With all the challenges of life during a pandemic, many of us have been stuck inside all year and are dying to leave the house to find an oasis. Fortunately, we have hidden gems in Ontario. There are a few spots where you can witness some great scenery, whether its for a day trip or a few days away. We came up with a list below of destinations where you can escape the confines of Toronto and have a safe day away from the city. All of the destinations below are between a 1-3 hour drive from the GTA and provide breathtaking scenery in places where you might least expect it.
Poised on the shores of Georgian bay, the emerald green waters and beautiful rock formations make this spot worth the 3 hour drive north of Toronto. Tobermory and lions head have some of the most scenic spots Ontario has to offer. In addition, there is a variety of hiking trails and you can see a wide variety of wildlife that you would not normally see in other parks. The Bruce peninsula on which Tobermory sits is a UNESCO world biosphere reserve site. It contains the longest stretch of undeveloped Niagara escarpment and Lake Huron shoreline which is protected for future generations. Make sure to be careful where you step, as a large presence of Massasauga rattlesnake, Ontario’s only venomous snake resides along the peninsula. One of the unique features of this spot is the water near here is a stunning colour of blue, almost as if you’re in the Caribbean.
Awenda Provincial Park
One of the nicest parks in Ontario, Awenda sits just an hour and 45 minutes from Toronto. This Park is located in Tiny Township, one of the most prestigious destinations in Ontario for cottagers. This prized location is cherished for good reason, as the beaches and rock formations are some of the best in Ontario. Whether you decide to discover the bird species in the park, canoe the Kettle Lake, camp at the stone cottage or fish between the park and Giant’s Tomb island, there is no lack of things to do. Nearby, the towns of Midland and Penetanguishene offer a variety of food options. We recommend the Boathouse Eatery, as you get a great view of the harbour while enjoying a drink on the patio.
Thornton Bales Conservation area
Nicknamed “The 99 steps”, this area features a lookout to view breathtaking panoramic views at the ridge of the forest. Now, with exactly 99 steps, you get to the bottom of the ridge and descend to the Red Oak trail. With options for cycling, passionate mountain bikers have lots of options to explore along the vast trails. Downtown Newmarket is also not far away, leaving lots of options for grabbing lunch or dinner after returning from an afternoon hike.
Royal Botanical Gardens
A great spot for an afternoon walk, the Royal Botanical Gardens are located across Burlington and Hamilton, a short distance away from the greater Toronto area. This is Canada’s largest botanical garden with over 2400 of nature sanctuaries, 2300 plant species and 180,000 individual plants.
Hilton Falls Conservation Area
The Hilton falls conservation area has some of the most scenic hiking, biking, skiing around and boasts over 30km of trails. The area also has a 10-metre waterfall that cascades the Niagara escarpment and the mysterious mill ruins that surround it. In addition, there’s a viewing station located around the falls. Picnic areas are also included, and with a less than an hour drive from Downtown Toronto, it serves as a great day trip location for people living in the GTA.
⚠️ While road trips are often a great time, we all know that when the car breaks down, it can throw a massive wrench in the plans. This is why we have provided a vehicle checklist of things to check before you depart on your trip!
- Check and replenish fluids:
- Brake Fluid
- Radiator Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Windshield Fluid
- Engine Oil.
- Check your brake pads. Ensure they are not wearing thin and are in working order.
- Test your car battery. If you have a testing kit, this is a good time to make sure it doesn’t run out.
- Check your tires. Ensure you are not driving on bald tires to avoid unnecessary accidents. You can also save yourself from a potential ticket for improper tires on vehicle!
- Check your lights. Ensure they are all working and in good order. Make sure you don’t have cloudy headlights either as this may impact the safety of your vehicle, and your ability to see wildlife on the road.
Other items to check before you leave:
- Pack a car survival kit and first aid kit. Better be safe then sorry!
- Hand sanitizer, disposable wipes, gloves and masks!
- Keep a small garbage bag in the car
- Bring towels
- Take a spare car key so you don’t get locked out
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Phone chargers
- Download an audio book, podcast or stand up comedy to keep the drive entertaining.
- Download your My HBG app to make sure you have digital pink slips and the ability to report in claim (just in case).