Summer in Ontario may be short, but thankfully, it’s filled with long weekends to help us make the most of the season. And if the annual exodus from the city to cottage country has proven anything, it’s that Ontarians love to escape the familiar and experience a change of pace and scenery for those few days — and luckily, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to all we can do. If you’re ready to hit the road this summer, read on for five locations two hours or less from our communities that are worth a long-weekend visit.
1 hour from Mount Hope; 1.5 hours from Generations
Perfect for: playing tourist for a weekend.
The Niagara region is famous around the world, and we’re lucky to have this gem in our own backyard. Full of exciting local spots and cultural attractions, this area is a must-visit if you want to spend your long weekend setting your senses ablaze. From wax museums and haunted houses to city cruises and the Niagara Speedway — the largest elevated go-kart track in North America — there’s no shortage of things to do. For an added measure of fun (and a great glass of wine), be sure to explore nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is home to a host of wineries, historic sites, galleries, restaurants, parks and more.
If you thought that palm trees couldn’t survive a Canadian winter, then chances are you haven’t been to Port Dover Beach. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, this beach is famous for the palm trees that line its sandy shores and scenic pier for fishing or taking a romantic stroll.
On the shores of Lake Huron, Grand Bend Beach has earned a reputation as one of Canada’s best beach towns, and is one of only 27 beaches in the country to have earned official Blue Flag status for its commitment to strict water quality and safety criteria. Grand Bend is famous for its crystalline waters and is perfect for families who want a dash of adventure sprinkled into their relaxing long weekend plans, as it features a splash pad, playground and variety of water sport activities — including parasailing, wakeboarding and waterskiing — to partake in.
Blue Mountain & Collingwood
1 hour, 10 minutes from Arthur; 1 hour, 25 minutes from Erin Glen
Perfect for: the adventure-seeking family.
The Blue Mountains may be most popular during the winter months, but there’s still plenty to do during the summer season. With attractions that include a mountain coaster, aquatic centre, zipline track, putting course, and cave and mountain hikes, there are countless ways to seek adventure within or nearby the Blue Mountain Village.
While in the area, be sure to spend some time exploring the neighbouring town of Collingwood — this picturesque place is brimming with beautiful shops and tasty eateries, and depending on when you plan your visit, you’ll also be treated to a variety of music festivals.
2 hours from Arthur
Perfect for: the couple who wants a romantic nature getaway.
Home to some of the most beautiful waters and hiking trails in the province, it’s no surprise that the Bruce Peninsula is a favourite destination for those looking to enjoy nature. Swim at the popular Lion Cove Beach, Little Head Beach or Sandy Beach, and be sure to visit The Grotto for a one-of-a-kind cave experience. Take in the area’s scenic vistas while hiking along any of the area’s popular trails, including Cyprus Lake Trail, Georgian Bay Trail, Marr Lake Trail, Horse Lake Trail and Singing Sands.
Feeling a bit theatrical? A long weekend in Stratford is sure to be well spent. While the city may have more recently rose to fame as the hometown of singer Justin Bieber, it has a long history of impressive live performances, even earning the moniker of Canada’s Art Town. Between April and October, the city comes to life for the Stratford Festival, which features productions inspired by Shakespeare’s plays; likewise, the Stratford Summer Music Festival attracts people of all ages, who come to partake in over 100 events and listen to 350 plus featured artists.
In search of more family-friendly activities to help you make the most of the season? Look no further — we’ve got your summer fun roundup here.