Growing up across the border from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, families tend to spend more time in the US vacationing than in Canada. It costs sometimes triple to book a flight to Vancouver than it costs to book a flight to California through Detroit. Economically it just made sense to go to the US, plus it warms up a bit quicker in the Southern States, which led to a soft spot in my heart for America that has carried through to adulthood.
Since having kids, my desire for weekend getaways has greatly increased, and this had led to a new found appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us here in Ontario. The size of Ontario is comparable to the state of Texas, or over 4 times the size of the UK. It’s a huge Province, and it is full of culture, a variety of landscapes, and gorgeous Great Lakes.
Below I have rounded-up Part 1 of our Best of the Best Weekend Getaway Destinations, where there is something for everyone! In no particular order…:
1. Grand Bend, Ontario (source)
This small beach town is located on Lake Huron and is a Hot Spot for both families, retirees, and on the long weekends, High School and University students. Grand Bend is known for its gorgeous sand dunes and it’s very popular park, Pinery Provincial Park.
The main beach in the town features a water park, and huge playground perfect for kids, and the main strip is jam packed with fun novelty shops, board shops, and ice cream stands. Grand Bend is conveniently located very close to many cities including Windsor, Sarnia, Toronto, and even the 4 hour drive from Peterborough was work every minute!
2. Prince Edward County, Ontario (source)
If you are not familiar with Prince Edward County, it is likely because it is just starting to become home base for a local food movement. There are wineries, Artisian cheeses, and other treats available for a romantic getaway, but Prince Edward County has a ton to offer families as well.
The Provincial park, Sandbanks Provincial Park which is just outside of Picton, Ontario, is covered with golden sand and features sand dunes as well as sandbars that make the trek worth every hour in the car. Located on Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County is a central location, accessible to those living in Ottawa, Toronto, and even those in Sudbury could make it down for a long weekend.
3. Lake Superior Provincial Park (source)
The biggest Great Lake, Lake Superior, is the third largest freshwater lake in the WORLD. And we are lucky enough to have it here in Ontario, and share it with Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It is a sight to behold, and nature lovers must not miss a trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park, located North of Sault Ste. Marie and South of Wawa, Ontario.
Surround yourself with water, sand, forest, and wildlife, and don’t forget to bring a tent or rent a cottage. You can expect to drive for anywhere from 2-10+ hours for this trip. But it should definitely be added to your Places To Visit list!
4. Algonquin Provincial Park & Huntsville (source)
Algonquin Park is the oldest park in Canada, and is definitely one of the most popular parks here in Ontario. It is close to major cities Ottawa, Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, and even all the way down to Windsor. The park is huge, with 2400 lakes running through it, and is comparable in size to the State of Delaware. The park is considered the “border” between Northern and Southern Ontario and is best seen in the Autumn months with the gorgeous leaves turning colour!
The nearest city is Huntsville, which is in the heart of the Muskoka area. Muskoka is long known for it’s celebrity draw along it’s gorgeous lakes. The New York Times once referred to Muskoka as the “Malibu of the North,” a place where you could run into residents Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell or frequent visitors Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg.
5. Niagara Falls (source)
Niagara Falls is a perfect weekend getaway spot if you are looking for a place to go with plenty of activities for little ones. The city boasts Marine Land, Mirror Maze Adventures, Great Wolf Lodge, and the popular, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. And it is only a short drive from practically anywhere is Southern or Central Ontario.
If you live in Ontario, you must take a trip to the falls and see them for yourself. The city has so much Canadian history that it is a great way to teach the kids as well. The settlement of the area began back to the 16th century with the Iroquois!