One of the greatest things about Toronto is its proximity to natural marvels, charming townships and award-winning wineries. Within a 200 kilometre radius of the city you’ll find the Thousand Islands of the St Lawrence River, historic townships like Stratford, an outstanding wine region, and Niagara Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
1. Niagara Falls
You’ll hear the power of Niagara Falls before you see them. Take a Journey Behind the Falls, stand in the mist of the mighty Canadian Horseshoe Falls and watch as 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water tumbles from 13 storeys above. Visit during winter and marvel at the mini icebergs floating in the basin and the natural ice sculptures that form from the mist of the falls. Niagara Falls is one and a half hours drive from Toronto. Rent a car, relax on a Gray Line or Genova bus tour, or travel by rail.
2. Thousand Islands
Toronto is perfectly placed to capture the natural beauty and fascinating history of the Thousand Islands, a collection of more than 1800 islands along the St Lawrence River. Soak up the sunshine on a day cruise past the elegant Boldt Castle, past Zavicon Island the waterfront mansions of the uber-rich. Visit historic Fort Henry in Kingston and Bellevue House & Gardens, home of Canada’s first Prime minister, Sir John A Macdonald. Short Trips offers day trips to the Thousand Islands including motorcoach transfers to and from Toronto.
An hour and a half drive from Toronto, thirty minutes from Niagara Falls, lies the romantic town of Niagara-On-The-Lake. The old town is preserved in history, a designated heritage site resplendent with 19th century architecture, historic sites and charming inns. Discover the boutiques that line the main streets with quaint offerings of antiques, jams, Canadian fashion, rare books and theatre memorabilia. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the heart of the Niagara wine region, with its unique micro-climate creating the ideal grape-growing environment. Explore the wineries and stop for lunch on the patio at Trius Winery at Hillebrand.
4. Eco adventures
Scale the treetops, glide over the canopy of the striking Blue Mountains, delve into dark caves, and mine for gemstones at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, 160 kilometres from Toronto. The entire family will love hiking through the caverns created millions of years ago by glacial ice. Steel your nerves on the Thunderbird twin zipline with its 87-metre vertical drop, and stroll over the suspension bridge with its sweeping views of the Georgian Bay. Visit during winter for cross-country skiing and guided snowshoe tours in this UNESCO biosphere reserve.
5. Stratford township
Just 155 kilometres from Toronto in Southwestern Ontario, Stratford is a friendly hub of performance, art and gastronomy. Although best-known for its productions of Shakespearean plays during the annual Stratford Festival, Stratford is well worth a visit all year round. Foodies will love the smorgasbord of fine cheeses, distilleries and gourmet leaf teas, while art lovers will appreciate exhibitions of needlework, artisan craft and sculptures found in galleries and outdoor spaces around town. Shop for antiques and vintage clothing, and browse the Stratford Festival Shop brimming with memorabilia to honour Shakespeare’s works.