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Aug 29, 2023

10 min. read

As the provincial slogan goes, Ontario is ‘Yours to Discover’ and there is so much to see in our beautiful province. You don’t need to travel far or even leave the area to take in stunning beaches, waterfalls and hiking trails. Discover sights in your own backyard and visit some of Southern Ontario’s must-see day trip destinations. Pack a picnic basket, gas up the car and get ready to explore!


1. Awenda Provincial Park, near Penetanguishene.

Awenda Provincial Park remains a hidden gem among Ontario’s provincial parks. Located on the shores of Georgian Bay, the park features six campgrounds and five beaches including one that is pet-friendly, with numerous cycling, hiking and walking trails. Be sure to check out the ancient dune system — estimated to be 11,500 years old!

A beach with rocks and water at sunset.

2. Albion Falls and the first Tim Hortons, Hamilton.

No Ontario road trip is complete without stopping at Tim Hortons. But did you know its flagship store (65 Ottawa St. N. at Dunsmure) is still around? First opened in 1964 in Hamilton, visitors can take in the on-site museum which features a collection of memorabilia showcasing the chain’s almost 60-year history.

As you’re already in the self-branded “Waterfall Capital of the World”, consider taking in at least one of the more than 100 waterfalls Hamilton boasts. Albion Falls is a mere 15 minute drive from Tim Horton’s flagship store, and is a popular destination on hot summer days. Not only is it easily accessible, especially if travelling with kids, it is littered with fantastic spots to spend an afternoon reading, taking pictures or simply watching the beauty of the falls. (Note: Strollers are not recommended.)

A waterfall in the middle of a wooded area.

3. Cobourg Beach.

Of the many sandy shores you can visit in Ontario, Cobourg Beach remains a favourite among many families. This town is features many festivals and beach-side attractions during the warm months. The Cobourg Waterfront Festival remains a long-standing tradition over the Canada Day long weekend and the Cobourg Beach is the perfect backdrop. Cobourg also hosts the highly popular Sandcastle Festival which attracts some of the country’s most skilled sand sculpture artists. Be prepared to be amazed at what can be created with lots of sand, imagination and talent.

A life preserver on a pier with a lighthouse in the background.

4. Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward County.

Boasting the world’s largest fresh water sand bar and dune system, Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County is home to three sandy beaches, four campgrounds and numerous hiking trails. Created from glaciers some 12,000 years ago, the park’s Dune Trail is the most popular among visitors. Not only is it the largest of its kind in the world but the area also features unique pannes which are home to an abundance of wildlife. Remember to bring a camera to capture the remarkable scenery!

A sand dune in the middle of a lake.

5. Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, Collingwood.

Located approximately two hours from Toronto, Scenic Caves Nature Adventures in Collingwood offers everything from exploring natural caves and zip lining to hiking and tree-top walking. It also boasts Southern Ontario’s longest suspension footbridge at 420 ft. On clear days, the bridge offers visitors a 10,000 square km view of Georgian Bay and the surrounding countryside. Hold tight if you are afraid of heights!

A rocky trail in a wooded area.

Maps & Guides

Now that you have several beautiful destinations in mind, it’s time to hit the open highway and discover Southern Ontario! Unsure of how to get there? Members can use our free Online Maps or handy TripTik® guide which allows you to find savings partners and CAA-approved lodgings. If you’re planning on doing a bit of casual cycling, be sure to check out our Cycling & Drive Ride Vacations where you can discover some of the best cycling routes.

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