Toronto, Canada, is a fabulous city, but if you have some extra time, why not visit some of the other cities and towns near Toronto in Southern Ontario? From the stunning spectacle of Niagara Falls to the small-town charm of Elora and Stratford, the region surrounding Toronto is worth exploring.
Check out the places you can visit, all within a two-hour drive from Toronto, that offer visitors a wide range of experiences.
One of the world's natural wonders, Niagara Falls attracts visitors from around the world. If you're in Toronto, Niagara Falls is an easy day trip. It is about 80 miles away. The famous Maid of the Mist boat that sails around the falls can be a thrilling adventure, although it is only seasonally available from April to November.
Jordan and the Niagara Wine Region
About 70 miles from Toronto, the Niagara wine region offers visitors dozens of wineries. This region is famous for its ice wine. Check out spectacular natural surroundings via the Bruce Trail. Jordan is one of the charming towns among many in the area.
Located on Georgian Bay, Collingwood, about 90 miles from Toronto, underwent a major restoration in the late 90s. Today it is popular year-round, with skiing Blue Mountain in the winter, and hiking, biking, golfing, and boating in the summer. Lovers of the outdoors will especially enjoy the Collingwood area and consider Scenic Caves Nature Adventures.
Wasaga Beach is the longest freshwater beach in the world, with eight miles of sandy shoreline and glorious sunsets. Wasaga Beach has been awarded Blue Flag status for its efforts to manage its shoreline according to international environmental standards.
In addition to beach activities, there is hiking and bird watching, as well as family-friendly cultural and historic events that commemorate the War of 1812 through tours and museums.
For people looking to extend their day trip to Wasaga, there are lots of beach houses and cottages available to rent. Wasaga is 90 miles from Toronto.
A more sophisticated, cultural destination than its famous neighbor Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a lovely town brimming with heritage and charm—and only 80 miles away from Toronto.
Known foremost as a steel town, Hamilton also has a rich cultural side, including historical museums and fine art galleries.
Some of the top things to do in Hamilton include visits to the Canadian Warplane Museum, which displays aircraft from World War II planes to jets; the Whitehern Historic House and Garden, an outstanding intact historic house; and the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has one of the largest lilac collection and 18 miles of trails. Hamilton is just over 40 miles away, about an hour's drive.
About 40 miles from Toronto, Oakville is an upscale town with diverse dining and shopping. Golf is popular here. Or, if you're looking for a day of boutiques and galleries in a pretty waterside setting, Oakville is a good choice.
If golf is your thing, you might want to grab a tee time at the Glen Abbey Golf Course, or, if that's not possible, visit the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Otherwise, shopping and dining are top-notch in this town.
To get there, you can drive for just over 30 minutes or grab a GoTrain from Toronto and be there in 20 minutes.
St. Jacobs Country
St. Jacobs has maintained its small-town charm despite being a major tourist draw. The local Mennonites are part of the town's success story as many of their unique wares are sold in the more than 100 specialty shops and at the outstanding farmer's market.
Learn more about the Mennonite culture, consider a visit to the Quilt Gallery, or check out the Maple Syrup Museum.
St. Jacobs is 80 miles from Toronto.
Elora (Elmira and Fergus)
About an hour's drive from Toronto is in the town of Elora and nearby Elmira and Fergus. These towns offer up small-town Ontario at its best. Elora is perched prettily on the Grand River and the Elora Gorge. This quaint village is noted for its interesting shops, historic stone buildings, country inns, and bed and breakfasts.
Among the many things to do, you can shop, tube down the Grand River, hike, visit or dine at the Elora Mill, attend the Elora Festival in July or the Fergus Scottish Festival in August, and take the Elora-Fergus artist studio tour.
Stratford is famous for its annual Stratford Festival (April to November), which is a repertory theater festival with an emphasis on the works of Shakespeare. Also, it is known for its beautiful gardens. The picturesque town of Stratford, also like its English namesake, is located on the Avon River, about 95 miles from Toronto. Nearby St Mary's has a well-preserved Victorian downtown district and one of the largest collections of historic limestone buildings in Ontario.
While in Stratford, you might want to eat at a culinary arts school. The town offers great dining throughout. Also, consider a visit to a garden or find an architectural tour. If that doesn't interest you, then go shopping.
Part of Ontario's cottage country, Midland-Penetanguishene, is 90 miles from downtown Toronto. It has a rich heritage that blends Native, French, and British cultures. Midland-Penetanguishene is of interest to history buffs and nature lovers alike.
You can visit the Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons Native Village, see the Martyr’s Shrine, take the Georgian Bay 30,000 Island boat tour, or walk around the historic naval and military base at Discovery Harbour.