For the past couple of months I’ve been exploring destinations in Southern Ontario that have been on my bucket list for quite some time. While I lived here for most of my life I did not really explore too much of my local area until recently. This is sparked a change which really made me appreciate my surroundings and home country. Over the course of the Spring, Summer, and Fall I’ve made an effort every weekend to get out and go somewhere new. So, without further adieu, here are my top 10 favourite destinations in Southern Ontario that you must visit:
1) Rockwood Conservation
Rockwood is dreamy. I felt like a fairy amongst the rock cliffs and evergreen trees! Located in Rockwood, only a short distance away from Guelph, this area was a perfect getaway escape. Accessible from Hamilton and Toronto, as it isn’t too far north. Not only did this conservation area have stunning geological features, but also a historic ruin scene. There is lots to explore and roam- everything from caves, cliffs, and waterfalls.
2) Decew Falls
If you’re up for a challenge then try hiking to Decew Falls in St Catharines. While the view is amazing my journey there was not. It was the hardest hike I’ve done in my life and we didn’t even make it to the end. So what I’m trying to tell you is to wear proper hiking shoes (not sandals like I did). Nonetheless, the waterfall here is unlike any other. This plunge waterfall flows from the Twelve Mile Creek and can be viewed from the escapement near the Morningstar Mill or at the bottom of the gorge.
3) Niagara Glen
I was blown away by how stunning Niagara Glen is. Literally around every corner, there was beauty. It was the perfect hiking spot and provided some of the most amazing views of the Niagara Gorge. As a nature reserve, this pristine area did an amazing job of protecting the Niagara Escapement. It can get quiet busy with tourists, so I recommend visiting in the morning.
4) Dundas Peak
The Dundas Peak is located in the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area in Dundas, Hamilton. The Peak provides some of the most unique and beautiful views of the city. You can sit on the rock edge and admire the foliage any season! This area is home to one some of the most popular waterfalls in the province. It’s a popular spot for hikers, families, and photographers so I suggest to go bright and early as it gets busy.
5) Port Dover
If you’re looking for a sandy beach, calm waves, and a beautiful scenery then Port Dover is your best bet. In the summer it’s a paradise for bathers and sun worshipers. Bring a beach towel, sunscreen, a couple of snacks and you’re good to go. The beach is a great place to spread a blanket, build a sand castle, and swim.
6) Point Pelee National Park
An all-time favourite, Point Pelee National Park, is a wonderful place to camp, hike, and be in awe with nature. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada and is located on a foundation of glacial sand that bites into Lake Erie. It was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation- thus puts a bit effort towards preservation. Every season there is something exciting to see: in the spring hear the resounds of the migrating song birds, during the summer chime along with the cicadas hums, the monarch butterflies in the fall are stunning, and in the winter its a wonderland.
7) Crawford Lake Conservation
Crawford Lake is one of my favourite conservation areas in the region. It’s the perfect park to take a stroll in nature and learn more about the geology of the area. Take a walk on the boardwalk around the meromictic lake or learn about the Iroquoian Village by exploring local First Nations history.
8) Belfountain Conservation
Belfountain Conservation was once an old property developed at the turn of the century. It soon was converted to a conservation area popular for hikes and picnics. Enjoy the nature trail which spans the river gorge over a suspension bridge- the most iconic feature of the park. Just one hour away from Toronto, this is an excellent day trip.
9) Elora Gorge
The Elora Gorge is the perfect summer destination. It has been a tourist attraction for over twenty years for its famous white water tubing. Cruise down the Grand River for a fun and exhilarating ride as you pass by the limestone cliffs and trees looming above. Or swing by the Elora Quarry Conservation Area to check out the old swimming hole! If you want to make a weekend out of it, try setting up a campsite at one of the 300+ campsites.
10) Limehouse Conservation
A trip to Limehouse Conservation Area is a visit to the cultural heritage of the past. There are past remnants of the Lime industry featuring lime kilns, old powerhouses and foundations all over the park. Dating back to the 1880s these heritage points are an important part of Ontario’s history. Stroll the grounds and admire meadows, forests, and limestone crevices on the Niagara Escarpment.
These destinations are not in any particular order as they are all really unique and special. I hope you’re able to venture out to some of these places some day- next up will be a 10 top for Northern Ontario!