You don’t have to leave the province to have a world-class adventure, there are numerous things to do in Ontario that will get your blood pumping without having to step foot on a plane! Ontario is an outdoor adventure playground that is waiting to be explored in any season. From the Fathom Five National Marine Park to Wasaga Beach, these are the best outdoor activities in Ontario for adventure lovers.
Table of Contents
Epic Adventures in Ontario
Yes, we’ve done all the things to do in Ontario that everyone recommends like going to the Royal Ontario Museum, watching a show at the Stratford Festival, or visiting the Rideau Canal, but aren’t you looking for something different? Something new to try? These Ontario adventures will get you off the couch and wanting more. So what are you waiting for? Plan for an adventure this weekend right now!
1. Learn to Whitewater Kayak – Madawaska River
You’ve probably been putting this bucket list item off for years, but there has never been a better time to try something new than right now! We orginally wanted to learn whitewater canoeing but we were the only two who signed up for it, so whitewater kayaking it was!
Learning to Whitewater Kayak on the Madawaska River was one of our greatest adventures. This week-long course had us learning the barrel roll and navigating class 3 rapids in just a few short days. It’s one of the best places to learn how to whitewater kayak in North America. The owners helped design and develope the training area for the Olympics course. This river attracts paddlers from around the world.
It gave us the confidence to head out on rivers by ourselves armed with the skills to t-rescue, brace, and do a fast wet exit should we not be able to roll.
- Learning to Whitewater kayak
- Whitewater kayaking – The Ultimate Ontario Adventure
- Book a kayaking course with Madawaska Kanu Centre
2. Learn to Scuba Dive – Georgian Bay
Have you ever gone south to see people learning to dive in the pool at the resort? We’ve always wondered why people wait to waste a few days of their vacation learning to scuba dive when they can do it right here in Ontario.
We learned to scuba dive in Ontario’s lakes and it helped us build our skills to make diving in the warm Caribbean waters a breeze! Ontario’s lakes are littered with shipwrecks and the visibility is good at 20 feet and a lot of wrecks are in shallow water.
One of the best places to go scuba diving in Ontario is Fathom Five National Marine Park in Tobermory. Tobermory is located next to Bruce Peninsula National Park that is famous for the Grotto and Flower Pot Island. A trip here for a weekend is a must!
- Other places we loved to scuba dive in Ontario:
- Georgian Bay
- Lake Simcoe
- St. Lawrence River
- Ontario has some great drift diving on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers too!
3. Hike the North Shore of Lake Superior
Ontario is known for its outdoor activities, and Lake Superior National Park is the top. The North Shore of Lake Superior is Ontario’s adventure destination and some of the greatest coastal hikes in Canada are located along its shores.
It feels like you are hiking along an ocean coast with waves crashing against the sea cliffs. Lake Superior is massive! Read more: Top 15 Ontario Hiking Trails
The Pukaskwa Coastal Hike is considered one of the most challenging hiking routes in Canada and it is incredibly beautiful and remote. The Lake Superior Coastal Trail is a 65km route that starts in Agawa Bay and ends at Gargantua Bay. It is a demanding trail that takes several days.
- Hiking the Wild Coastal Trail of the Pukaskwa
- Naturally Superior offers shuttles to both Pukaskwa National Park and the Lake Superior Coastal Trail.
4. Take a Two Day Whitewater Rafting Trip – Ottawa River
One day isn’t enough to go whitewater rafting on the Ottawa River, you need at least two! Plus that gives you time to enjoy the all-inclusive resorts that run the tours! The Ottawa River is famous around the world with avid whitewater rafters as one of the premier places on earth for whitewater rafting. You can count on the rapids being huge. Forget the roller coasters of Canada’s Wonderland, enjoy your own water park in a natural setting as you ride the rapid roller coaster of the Ottawa River.
A two day trip with OWL Rafting lets you go in a large raft with several other people as your guide does most of the work navigating with two paddles through the rapids. The large rafts are the only ones that are allowed to go through the biggest set of rapids known as “The Staircase.” After you’ve tackled a day on the big raft, you get to run a small sporty raft the second day which is twice the excitement!
5. Hike the Entire Bruce Trail
This summer has never been a better time to take a multi-day hike or to chip away at an epic hike. The Bruce Trail is an 885km trail following the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Niagara Escarpment from Niagara Falls to Tobermory.
The Bruce Trail can be done in 30 days from end to end if you put your head down and hike fast. Most people take their time doing a section at a time. Why not take off each weekend and pick up from where you left off each trip. How far do you think you’ll get this summer?
6. Take a BiPlane Flight Over Ottawa
Ottawa is our favourite city in Ontario and while it is known for the Parliament buildings and Rideau Canal, the most epic thing you can do in Ottawa is to hop on a vintage biplane and fly over the tops sites in Ottawa and Gatineau. See Parliament Hill from above, do some maneuvers in the air and enjoy the scenery in this open air cockpit as you dress in complete vintage flight gear.
7. Tackle Ontario’s Mountain Biking Trails
One of the best things we ever did was learn to mountain bike. At Hardwood Hills just north of Barrie, you can learn to mountain bike and hone your skills. There are trails for beginnners and then you can work you way up to expert and black diamond trails. It’s on our list as one of the best day trips from Toronto. Read more about Ontario Day Trips here.
Fat biking in Winter is a blast as well. Canadians never stop cycling and the snow won’t hold us back!
- Other great places to mountain bike in Ontario: (that we’ve been)
- Blue Mountain
- 3 Stages Collingwood
- Albion Hills
- The Don Valley
- And many many more!
- See a full breakdown of where mountain biking trails are in Ontario here.
8. Learn to Ride a Motorcycle
It’s the ultimate solo adventure. Well, at least you are socially distancing from anyone while riding a motorcycle. Ontario has some amazing motorcycle routes and getting your licence this summer is a great way to explore Ontario in a unique fashion.
It only takes a couple of weekends to get a motorcycle licence and then you have five years to drive and learn before you need to take a test to get fully certified.
- We learned with Motorsoul Riding School in Toronto and she was fantastic!
9. Learn to Dirt Bike in Ganaraska
If you are looking for unique attractions in Ontario, check out Trail Tours in Ganaraska Forest. Take your mountain biking up a notch and learn to ride a dirt bike in the Ganaraska Forest. This is such a fun adventure and it helps your motorcycle skills as well.
Trail Tours takes you to the back woods of the Ganaraska Forest where there are hundreds of km of dirt biking trails. They supply the bikes and gear and then teach you how to ride over logs, bridges and obstacles.
Once you’ve tackled the basics, its time to hit the trails and show off your skills!
10. Learn to Rock Climb – Niagara Escarpment
Rock climbing is one of our favourite outdoor activities and Ontario is awesome for it. Ontario has some fantastic climbing routes being located on the Niagara Escarpment. dThis UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere is one of Ontario’s Natural Wonders that spans 1900 square km! (733 miles) and there are several awesome cliffs to climb it! The Niagara Escarpment can easily be explored on day trips from Toronto.
We first learned to climb at Joe Rockheads Climbing Gym in Toronto before taking it outdoors. But you can take an outdoor course to learn how to set up top ropes and eventually lead climb your own routes.
- Places that we enjoyed climbing in Ontario are:
- Rattlesnake Point
- Metcalf Rock
- Mount Nemo
- Lion’s Head
- Niagara Glen for Bouldering
11. Hornblower Adventure Cruise
It’s one of the top attractions in Ontario. Niagara Falls is a place that you must visit if you come to Ontario and when you do, get on the Hornblower for the thrill of a lifetime. This boat directly into one of the largest waterfalls in the world is a thrill. Niagara Falls is one of the top attractions in Ontario, and hopping on the Hornblower takes you to the center of Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian Side. United States passengers also go into Horseshoe Falls on the Maid of the Mist. You get wet and really feel the power of the falls.
12. Whirlpool Jetboat
If you want to take things up a notch, the Whirlpool Jetboat tour is even zanier! Hop on board at Niagara on the Lake and take a jetboat journey on class 6 rapids to the Niagara River’s whirlpool.
Niagara Falls is famous for its natural wonder and Niagara-on-the-Lake is famous for its wineries, but did you know that one of the greatest outdoor adventures in Ontario is located right in the middle of these two popular Ontario destinations. The Whirlpool Jetboat Tour takes thrill seekers along the Niagara Gorge right to the mouth of the class 6 rapids of the Niagara Whirlpool. You can choose wet or dry excursions. Either way, you are going to be riding a roller coaster of waves on twin engine speed boats that twist and turn through the gorge.
Both the whirlpool jetboat and Hornblower allow kids (with some height restrictions) making them both great family friendly attractions in Ontario.
- The Very Best Things to do in Niagara Falls
- Things to do in Niagara on the Lake – A Lovely Ontario Town
- Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
13. Chase Waterfalls
Niagara Falls may be the most famous waterfall in Canada, but nearby Hamilton, Ontario is known as the waterfall capital of the world. With some 150 waterfalls strewn along the Niagara Escarpment, outdoor lovers have endless kilometres of exploration to see waterfalls such as the Devil’s Punch Bowl, Albion Falls and Wilson Falls. Be it spring when the water is flowing or winter when the water has frozen, chasing waterfalls is one of the greatest Ontario outdoor adventures!
14. Take a Canoe Trip – Algonquin Park
Nothing says a Canadian adventure more than taking an epic canoe trip. There are several canoe routes to choose from in Algonquin Provincial Park which is our favourite destiantion but there are many epic canoe routes in Ontario.
Right outside the door of our house is the Grand River that is popular with paddlers. There’s also Lake Superior’s North Shore and the Upper Ottawa River Canoe Routes. And Killarney Provincial Park has several canoe routes to choose from.
Search for routes from one-day to multiday adventures and check to make sure you have enough gear and can handle the portages. Some range from a few meters to a couple of kilometers.
- In Search of Algonquin Moose – A Canadian Wildlife Safari
- Book a guided canoe trip or rent gear with Voyageur Quest or Algonquin Outfitters
15. Learn to Fly Fish – Sault Ste. Marie
Ever since watching a River Runs Through It with Brad Pitt, we wanted to learn to fly fish. It looks so relaxing! Well, we got our chance when exploring Sault Ste. Marie on Lake Superior. Saint Mary’s River Rapids are one of the best places in the world for fly fishing. Located right at the border of the United States, The Saint Maries River attracts fly fishermen from all over North America.
The Soo North Fly Shop in Ste Sault Marie supplies fly rods, hip waders, and boots and they offer lessons and guides to help you navigate the waters. This is one of the more relaxing outdoor activities to have in Ontario. You almost go into a zen state.
16. Fly-in Fishing Lodges – Northern Ontario
If you really want to go to a remote destination and keep your social distancing to a maximum, there’s nothing that will take you off the grid more than taking a float plane to a remote fishing lodge.
Getting out to the northern wilderness makes for a perfect getaway for fishermen or nature lovers alike. Timberwolf Lodge is located on the remote Nagagami Lake. They have classic teak boats that guests can use to explore the lake and fish for their supper. Or catch and release.
- Check out: 35 Iconic Places to Visit in Ontario
17. Paddle the Grand River
We love living near the Grand River. This beautiful river is a playground for paddlers and rafting. From paddling and tubing at the Elora Gorge to rafting and kayaking from Glen Morris to Paris, this is an outdoor lovers dream. You can also go cycling along the Grand.
The great thing about having a Stand Up Paddleboard is that you can do it basically anywhere! Just look to make sure you aren’t going into any whitewater that you aren’t prepared for. Another great places to go Paddle Boarding is in Ottawa. You paddle right past two of the most popular tourist attractions in Ottawa, Parliament Hill and the Canadian Museum of History as you enjoy the shores of the Ottawa River.
18. Cycle the Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail)
The Trans Canada Trail stretches right across Canada and the Ontario portion of the Great Trail consists of 5,000 km of cycling routes. To give you an idea, we cycled all the way from Cairo to Cape Town down the continent of Africa and it was 12,000 km!
Starting in Ottawa, the trail goes west through Kingston, Niagara, Toronto, and London before veering north to Kitchener, North Bay, Sault Ste Marie, and Thunder Bay. The trails can be used throughout the year with cycling in the summer and snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and hiking in the winter.
You can cycle the entire trail and camp as you go, or tackle it one route at a time! You don’t have to do it all, the Trans Canada Trail can be hopped on in nearly every Ontario community. See 25 Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada
19. Spy on the Rare Woodland Caribou – Slate Islands
The Slate Islands are one of the most remote destinations to visit in Ontario. When you take a boat shuttle out to these islands, you won’t encounter too many people. If you are looking for things to do in Ontario that will take you off the beaten path, this is it.
Located 14 km off the shore of Lake Superior a herd of woodland caribou inhabit these islands. They have no natural predators thanks to being so isolated. You can paddle, hike or just relax and camp out on one two main islands or the seven smaller ones.
The Slate Islands also have the world’s largest shatter cone, thousand-year-old Pukaskwa PIts, and the world’s largest shatter cone.
- Best things to do on the Slate Islands
- In Search of the Woodland Caribou
- Book tours and transfers with Naturally Superior Adventures
20. Treetop Treks – Collingwood
One of the best tree top treks in Ontario is at Collingwood. We loved this adventure because there’s a lot more to it than just high ropes. Blue Mountain is one of the top resorts in Ontario with so many things to do. We started by walking along Ontario’s longest suspension bridge, we then trekked along an obstacle course, and then ended with a 300 and 1000-foot zip line over the forest.
It’s an excellent day trip in Ontario because, after this great adventure, you can take a tour of the Scenic Caves. This is a beautiful maze of 17 caves and formations located 70 feet below the surface.
21. Go Skating or Boating on the Rideau Canal
Be it winter or summer the Rideau Canal is Ontario’s best place for outdoor adventures. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular place for boating tours during the summer. We have gone boating with Le Boat on a self drive houseboat both North and South along the Rideau Canal. There are plenty of national historic sites located along this historic canal that spans from Canada’s first capital city, Kingston Ontario to our current capital of Ottawa.
In the winter the landscapes completely change and the canal freezes over. Skating on the Rideau Canal is one of the great Canadian bucket list items that is not to be missed. The best time to skate on the Rideau Canal is during Winterlude that takes place annually in February.
22. Test Your Nerves at the CN Tower Edgewalk – Toronto
Who would have thought that one of the most epic outdoor adventures in Ontario would be in downtown Toronto. Going on the world’s highest outdoor walk at the CN Tower will take your breath away! The CN Tower is one of the top tourist attractions in Ontario, but it is what you do there that makes it epic!
The Edgewalk is located on Toronto’s CN Tower and you are strapped into a cable as you dangle over the edge of the city at 356m/1,168ft (116 stories) above the ground! Check out our experience and video here!
And these are the most epic adventures and things to do in Ontario that we have experienced over the last 20 years of exploring our own province.
23. Go Snowboarding or Downhill Mountain Biking Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain Resort is Ontario’s premier outdoor playground. This year round destination attracts visitors for downhill mountain biking and hiking in the summer to skiing in the winter. Snowboarders particularly love Blue Mountain resort with its awesome terrain park and half pipe. It even hosts World Cup Snowboarding events!
There are plenty of things to do in Blue Mountain in all season, check out our entire post to start planning your trip.
24. Slide Down the Dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park
One of my favourite things to do in Ontario as a kid was to run around and roll in the sand dune of Sand Banks Provicinial Park. Located in Prince Edward County, Sandbanks is home to towering sandbanks lining the shore of Lake Ontario. It’s not only an important sanctuary for birds, but its mounds of sand make it a perfect day out for families. So grab your bucket and shovel and start making a sand castle.
25. Watch the Dark Skies
While most people head north to see the Aurora Borealis, Ontario has some surprisingly great places to see the night skies. Some of the best places to view the night skies in Ontario are Point Pelee National Park which is a dark sky preserve, Manitoulin Island, Bruce, Grey and Simcoe Counties, Kawarthas and Northumberland, Southeastern Ontario’s Haliburton Highlands to the Ottawa Valley, Muskoka, Parry Sound and Algonquin Park or Northeastern Ontario.
Now that’s a lot of dark skies!
26. Take a Great Ontario Road Trip
Ontario is an amazing destination for driving and day trips. In fact, we have two of our favourite road trips on the world listed as Ontario.
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is one of the great drives on earth circumnavigating Lake Superior, but there are other awesome Ontario road trips. Why? because the province is huge! It can take a full day to get anywhere!
Suggested Road Trips in Ontario
- Bruce Peninsula – Out to Tobermory
- Along the Saint Lawrence River
- Around Manitoulin Island
- Up to Sudbury and Lake Superior’s north shore through Wawa to Thunder Bay
- Toronto to Ottawa
- The Apple Pie Trail
- Ontario Wine Routes – Prince Edward County, Niagara Escarpment, Pele Island
What should we try next? Do you have an awesome Ontario adventure that you’d like us to try? Leave it in the comments below.
Get Help with More Attractions in Ontario and Travel Planning
- The Most Iconic Places to Visit in Ontario
- The Best Places to Camp in Ontario
- 9 Valentine’s Day Getaways in Ontario
- Things to do in Niagara Falls – What to do, Where to Eat & Where to Stay
- The Very Best Things to do in Toronto
- Lake Superior Circle Tour – Ultimate Two Week Itinerary
- Top 11 Things to Do on Manitoulin Island
- Things to do in Muskoka in Winter
- In Search of Algonquin Moose – A Canadian Wildlife Safari
- 33 Things to do in Ottawa – A Complete Guide to the City
- Places to Visit in Ottawa this Autumn