There’s no denying Toronto is a dynamic city, but what do you do when you’ve already seen her downtown attractions? A great thing about the city is that a short drive in any direction will lead you to new and exciting sites that will keep you coming back for more. Here are 9 treasures away from the downtown core that are well worth exploring during your next visit to Toronto.
1. Niagara Falls
Hornblower Niagara CruisesHornblower Niagara Cruises
Canada’s most famous natural attraction is less than two hours from Toronto and draws in millions of admirers each year. Get up close on a Hornblower Niagara Cruises tour, enjoy the fun on Clifton Hill, or brave yourself for this year’s newest addition: the Wildplay MistRider Zipline. While buses and tours operate regularly from Toronto, consider renting a car to also explore the nearby vineyards.
City of Waterfalls
Joe deSousa via Flickr.com/mustangjoe/20851957006 (Public Domain)
If you’ve already been to Niagara or want to keep chasing waterfalls, head over to Hamilton where you’ll have over one hundred falls and cascades to choose from. Known as the City of Waterfalls, here you can explore the popular Albion Falls, Devil’s Punch Bowl and Webster’s Falls. Also in Hamilton: the very first Tim Hortons location dating back to 1964.
3. Elora Gorge Park
Artur Staszewski via Flickr.com/arturstaszewski/8366654808 (CC by 2.0)
Go for the river tubing and stay for the views. The river at Elora Gorge is a great place to go tubing but make sure to arrive early and secure your rental. Soak up a sunny day outdoors, walking or cycling one of the many trails and then unwind in the picture-perfect village of Elora.
4. Aberfoyle Antique Market
CRUSTINA! via Flickr.com/crustina/10717289593 (CC by 2.0)
You just might find the ultimate treasure at the Aberfoyle Antique Market. Held Sundays between May and October, the market is only about an hour away from Toronto offering a huge selection of quality antiques. Admission is $2 for a Sunday well spent.
5. St. Jacobs Farmers' Market
Village of St. Jacobs
Ryan via Flickr/ryanready/5362122127 (CC by 2.0)
For more one-of-a-kind finds, head to Canada’s biggest year-round farmers’ market. The countryside village of St. Jacobs is only an hour west of Toronto and has more than 400 vendors selling fresh produce and local products every Thursday and Saturday of the year. This large Mennonite village is also where you’ll find unique shops and charming restaurants to fill the rest of your day.
6. The Other Lakeshore
Ryan McGilchrist via Flickr.com/shinealight/7660327082 (CC by 2.0)
Toronto’s waterfront is beautiful, but often busy with crowds, construction or both. Head further west to enjoy the more peaceful Lakefront Promenade in Mississauga. You can watch the sunset by the marina and dine on the Lakeshore. Have the kids in tow? They'll love the summer splash pad.
7. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Looking for a better view than the CN Tower? A hot air balloon ride is a great way to see more of Ontario and you’ll find the best bargain on weekdays from companies operating in the outskirts of the city like Barrie and Kitchener. For an even more rewarding experience, book your ride in the fall to get a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful red and gold leaves.
8. Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
61 Claireville Dr, Toronto
By Ian Muttoo (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
As impressive as it is, this traditional Hindu place of worship is often overlooked on Toronto itineraries. Venture half an hour northwest of downtown and you’ll be glad you visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. The temple is breathtaking and full of hand-carved marble, intricate architecture and great cultural wonder. Open daily (and free to enter!).
9. Flying Trapeze
Toronto School of Circus Arts
It’s not too late to run away with the circus when Toronto has its very own circus school. Most will only head up to Downsview Park for concerts and festivals but there’s more fun to be had if you’re willing to try something new. Toronto School of Circus Arts offers drop-in flying trapeze lessons every Friday night and is only 30 minutes outside of the city centre.
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