Spring is officially here and we are ready to shake off the cabin fever of winter for good! The GTA and its surrounding regions offer many spots for spring day trips to get a dose of nature in, and take a well-deserved mini-break after a long winter.
Here are 9 day-trip-worthy spots to check out within 2 hours of the city — pencil them in when you’re ready for a breath of fresh air.
* Disclaimer: Check local websites for closures and advisories *
Hamilton is home to over 100 gorgeous waterfalls and some striking rock formations hidden away in lush forest areas. Take a drive and explore one of the many diverse hiking trails here: the 1.3 km trek from Tew Falls to the Dundas Peak, the 2.5 km Devil’s Punch Bowl are just a couple of the most popular (read: Instagram-worthy) routes.
When was the last time you took a canoe trip? Start in the small, scenic town of Paris, Ontario, where you can rent a canoe, then paddle downstream all the way to Brantford on the Grand River. This route is about 13 kms and can take anywhere from 2 – 4 hours. Or, if you like, choose any one of these access points to get into the Grand. Bring a picnic, your camera and your portable ipod speakers and feel the wind in your hair.
The Ball’s Falls Conservation Area in Lincoln, Ontario, offers over 200 picturesque acres where you can connect with nature and history. Plan a day to come see the majestic and truly unique waterfalls that plunge into the Niagara Escarpment, and the historic structures that date back to the 19th century when the area was an industrial hamlet. There’s a blacksmith shop, flour mill, lime kiln, restored church, and more, adding up to a very authentic atmosphere.
Just under an hour from Toronto is maybe one of the country’s best examples of a geologic phenomenon known as ‘badlands.’ That is, a landscape of soft rock that’s been eroded into a rolling landscape of rounded hills. The Cheltenham Badlands cover 90 acres of moon-like terrain (think: rosy-hued dunes and craters) along the Niagara Escarpment. It’s truly other-worldly. The badlands don’t open until April 30, but until then you can plan your trip and get excited for a day of exploring.
For when you really want some perspective, come to Scarborough Bluffs, the awe-inspiring, 90-metre high rock face which spans about 15 kms along the Lake Ontario shoreline. Hike to the top of the Bluffs and check out Scarborough Heights Park, or just wander around the beach and take in the view, and allow yourself to feel very small for a while.
Cobourg’s West Beach, just west of Victoria Park in Northumberland County is a hidden gem of a beach an hour and a half from the city. It offers plenty of sandy shoreline, a boardwalk, a splash pad and playgrounds, and an expansive view of Lake Ontario. Come stroll the boardwalk, then dig your feel into the sand and relax.
This tranquil Japanese-style park in Mississauga is a celebration of the friendship between Mississauga and Kariya, Japan. Design-wise, it’s authentically Japanese in character – there are meandering walkways, a pond, and a Japanese style pavilion as well as many plants species, all curated with a focus on rhythm and balance. Soon, this park will be vibrant with cherry blossoms so when High Park gets over crowded, head here.
Come to Ferris Provincial Park in Campbellford, Ontario for a picturesque day trip. The 300-ft-long suspension bridge is part of the Trans Canada trail, hovers 30 above the Ranney Gorge, just south of the falls. Brace yourself: You’ll feel it sway below your feet as you walk.
For those days you want to get away, but can’t go too far, the Beaches neighbourhood in the east end of the city offers the perfect breath of fresh air. Truly, this Queen east area spans from Coxwell East to Victoria Park and it feels like a lakeside resort town as it’s on the sandy shoreline of Lake Ontario. Walk on the boardwalk or just plant yourself on the sand and watch the waves roll in.
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