The weather is finally warming up, pandemic restrictions are loosening and life is returning to normal in Ontario at last. Are you itching to travel but don’t have the budget for a big trip? We have good news.
Residents and guests to Toronto have so much to explore within a day-tripping distance. Whether you love to hike, ski, or hit up the beach, browse through a local handmade market or put your feet up at the spa, you don’t have to travel far from the city to have fun.
Here are five of our favourite day trips from Toronto we’re sure you’ll love too, along with a few shop local recommendations- ‘cause you know that’s how we roll! Each of these spots is less than a 2 hour drive from the city (traffic permitting) and boasts many family-friendly activities for those bringing kiddos along.
Five Fun Day Trips From Toronto (Plus Shop Local Recommendations!)
1. Niagara Falls
Driving distance: 128 km
Less than 2 hours from Toronto, Niagara Falls offers spectacular views and a myriad of unforgettable experiences including the HornBlower Cruise, the newly revamped Niagara Power Station (we recommend their night-time light show!) and the Whirlpool Aerocar.
Bring your hiking shoes and enjoy spectacular hiking trails along the Niagara gorge, stroll the Niagara Botanical Gardens (no cost for admission, but there is a small parking fee) or tour one of the many nearby wineries. For a hearty meal, check out the Butcher and Banker Pub (just a short drive from Niagara in Beamsville, and champions of the shop local movement in Niagara) or the Paris Crepes Cafe where you can pair fine French cuisine with a glass (or two) of local Niagara wine.
Did you know that we partnered with the Niagara BIA to run a massive outdoor Christmas market in 2021? It was magical!
2. Elora Quarry & Elora Mill Spa
Driving distance: 115 km
Famously used for the filming of the most recent iteration of Stephen King’s “IT”, the spectacular swimming hole at Elora Quarry Park has become an incredibly popular day trip for out-of-towners. The conservation area is only open to the public between May 1 and October 15, and all visitors must pre-book timed tickets online to avoid overcrowding. Tickets cost $10.50 for adults and $5.50 for children, plus a $15 vehicle permit, but this covers up to a 4-hour stay at the quarry.
While in town, you can also go on an exciting tubing adventure in the Elora gorge, browse shops and restaurants in the quaint downtown, or enjoy a luxurious day at the spa located in the historic Elora Mill, where you can also spot the work of local artist Rachel Albano on display. If you’re up for a short jaunt to nearby Fergus, you can find the One and Only Handmade Marketplace featuring a variety of handcrafted pieces from local artisans and creators.
3. Pingle’s Farm Market
Driving distance: 77 km
Just a few minutes east of Oshawa, Pingle’s Farm Market sits on 148 acres of land and hosts a year-round market as well as seasonal events the whole family will love, including the insta-famous Sunflower Experience, Harvest Festival (including apple-picking!) and Christmas Fest. For limited dates during the early spring, you can even enjoy a gourmet 9-course meal out in the bush around a crackling fire, surrounded by gorgeous views of the surrounding fields.
Picks and Giggles is proud to be partnering with Pingle’s this spring to celebrate the first pick-your-own weekend of the season! Come out and enjoy the beautiful property and farm market, and browse through unique gifts and goods from over 80 local vendors at this one-of-a-kind handmade market event!
The Picks and Pingle’s Spring Market runs from May 28-29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Don’t miss it!
3. Royal Botanical Gardens
Driving distance: 62 km
Located in Burlington, the Royal Botanical Gardens feature three stunning gardens complete with over 20 special sculptural installations, an Arboretum, and numerous nature trails. Two newly renovated restaurants and a teahouse feature fresh meals and baked goods using local, seasonal ingredients.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout July and August, come between 6:30 and 9 and enjoy live entertainment surrounded by roses in the heart of Hendrie Garden. Families with little ones can enjoy the outdoor playground, attend various workshops and kids programs, or sign up for one of the RBG’s special events including the Enchanted Garden Weekend in August, the Great Pumpkin Trail in October, or Holiday Traditions which runs during November and December.
For a good meal not far from the gardens, head to nearby Burro Tacos for some of the best Mexican you’ve ever had. A short walk away is Oddspot, an eclectic vintage shop where you might just score a unique memento of your trip!
5. Blue Mountain Village
Driving distance: 159 km
Located on beautiful Georgian Bay near Collingwood, Blue Mountain Village is probably known best for its ski resort and free mountaintop skating rink, which boasts incredible views of the surrounding valley.
However, there’s still lots to do here long after the snow melts! Enjoy stunning views of the bay as you hike along the Bruce Trail, try your hand at spelunking in the Scenic Caves, enjoy over 40 unique local shops in the village, or get some serious R&R at the renowned Scandinave Spa.
For a bite to eat, local favourites include the Pottery Restaurant which highlights local flavours from the Georgian Bay region, and the Firehall Pizza Co. which is modeled after a Northern Ontario firehall and offers authentic Italian cuisine- as well as fire hydrant beer towers!
Nearby Collingwood boasts even more unique shops and restaurants, including the Painterie Handmade Market which offers carefully curated handmade merchandise from local makers.