Places to Visit in Ontario For Outdoor Lovers

I went to Toronto for a travel conference a few weeks back. Toronto is a nice enough city but soon I felt a familiar antsy feeling.

The more I travel the more I realise that I’m not much of a city person. However much I enjoy exploring a new city, I get a little antsy after awhile. I need to head out to be among natural sceneries to recharge – otherwise I get cranky. (Jack can attest to this.)

Fortunately only 2 hours north of Toronto lies Ontario’s most pristine wilderness. I was invited with a few of other travel bloggers to experience ‘a sampler’ of this wilderness.

If there’s one word I can use to describe Ontario’s wilderness it will be ‘water’. This region north of Toronto has more lakes, rivers, and islands than one can count. You’ll see what I mean below. If you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll have plenty of things to do in Ontario. Especially if you’re into canoeing or kayaking.

Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park is Ontario’s first and most renown provincial park. Algonquin Park is a haven for canoeists and fishermen. Canoeing in Algonquin Park allows you to go explore its many rivers and lakes.

Even though it’s a very popular park, you’re likely to find yourself in Algonquin’s backcountry with only your canoe as company. The park, after all, has 1200 miles of canoe routes. Plenty to share.

Moose and wolves are abundant in the park. As of a matter of fact, in August the park holds an activity called “the Wolf Howl”. This is where a naturalist leads park goers to where a wolf pack was last heard, and starts howling. If you’re lucky, the wolves will howl back. I’d never heard a wolf pack howling before but I’d sure love to hear it at least once in my life.

Sunset in the Bay Jill on a stand up paddle board fighting the current of Muskoka River, one of the many outdoor things to do in Ontario The view from the backyard of Sunny Point Cottage

Georgian Bay, That’s A Lot of Islands

Georgian Bay is another water paradise for those seeking a wilderness experience in Ontario. 30000 islands dot this bay making Georgian Bay one of the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. As we kayak around between the islands, I was reminded that we were right in the middle of what Ontarians call ‘cottage country’, a popular destination to escape from the hustle and bustle of city living. Many of the islands hold a vacation cottage or more offering their owners waterfront view.

To experience real wilderness, escape to Georgian Bay Islands National Park which land is government-protected natural areas. Only camping is allowed here.

Our guide told us in the winter, part of Georgian Bay is covered by ice. But that doesn’t stop nobody from exploring. Instead of a canoe, you don a pair of cross country skis and off you go. I’d always lived in places without a season so the idea that the a water mass as big as Georgian Bay can freeze over was mind blowing.

You don’t even need to like being around the water to enjoy the region. There’s miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. Perfect for those – like me – who think that water is all nice to look at but not to get too close to.

All you need is a sense of adventure, the love for the outdoors, and very strong mosquito repellent.

My time up there in Ontario’s wilderness was the highlight of my time in Ontario.

To be among nature and friends, I couldn’t be happier.

Now fully recharged, it was time to head back to Toronto and dive in into the hustle and bustle of the conference.

Do you often feel the need to escape city living and where do you go?

A mini guide to Ontario’s wilderness

map of ontario wilderness area

Algonquin Outfitters
Lake Opeongo, Algonquin Park

White Squall Paddling Center
53 East Carling Bay Rd. Nobel, Ontario

Muskoka Outfitters
271 Ecclestone Drive, Bracebridge

Buckwallow Cycling Center
North of Gravenhurst, Ontario. Exit 175 and follow directions to KOA camp ground.

Bear Claw Tours

Sunny Point Cottage
41 Sunny Point Road, Parry Sound

The trip and some of the pictures are provided by Explorer’s Edge.

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

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22 Replies to “Places to Visit in Ontario For Outdoor Lovers”

  1. Algonquin Park is a true paradise for adventure lovers and wild life lovers. We can get engaged in numerous adventure activities such as canoeing, kayaking and trekking. Being in Algonquin Park and staying inside park is an experience of life time. Last year we visited the park and stayed in Algonquin resort and the whole stay was found excellent and we could engage in many activities such as fishing, sightseeing, photography etc.

  2. I need to spend more time in nature. Sadly, that's just not a possibility in Shanghai where, if you ride the metro for an hour, you're still in Shanghai. I think that's partly why I enjoyed our trip to Yunnan so much. The wildness wasn't exactly pristine, but gosh it was pretty! Good luck with those wolves πŸ™‚
    My recent post Jean Georges Shanghai: Elegant Bund-Side Dining

    1. Shanghai sounds a lot like my hometown, Jakarta. It takes some effort (mostly in driving) to be out in nature. Glad to hear you enjoyed Yunnan – I've never been there but I've seen pics. It sure looks pretty.

    1. I sort of hope they'll come by and say hi. Friendly-like, not 'hey, dinner' – like. I'd love to see wolves in the wild.

  3. This is a post close to my heart:) I grew up in cottage country, also known as snow country as we get a ton of lake effect snow in the winter. My Mom still owns a house near Midland and I spent my childhood in these areas that you describe. Thanks for transporting me back to my youth πŸ™‚

    1. You're welcome – what a lovely childhood it must've been. Being around the area reminded me a bit of the settings of Calvin and Hobbes cartoon: forests and rivers, and of course, plenty of snow in winter.

  4. Love the change to your site!

    I do feel the need to escape to nature. But I am lucky I live in a mid-sized town where the rural is not far. I usually escape to a winery that is set within the forest-like areas that surround my city.
    A kayak or canoe is also great for a quick escape upon the Okanagan Lake.


  5. I'm a city girl through and through (I grew up in Toronto!), but I spent most of my summers as a kid up in the wilds of northern Ontario where my aunt lives, so I know of this pristine wilderness of which you speak. If only there weren't so many mosquitos, horseflies, and black flies!

    Also, just a small correction: it's actually Georgian Bay, not Georgia bay!

    1. Nice catch! Corrected!
      And you're right about the flies and mosquitoes – I guess it comes with all of those marshes and bodies of water.

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