As we approach the (near) end of summer, we thought we’d pull together some of the best places to visit in Ontario to enjoy the great outdoors.
From beaches to canyons to crystal-clear swimming quarries, we present you with the ultimate Ontario bucket list.
After all, this is the best time of year to explore, and there’s simply so much to see!
So with that in mind, here are 16 of the best places to visit in Ontario during the summertime.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is where breathtaking views meet rugged wilderness.
This park is a true gem, boasting over 100 km of incredible trails.
The Top of the Giant Trail Hike takes you to the top of the tallest cliffs and the greatest uninterrupted vertical drop in the province, according to Ontario Parks.
It also provides access to some of the most breathtaking lookout points in central Canada!
Where: R R 1, Pass Lake, Ontario
Did you know that Ontario has its very own Grand Canyon? The 150-metre gorge at Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park is a breathtaking sight that you have to see to believe.
Pictures can hardly capture the grandeur of Ouimet Canyon, a 100-meter-deep, 150-meter-wide, and 2,000-meter-long gorge bordered by stone cliffs.
When you arrive, you will embark on a 1 km loop trail before reaching two lookout platforms strategically positioned on the canyon’s edge.
Where: Greenwich Lake Road, Pass Lake, Ontario
Also known as Innerkip Quarry, Trout Lake is a spring-fed quarry in the village of Innerkip, Ontario.
The formerly abandoned quarry has been transformed into a popular summer destination that has been enjoyed in the community for over 50 years.
Filled with crystal-clear, spring-fed water, Trout Lake Quarry is a paradise for swimming, fishing, cliff-jumping, and even scuba diving.
The quarry boasts an “underground waterpark” that is a scuba diver’s dream, with sunken ships, school buses, and planes to explore.
Where: 51 George Street, Innerkip
Ferris Provincial Park is a lesser-known gem in Northumberland County that’s open year-round but is especially beautiful in the summer and fall.
This enchanting park has a pedestrian suspension bridge, plus incredible hiking trails, and even a waterfall.
Ferris Provincial Park boasts over 10 kilometers of well-maintained trails along the river and through the forests.
The hiking trail will also take you to the lookout over Ralley Falls, a wide plunge waterfall that makes for some spectacular photo ops.
Where: 474 County Road 8, Campbellford, Ontario
Quetico Provincial Park is an “iconic wilderness class park” right here in Ontario and there are many reasons why this place is considered so special.
According to Ontario Parks, Quetico is “renowned for its rugged beauty, towering rock cliffs, majestic waterfalls, virgin pine, and spruce forests, picturesque rivers and lakes.”
A fun fact about Quetico Provincial Park is that it is the only place in Ontario where you can visit a remote ranger station on the international border as you paddle from Canada into the USA.
Where: ON-11, Atikokan, Ontario
View this post on Instagram
If white sand beaches are your ideal vacation destination, look no further than Ontario’s very own Pancake Bay Provincial Park.
According to Ontario Parks, Pancake Bay is home to “more than 3 km of beautiful sand beach and Caribbean blue water.”
This beach is actually the longest on Lake Superior. And on sunny days, the sand and turquoise water give it a tropical effect.
Where: 12729 Highway 17N, Batchawana Bay, Ontario
Bathtub Island near Katherine Cove in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park is a unique destination where you can soak in warm bathtub-like waters.
According to Ontario Places, the small northern Ontario island is made up of eroded rock, which creates a natural sunken basin with collected lake water that accumulates over time as a result of high waves.
The water is then warmed up by the sun, making it a really nice temperature for a natural bath.
Bathtub Island is also very picturesque, with the basin of water turning a turquoise shade in the sunlight, surrounded by the glistening lake.
Where: Near Katherine Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Algoma
Nestled in the picturesque Algonquin Park, Barron Canyon is said to be one of the most scenic paddling routes in the whole area.
The soaring 100-metre granite cliffs are made up of jagged rocks and are surrounded by dry upland forests of red and white pine.
The cliffs are surrounded by calm waters that are perfect for beginner paddlers because they are easy to navigate both upstream and down, says Algonquin Portage.
Where: 29.0 KM of Barron Canyon Road, 11 KM north of Sand Lake Gate
Standing tall at a whopping 40 meters, Kakabeka Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Ontario.
Yes, that makes it the second highest after Niagara Falls!
As you gaze out from the scenic boardwalk, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the falls and the gorge, which have been carved out by the mighty Kaministiquia River over time.
But here’s something even cooler: at the bottom of the falls, you’ll find 1.6 million-year-old fossils!
Where: Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, Ontario
This might be one of our province’s best hidden gems — literally! Egan Chutes Provincial Park is home to three cascading waterfalls and a variety of beautiful minerals.
Within the reserve, there are three picturesque waterfalls, and you’ll have to walk along a short unmaintained road to see them.
Gem enthusiasts may notice several minerals on the grounds of the park, including nepheline, sodalite, biotite, zircon, and blue corundum.
Where: 487 Detlor Road, L’Amable
View this post on Instagram
Located two hours from Toronto is Petroglyphs Provincial Park, a nature preserve with fascinating rock carvings and a beautiful rare lake.
Petroglyphs is a protected and sacred site. It’s home to the largest concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in the country.
The stunning McGinnis Lake lake shimmers with bright blue and green hues. It’s one of the very few meromictic lakes in Canada, where different layers of water don’t intermix, creating a mesmerizing sight.
Where: 2249 Northeys Bay Road, Woodview
Amherst Island can easily be described as picture-perfect, and it’s home to a little hamlet that you simply have to see.
The hamlet of Stella on Amherst Island is so charming that it was once described by Harrowsmith Country Life magazine as one of the “prettiest towns in Canada,” says the island’s website.
Amherst Island is a popular destination for cycling, bird-watching, and sailing.
The shoreline features pebble and sandy beaches as well as limestone bluffs, and the island itself is home to meadows, pastures, and forests that provide habitats for deer, owls, and foxes.
Where: Lake Ontario, 10 km west of Kingston
Pink granite landscapes, surreal windswept trees, shimmering turquoise waters — Philip Edward Island is like a fantasy movie come to life and it’s right here in Ontario.
Philip Edward Island is in the Georgian Bay waters and is believed to be remnants of the eroded Killarney mountains, according to Northern Ontario Travel.
What’s left of these former mountains is a unique landscape of granite and quartz islands dotted with glacial potholes and wave-shaped rocks, as well as the iconic curved pine trees and aqua-blue waters of Georgian Bay.
Philip Edward Island is a must-visit destination in this region, thanks to the pink granite bedrock and the “free-for-all” camping options.
Where: Georgian Bay near Killarney, Ontario
This summer, you can climb your way across 400-million-year-old caves and cliff systems at the incredible Overhanging Point in the Bruce Peninsula.
If you look closely, “you’ll see layers of embossed, fossilized coral shielding dolomite and limestone,” which have been eroded over time into hidden caves and overhanging cliffs, says Explore The Bruce.
If you haven’t been, you’ll be taken aback by the incredible views of turquoise waters and intricate cliffs — the scenery is so unique that you’ll forget you’re in Ontario!
Where: Bruce Trail, Northern Bruce Peninsula, Tobermory
View this post on Instagram
According to Great Lakes Guide, Port Burwell is the “jewel of Lake Erie’s northern shore.”
This beach boasts 2.5 km of pristine sandy shorelines and warm Blue Flag-certified waters, making it the perfect place to swim for visitors of all ages.
Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes and it’s also the shallowest, according to The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
That means that it warms up quickly in the spring and summer and then cools down quickly in the fall.
Where: Erieus Street, Port Burwell, Ontario
According to Parks Canada, Northwest Beach is one of the most magical beaches to explore in all of Canada.
“Turquoise waters and golden sands await at Canada’s most southern point,” says Parks Canada.
Point Pelee National Park sits on a peninsula, and both the east and west sides are framed by 20 km of sandy beach.
There are also spectacular songbird and monarch butterfly migrations at this park that you’ll learn more about along the way.
Where: 1118 Point Pelee Drive, Leamington