Summer is coming to an end, but there’s still a few weekends of good weather left if you want to get out and explore Ontario a little. Read below for my top 5 day trips to take from Toronto, which are good for summer/ fall weather. These places are all great for a winter trip as well!
1. Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you don’t want to do a weekend trip to N-O-T-L, it’s close
enough that you can take a day trip there. I have a friend visiting from Ireland in a couple of weeks and it’s on our itinerary for a Saturday day trip. Head to N-O-T-L and enjoy fun day of wine tasting, see the Niagara Falls, visit Clifton Hill in Niagara – aka The Street of Fun, or spend the afternoon wandering around the quaint town of N-O-T-L and stop off for lunch in Corks Winebar & Eatery. Our upcoming trip will be focused on wineries, and honestly, what better way to spend the day that visiting beautiful wineries and tasting delicious wines! I recently became a member of the Peller Estates Wine Club, and as a member, I get a complimentary glass of wine if I dine in the Peller Estates restaurant and I get complimentary wine tastings for myself and some guests! We are booked in for a delicious lunch at Peller Estates, and we will also be doing a tasting there. The other vineyards we will be visiting include Inniskillin where we will do the public wine tour, Konzelmann Estate Winery because I love their wines, Trius Winery because I recently tied their Trius Rose 2017 and it was so refreshing and crisp! We are also hoping to visit The Good Earth Winery, we’ve never been but have heard excellent things so I’m excited to go there. Remember there’s more than just wineries in NOTL, if you enjoy whiskey, stop off at Wayne Gretzky Winery Estates and do a whiskey tour & tasting! If you prefer beer, don’t worry, there are also some breweries in NOTL such as The Exchange brewery and Niagara Oast House brewery. Most of these wineries and breweries are opened all year round, so NOTL isn’t just a great destination for a summer day trip!
If you’re going in winter, don’t worry, most wineries are still opened so you can still do tastings, why not try some Ice wine? There’s also plenty of festivals that happen in winter such as the Icewine festival, check out the winter events here!
2. Elora & surrounding area. We just did this day trip yesterday and it was great! Elora is only a 1.5 hour drive from Toronto, so it’s perfect for a day trip. Also, the town of Elora is just so cute and picturesque, we loved it. Elora is situated on a gorge, which makes for great views. It also means there are plenty of water-related activities to do there, such as kayaking, or taking a nice relaxing boat trip along the river. The Elora Quarry Conservation area is a lovely area to walk around and has a really nice little beach too where you can enjoy the sun and take a dip in the water if you feel like it. Note that you do have to pay $10 per person to access the conservation area. There is also zip lining, which myself and Phil were very excited about. You can zipline across the gorge for $30 per person. However, when we got there and saw the zipline, we were a little disappointed as it’s pretty short and you don’t go very fast so we decided not to do it, but if you’ve never done ziplining and you’re looking to try it out, that would be the perfect place. You can take a nice walk around the area where the zipline is, and get in amongst the bush and right down to the water. There’s a lot of rocks so be prepared to do some climbing! Elora also has the Elora brewery Company if you fancy tasting some beer. The Metcalfe restaurant is a great place to stop for lunch and a refreshing drink, and they have a lovely patio area. They also have loads of adorable cafes and desert places – yum!
During winter, the same company that does the ziplining offers ice climbing for the more adventurous among us! There’s also so many other winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and snow mobiling. Elora is such a beautiful place in summer, I can only imagine how impressive it looks when covered in snow and ice!
From Elora, Campbellville is a half hour drive and here you can see the beautiful lavender fields at Terre Bleu Farm. The lavender had already been harvested when we got there yesterday, but it was still so pretty to see and of course, they have the yellow door in one of the lavender fields which has become Instagram famous now!! They have a store selling every kind of lavendar product you can ever imagine, including lavendar tea and chocolate! They also sell lavendar ice cream which was delicious and lavendar lemonade which was so refreshing on a very hot and humid day. There’s also the apiary and they have a herb bar where you can buy freshly grown herbs, and also enjoy a lavendar mocktail there! You can also take guided tours of the farm and learn about the inner workings. We really enjoyed our time there and left with some lavendar oil which we sprayed on our pillows last night! The farm is closed now for 2018 but will re-open in June 2019, you can still shop their products online.
Walking around the lavender can be thirsty work, especially if it’s a hot day, so your next stop should be the West Avenue Cider House where you can cool down with some very tasty ciders. This place has a very cool bar and they also do a cheese plate if you’re feeling hungry! Earlier in the day, when we were driving from Elora to Terre Bleu, we accidentally stumbled across a winery, to my delight, so of course we went in to do some tastings! Cox Creeks Cellars are a small winery that have been operating for 20 years. Their wine cannot be purchased in the LCBO but they do ship to Toronto. They also have orchards and they make some very sweet wines from apples, blackberries, strawberries and other berries. They do a tour every Sunday at 2pm and their tastings are only $1 for a very generous pour, with all proceeds going to a local hospital. The good news, both these place are opened in the winter, although Cox Creek Cellars is closed for January but will re-open in February 2019.
3. Hamilton. Some people may be surprised to see Hamilton on the list, but this area is a must if you are chasing waterfalls! Hamilton is known as the city of waterfalls and with good reason, as it’s home to more than 100 waterfalls! Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the more well-known waterfalls but there are so many others to discover and i you’re a budding photographer, this is definitely the place to go for a day trip. Dundurn Castle is also located in Hamilton, which is worth checking out and then there is also the Royal botanical Gardens. As with so many places in the GTA, there are also some small breweries to check out such as MERIT Brewing Company and Shawn & Ed Brewing Company.
In winter, you can check out the waterfalls and see if any of them are frozen, which would be a beautiful sight!
4. Collingwood. Collingwood is about an hour and a half away from Toronto and it’s a great place for a day trip – in any season! There’s some great trails where you can go walking or biking, if you’re there in winter then you can ski/snowboard at Blue Mountain. If you’re wandering around the town, there’s some great lunch spots such as The Tremont Cafe. Of course, if you’re in Collingwood and you fancy a day of relaxation, you can visit the Scandinave Spa, which is just gorgeous and I highly recommend it. Even if you go in winter, it’s fantastic to use the outdoor pools when you are surrounded by snow! If you’re just wanting to use the Scandinavian Baths, they are offered on a fist come, first serve basis, so if you’re going on the weekend, it’s best to get there early. If it’s full when you get there, you can put your name on the waiting list. You won’t be disappointed because you will leave the Scandinavian Baths feeling so refreshed and invigorated. If you want to really pamper yourself and have a massage too, then access to the Baths are included in the price of your massage.
5. Horseshoe Valley. This is about an hour and a half away from Toronto by car. If you go here in summer, or fall you can do tree top trekking, bike riding through the trails, play some golf, or do some kayaking. If you visit in winter, which we did back in February, then there are so many fun winter activities for you to do including skiing/snowboarding, and snow tubing! We rented fat bikes and cycled on a trail through the forest, in the snow and it was so much fun, but very exhausting. You will definitely work up an appetite cycling through the snow for 9km! It’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon in the snow, just don’t get too cocky like I got and go too fast or you will wipe out!!
Toronto is the gateway to Ontario and we have so many great places that we can easily access, making for some great day trips during any season.