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The 13 Best Cities to Visit near Toronto: Weekend Fun

Updated: Jun 27

This blog post explores several exciting destinations near Toronto, perfect for quick weekend getaways or day trips.

From the iconic Niagara Falls to the quaint charm of Port Hope and the outdoor adventures of Bruce Peninsula National Park, these places offer a variety of experiences within easy reach of the city. Here are 13 of the best cities near Toronto to explore!

Distance from Toronto: 128 km about an hour and a half

View of Niagara Falls from Skylon Tower

Niagara Falls is one of North America's most stunning natural wonders and a must-visit for tourists from the United States and Canada. Just a short drive from Toronto, this city offers incredible views of the falls, exciting boat tours, and plenty to do along Clifton Hill.

The falls include the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls, which collectively have one of the world's highest water flow rates, attracting 12 million visitors annually.

Beyond the falls, Niagara offers tons of activities for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. You can go behind the falls with Journey Behind the Falls or get up close with Cave of the Winds.

Niagara SkyWheel in Clifton Hill near Niagra Falls

For a spectacular view, hop on the 175-foot-tall Niagara SkyWheel and enjoy the sights from its comfy gondolas. Adventure seekers can try zip-lining over Niagara's gorges or take a misty boat tour with Niagara City Cruises right to the base of Horseshoe Falls.

Do not miss the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, spread across 99 acres and perfect for exploring, especially during the vibrant fall foliage.

The area is also known for its scenic hiking trails, orchards, and top-notch wineries, making it a great place to enjoy the outdoors and local flavors.

With its growing tourism scene, Niagara Falls always has something new to offer, ensuring it remains a captivating destination for visitors.

2. Hamilton

Distance from Toronto: 68 km about an hour

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Rich in history, culture, and nature, Hamilton, Ontario, is a city like no other. Known for its scenic trails and waterfalls, Hamilton is an ideal spot for nature lovers.

Bounded by the picturesque southern shores of Lake Ontario and the lush trails of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the city offers incredible access to conservation and recreation lands.

With a network of more than 120 waterfalls cascading across the city, Hamilton is a natural playground for cyclists, hikers, boaters, and outdoor adventurers.

In addition to its natural attractions, Hamilton is a vibrant hub of arts and culture. The Royal Botanical Gardens showcases the world's largest lilac collection, 100,000 spring bulbs, and 3,000 rose bushes across the endless trails.

The garden's Rock Garden, a National Historic Site, hosts year-round events and offers award-winning dining experiences.

Giant letters that spell Hamiton

Meanwhile, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Southern Ontario's oldest and largest, houses a diverse collection of over 10,000 artworks, including notable pieces like Alex Colville's Horse and Train and Kim Adams' Bruegel-Bosch Bus.

For families, Hamilton offers unique attractions such as the African Lion Safari, Canada’s original safari adventure, where visitors can drive through a reserve to see exotic animals like lions, elephants, and giraffes up close.

For those seeking adventure, Treetop Trekking offers exhilarating zip lines and suspended bridges through the forest canopy, with courses designed for both adults and children.

Hamilton seamlessly combines natural wonders with cultural richness, making it a perfect place for visitors with diverse interests.

3. Barrie

Distance from Toronto: 114 km about an hour and a half

Park and lake view in Barrie, Ontario, Canada

Barrie offers year-round fun with its multiple beaches, water sports, green spaces, unique shops, and skiing options nearby.

This vibrant city, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe, is also home to a lively downtown area featuring live music, performing arts, and festivals such as the Barrie Waterfront Festival.

One of Barrie's jewels is the scenic six-kilometer-long waterfront trail, which includes parks, gardens, and sunny patios.

If you want to check out the beach, visit Minet's Point Beach, Johnson's Beach, The Gables, and Tyndale Beach. Nature lovers can explore the Arboretum at Sunnidale Park, which boasts a botanical collection of trees, gardens, and floral displays.

Dried trees during the winter with snow on the bottom in Barrie

The park also features an accessible Adventure Playground for children. The vibrant cultural sectors in Barrie include the MacLaren Art Centre, where visitors can explore local and international art exhibits.

The year-round farmer's market showcases the seasonal bounty of Simcoe County, offering locally grown produce, fresh-baked goods, and artisanal crafts every Saturday.

4. Prince Edward County

Distance from Toronto: 214 km about two and a half hours

Beach in Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County is one of Ontario’s most beloved holiday destinations, famous for its wine tastings, local produce, and stunning beaches.

This charming area attracts those seeking relaxation and natural beauty. Visitors are drawn to The County to explore its quaint towns, filled with antique shops, art galleries, and farm-to-table dining options.

The sandy beaches of Prince Edward County are a natural hotspot for water activities. Sandbanks Provincial Park and Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park are perfect for a relaxing swim.

The region also hosts various festivals throughout the year, such as the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival in the summer, Countylicious in the fall and spring, and Elevage Winter Wine or Flashback February in the winter.

From spring to fall, the Saturday Wellington Farmer's Market and Sunday Farmer's Market in Picton provide an opportunity to sample local produce.

Beautiful pink flowers in Prince Edward County

History buffs can explore local heritage at the Wellington Heritage Museum, Ameliasburgh Museum Pioneer Village, and Mariners Park Museum - while art lovers can visit modern galleries and rustic studios along the Art Trail.

Wine enthusiasts will find Prince Edward County a paradise, with numerous wineries offering guided tours by bike or van, complete with wine tastings and food pairings.

Notable wineries include Black Prince Winery, Sugarbush Vineyard, and Sandbanks Estate Winery. For a sweet treat, the annual Maple in the County event celebrates the local sugar shacks and their maple syrup production.

With its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and gourmet delights, Prince Edward County is an ideal place to unwind and savor the best of Ontario.

5. Kitchener / Waterloo

Distance from Toronto: 108 km about an hour and a half

Google in Canada

The sister cities of Kitchener and Waterloo are renowned for their two prestigious universities, an innovative tech industry, vibrant culture, unique events, and fun attractions.

Kitchener takes pride in its strong German heritage and hosts the world’s largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Germany.

Year-round, visitors can experience a variety of music festivals such as the Kitchener Blues Festival, Sun Life Waterloo Busker Carnival, and Kultrún World Music Festival.

The cities also feature museums, art galleries, and numerous public parks and gardens, all adding to the vibrant city life.

A notable attraction in Kitchener is THEMUSEUM, which provides hands-on, family-friendly exhibits and a revolving calendar of special events, including the permanent Sol LeWitt installation.

THEMUSEUM in Kitchener, Canada

The Kitchener Market, one of the oldest public markets in Canada, is a must-visit for those interested in local produce and artisanal goods.

For those seeking outdoor activities, Rockway Gardens offers a beautifully manicured Victorian garden with a gazebo and a wide variety of plants and wildlife, open year-round.

Additionally, the historic West Montrose Covered Bridge, known as the Kissing Bridge, has delighted visitors since the late 1880s and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Kitchener-Waterloo's blend of cultural heritage, outdoor attractions, and innovative spirit makes it an ideal spot for a diverse and enriching experience.

6. Guelph

Distance from Toronto: 93 km about an hour and a half

Guelph, Canada

Guelph strikes a perfect balance of small-town charm and urban amenities, making it an ideal spot for a weekend getaway.

Set at the convergence of the Eramosa and Speed Rivers, Guelph features heritage limestone architecture, scenic trails, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Nature enthusiasts can effortlessly immerse themselves in Guelph's outdoor offerings, whether strolling along the tranquil Speed River Trail, paddling on Guelph Lake, or exploring the expansive Guelph Lake Conservation Area on foot.

Moreover, the University of Guelph Arboretum provides a peaceful retreat with its diverse plant species amidst picturesque landscapes.

Architectural enthusiasts can marvel at the Gothic Revival-style Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate, adorned with intricate stained glass windows that reflect Guelph's rich history.

Furthermore, families can enjoy a whimsical experience aboard the Riverside Park carousel or miniature train or visit the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada to meet rescued and rehabilitated donkeys.

7. London

Distance from Toronto: 194 km about two hours and fifteen minutes

Budweiser Gardens in London, Canada

In the heart of Southwestern Ontario, London shines with a harmonious mix of lively festivities, cultural gems, and tranquil natural retreats.

Known as the “Forest City” for its sprawling canopy of over four million trees, London, Ontario, celebrates its rich heritage through engaging events, top-tier museums, and expansive green spaces.

The city effortlessly blends its historic charm with cutting-edge technology, seen in venues like 100 Kellogg Lane and Budweiser Gardens, where modern entertainment complements the picturesque natural landscapes.

London offers ample opportunities for family fun, with attractions such as Storybook Gardens, featuring amusement rides and a giant splash pad, and The Factory, a hub of thrilling games and adventures.

East Park provides further excitement with its seven-slide water park, bumper cars, mini golf, and rock climbing.

London, Ontario, Canada

For those with a taste for local libations, London boasts Southern Ontario’s largest brewery scene, offering traditional flavors and innovative brews at Storm Stayed Brewing Co., Forked River Brewing Company, and Powerhouse Brewing Company.

As Canada’s first and only UNESCO City of Music, London is a haven for live entertainment.

Visitors can enjoy indoor performances at The Aeolian Hall and London Music Hall, experience global rhythms at TD Sunfest, or attend Rock the Park for performances by international superstars.

For a romantic outing, stroll along the Thames Valley Parkway, a 110-kilometre scenic walkway winding through the countryside, or explore Victoria Park, a vibrant green space hosting year-round events.

London’s dynamic blend of cultural richness, natural splendor, and lively entertainment makes it a captivating destination for all types of travelers.

8. Elora / Fergus

Distance from Toronto: 114 km about an hour and a half

Elora, Ontario. Canada

Elora and Fergus, a charming pair of towns in Southern Ontario, brim with unique shops, eateries, galleries, and artists’ studios, making them ideal destinations for a quaint getaway.

Elora draws visitors with its attractions like the Grand River Raceway, the renowned Elora Festival, the picturesque Elora Gorge, and the annual Riverfest Elora music festival held each August.

Meanwhile, Fergus captivates with its boutique shopping scene, historic architecture, and the prestigious Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games, a three-day celebration of Scottish culture featuring Celtic musicians, highland dancers, whisky tasting, and traditional Scottish wares.

For culinary delights, visitors can savor handcrafted artisanal bread and sandwiches at The Elora Bread Trading Company before exploring the town's scenic surroundings.

Elora, Ontario. Canada

In Fergus, the enchanting Templin Gardens beckon with limestone structures and the legendary Kissing Stone, which is said to bring eternal luck to those who seal their love with a kiss.

Adventure seekers can explore the natural beauty of the Elora Gorge Conservation Area, where activities range from tubing on the Grand River to biking along the 47-kilometer Elora Cataract Trailway or camping amidst the serene landscapes.

Elora and Fergus offer a perfect blend of cultural richness, natural wonders, and small-town charm, ensuring a memorable experience for every visitor.

9. Blue Mountain

Distance from Toronto: 173 km about two hours and fifteen minutes

Blue Mountain Resort, Canada

The Blue Mountains, situated along the shores of Georgian Bay, is one of Ontario’s top vacation destinations year-round, blending adventure and relaxation seamlessly.

This picturesque town boasts luxurious spas like the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain, where visitors can unwind amidst 10 hectares of natural forest.

Thrill-seekers can enjoy the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, a thrilling one-kilometer ride down the mountainside offering leisurely tours and exhilarating excitement.

In winter, the Woodview Mountaintop Skating loop invites visitors to glide across 1.1 kilometers of ice with stunning views of the Niagara Escarpment, enhancing the winter wonderland experience.

Beyond outdoor activities, Blue Mountain hosts cultural events such as the five-day Blue Mountain Film Festival held annually in Blue Mountain Village.

Mountain coaster

It is a popular stop on the Apple Pie Trail, a self-guided tour featuring orchards, breweries, distilleries, and bakeries that highlight the region’s culinary delights.

As a premier ski destination in Ontario, Blue Mountain Resort offers 43 ski and snowboard trails, including a freestyle terrain park with halfpipes and rails, catering to winter sports enthusiasts of all skill levels.

Whether indulging in spa retreats, enjoying thrilling mountain coasters, or exploring scenic skating trails, The Blue Mountains promises a diverse and memorable experience.

10. Port Hope

Distance from Toronto: 107 km about one hour and fifteen minutes

Gothic architecture building in Port Hope, Canada

Port Hope, Ontario, is one of the most enchanting small towns, celebrated for its rich history and picturesque downtown nestled along the banks of the Ganaraska River.

Its preserved main street exudes charm, attracting filmmakers who have used the town as a backdrop for numerous films and TV shows, including iconic productions like IT and Schitt's Creek. 

Beyond the downtown area, the Municipality of Port Hope beckons with Northumberland’s rolling hills, scenic hiking trails, and sprawling farms, offering a serene escape into nature.

The Ganaraska River, known locally as the Ganny, flows through the town, drawing visitors to witness Canada’s impressive salmon and trout runs, adding to the town's allure as a destination rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty.

11. Bruce Peninsula National Park

Distance from Toronto: 274 km about three hours and a half

Gorgeous blue water of Bruce Peninsula National Park

Bruce Peninsula National Park, renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, offers turquoise waters, ancient cedar-lined cliffs, and extensive hiking trails.

A standout feature of the park is the Grotto, a limestone cave with a vibrant turquoise pool fed by Georgian Bay, attracting visitors eager to swim in its crystal-clear waters and relax on the smooth, sun-drenched rocks nearby.

The park's unique location between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay provides ample opportunities for swimming.

On the Lake Huron side, Singing Sands Beach offers shallow, warmer waters, while Indian Cove on the Georgian Bay side provides a refreshing dip in colder waters.

Bruce Peninsula National Park invites adventurers to explore its natural wonders, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking tranquility and breathtaking scenery in Ontario.

12. Wasaga Beach

Distance from Toronto: 148 km about 2 hours 

Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada

Wasaga Beach, renowned for hosting the World's Longest Freshwater Beach and boasting Ontario's distinctive coastal dune ecosystems, offers year-round attractions for visitors.

In the summer, the beach is a hub for swimming, water sports, biking, and hiking along its scenic shores, catering to adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.

Winter transforms Wasaga Beach into a playground for ice skating, hockey, snowmobiling, and fat biking, providing diverse recreational opportunities amidst its natural beauty.

Dining options abound, from romantic dinners to casual bites, and restaurants serving everything from steaks and Thai cuisine to pizza, ensuring there is something to satisfy every palate in this picturesque town.

Wasaga Beach is a perfect spot for those seeking outdoor activities and culinary delights within a convenient drive from Toronto and nearby urban areas.

13. Vaughan

Distance from Toronto: 44km about forty-five minutes

Rollercoaster at Canada’s Wonderland

Vaughan, often called the "city above Toronto," has emerged as a top destination with an impressive lineup of world-class attractions.

Canada’s Wonderland, the largest theme park in the country, attracts thrill-seekers with its iconic Yukon Striker coaster.

Vaughan Mills, the largest indoor shopping complex in the nation, features over 200 stores and a variety of dining options.

Families can explore LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto and Reptilia or step back in time at Black Creek Pioneer Village to experience 1860s Ontario.

Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

Art enthusiasts can visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in the quaint village of Kleinburg, showcasing a rich display of Canadian and Indigenous artworks.

For those interested in conservation and technology, the Kortright Centre for Conservation offers educational hikes along the "Innovation Trail," highlighting renewable energy initiatives.

Vaughan's vibrant blend of entertainment, shopping, history, and art makes it an ideal destination for visitors seeking diverse experiences outside Toronto's bustling urban core.

But, what about Toronto?

This blog post explores cities near Toronto for weekend getaways, but what about Toronto itself? As Canada's largest city and a global cultural hub, Toronto offers a dynamic mix of attractions and experiences.

Toronto skyline during sunset

Renowned for its multicultural diversity and iconic skyline, Toronto features vibrant neighborhoods such as the lively surroundings of the University of Toronto.

Key landmarks include the CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, offering panoramic views of the city and beyond.

Ripley's Aquarium provides immersive encounters with aquatic life, while Casa Loma offers a glimpse into Toronto's history with its Gothic Revival architecture and expansive gardens.

The Royal Ontario Museum showcases diverse exhibitions spanning art, culture, and natural history, drawing visitors to its extensive collections.

For those seeking tranquility, the Toronto Botanical Gardens offer an oasis of botanical beauty across themed gardens and educational programs, making Toronto a multifaceted destination for locals and tourists.

Which city are you choosing?

Toronto skyline during the day with a marina on the bottom right

Whether you seek natural wonders, cultural immersion, or outdoor adventures, these cities near Toronto provide excellent options for a memorable weekend getaway. With various attractions and activities, there is something for everyone just a short drive from the big city.

If you want to visit the west side of Canada, check out my blog post, 25 Fun Ideas for a Weekend Getaway Around Calgary.

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