Last summer I posted a list of five places one hour from Toronto to visit (give or take half an hour based on where in the city you are and the traffic at the time of day you’re leaving). There are numerous places near Toronto to visit and it all depends on what kinds of activities you are into.
When living in any city, getting away for a day trip from the concrete jungle is often a very welcome activity on weekends. Having worked for five years in downtown Toronto, I didn’t want to spend any more time surrounded by concrete, metal and glass (some of which occasionally falls).
Here’s my new list of great outdoor places that are a short hour, to hour-and-half drive west of Toronto that may inspire you this summer.
Right along the shores of Lake Ontario, you can enjoy an oasis of wildlife, nestled among the suburban streets of southern Mississauga. We love this area for early morning walks.
If you decide to spend the day in Mississauga, head over to Port Credit for dining, shopping and people-watching.
Travel time from downtown Toronto (early on Saturday morning): 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Photo by Glowing Star
Fancy a walk amid the flowers? Have a new camera that you want to test out for some beautiful photos of blossoms in bloom? At the border of Burlington and Hamilton are the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG for short) that are worth the drive west. Take the QEW to Hwy 403 (Hamilton). Exit at Waterdown Road and go south for about 800 metres to Plains Road West. Go about 2 km. The entrance to the RBG will be on the left.
Even if it’s raining, the RBG is a cool spot to explore, even if it’s for lunch.
While in Burlington, explore the small downtown core by Lake Ontario including Spencer Smith Park and the many places to dine and shop.
Travel time from downtown Toronto early in the morning 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
There are over 126 waterfalls in the Hamilton region. Enough said.
Well… I could say more. There are a number of waterfalls like Tews Falls and Websters Falls that are spectacular. Tiffany Falls are also beautiful.
If you need to hear the rush of water and to see something other than grimy glass condos, this is the place for you to get a big dose of nature. Remember to bring your hiking boots/shoes if you want to get up close. Flip flops are just a stupid thing to wear on trails around the falls (stones can get slick and you need good soles that grip the rocks).
NOTE: As of 2017, not all waterfalls are easily accessible. Respect the warnings as many have fallen to their deaths or have sustained great injuries over the past few years.
Travel time from downtown Toronto on a Saturday morning: 1 to 1-1/2 hours, possibly 2 hours, depending on which falls you are visiting.
Fan of dangerous birds? Want to see a Bald Eagle up close and personal? Love owls? The Raptor Centre at Mountsberg Conversation Area, just west of Milton, is a must visit for a walk among over 15 species of birds. Check out the reservoir to view nesting Osprey birds.
Frank’s blog post on this great place offers more photos.
Note: Leave your dog at home if visiting here. Pets, even on a leash, aren’t allowed anywhere near the raptor cage areas.
Travel time from downtown Toronto on a Saturday morning: 1 hour.
Bellwood Lake Conservation Area
A bit farther from Toronto, but still worthy of a day trip is Bellwood Lake Conservation Area. Located near Guelph, Bellwood Lake is a reservoir that’s a perfect spot to dip your toes on a hot day, have a picnic and do a bit of fishing.
Learn more about the Conservation Area by checking out Frank’s blog post – more photos and directions!
Travel time from downtown Toronto on an early Saturday morning: 1-1/2 hours to 1 hour 45 minutes, depending on traffic.
What are your favourite places one hour from Toronto to visit?