A Walk on Ontario's Wild (and Sometimes Weird!) Side

Ontario is mostly uninhabited. And somewhat weird.

The home of Toronto, Ottawa, and about 400,000 square miles of uninhabited wildness, Ontario isn't a place that immediately comes across as exciting. Yet Canada's most populous province boasts a level of adventure and excitement that belies the low density of its population. No matter where in Ontario your travels take you, here's how to take a walk on the wild – and sometimes weird – side.

  • 01 of 05

    Nightmares Fear Factory

    Niagara Falls
    Jarek Tuszynski via Wikimedia Commons

    It doesn't take much inquiry into the name of Niagara to understand what the main draw of this Ontario city is. However, the Falls are only the beginning, whether you get wet and wild (without tumbling over any edges) at the indoor Fallsview Water Park, or go back in time as you enjoy a historical re-enactment at Old Fort Erie.

    If you're in search of something even older (and creepier), head to Nightmares Fear Factory, which is the oldest continuously operating haunted house in North America, to say nothing of how incredibly terrifying it is inside. The best part? The Haunted House is open all year round – no need to wait 'til Halloween to come!

  • 02 of 05

    The Big Nickel

    The Big Nickel
    Phil Harvey via Wikimedia Commons

    Sudbury might sound forgettable, but even if the city's modest skyline fails to impress you, one item on it certainly will — The Big Nickel, a sculpture that is literally a large five-cent piece. Other quirky Sudbury attractions include the Inco Superstack, which was the largest smokestack in the world for a very long time.

    The Northern Ontario Railroad Museum, on the other hand, tells the storied (and sometimes, downright criminal!) history of Canada's railways. It's hard to be a criminal here, though. Gambling, for one, is legal here and takes place at Sudbury Downs, a casino where you can play the slots, bet on horse racing or simply get obscenely drunk during the middle of the day.

  • 03 of 05

    Canada's Wonderland

    Canada's Wonderland
    Jeremy Thomson via Flickr

    Although even the most geographically-inclined Canadians would have a difficult time pinning the Ontario city of Vaughan on the map, what adventure-minded travelers need to know is not where this place is, but what there is to do here. And there is quite a lot! 

    Namely, Canada's Wonderland, the country's largest theme park, is surely a site to visit. Even if you don't have the guts to ride the aptly-named "Behemoth" hyper coaster, there are plenty of dining and entertainment options, to say nothing of photography opportunities. The ground around here might be flat, but the rollercoasters tower!

  • 04 of 05

    Cathedral of the Transfiguration

    Cathedral of the Transfiguration
    Sorin Nechita via Wikimedia Commons

    What is it with small Ontario towns and cities and extremely quirky landmarks? Flat terrain notwithstanding, you might feel like you're closer to Bratislava than to Toronto when you step inside the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, a Slovak Orthodox Church near the town of Markham. Other Eastern European-inspired attractions here include the Frederick Horsman Varley Art Gallery and Heintzman House Museum. Haven't practiced your Slovak lately? Not to worry – English is still spoken here, even if the cityscape leads you to believe otherwise.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Caesars Windsor Casino

    Caesars Windor
    Mike Wallace via Wikimedia Commons

    To both Americans and Canadians alike, Windsor tends to serve as little more than a border crossing with the United States. Perhaps more glamorously, it serves as a great vantage point for the impressive skyline of Detroit, Michigan, and its reflection in the International Waterfront.

    Another benefit of making a trip here? Gambling is legal, which means you can try your luck at Caesars Windsor Casino, which makes up for its lack of Las Vegas glamour with its proximity to one of the most important bi-national frontiers in the world. A friendly reminder that if you do happen to win more than $10,000 USD worth of spoils at the casino, you'll have to declare it upon entry back into the U.S.

    While it is indeed true that most of Ontario is unpopulated, these five cities only scratch the surface of all the non-nature things you can do here. Can you think of any others to add?