By WAHEEDA HARRIS
Adventurists and antiques enthusiasts alike can find a multitude of weekend getaways between forty minutes and four hours from Toronto.
1. Take the Taste Trail through Prince Edward County. Indulge the inner foodie with a sampling of restaurants, wineries, farms and unique food producers.
2. Do Niagara Falls. First stop: admire the beauty of the falls. Then, if you’ve got kids, check out wax museums, haunted houses and the SkyWheel in the Clifton Hill entertainment district or head to the Bird Kingdom aviary. Fun for all ages are hikes along the rapids and the various Niagara Parks attractions like the Maid of the Mist (launching in April). Grown-ups can gamble at the casino and catch a show.
3. Get a dose of Shakespeare at the Stratford Festival. The annual festival provides many options to see the work of the Bard and other well-known playwrights.
4. Wander the hills and valleys of the Bruce Trail. Extending nearly 900 km along the Niagara Escarpment to the tip of Bruce Peninsula, this is one of the province’s favourite hiking trails. Choose a portion of the trail (there are nine main sections) and go.
5. Visit the nation’s capital. Take the a history tour of Ottawa through several small museums dedicated to the Capital Region’s past, or major museums like the Canadian War Museum. The Tulip Festivalin May creates a pathway of tulips from the city to the Outaouais on the other side of the Ottawa River.
6. Expand your palate in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Spend time sipping the bounty of the Niagara region’s vineyards and wineries and discover your new favourite vintage. End the day with an evening at the theatre (see #11 or at one of the area’s many excellent restaurants.
7. Spend time on the Bruce Peninsula. Cruise the Flower Pot Islands or dive for shipwrecks; Tobermory has plenty of water-related activities.
8. Follow the Apple Pie Trail in the Blue Mountains. No matter the time of year, there’s plenty to taste, learn, and buy along the trail for the apple-obsessed.
9. Tour through the 1000 Islands. By road or by water, there’s plenty of places to explore this part of eastern Ontario
10. Get back to nature in Algonquin Provincial Park. Whether it’s finding a rustic cabin, canoeing or waiting for that perfect moose photo op, the park offers many ways to find a place in the wilderness.
11. Experience the words of Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. Pick a play or two at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Shaw Festival, plan a picnic and sign up for peek into the costume and prop warehouse. Combine a play with a couple of wine tours.
12. Get the adrenaline pumping in the Ottawa River Valley. With four major river systems and almost 1,000 lakes, it’s the white-water capital of the province; rafting, kayaking and canoeing trips abound.
13. Spend time in Port Hope. Hunt for an antique treasure and see some 300 preserved buildings in this picturesque small town.
15. Make tracks to St. Jacob’s. Visit the farmers’ market (don’t miss the popular apple fritters!), browse the main street’s small-town craft and antique shops, or take a drive through Mennonite country
16. Take a break from the busy life at Ste. Anne’s Spa. Well known for its restorative powers, this is a popular spot for rejuvenation and relaxation.
17. Rejuvenate with art and nature in the village of Kleinburg. Drink in Group of Seven art at the McMichael Gallery or to explore the trails of the Kortwright Centre for Conservation.
18. Get outdoors in Collingwood. From skiing to waters ports to cycling, this town on Georgian Bay and the rural region around it has plenty to offer the outdoor enthusiast.
19. Explore Canadian history in Windsor. Visit one of the many heritage sites to learn about the city’s role in the Underground Railroad, as the birthplace of Canadian Club Whisky, and as a rum-running town during American Prohibition.
20. Pick a place in Muskoka. Ontario’s most popular “cottage country,” the Muskoka lakes are perfect for a relaxing weekend on the water, on the hiking trails, or at the many art studios, concerts and festivals that run from May through September.
21. Sip and sun on Pelee Island. Best known for its beaches and winery, the most southernmost area of the province is also great for cycling, kayaking and bird-watching.
22. Cruise Georgian Bay. Board a ship or a yacht for a cruise among the 30,000 islands of southern Lake Huron.
23. Go geocaching in Bayfield. What? Never heard of geocaching? In this a real-world treasure hunt, you look for hidden objects using GPS-enabled devices. Objects are hidden by fellow geocachers, and there are more than 1 million hidden worldwide. This Georgian Bay town is a geocaching hot spot.
24. Antique your days away at Aberfoyle. For the devoted who are up for hours of searching, the Aberfoyle Antique Market is one of the best collections of junk and treasures around.
25. Go for arts, crafts and tubing in Elora. Unique arts and crafts shops line the streets of this riverfront heritage town. But you could also spend time cycling the region or, in summer, tubing at the Elora Gorge.
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