It’s almost wedding time for me, which means we have a whole heap of Germans flying halfway across the world to celebrate our marriage in Canadian cottage country.
It also means that there are a whole lot of loved ones looking for some tips to exploring the coolest and most ‘real’ Canadian experiences in Ontario. So, here we go.
If you’re exploring Ontario and have exhausted your visits to the top tourist attractions:
- Niagara Falls
- Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
- Toronto Islands
- CN Tower
- Hockey Hall of Fame
- Rogers Centre
- You get what I mean…
… then it’s time to get into the real, true “Canadian Experiences,” so that you can fly home with a feeling of what’s it’s really like to immerse yourself in true Canadian nature.
Here are some of the coolest places you can visit around Ontario!
Hamilton’s 130+ Waterfalls
You’re right when you told me that you think all Canadians take the nature for granted. I mean, not all of us do, but a solid majority of us constantly forget about all those lush, gorgeous forest and waterfalls right down the road.
Thanks to my beautiful mother and brother, I now know that Hamilton (formerly known as the armpit of the GTA) is not only a beautiful city filled more hipster cafes and tattoo studios than I can count, but it’s also home to more than 130 waterfalls. Some of the more popular waterfalls include Webster’s Falls, Devil’s Punchbowl and Princess Falls… but if you listen to anything that my mother has to say, she’ll tell you they’re overcrowded with people who are too lazy to make the 2-hour hike, so they had the city build a parking lot at the edge of the falls (don’t be that person or my mother will disown you as a family friend).
Instead, grab a map of the Hamilton waterfalls and start exploring yourself.
The Grande Hermine
Let’s get real, you’re already planning to visit Niagara Falls, so visiting the Grand Hermine will be a 2-minute side trip off the highway on your way there. Have I convinced you yet?
This beauty can be seen from off the highway and sits in an enclosed bay of Lake Ontario. It’s rusted away, but nonetheless, an incredible sight to see. While this ship is just a replica of the original Grande Hermine, it was built for the Montreal 1967 Expo and now lives to tell the tale in the town of Jordan, Ontario (between Hamilton and Niagara Falls).
The Bruce Peninsula Grotto
I’m not going to lie to you… I’ve never been, but it’s a place that has been on my Canadian bucket list ever since I moved to Germany. That’s why I shoved it in the middle of this post assuming you’ll be too lazy to read this far… or… you’ll forget about it by the time you reach the end of this post.
Anyway, the Bruce Peninsula Grotto is a natural cave hidden within the cliffs of the Ontario Escarpment. It’s up by Manitoulin Islands, which I also haven’t visited, but ask my mom and she’ll tell you all about this little island situated in Lake Huron (one of our great lakes). She’ll likely tell you to hike to the Cup and Saucer Trail and visit the Bridal Veil Falls, among other things. I know, I should have just asked my mother to write this post.
For Canadians reading this post, you might be thinking wahh? This has been a touristic destination for decades. I know, thanks for pointing it out.
However, the Thousand Islands in Gananoque never get old. They’re beautiful, it’s nature and nothing can compare to these 1,864 stunning little islands sitting just close enough to lands edge to be able to get a real feeling for what it might be like to live on your own island.
The interesting part is about who counted these 1,864 islands as islands. Well, apparently, in order to be considered a part of the Thousand Islands, your island much be as least one square foot (all above water level, during the entire year) and have at least two trees (that are still living).
You might have fumbled on the idea of visiting Algonquin Park in a tourist guide or Rick Steve’s book… but everything you read is true. This is Canadian nature at its finest. You might even be able to go home saying that you saw a real live bear or moose before the end of your trip if you take a little overnight kayak adventure into the heart of Algonquin Park.
Want to come?
Canadian Cottage Country
The locations are relatively similar, you can sit back with a beer in hand on the dock while fishing for your dinner and catching up with friends. You can wakeboard through the waves of the lakes and cliff jump off the rocks, the only difference is… that my cottage is in the Kawarthas… and if you’re invited to my wedding, then you’re coming whether I say you are or not. 🙂
So, I’ve hit my 800-word mark and I’m going to stop you here, but if you want some more inspiration, feel free to check out a few of these on your own.
- Wasaga Beach
- Point Pelee National Park
- Rattlesnake Point
- Lion’s Head
- Scarborough Bluffs
- Ouimet Canyon
Now, for all you Canadians who read to the bottom of this post… what did I miss?
Looking for some more real Canadian Experiences? Check out my blog post “Those 7 Irreplaceable Canadian Cravings“