Don’t let this fall season bring you down. Yes, it’s cold out, yes, it’s a little gloomy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors and head out on an adventure. Ontario offers some of the best experiences throughout the fall season so if you’re feeling a little spontaneous, check out these day trips.
We’ve compiled a list of small towns, local experiences, and outdoor adventures that are in close driving distance to Toronto. So there’s a little bit of everything for everyone looking to embark on a few day trips this fall.
Without further ado, here’s our list of 12 spontaneous day trips to enjoy near Toronto this fall.
Caledon is actually a collection of rural townships with small populations, according to Destination Ontario. It consists of Alton, Belfountain, Bolton, Caledon East, Caledon Village, Cheltenham, Inglewood, Palgrave, and Terra Cotta.
Each spot is charming in its own way, offering that small-town, rural vibe that many seek for that peaceful escape.
“There are 21 ghost hamlets located in Caledon and the surrounding area,” shares Destination Ontario.
These ‘ghost hamlets’ are places that were once home to small communities.
Dating back to the late 1700s, Ancaster is one of the oldest towns in all of Ontario.
Its historic charm has been preserved through dozens of heritage buildings and a charming main strip, where you’ll find all kinds of spots to dine including the dreamy Ancaster Mill.
Also nearby is the beautiful town of Dundas, a beautiful town in the lush Dundas Valley that’s lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Steeped in rich Mennonite heritage, St. Jacobs is home to the largest population of Old Order Mennonites in Canada, according to the St. Jacobs Market.
In fact, you’ll often see farmers on local roads traveling on horse and buggy!
But, the main attraction for locals and visitors is the St. Jacobs farmers’ market, which is the largest year-round market of its kind in the entire country, the town says.
Where: The Village of St. Jacobs, Woolwich Township
It’s not too late to spend the day in nature this fall, and if you’re looking to add one more excursion to your bucket list, look no further than the Dofasco 2000 Trail.
This beautiful 11.5-km multi-use trail is a hidden gem on Hamilton’s East Mountain, and it’s packed with amazing sights to see.
The journey begins at the breathtaking Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area, where you’re greeted with panoramic views of Hamilton and the seemingly bottomless Punchbowl.
Where: 185 Ridge Road or 444 First Road East, Stoney Creek
Add this to your day trips list. Just a short drive from downtown Toronto lies Bronte Creek Provincial Park, a haven of fall colours, trails, and peaceful surroundings.
This park has tons to offer throughout the year, but it truly shines during the enchanting autumn months.
One of the park’s highlights is the Spruce Lane Farmhouse, a charming turn-of-the-century farmhouse that transports you back to the 1880s.
Where: 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville
This charming historic hotel in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake has a 13,000 sq ft spa with a gorgeous outdoor hot spring that you can enjoy all year round.
There’s plenty to do in the Niagara region this time of year, like visiting wine country, autumn hikes, and exploring the historic boulevards and attractions.
Where: 48 John Street W, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Temperatures are dropping here in Ontario, and what better way to warm up than with hot therapeutic waters and delicious hot tea? You can enjoy both in one place at Terra Nova Nordic Spa & Cafe.
This dreamy spa in Woodstock lets you soak your stress away at their thermal experience in a peaceful setting.
It has a year-round outdoor hot pool, cold plunge, wood-fired and electric sauna, and eucalyptus steam room, as well as an authentic teepee and geodome for relaxation.
When: Daily from 10 AM to 8 PM
Where: 596145 Highway 59 North, Woodstock
Day trips are in order, and this next spot is calling your name. Lush canopies of autumn leaves as far as the eye can see — that’s what you’ll find at Dundas Valley Conservation Area this time of year!
Described as “one of southern Ontario’s most spectacular natural treasures,” the Dundas Valley is the place to go for breathtaking lookout points and attractions around every corner.
Located just an hour outside of Toronto, the 1,200-hectare conservation area is comprised of forests, meadows, streams, wildlife, waterfalls, and ancient geological formations.
Where: 650 Governors Road, Dundas
Full of fascinating history and architecture, this small yet wonderful Ontario town is just a drive away from a popular ski destination.
According to Destination Ontario, Collingwood is nestled along the south shore of Georgian Bay and is home to “a flourishing culinary and craft brew community.”
The town is a great destination for tourism as it is located minutes away from Ontario’s most popular ski and mountain biking resort, Blue Mountain.
If you’re familiar with the best hiking trails in the GTA, you’ve likely been to or at least heard of Rattlesnake Point in Milton.
This trail offers panoramic views from the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment which are especially beautiful in the summertime. The conservation area is also full of stunning sheer cliffs, cave systems, and rock crevices.
Where: 7200 Appleby Line, Milton
So many day trips, so little time! This fall drive in Ontario is located in Northumberland County, known for its rolling country hills and glistening lakes.
First, there’s the Alnwick-Haldimand route, which takes you right into the heart of the autumn colours in Shelter Valley.
Next is the Brighton-Cramahe route, right off Highway 401. But don’t worry, because this location feels “a world away from the heavy traffic,” says Northumberland Tourism.
The beautiful Rice Lake is up next. At Close Point Road, you will embark on a memorable drive with views of the orange leaves reflecting on the blue water.
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.
Known as the “gem of Lake Ontario,” the island is part of Loyalist Township in Lennox and Addington County and it’s accessible by the Frontenac II ferry from Millhaven.