I’m a bit of a sunchaser, so during our short-lived Canadian summers, I like to stay local and absorb every ounce of sunshine that I can. I prefer to visit the beach destinations during our world renowned frigid, and in my opinion unbearable, winters. Nevertheless, I still like to squeeze in a little getaway here and there throughout the summer, and what better way to do that than to explore my home province of Ontario. Since I’m typically a last-minute traveller, I find that I’m always behind the ball when it comes to booking cottages or planning trips to popular Ontario destinations like Muskoka or Niagara Falls. Almost always, I find myself scouring accommodation sites on the Thursday before a long weekend, hoping for a miracle (aka: a vacancy).
This summer, I decided to save myself some time and avoid the spots that I knew were already booked up months in advance. I managed to sneak in a spontaneous getaway for each of the long weekends in the summer.
Here are 3 quick and easy weekend getaways to take in Ontario:
1. Ottawa: Our Nation’s Capital
Just a 5-hour drive from Toronto – or a 1-hour flight if you’re like me and hate long car rides. Accommodation is readily available, even on busy weekends. I decided to venture over to Ottawa for Canada Day weekend, and had no trouble booking a hotel the night before I left. The city is extremely walkable and really doesn’t require any advanced
planning. From the rich history to the delectable food, Ottawa is best discovered by wandering around on foot. Though I had been to Ottawa several times before, it was nice to ditch the car and play tourist for a weekend. The city is packed with great restaurants and has several must-see attractions. I even took the hop-on-hop-off bus to the RCMP Heritage Centre and the Canadian Museum of History. But by far, my favourite experience was hanging out by Parliament during the day around the Rideau Canal. I went back at night to watch Canada Day fireworks and it was truly unforgettable.
2. London, Ontario
A weekend getaway in London, Ontario seemed a bit odd to me at first, but it turned out to be perfect for a last-minute adventure. Undoubtedly an underrated destination, London actually has quite a bit to offer and best of all, it’s only a two-hour drive from Toronto. The summer is the best time to go because the city is extremely walkable and the “college town” atmosphere is dormant because most students are home for the summer. The campus of Western University is quite beautiful and is just a stone’s throw from Covent Garden Market, which is situated in the heart of the city. In the surrounding area are bars and restaurants, many of which I dabbled in. A cool alternative to roaming the city is a unique adventure at the Texas Longhorn Ranch in Strathroy – only a 45-minute drive from London. Not only can you go horseback riding, but the ranch doubles as a Bed & Breakfast and offers overnight stays in Covered Wagons!
3. Toronto: The Ultimate Staycation
Labour Day was fast approaching and I found myself without anywhere to escape to, so I thought a staycation would be my best bet. After all, Toronto is filled with more attractions than I could possibly even jam into a single weekend. Using the Grand Hotel as a base (which by the way is a fabulous hotel), I had a plethora of activities to choose from: Ripley’s Aquarium, Yonge & Dundas Square festivals, shopping on Queen St. W, picnicing on Toronto Island, and the list goes on…But, what I was really after was the food – I wanted to eat my way through the city, as usual! Some of my favourite eats from the weekend were from Tacos 101, Carbon Bar, and Cibo.
So, whether you plan a vacation in Muskoka months in advance, or you decide to have a killer last-minute staycation like I did, there’s ALWAYS something fun to do when you travel local in Ontario!
Interested? Try these Getaways for Yourself!