If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon and see something new, why not head out on a day trip?
Grab a friend or pack up the family and get out and explore one of Ontario’s many beautiful towns. The following five destinations have a lot to offer year-round—so much so that you might want to return later in the year for a proper vacation!
The township of Elora, along the banks of the Grand and Irvine Rivers, draws visitors for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the spectacular gorge and the stunning Elora Mill & Spa, great shopping and dining. Do some advance scouting and get a preview of the many stores and services through the local BIA; just know that there are so many lovely shops it may be hard to choose a favourite. If you’re visiting in the winter and are itching to get active, there are lots of great outdoor activities you can choose from too: you can scale a wall of sheer ice at the Elora gorge (it’s called ice climbing!) or add some hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing to your plans.
Another picturesque spot in Ontario is downtown Bracebridge, which has been voted one of the 10 most historic downtowns in the province by the Ontario Business Report. Shops, services and eateries are nestled between the iconic Silver Bridge and Bracebridge Falls. As you pop in and out of the shops on Manitoba Street, chatting with the local merchants, you’re certain to notice many cool architectural features, as well as several historic red brick buildings. You’re bound to get a taste of the Muskoka lifestyle here and, in all likelihood, will make plans to return soon!
Downtown Almonte offers a great mix of unique and eclectic shops, restaurants and attractions, and Mill Street is the place to be. The Almonte Riverwalk must be seen to be believed; anyone who loves meandering walks, bridges, being surrounded by nature and snapping photos to remember it all will appreciate this one-of-a-kind setting. Start behind the Old Town Hall and follow along the banks of the Mississippi River (yes, you read that right) and end at the site of the old Victoria Woolen Mill—there’s a breathtaking lookout you won’t soon forget. Added to all of this beauty is a wonderful attitude: the motto here is “where all things are friendly”.
Another gem in Muskoka is Downtown Huntsville, which, like the other amazing towns listed here, has much to offer. Wind your way in and out of the unique stores, stopping to pick up gifts, souvenirs or a little something for yourself. Dine at one of the restaurants or cafes and take home a few treats to share. Make sure to take in the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery; it is made up of over 90 world-class murals that have been hand-painted by artists from across Canada and is completely free!
The shopping in Niagara-on-the-Lake can’t be beat, even if you’re more of a browser or window-shopper. The pretty stores that line the downtown area offer a range of temptations; there are also art galleries, nurseries and antiques markets to explore. Of course, the area is well-known for its wineries, cafes, restaurants and luxury hotels, so if you’re in the mood for a meal after all that spelunking, your most difficult decision of the day will be narrowing down where to go.
There’s no reason your winter weekends can’t be as eventful as your summer ones. There’s no need to stay indoors—keep exploring!