.
How to get there: Take the GO Train to Aldershot Station then jump on the #1 Burlington bus to get to the Royal Botanical Gardens in less than an hour.
Port Credit, Mississauga
Port Credit is a community of Mississauga at the mouth of the Credit River that is now a heritage conservation district. With a harbour that is popular for boating, and a host of festivals and events around the lake, Port Credit is now known as a getaway village with a touch of history to its look and atmosphere.
How to get there: Take the Lakeshore West GO Train from Union Station towards Aldershot for about half an hour, then disembark at the Port Credit station.
Three things to do: A favourite activity for visitors of Port Credit is to walk along the harbour and Credit River and take in the picturesque views. See if you can spot the lighthouse on Lakeshore Road. You can also wander the village of Port Credit and browse over 400 shops and boutiques. When you’re hungry, try the WORKS Burger Bistro — an acclaimed burger joint that will have your mouth watering as soon as you walk in the doors.
CBC has called the Dundas Peak “Hamilton’s riskiest selfie spot”, because at the top of this hike is a view that almost demands to be documented. Though heavily trafficked, this trail has a moderate difficulty rating, but the views and the waterfall are worth the effort. Head to Dundas Peak in the fall to get a real look at the majesty of Ontario’s colourful foliage, or do the trek in the summer for the most ideal weather of the season. No matter when you go, you’ll want to take a selfie on these breathtaking cliffs overlooking miles of trees.
How to get there: You can reach this beautiful destination by hopping on the GO at Union Station and travelling towards Aldershot Station, then transfer to the #1 to King at John, then the #5 bus to Wellington and King street.
Peterborough was the first town in Canada to use electric streetlights, once earning it the nickname “the electric city”. Now, if you were to call Peterborough an electric city, it would be in regards to the swell of ideas coming out of the university and the electric excitement at the gateway to the Kawarthas Cottage Country. There is plenty to see and do in Peterborough, which is only two and a half hours outside of Toronto and easily accessible by transit. Day Trip to Peterborough.
How to get there: Take the Oshawa GO Train or the VIA Rail to Oshawa Station, where you can transfer to the Peterborough Transit.
Three things to do: Stop in at the Canadian Canoe Museum for a specialized appreciation of Canada’s culture and history, or take a cruise or a canoe trip across the historic liftlocks, or check out the Peterborough Art Gallery.
York Durham Railway
Enjoy a historic train ride through the Oak Ridges Moraine onboard the York-Durham Heritage Railway, seated in one of the heated/air-conditioned heritage coaches from the 1950’s. Be sure to check out our doors-open baggage car during the train ride. Enjoy family-friendly on-board entertainment. Located less than 1 hour northeast of Toronto, this is a great family day trip! Trains run every Sunday during from the first weekend in June until the end of October between Uxbridge and Stouffville.
How to get there: Take the Go train to reach either Stouffville Go Station or Uxbridge Go Station.
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
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A few more photos I took while at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. So many amazing works to experience and the current main exhibition "Director's Cut" was definitely worth checking out as there were several works on paper that seldom go on display. Works are by: Franklin Carmichael, J.E.H. MacDonald x2, Tom Thomson, Edwin Holgate, Tom Thomson again, Arthur Lismer, and Prudence Heward. . #mcmichael #mcmichaelcanadianartcollection #canadianart #canadianpainting #Toronto #ontario #canada #Canadian #Gallery #landscapepainting #figurepainting #painting #groupofseven #iandejardin #franklincarmichael #jehmacdonald #tomthomson #edwinholgate #arthurlismer #prudenceheward #artist #kleinburg #vaughan #oiloncanvas #artgalleryofontario
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection offers its visitors a unique and truly Canadian experience. From the art within the gallery on its walls to the surrounding landscape, the McMichael is the perfect gallery for an introduction to Canada’s art, its peoples, their cultures and their history. The gallery welcomes on average 100,000 visitors annually. Beyond the galleries, you can explore 100 acres of forested land in the Humber River Valley – from a ridgetop ‘wilderness garden,’ planted by Robert and Signe McMichael to echo the northern forest beloved of the Group of Seven, to the heritage waterway important to indigenous peoples in this area.
How to get there: Every Sunday from June 10 to October 28, get on board the McMichael Art Bus from downtown Toronto to the gallery for only $15+ general admission. On public transit from Union Station, you need to change 3 bus/trains to get to the Art Gallery.
The Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada and features seven sections, separated by zoogeographic regions. Come and see who’s who (and who’s out) in the zoo — including zoological classics such as the monkeys, wild cats, exotic birds and fish, and bears. The zoo also has a new outdoor exhibit of giant tortoises and two tiny rhinos. There’s no way to list all that you can see here, so head down and experience it for yourself.
How to get there: Take the Oshawa GO train and transfer at the Eglinton GO station, where you can get on the #86 Scarborough bus which will drop you off outside of the Zoo. Alternatively, you can take the #1 Subway to Bloor-Yonge Station where you will transfer to the #2 bus towards Kennedy, where you can catch the #86 to the zoo.
Parkbus is a not-for-profit organization that carries travellers from major Canadian cities —including Toronto — to nearby parks. This service operates day trips, overnight trips, and seasonal routes so that you can choose the adventure that works best for you. Parkbus operates day trips from Toronto to Elora Gorge, Christie Lake, Rockwood Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area, Kelso Conservation Area, and Rouge National Urban Park. Day trips with Parkbus are never more than an hour and a half away, making it a convenient and accessible way to get out and explore Ontario’s wild side.
How to get there: Pickup locations for the Parkbus are at 30 Carlton Street (two minutes from the College Station on the #1 Subway line) and 1126 Bloor St West (one minute from the Dufferin Station on the #2 Subway line).
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