Home may be where the heart is but sometimes you need a break. Summer vacation is a ways off though so a weekend getaway may be all you can allot for. Ontario is the biggest province in Canada so you should be able to find plenty of things to do within it. Here is our list of five cities to visit if you’re looking for the perfect family friendly weekend getaway.
Located in the heart of Kawarthas cottage country, Peterborough is a great city to go to learn and to observe. Whether you want to explore the locks by car or boat along the Trent Severn Waterway, Peterborough is a scenic destination with plenty to offer. This city of industry was the first city in Canada to use electric streetlights and continues to be home to several factories. That doesn’t stop it from featuring tons of wildlife throughout.
The Canadian Canoe Museum- The canoe museum works as a reminder to everyone who visits the importance of canoes to Canadian history. The museum showcases the history of water travel by displaying over 600 different canoes, kayaks, and other boat like devices of all shapes, sizes, and ages. The Canadian Canoe Museum has several displays specifically for the children to help communicate to them the importance of canoes and to demonstrate how life has changed since water travel was the primary mode of transportation.
Riverview Zoo- Located in the heart of Peterborough, Riverview Zoo is a completely free zoo that showcases animals from all over the world. The zoo features a train ride that goes around the 55 acre park and allows for everyone to see the animals from another angle. Riverview is also the perfect place to go in the summer as it has a splash pad and the biggest playground in the city.
Lang Pioneer Village- This village takes a page out of the 1800’s as it aims to replicate a Canadian village in the mid 1800s. With over 25 authentic historical buildings, Lang Pioneer Village allows for families to imagine what life as a Canadian pioneer was really like. It features a schoolhouse, general store, and working black smith shop as well as many more genuine buildings from Peterborough County.
As the largest city in Northern Ontario, Sudbury has been awarded several titles for its beautiful landscapes and is home to over 330 lakes. Perfect for cottaging and a weekend in nature, It also hosts several museums and other attractions that make a weekend up north worth while.
Dynamic Earth- Mining has been the backbone of Sudbury since its creation so it is only fitting to have a museum while focuses on the history and science behind mining. This museum looks at geology by providing a mineral wall and an activity which explores how diamonds are formed. Sudbury also features the world’s largest coin in the world, the Big Nickel. These are just some of the cool science exhibits happening at Dynamic Earth.
Bell Park- Sometimes you just need a walk in the park. Bell Park features an art gallery, a boardwalk, a playground, and an ampitheatre. This is a great place to go for a break duing your weekend getaway whether you have a picnic or just go for a stroll. The scenic views are definitely the highlight of Bell Park.
Northern Ontario Railroad Museum- Anytime you explore a new place, it’s important to understand its roots. This museum showcases the mining, lumber, and railroad industries within Sudbury through a collection of historical artifacts. The museum has an authentic steam train on display which is perfect for photos and exploring. Kids will be delighted to see such a piece of history up close.
Our nation’s capital offers plenty to do all year round. Even if Ottawa is your own backyard, there are tons of things for families to do all across the city. Whether you want to tour the House of Commons, go skating on the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, or try one of the lesser known Ottawa activities we have featured, this is a city that provides things to do.
The Diefenbunker- Created as a safe haven for the prime minister during the Cold War, the Diefenbunker has since become one of Ottawa’s coolest museums. The bunker has kept all of the equipment and furniture that was placed there in the sixties to deomonstrate what Cold War Canada was really like. The museum offers programming for kids during most holidays and school breaks while offering a unique historical perspective.
Children’s Museum- As a museum inside of a museum, the concept can be misleading but the Children’s Museum is a must visit with the family. Set up as a chance to travel the world, kids can jump from country to country and collect stamps on their museum passport as they explore all kinds of cultures. They can dress up, interact with different cultural objects, and check out modes of transportation from all over the world.
Canadian Mint- Have you or your children ever wondered where our money comes from? If you happen to be in Ottawa, this is a great place to check out and put that wonder to rest. Though the Ottawa facility is only responsible for creating commemorative coins, you can still tour the factory and see the coin making process in action. You can also see medals that were made for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the million dollar coin which is also the world’s largest coin.
2. Niagara Falls
This natural phenomenon has become an international tourist destination. With 3 distinct waterfalls spanning across two countries, Niagara Falls is an attraction that everyone should see at least once. The Falls offers more than just a waterfall though with several attractions surrounding it and the opportunity to learn more about this natural wonder.
Maid of the Mist- This boat cruise allows for passengers to go right into the heart of the falls. Views from the boat let passengers see the falls from below. The Maid of the Mist is the closest you will ever get to Niagara Falls. This uncommon opportunity provides beautiful shots of the falls and creates an immersive and wet experience for everyone involved.
Niagara Falls Butterfly Conservatory- This conservatory has over 2000 butterfly species amongst a lush jungle of plants and greenery. While walking through the building, you can catch butterflies resting on flowers and may even have one or two land on you. This is also the perfect place to practice your macro and high speed photography as well as capturing those precious family moments.
Clifton Hills– Traditionally, every child’s favourite part of the Niagara Falls experience is the Clifton Hills Street of Fun. Featuring popular attractions such as the Ripley’s Believe or Not Museum and the Great Canadian Midway, this is the ideal place to spend some time and have some fun. The Street of Fun is also home to the Niagara Skywheel, a giant ferris wheel which overlooks the Falls and everything surrounding it. If you need a fun place to go to kill some time, look no further than Clifton Hills.
Though Toronto is in most people’s backyard, there are so many things to do within the city. Many people have lived in Toronto for years but have never given it the full tourist treatment. Take the opportunity to explore Toronto with fresh eyes. Try out an obscure museum you’ve never visited before like the Bata Shoe Museum or the Aga Khan Museum. To brush up on Toronto history, explore Casa Loma or Black Creek Pioneer Village. Or check out our top three recommendations.
CN Tower- Yes, it is one of the first things people think of when they think about Toronto but going inside the CN Tower is different than seeing it from different parts of the city. The inside of the tower also hosts the world’s tallest metal staircase so that can be a great family challenge. The views from the CN Tower are also unlike any other in the city so be sure to bring your family here at least once to check out this iconic Toronto landmark.
Riverdale Farm- If you want to experience farm life but you can’t leave the city, this may be the best venue for you to explore. Riverdale is a functioning farm but also has ruins from the former Riverdale zoo. They have pigs, ducks, and other birds on site in their pig and poultry barns as well as cows and goats. As a fully functioning farm, Riverdale allows for families to see how a farm functions right in Toronto.
Art Gallery of Ontario- The AGO aims to inspire a love of art in all their guests, no matter their age. They offer family programming every Sunday as well as the art cart and other hands on activities that can inspire kids to create. This is a great way to spend an afternoon and to learn more about art from all over the world.