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Toronto is a diverse city with tons of culture and green spaces to explore. Even though there are many things to do in Toronto, there are equally as many amazing places you can explore just outside of the city by taking a day trip!
As a Canadian who has traveled extensively in this area, believe me when I say that some of my favorite experiences have happened outside of the city on day trips. From seeing the world-famous Niagara Falls to hiking in beautiful conservation areas and badlands, there are so many unique things to see and do. Plus, it doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money, either!
Honestly, with so many great day trips within reach of Toronto, it’s no wonder it’s such a desirable place to live! Whether you’re a Torontonian looking for a new experience, or a visitor wanting to make the most out of a few days in Toronto, I’m sure you’ll find an experience that speaks to you. To help you narrow it down, I have made a guide of the 15 best day trips from Toronto below!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite day trips from Toronto include:
- Day Trips from Toronto
- 1. Niagara Falls
- 2. Toronto Islands
- 3. Niagara Wine Region
- 4. Bruce Peninsula
- 5. Algonquin Provincial Park
- 6. Muskoka
- 7. Milton (The Kelso Conservation Area)
- 8. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
- 9. Hamilton
- 10. Toronto Zoo
- 11. Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain
- 12. Cheltenham Badlands
- 13. Royal Botanical Gardens
- 14. Elora
- 15. Claireville Conservation Area
- Other Things to do While You’re in Toronto
- Where to Stay in Toronto
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
Day Trips from Toronto
1. Niagara Falls
Obviously, we had to start with the most famous thing to do in Toronto – taking a day trip to the world-renowned Niagara Falls! It’s so iconic, you really can’t miss it while you’re here.
Niagara Falls isn’t just one single waterfall but a group of three giant waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and American Falls. They span the border between Canada and the US, or Ontario and upstate New York to be more specific. Standing at 52 meters (170 feet) the sheer power of the falls makes them breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a good reason that Niagara Falls has a place on so many travelers’ bucket lists!
From the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, you can see Horseshoe Falls (aka the Canadian Falls), which are the largest and most powerful in all of North America! You also get great views of the American Falls on the other side of the river. Needless to say, we loved visiting Niagara Falls. It was an epic experience and if you only make one day trip from Toronto, it has to be this one!
You can either rent a car and make the 90-minute to 2-hour drive (depending on traffic) to Niagara Falls yourself, then board a cruise for between $30-$50 CAD. Niagara City Tours has cruise-only options, so we recommend checking them out if you want to go by yourself. Please note that the cruises do not run in winter, with most starting operation around April and going till the end of October.
If a cruise isn’t really your thing, there are lots of other fun ways to experience the falls! You can take a scenic helicopter flight, go up the Skylon Tower observation deck (a great winter option to escape the cold), or even zipline across the falls for an adrenaline-pumping experience!
Oh and if you drive yourself during the busy summer months make sure to get there early as the parking lots fill up very quickly! And if fighting for parking doesn’t sound very appealing, you can always take a day tour from Toronto to Niagara Falls instead! The day trip to Niagara Falls is actually one of the best things to do in Toronto when it rains – hey, you’re going to get wet either way, right?!
When we went to Niagara, we just wanted to relax and enjoy our trip to the falls without worrying about planning and logistics, so we booked this full-day tour instead of driving ourselves. We got a guided visit to the falls which included the cruise, or if you go in the winter you do the Journey Behind the Falls experience instead (which looks just as cool!). We also got an included three-course lunch overlooking the falls, a wine tasting, and a stop at the cute historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
This tour was such a great way to experience Niagara Falls and we’re so glad that we did it. It costs $180 CAD per person, including transport, lunch, and all activities. We wouldn’t have been able to take a day trip like this much cheaper on our own, and it was so nice to have everything taken care of for us, so it was 100% worth it! It does book up quickly though, especially in the summer, so make sure to book in advance.
With that said, if you are on a budget and would like a low-cost alternative, then we recommend this tour! You get round-trip transport from Toronto, 3 hours to explore the falls independently, and tons of photo stops, including at the Floral Clock and the super scenic Niagara Whirlpool.
It costs $99 CAD but doesn’t include lunch, so bring a packed one if you’re on a budget. You can also add a boat ride behind the falls during the summer for an extra $36 CAD, but this is totally optional. Overall, though, this tour is the perfect way to explore the falls and surrounding areas if you don’t want to spend a ton.
Related Read: If you are also visiting Montreal, you can do a day tour to Niagara Falls from there too!
2. Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a group of 15 different islands just off the coast of downtown Toronto. They’re all connected by bridges and walkways, so you don’t need a boat to get from one to the next. In fact, in around 3.5 hours you can walk a loop all around the Toronto Islands, or rent a bike and cycle instead!
You get great views of the city skyline from the Toronto Islands, and there’s plenty to do here. For a dose of history, you can visit the Gibraltar Lighthouse, which is said to be haunted by the former lighthouse keeper, who according to legend was murdered over some bootleg beer – spooky stuff!
You can also go swimming at Ward’s Island Beach, which is super peaceful, or watch the sunset at Hanlan’s Point Beach (just be aware that this is a nude beach). And if you want to get out on the water and go paddleboarding during the summer months in Toronto, you can rent boards from Toronto Island SUP for $30 CAD an hour, or $70 CAD for 5 hours.
We think that the Toronto Islands are a fantastic day trip destination for families visiting Toronto because there’s an amusement park and petting zoo here. Centreville Amusement Park has over 30 kid-friendly rides, like teacups and bumper cars. You can get an all-day pass for $40 CAD for kids over 4, or a family pass for $132 CAD.
There’s also Far Enough Farm, a petting zoo with tons of cute farmyard animals like rabbits, llamas, and mini pot-bellied pigs, as well as exotic birds. It’s a short walk from the Centre Island Dock where you can get off the ferry, and it’s a must if you’re traveling with kids, or are just an animal lover! The petting zoo is closed during the winter but usually opens in early May each year. It is completely free to visit, but if you’re able to, donations are accepted to help care for the animals.
To get to the Toronto Islands, we recommend using the City of Toronto ferry service. The best option is to take the ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to Ward’s Island, as that’s the island with the most consistent ferry service throughout the year. Boats usually leave every 20 – 60 minutes from 6:30 am until 11:30 pm, and the last ferry from the Toronto Islands back to the mainland departs at 11:45 pm, allowing you to stay for a summer sunset if you’d like! The schedule changes throughout the year though, so please always check the current schedule for the day of your visit.
Return ferry tickets cost $9.11 CAD for adults, $5.86 CAD for seniors or youth, and $4.29 CAD for children aged 2-14. Plus, you get some nice views of the skyline along the 20-minute journey!
When we visited on our last 4-day trip to Toronto, we decided to go early to make the most of the day and kicked things off with this morning bike tour of the Toronto Islands. It was so much fun – we went to Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, visited the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, and got to explore some more residential areas and learn about what it’s like to live here thanks to our local guide. Plus, we got gorgeous panoramic views of Toronto’s skyline along the way.
However, you can also do an evening cycling tour if you want to explore the Toronto Islands during golden hour and sunset. Just like with the morning tour, you’ll go all over the islands and see the best spots, but you also get a free dessert at a local cafe.
3. Niagara Wine Region
The Niagara Wine Region is Canada’s largest winemaking region. It’s home to some of the oldest and best-known winemakers in the country, so if you’re anything like me, a day trip is a must!
This wine region is known for its Chardonnays, Rieslings, and Pinot Noirs, as well as icewine, which is made from frozen grapes. This gives the wine a higher sugar concentration, so icewine is sweet and fruity, with a lower alcohol content than your typical wine – perfect for any sweet tooth!
The region is pretty big so we think it’s best to concentrate on one town like St. Catharines or Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara-on-the-Lake is super picturesque but for most people, it’s just a quick stop on the way to or from Niagara Falls. However, we definitely think it deserves a visit in its own right, as it’s home to some of the best wineries in the whole region.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is 129 kilometers (80 miles) from Toronto. It’s possible to drive but let’s be honest, no one wants to be the designated driver when you’re going wine tasting, which is why we think it’s best to book a tour!
This luxury private wine tour will pick you up from your hotel in Toronto at around 9:30 am and whisk you off for a glorious full day of wine tasting. You’ll visit four wineries, including the Peller Estate, where you’ll try icewine in their ice lounge, so it feels like you’re drinking inside an igloo! It also includes a 3-course lunch, and it’s a private tour so it’s just you and your group, which is perfect for a day of bonding with friends or family. It’s $446 CAD and promises to be a memorable day out. So if you’re ready to get sipping, book this experience here!
4. Bruce Peninsula
The Bruce Peninsula is a stunning national park located 3.5 hours north of Toronto. Since it’s so far away, it might not be the most obvious choice for a day trip, but with its turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs, and epic hikes, we just had to include it on this list!
There are tons of beautiful coves and beaches to explore here, including the popular Sauble Beach, and you can also hike a section of the Bruce Trail, which is Canada’s oldest marked footpath. It’s also the longest in the country at 890 kilometers (553 miles) long in total!
Since the Bruce Peninsula is a pretty long drive from Toronto, we don’t recommend driving yourself there and back in a day. However, if you’ve only got a day to visit we do think it’s worth taking a guided tour so that someone else can take care of the driving while you snooze in the back.
This active tour to the Bruce Peninsula from Toronto is a top-rated option, and it gives you a great overview of the area in just one day. It starts pretty early with pickup around 7 am, so you’ll arrive at the Bruce Peninsula by late morning. After a long drive, you’ll be ready to stretch your legs, so the first activity on the itinerary is a guided hike to Inglis Falls, which is a fairly easy route and will take around 3 hours there and back.
Then, you’ll head to the cute fishing village of Tobermory for lunch and sightseeing, and either hike or kayak to the historic Big Tub lighthouse. Kayaking is only available during the summer and costs $25 CAD per person, so if you’re not keen on that option you can always just enjoy a swim instead – it will definitely be welcome after a long hike!
This tour costs from $200-$282 CAD depending on the time of year, including transport to and from Toronto, a guided hike with snacks and water, and lunch. It doesn’t include breakfast or dinner, so you might want to bring your own, or buy some along the way as the tour lasts for around 13 hours including transport time. It’s a long day, but totally worth it because the Bruce Peninsula is so beautiful. So if you’re ready for a day of scenic outdoor adventures, reserve your spot on this tour here!
5. Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada, and it’s a great choice for a Toronto day trip if you love spending time outdoors! The park is home to lots of rivers, lakes, and forests, so there’s plenty of opportunity for watersports, hiking, swimming, and even cliff diving.
But as far as we’re concerned, the best thing about Algonquin Provincial Park is the fact that it’s one of the best places in Canada to see moose!
Yup, although Canada is famous for moose, it’s actually quite rare to see one. They don’t just roam around all over the place! However, Algonquin Provincial Park is home to around 3,500 moose. Spring is the best time of year to spot them, but summer is also a good time because moose feed on the aquatic plants that bloom in the park during this time of year. One of the best places to spot them is along the Highway 60 Corridor because they love the salt-rich waters in the ditches by the side of the road.
The only problem with visiting Algonquin Provincial Park on a day trip from Toronto is that it’s 276 kilometers (171 miles) away from the city, so it’s about a 3-hour drive. For that reason, we definitely recommend you visit on a guided tour rather than driving yourself, which would just be exhausting!
This small group tour is a great way to experience the park’s highlights. The itinerary includes a visit to a scenic lookout point over Ragged Falls, as well as guided hiking and canoeing, and maybe even some swimming and cliff diving if you feel like it! And if you go when there is snow on the ground, snowshoes will be provided for you.
We really like that this is a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people, as it’s a fantastic way to meet and bond with other active travelers. Having a small group size also gives you more say over your itinerary and hiking routes.
The tour costs $230 CAD per person, including everything except meals. It’s a long day and pickup is fairly early in the morning, but if you love outdoor adventures then we think it’s totally worth it because Algonquin Provincial Park is so much fun. This adventure only runs on select days of the week, so it’s best to plan in advance and secure a spot early.
Muskoka is a regional municipality that’s fast becoming known as “the Hamptons of Canada.” It’s a haven for outdoor lovers, and it’s known for its lakes, forests, and beautiful shoreline. It’s also known for its sprawling mansions, golf resorts, and country clubs, which are frequented by celebrities like the Beckhams, Steven Spielberg, Cindy Crawford, and Tom Hanks.
In short, Muskoka is a very dreamy destination for a day trip from Toronto! There’s a ton to do here, including scenic hikes, paddleboarding out on the water, and checking out local art galleries and museums. It’s the perfect place to escape the city and enjoy a slower pace of life.
Although Muskoka is especially popular during the summer, it’s a fantastic place to visit in the winter too. Lots of the area’s waterfalls freeze over which looks awesome, and you can also go skiing in the Hidden Valley Highlands!
Muskoka is 219 kilometers (136 miles) north of Toronto. It takes about two hours each way to drive. There are public transport options, but they take too long to be a good option for a day trip, and train tickets can be pretty expensive. If you don’t want to drive yourself to Muskoka, then the best thing to do is take a guided tour.
This private tour has an amazing itinerary that will show you some of the most beautiful places that Muskoka has to offer. In the morning, you get to do an 8 km (5 mile) guided hike in Hardy Lake Provincial Park. It’s a super peaceful route and even takes you out to a little island in the middle of the lake.
Then, in the afternoon you’ll do another guided hike, this time along the Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail, which is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and takes you to a super scenic lookout point for a stunning panoramic view of Lake Muskoka.
After all of that hiking, you can cool off with a swim at the base of High Falls, a dramatic waterfall that some people call “the Niagara of the North.” Okay, to be honest, it’s nothing like Niagara Falls but it’s still one of the region’s best waterfalls and worth a visit. And if you go during the winter, High Falls freezes over, which is spectacular.
The tour is $185 CAD and includes return transport from Toronto and on your way back to the city you’ll stop at a beloved local burger joint for dinner. This isn’t included in the price of the tour, but they’re pretty cheap at $7.75 CAD for a double cheeseburger. So if you’re ready for some fun, book here for the ultimate Muskoka adventure!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
7. Milton (The Kelso Conservation Area)
It’s another 10-minute drive from Milton to the Kelso Conservation Area, and the best way to get there is to drive yourself. That way, you’ve got the freedom to explore and take the day at your own pace!
One of the most popular things to do in the area during the summer is hanging out by Lake Kelso. It’s a man-made reservoir that was initially created to stop flooding, but is now a tourist destination. You can chill out on the lakefront beach, walk the boardwalk around the water’s edge, or head to the nearby boat rental shop to rent canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards to take out on the lake.
Meanwhile, during the winter, Kelso’s main attraction is the Glen Eden ski and snowboard hill. If you fancy getting out of the city and hitting the slopes, a lift pass will cost you $50 CAD per day when you book online, or $55 CAD if you pay at the gate. And if you don’t have your equipment with you, you can rent a full skiing or snowboarding equipment package for $45 CAD per day.
Another fun thing to do in the Kelso Conservation Area is to tackle the Challenge Course, a fun aerial rope course. And if you really want to put your upper body strength to the test, you can climb the Vulture Viewing Tower as well. The ropes course and the viewing tower cost $25 CAD each.
And finally, if you’ve read our blog before then you probably know that we love hiking. The Kelso Conservation Area has some great trails to explore, and it’s a particularly great place to hike in the fall because the fall colors are so beautiful. You can even walk a section of the super-long Bruce Trail that we mentioned earlier in this blog! The Iroquoia section is only 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles) long, and it takes you along the boardwalk by Kelso Lake for some nice views.
Or, for something a bit longer, you can walk the 6.9 km (4.3 mile) Fox Loop, which takes you through forests, meadows, and even over some of the ski hills for lovely views of the area.
Visiting Kelso Conservation Area requires you to pay a park fee, which you can do online. You can also use the website to book other activities like the aerial rope challenge course, archery sessions, and disc golf. Entry to Kelso Conservation Area costs $10.50 CAD.
8. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area is also just a 10-minute drive from Milton, or a 45-minute drive from Toronto, so it’s another great option for a day trip out of the city. It’s a beautiful place to go hiking thanks to its dramatic limestone cliffs and canyons, and there are also some great rock climbing opportunities here, too.
There are three hiking trails in the park with varying levels of difficulty, and a short section of the Bruce Trail runs through here, too (see the trail maps here). The easiest is the Vista Adventure Trail, a short and mostly flat loop that takes you past lots of awesome viewpoints over the canyon. It’s 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) long and you can start at either the upper or lower parking lot, and it doesn’t matter which way around you go!
Or if you want a longer hike, the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail is 7.2 kilometers (4.4 miles) out and back, and runs between Rattlesnake Point, across the Nassagaweya Canyon, to Crawford Lake. The trail begins in the parking lot near picnic pavilion A and you should allow around 3-5 hours to walk there and back.
It’s also definitely worth completing the 3.2 km (2 mile) Buffalo Crag Trail loop. You can see forever up here on a clear day and it’s also an ideal place to watch the area’s turkey vultures soaring through the air. Again, the trail starts and ends in the parking lot.
It’s wise to make a reservation to visit Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area ahead of time. It’s best to do this online as it’s cheaper this way. You can choose your entry time, and the website will even tell you how busy the area is likely to be when you visit! If you book online, the entry fees are the same as they are for the Kelso Conservation Area at $10.50 CAD per adult.
Hamilton is a super charming and historic port city that’s 68.5 kilometers (42.5 miles) south of Toronto. Despite the fact that it’s a city, its waterfront location also means that it’s an outdoor playground. It’s home to tons of waterfalls, so if you like hiking, you can’t visit without doing a waterfall hike. And if you’re an animal lover, the safari park is calling your name!
If you are renting a car, you can drive from Toronto to Hamilton in just over an hour, but you can also get there via public transport. You can take the Flixbus departing and returning to the Union Station bus terminal in Toronto. The bus runs to and from Hamilton multiple times throughout the day. It takes about an hour to get to Hamilton and the fare should cost around $18 CAD round trip.
Once in Hamilton, you can see the Albion and Buttermilk Falls via Mountain Brow Side Trail. Albion Falls cascades down the Niagara Escarpment and is easily one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Ontario, so you should definitely check it out! It’s an easy 3.7-km (2.3-mile) loop, and there are some nice lookout points over both falls on the way around. Since it’s a loop trail, you can start in either the Buttermilk Falls or Albion Falls parking lot.
For a longer and more challenging hike, you could tackle Felker’s Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl Lookout. It’s 8.2 kilometers (5 miles) out and back, and you’ll need around 2 hours to complete it. Felker’s Falls is really beautiful to see, and the Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the coolest sights along the whole Niagara Escarpment. It really does look like the water is going right down into hell!
Make sure to take some time to relax, too, and head down to Hamilton’s beautiful beachfront area. You can swim in Lake Ontario, explore the boardwalks, or grab some food and drink at one of the many waterfront cafes and patios. Hutch’s on the Beach is a locally famous spot that’s been selling fish and chips since 1946!
Hamilton is also a fantastic day trip destination for families. There’s an awesome African Lion Safari park where you can drive through game reserves and spot lions, giraffes, and other exotic animals. You can head out on the park’s 15-minute cruise on Lake Ontario to spot exotic birds like pelicans and Australian black swans, and you’ll also see cute lemurs and spider monkeys in the trees. There’s also a jungle-themed playground and a wet play area with slides and sprinklers, so there’s plenty to keep kids entertained!
10. Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada, and you can easily spend an entire day here – especially if you’re visiting with kids!
The zoo is huge and there’s so much to see and do here. There are over 300 species of animals to see, and around 3,000 animals in total. The park is also home to over 10 km (6 miles) of walking trails, and lots of different habitats.
You don’t just look at animals from afar at the Toronto Zoo – it’s super interactive. For example, you can do a kangaroo walk-thru where you get to see kangaroos and wallabies in a recreation of the Australian outback, zipline through the forest, and ride the Tundra Air ride over the zoo for amazing panoramic views!
On weekends, there’s also face painting and a gorilla ropes course for kids, and in the summer families can cool off at the Splash Island wet playground.
Ticket prices vary between $21-$36 CAD for adults and $15-$25 CAD for the kiddos aged 3 to 12, while children under 2 are free. The zoo is open year-round, but exact opening hours vary according to the season.
Pro tip: The further in advance you book on the Toronto Zoo website the more money you will save on admission prices. Also, go on a weekday instead of a weekend to save even more money!
Toronto Zoo is located in the Rouge Valley, about a 35-minute drive from the downtown area. If you drive yourself, the main entrance is along Meadowvale Road, north of Highway 401. Parking costs $15 CAD per day. You’ll need to buy a parking pass at the admission booth, and then scan it when you leave the lot at the end of the day.
It’s also easy to get to Toronto Zoo from downtown. You can take the 86A, 85 Sheppard East, or 200 Toronto Zoo bus routes to stations near the zoo. Uber in Toronto is also really good, and getting to the zoo will cost you around $40 CAD, so it could be a good option if you’re in a group.
Related Read: After a fun day at the zoo, why not treat yourself to a refreshing pint in the Toronto Distillery District!
11. Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain
If you’re ready for a day of rest and relaxation, then look no further than the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain! It’s a luxurious Nordic spa with thermal baths in a beautiful location with views over the Niagara Escarpment. I really can’t think of a better way to relax!
The thermal baths are nestled in a huge forest, so this is the perfect place to unplug and disconnect from day-to-day life. The main attraction here is the “Thermal Journey” through the hot, warm, and cold pools, but they also offer activities like forest bathing rituals and a range of therapeutic massages.
A day at the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain will slip by in a beautifully relaxing blur. It’s a 2-hour drive north of Toronto but it’s so worth it to spend the day here.
It costs $95 CAD or $105 CAD in peak times. You can also save money by going on Wednesdays when entry to the spa and pools is only $85 CAD. Then, massages range between $95-$140 CAD per person, depending on the type of massage and whether or not it’s during a peak time.
12. Cheltenham Badlands
The Cheltenham Badlands were formed at the base of an ancient sea around 450 million years ago – how cool is that?
The crazy, rolling red landscape was covered by topsoil when European settlers arrived here and cleared the land in the 1850s. They farmed the land for around 100 years, but in the 1950s poor farming practices caused the topsoil to erode away and the badlands came to light! Weather conditions further eroded the red shale causing slopes and hills, making it look even more dramatic.
There are two boardwalk trails you can walk across to explore the Cheltenham Badlands and of course, you’ll want to snap a million photos of the Mars-like landscape. You can’t actually stand on them, though, because the landscape is easily eroded.
Fall is a particularly great time to take a day trip to the Cheltenham Badlands because you get to see the red landscape coupled with the orange hues of the fall foliage.
The Cheltenham Badlands are open from 8 am until 9 pm from late April to late October. If you want to drive yourself, you can either pay at the gate or book a slot online before you go. There aren’t many parking spots available and you can only park for 1.5 hours, but you’ll get access to the viewing platform and the boardwalk trail, and entry on the same day to Terra Cotta and Island Lake Conservation Areas.
If you don’t have a vehicle, you can take a bus from Toronto – 34 Asquith Avenue to Albion, and then get a taxi to the Badlands. To be honest, though, it’s faster, cheaper, and way more fun to take a guided private tour like this one – especially if you’re traveling with a group!
This private guided tour is an awesome way to explore the Greater Toronto area. You’ll get off the beaten tourist path and visit a Hindu temple, a hidden waterfall, the historic Terra Cotta hamlet, and a cidery where you’ll enjoy apple cider and pizza for lunch. Plus, you get time to enjoy the Cheltenham Badlands and since it’s a private tour, you can tailor the itinerary to you. It costs only $499 CAD per group for up to 4 people including transport, activities, and lunch, and lasts around 7 hours in total! This tour only runs on Saturdays and Sundays and tends to fill up quickly, so secure your spot here.
13. Royal Botanical Gardens
There are botanical gardens in Toronto, but it’s worth heading out of the city to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG). They’re the largest botanical gardens in the entire country and they’re seriously impressive!
One of the best things to do at the Royal Botanical Gardens is visit Hendrie Park, which is home to almost 58,000 plants – and remember, this is just one section of the RBG! Inside the park, there are also 12 different themed garden areas, including a rose garden, as well as a teahouse and cafe.
The Laking Garden is also stunning, and you should make a beeline for this section of the RBG in June when the irises and peonies are in full bloom. It’s quite a sight!
Other attractions include the Rock Garden, the RBG Centre, the Arboretum, and over 27 kilometers (17 miles) of nature trails to explore. This is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure on a summer’s day, and it’s super easy to get here from Toronto as well.
It’s a 40-minute drive from Toronto to the gardens. Once you arrive, you can park for free at the RBG Centre and Rock Garden lots. Both of these parking lots also have paid electrical vehicle charging points.
If those lots are full, you can park in the Laking Garden lower lot for $3 CAD per hour. If you stay longer than 5 hours, the parking charge maxes out at $15 CAD. The Arboretum also has parking, which costs $10 CAD per day when the lot is staffed, or $5-$15 CAD an hour when it’s not.
It’s also easy to take the GO Train to the Gardens. You can take the Lakeshore West train line from Union Station, and get off at Burlington. There, you can take the Route 1 Plains to Hamilton train to the RBG Centre. Or, if you have a bicycle with you, get off at Aldershot and then cycle for 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to the RBG Center.
Opening hours for the Royal Botanical Gardens change seasonally. They usually open at 10 am and then the closing time changes according to the time of year. It’s also worth noting that individual gardens and exhibits each have their own open times. The park’s trails are open from 8 am until dark, all year round.
General admission to the gardens costs $17.26 CAD. You can also buy single admission to just one of the gardens if you’re short on time.
Related Read: The best way to explore Toronto is by bike! Here is a list of the BEST bike tours available in Toronto!
If you like quaint, charming villages then you’ve just got to visit Elora!
Elora is best known for the Elora Gorge, which is a prime destination for hiking, or for tubing and swimming in the Grand River that flows through it. And the town is just as well known for its limestone architecture and cutesy boutiques and gift shops as it is for its pretty scenery.
If you’ve ever read one of our blogs before then you’ll know that we love craft beer, so we definitely recommend a visit to the Elora Brewing Company. It’s a good place to grab a bite to eat, too!
It’s nice to take a stroll through the downtown area and check out the boutiques and galleries, but if you’re looking for something more adventurous then you can soar over the Elora Gorge on a zipline adventure at the Elora Mill Hotel.
During the summer, locals and tourists alike flock to Elora’s former limestone quarry. It’s now a popular swimming spot with a beach area surrounded by trees and emerald-green water to swim in. It’s also worth coming here in the fall to snap some photos when there are fewer visitors around. This is a conservation area, so you’ll need to book tickets online.
It takes an hour and 15 minutes to drive to Elora from Toronto, or you can book a park bus service from 34th Asquith Avenue to Elora Gorge or the town itself.
15. Claireville Conservation Area
Claireville Conservation Area is a great place to enjoy a hike out of the city! It’s a big path with meadows, grasslands, wetlands, pine forests, and meadows. You can find yourself hiking through quite a variety of landscapes!
There are lots of trails, and hiking maps all over the park so it’s easy to find your way. The trails don’t have names but are marked by numbered points, so you plot your route by going from number to number. You’ll see a map every few minutes, so this system actually works really well!
Claireville Conservation Area is roughly a 30-minute drive from Toronto. There are also three free parking lots around: one on Regional Road, one on Queen Street East, and one on Gorewood Drive.
Claireville Conservation Area is a bit of a hidden gem and it’s definitely off the beaten tourist path. So if you’re ready to get out of the city, take a break from tourist activities (as much fun as they are!), and spend some time hiking, then it’s worth driving out here!
You can also get here by bus if you haven’t got a vehicle. You can catch the 96B from the York Mills Terminal to Humber College Blvd, then change to the number 50 bus and head to Highway 50 south of Gibraltar Road. From there, it’s just a few hundred feet to Claireville Conservation Area.
There are no facilities here, so bring a packed lunch and make sure to take your rubbish with you, as there are no trash cans. And while it’s good to stay hydrated on a hike, bear in mind that there are no toilets here!
Other Things to do While You’re in Toronto
Toronto is a city filled with tons of things to do and see. So along with planning a few day trips, take some time to explore some of the top attractions and activities:
- Check out the view from the CN Tower – The tallest building in the city and all of Canada, heading up the CN Tower is a must! The main observation deck is on the 33rd floor and if you’re feeling brave, there’s a glass floor or the Edgewalk that takes you outside to walk high above Toronto! General admission is $43 CAD.
- Visit Casa Loma – This beautiful castle in downtown Toronto is more than just a historical museum. Toronto sightseeing tours often visit this iconic destination because it’s filled with interesting exhibits, unique photo opportunities, and interactive activities for all ages. There is actually so much to do here that we wrote another blog post on all the things you should know before you visit.
- Eat great food! – With so many different cultures and restaurants, Toronto is a foodie heaven! Miku Toronto is considered the best sushi restaurant in the city with a big outdoor patio. Food tours in Toronto are also top-notch and we enjoyed this walking food tour to help us try a variety of tasty dishes from butter tarts to pierogies to maple syrup and the chance to explore the iconic St. Lawrence Market.
- Go sailing – For a unique cruise, climb aboard a 1930s schooner with this Toronto tall ship cruise. You’ll help the crew raise the sails for the journey from Toronto Harbor to Lake Ontario. There are panoramic views to take in and kids love it when the crew fires the ship’s canyon! Tickets are available online for only $43 CAD and cheaper for kids.
- Watch a hockey game – Hockey is HUGE all over Canada, so taking in an NHL game while you’re here is sure to be a fun night. While I’m a diehard Oilers fan, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the home team here and the atmosphere is a lot of fun. Tickets range from $150-$350 CAD and you can buy tickets on Viator. If it isn’t hockey season, pop into the Hockey Hall of Fame instead to see the famous Stanley Cup!
Where to Stay in Toronto
Let’s face it, Toronto is a huge city with practically endless options when it comes to hotels. But, not all hotels are created equal – you want to ensure you book a place with an amazing location and even better amenities, which narrows down your choices.
I’ve handpicked some of the best places to stay in the city – the below hotels all have an ideal central location as well as everything you need to have a comfortable stay!
If you’re looking for more info about where to stay in Toronto, be sure to read our blog. It includes detailed info on the best area to stay, how to get from the airport to your hotel, and the top hotels!
Fairmont Royal York Hotel (Luxury Stay – $$$)
The Fairmont Royal York Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Toronto. With its historic ballroom, beautiful rooms, and a gorgeous skylit indoor pool, you’ll have to force yourself to leave and explore the city! But once you do, you’re steps from Union Station, so getting around via public transport is really easy. It also means that you can take the train from the airport directly to the hotel!
The Hockey Hall of Fame is two blocks away, and you’re also about a 20-minute walk from both the waterfront and the Distillery District. Rooms usually start from around $500-$600 CAD per night and you can check availability and book the Fairmont Royal York online here!
The SoHo Hotel (Moderately-priced Boutique Hotel – $$)
The SoHo Hotel is an excellent choice for anybody looking for a centrally located hotel that is just stunning. This hotel is located only a short walk from attractions like the CN Tower, and it also has plenty of nice facilities including a lap pool and fitness center. Oh, and did I mention the rooms have heated bathroom floors?!
Room rates typically range from $300 CAD and up. The SoHo is one of the highest-rated hotels in Toronto, so be sure to book online here well in advance to secure your room.
One King West Hotel and Residences (Moderately-priced Full Apartments – $$)
If you’re looking for a home away from home, then One King West Hotel and Residences might be the best choice for you. Although a hotel, this property features fully self-contained apartments complete with a kitchen. This is perfect if you like to cook some of your own meals. On top of that, the location is ideal and you’ll also find a fitness center and onsite bar and restaurant.
For an entire apartment in Toronto, prices start at about $330 CAD. You can check availability and book online here.
Town Inn Suites Hotel (Budget Hotel – $)
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to stay in Toronto. If you’re on a tighter budget, Town Inn Suites Hotel is the best choice for you. Starting from only $170 CAD per night (in the low season), this centrally located hotel is tastefully decorated and features plenty of amenities. Rooms also feature a kitchenette, which comes in very handy. You can check prices and secure your room online here.
Samesun Toronto (Budget Hostel – $)
The Samesun Toronto is the perfect choice for backpackers or solo travelers wanting to meet others. The hostel has a great location as well as communal spaces (including a huge kitchen) where you can relax. They offer both dorm beds as well as budget private rooms, but bathrooms are all shared.
One of the best ways to experience Canada is by hitting the road. Some of the best things to do and attractions are located in remote areas between destinations. For that reason, we highly recommend getting your own wheels!
- Rent a car – To simply rent a vehicle, search on Discover Cars where they compare tons of different rental companies near you. This way you can easily compare prices, features, policies, and more!
- Rent a campervan or motorhome – Motorhome Republic is great for finding a motorhome or campervan to rent in Canada. With your own home on wheels, you can camp in beautiful places and save money on accommodation!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
For us, no trip to Toronto is complete without stepping out of the busy city and exploring some of the amazing surrounding areas! There are so many things to do in any season from skiing to hiking, we just know you’ll find some amazing adventures to go on!
While you’re trip planning, have a look at our other blogs about Canada and the USA. We’ve traveled to a lot of different destinations and love sharing our travel tips so you can find the best tours, restaurants, and hidden gems in each city.