Top 10 Things to Do in Ontario

The license plate says it all: “Ontario, Yours to Discover.” Canada’s most populated province offers a fine balance of cultural richness and scenic adventures. Here are some of Ontario’s must-see attractions for residents and visitors alike!

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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
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Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay

When the CBC asked its listeners to nominate the Seven Wonders of Canada, the Sleeping Giant came out on top, making it one of the things to do in Ontario. There’s no lack of whimsy and wonder in this remarkable natural rock peninsula, which resembles a reclining giant when viewed from the city of Thunder Bay. The park is an outdoor adventurer’s year-round dream, with steep cliffs that can rise up to 240 metres. Ojibwe legend refers to the Sleeping Giant as Nanabijou, who was forever cast to stone when the secret location of a rich silver mine was revealed.

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Toronto skyline
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Toronto Island

It’s forgivable to crave a quick escape from the dense traffic and fast pace of Canada’s largest city. Luckily, you don’t have to go far. A 10-minute ferry ride from Toronto’s harbour will take you to Toronto Islands, a scenic and car-free community that’s just across the way – you’ll soon understand why there’s a 500-person wait-list to own a home on the Island. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to take in a view of the city, or you’re hoping to spend a day with the family at the Centreville amusement park, the Island has all of that and more.

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Manitoulin Island
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Pow Wow in Manitoulin

Every Canadian should experience a summertime pow wow. In August, the Wikwemikong First Nation reserve welcomes visitors from every direction to celebrate their culture through feasting, dancing and music. Now in its 54th year, the Annual Cultural Festival is a whirlwind of colour, movement and tradition from three local tribes. This pow wow has it all, from local foods to awe-inspiring artisans. An undisputed highlight of this yearly event is the dance competition, which showcases intricate and brightly adorned outfits covered in feathers, tassels and beading.

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Wolf howls at Algonquin Park is one of the essential things to do in Ontario
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Wolf Howling in Algonquin Provincial Park

Get in touch with your primal side and howl at the moon. Naturalists in this provincial park, located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River, gather every Thursday in August (weather permitting) for public wolf howls. Visitors meet at the park’s outdoor theatre to watch a slide show on the elusive animals, then drive to a spot where the wolves might answer some of the imitation calls put out to them. Translation not included.

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Jurassic Park at Raptors Game
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Raptors Game in Toronto

If you’re looking for things to do in Ontario, a Raptors game is a definite must. Despite never having won an NBA championship, Canada’s only professional basketball team have a lot of game. Part raucous party, part adrenaline rush, a basketball game at the Air Canada Centre is a memorable experience that’s sure to get your blood pumping. Plus, you never know who you’re going to see…well, it’s a given Drake will be there.

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Street in Stratford, Ontario
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Theatre-Going in Stratford

Millions of teenaged girls are extremely familiar with this city, thanks in no small part to a headline-grabbing singer by the name of Justin Bieber. But Stratford’s been on the map much longer than the pop star’s career. It’s known internationally for its commitment to theatre. Its festival, which debuted in 1953, showcases the works of Shakespeare and other great playwrights throughout history. It also manages to attract big stars: Paul Gross, Eric McCormack, Christopher Plummer, Sarah Polley, William Shatner, Maggie Smith and Jessica Tandy are just some of the actors who’ve lent their theatrical talent to the Stratford stage.

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1000 Islands in Ontario
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Boat Tour of the 1000 Islands

Having a famous salad dressing – typically made of mayo, mustard, ketchup and various other ingredients – is one way to put you on the map. But the 1000 Islands (pronounced “Thousand Islands”, not “One-Thousand Islands”) is so much more than a high calorie condiment. Located on the St. Lawrence River along the border of Northern New York State and Southeastern Ontario, 1000 Islands is a historic region once patrolled by pirates. Now, boat cruises journey through the area, giving visitors an optimal and stunning view of the archipelago of 1,864 islands. Ancient castles, turquoise-coloured waters, and sandy beaches are just some of the sights you’ll see here.

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Killarney Provincial Park
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Killarney Provincial Park

Some of Canada’s best-known artists have spent time in this park, finding inspiration for paintings that went on to hang in national galleries. The Group of Seven’s Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson and A.J. Casson, were so taken with the colours, textures and views of this expansive region, they persuaded the Ontario government to make it a park. A plethora of colour paint the park, from the pink granite coast of Georgina Bay to the La Cloche Mountain’s white quartzite ridges, to the vibrant earth palettes of the falling leaves in the autumn. It’s enough to inspire a masterpiece.

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Big Apple in Colborne, Ontario
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Big Apple in Colborne

This roadside attraction is not to be confused with the highly populated American city with the same nickname. For one, it’s located in the middle of the picturesque town of Colborne in Cramahe Township, which is between Toronto and Kingston. The namesake three-storey high apple houses a pie-making factory inside, as well as a restaurant and observation deck. Originally inspired by the giant pineapple in Australia, the Big Apple has changed owners over the last few years. It still manages to attract 500,000 visitors a year, who come to sample pies, play mini golf and take selfies in front of the giant fruit.

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Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario
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Skating on the Rideau Canal

There’s only one skating rink that can claim the title of world’s largest and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Sites. That’s what makes the Rideau Canal a must-visit destination. The canal has been around since the early 19th century, when North American canal-building was commonplace. It is the only one that’s still operational along its original route, with most of its original structures still in place. This winter, the canal was open for 58 skating days. In total, 1,200,000 visitors had a whirl on the world’s largest skating rink, some of which were locals who use it as a way to get to work.

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