By: Jim Bamboulis
This year, Toronto’s winter went too far. Too too far! Unless you love ice storms and breaking out the parka in mid-April – which I don’t – and I’ll take a chance and say that you don’t either – then you’ve been itching to enjoy the warmer weather.
If you can’t get away for long and you’re looking for a break in your own backyard, then keep reading. Here are five killer day trips close to Toronto that will amaze you and give you that much deserved day of hot summer fun.
About two hours south of Toronto, along the beautiful Lake Erie coast, you find Rock Point Provincial Park. This place AMAZED me with the amount of things to discover and enjoy. First off, you’ve got a sandy beach that stretches for a kilometre, hiking trails, a viewing platform that gives you a perfect vantage point of the sand dunes and exposed fossils of coral reef that date back over 350 million years!
Car and group camping is available here until early October. Bird watching is also huge with over 260 bird species recorded in the park. If you come in the fall, you can catch the legendary monarch butterfly migration.
Located about two hours northwest of Toronto, Eugenia is a beautiful and historical place! Named after Princess Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, the town itself was established near the graceful 82 foot waterfall. With the Bruce Trail and Eugenia Falls in its backyard, the town was also famous for its gold rush. In the 1850s, prospectors got word that Eugenia was home to gold in them hills. They found some – in the form of fool’s gold. The legacy has lived on – every year, the town still hosts “Gold Rush Days”, a weekend festival in late June with food vendors and artisans.
The Gold Rush stimulated some growth and by 1870, a community complete with mills, churches and a school were all established. By the 1890s, an electrical generator was built and by the 1920s, more were built which provided electricity to a wider region. Today, Eugenia is a nature-lovers dream and perfect day trip with hiking trails, restaurants and shops.
Rockwood Conservation Area
Located just over an hour northwest of Toronto, Rockwood is a gem! With a powerful waterfall, giant limestone, glacier cliffs, an intricate cave system, over 200 glacial potholes and some of the oldest trees in Ontario, you can find whatever you need here.
Between May and October, you can hike in the park but if you prefer a day trip, you can get gorgeous views of the Eramosa River by hiking the trails or renting a canoe. If you feel like lounging, just lay down a towel and get your beach on.
That’s not all – Rockwood is also home to the ruins of the Harris and Co. Rockwood Woolen Mill which have been featured in movies and tv shows and are often the backdrop for wedding photos.
Drives from Toronto to Montreal usually involved coffee stops at Tim Horton’s and the occasional stop at The Big Apple for a slice of apple crumble pie. It never included a stop in Kingston. Just didn’t see the point. Until recently. It took a while but the “Limestone City” has now become an always stop. It’s the furthest of the five day trips in this article but if you plan it well, you can make a great day of it.
Canada’s original capital city, Kingston is also the birth and resting place of John A. Macdonald, the country’s first Prime Minister. A historic city with several heritage buildings, the Rideau Canal along with the fortifications at Kingston was designated a World Heritage Site in 2007. The city also has a whopping 22 National Historic Sites of Canada, including Kingston City Hall and Fort Henry.
And of course, you can’t miss the Kingston Penitentiary, Canada’s oldest maximum security prison. This season, two types of tours are being offered – the 90 minute standard tour and the 2 1/2 hour extended tour which has a limit of 15 people and includes additional areas of the penitentiary. If you need extra assistance, there are Accessible tours – ASL, Vision loss and for visitors with reduced mobility.
Whether you take a stroll in the historic downtown district or along the water, Kingston is a very charming destination that offers something for everyone!
Limehouse Conservation Area
Located about an hour northwest of Toronto, Limehouse is great for everyone and has both natural beauty with a touch of history attached. Here, you’ll find mill remnants and lime kilns dating back to the 19th century.
You’ll also enjoy incredible trails and deep limestone crevices on the Niagara Escarpment. The “hole in the wall” is a glacial fissure over Black Creek and is accessible by a wooden stairwell. Watch your footing and explore the crevices.
There you go. Now GO!
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Hey y’all. I’m Jim. Cute pic, no? That kid went on to spend 16 years in the broadcast media world before starting up Travel Mammal, a site dedicated to working with brands to promote travel, food and cultural experiences.
Travel Mammal isn’t about the selfie or checking things off a list. It’s about experiencing both the journey and the destination. To breathe, learn and really absorb what’s around you, in the moment and experiencing in a way that is both memorable and meaningful.
Happy travels, y’all.