Sure, we’re barely into September but do you already feel the need to take a break and get out of the city? Nothing too far or expensive, just a quick getaway within Ontario, with the kids for the weekend or even just a day. After all, we’re supposed to be in for a brutal winter, so why not enjoy the milder fall weather with one of these road trips near Toronto while we can?
Below we round up 11 destinations that we think make for great fall getaways for Toronto and area families. We’ve gone with a mix of day trips and destinations where you could get away for a night or two. All destinations should take less three hours to reach, assuming traffic cooperates. And all feature amenities and attractions that will put a smile on your children’s faces, as well as your own.
FALL GETAWAYS & ROAD TRIPS NEAR TORONTO
While the resort “village” of Blue Mountain is better known as a winter destination, there’s still plenty to do there throughout the fall. It’s one of the perfect road trips near Toronto for any time of year. Grab a play-all-day wristband, which starts at $44, and get access to unlimited use of the gondola, mountain coaster, Plunge! Aquatic centre, and more. If you’re spending the night (and note that the Blue Mountain area offers a wide selection of lodging options), take a look at AGORA: Path of Light. This gentle, three-kilometre hike through the woods will take your family through several beautifully lit interactive installations that explore the key elements that make up our world. Tickets for AGORA start at $14 and include a round-trip on the village’s gondola.
3291 Stouffville Rd., Stouffville
Located just north of Toronto, Bruce’s Mill Conversation Area is a great spot to visit for a day trip that will get you out of the city without using up your whole weekend. While Bruce’s Mill features trails and picnic areas, its real star is Treetop Trekking. It features outdoor fun for kids ages two and up, on rope courses, ziplines, play structures and more. Pricing varies by activity but expect to pay around $32 for one child and one adult to explore the all-ages Treetop Village. The conservation area also includes a BMX course and, for a limited time (while the weather is still nice) a driving range.
9528 Regional Rd. 25, Milton
It’s not fall in Southern Ontario without a trip to a local farm. While we’re lucky to have well over a dozen family-friendly farms in and around the GTA, we’re highlighting Chudleigh’s because, year after year, it receives rave reviews from thousands of families who enjoy its many attractions and events. At Chudleigh’s you’ll find friendly farm animals to pet, play structures to explore, and scenic tractors rides to hop on. There’s also a perfect-for-the-little apple orchard where you can pick your own fruit. And let’s not forget about the food at the Blossom Café, which offers both on-site dining and a nice selection of goodies to take home. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, start at $14, with kids three and under being free.
London, Ontario, might not be as big and cosmopolitan as its namesake, but this small city still has plenty of ways to entertain your family for either a day or over a weekend. There’s the London Children’s Museum, which is best for kids under 10; Storybook Gardens, which offers amusement park rides on the weekends until early October, then switches to offering a Halloween party; and The Factory, a giant indoor playground that both kids and adults will love. If you’re spending the night and need accommodations, consider family-favourite Lamplighter Inn, which features an indoor pool and waterslide.
Niagara Falls is one of Ontario’s leading tourism destinations for a good reason: It has something for everyone! From the natural beauty of the Falls to the controlled chaos that is Clifton Hills, your family won’t be bored here. New to town is The Tunnel. Located at the historic Niagara Parks Power Station, this 2,200-foot-long tunnel will reveal the Falls to your family in a whole new way. Access to this attraction is included in your ticket to the Niagara Parks Power Station, which starts at around $18, with kids five and under being free. While Niagara can be an easy day trip, if you want to spend the night, there are tons of family-friendly hotel options including the legendary Great Wolf Lodge, home to one of the GTA’s best waterparks.
If you’re looking for a one-day getaway into nature that doesn’t require hours of driving, then the many beautiful properties overseen by the Hamilton Conservation Authority might be a great fit. They offer a variety of family-friendly hiking opportunities with plenty of opportunities for scenic photos. Stop by the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area and see, “the watershed’s most unique natural gems,” complete with underground caves. Then pop over to Christie Lake and take a hike around the lake (or even a swim if the weather’s still warm). And don’t forget about the waterfalls! While the dramatic Devil’s Punchbowl is currently closed to visitors, other falls are open, though some, such as Tew and Webster Falls found in the Spencer Gorge, do require reservations on the weekend. Note that all parks have a parking fee, which varies depending on which location you’re visiting.
Muskoka tends to hog the spotlight when it comes to scenic, woodsy destinations in Ontario, but this province is rich in outdoorsy getaway options. Take Kawartha Lakes for example. This laidback area is one of the best spots to see the fall colours, and is filled with opportunities to hike, canoe, and connect your family with nature, thanks to the presence of multiple family-friendly wildness areas including Balsam Lake Provincial Park and the Ken Reid Conservation Area. If your family is spending the night, consider renting one of the area’s many cottages, which often offer discounted rates in the fall. And don’t forget to stop in Port Perry, a town so cute that it’s starred in multiple Hallmark movies (it also has some tasty dining options).
1805 Taunton Rd., Hampton
If your family lives in the eastern portion of the GTA, a day trip out to Pingle’s Farm Market is an easy drive to hours of fun. From September 10 until October 30, the farm hosts Harvest Festival, which features a 6.5-acre corn maze, a playland and the opportunity to pick-your-own apples and corn. The weekend edition of the festival also includes wagon rides and an impressive food and drink area that offers lots of yummy treats (try the apple fritter ice cream sunday) and live music. Weekend tickets start at $15 while tickets for Tuesday to Thursday, which features fewer activities and has a quieter feel, start at $10.
1922 County Rd. 92, Elmvale
1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W, Barrie
Here’s a farm-focused getaway that’s a bit of a further drive, but that’s well worth the trip. The Ranch’s Pumpkin Mania Festival runs from September 17 until October 30 and features tractor rides, a play fort, a petting zoo, and a variety of fall-themed games. Also, there are pony and horse rides available! Tickets for Pumpkin Mania start at $14 (if pre-booked) and each ticket includes a free pumpkin, your choice of size and colour. If you want to roll a trip to the Ranch into a weekend away, book at night at Horseshoe Valley, which is a roughly 20-minute drive from the farm. At Horseshoe Valley your family can hike, bike and — until mid-October — trek the treetops.
624 Golden Beach Road, Bracebridge, ON
Muskoka is always a great option for a road trip, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning colours. But we know that kids generally aren’t too impressed by the beauty of nature so here’s something that might be more appealing to them: A Christmas-themed amusement park. Best for kids under 12, this park features dozens of rides, and such attractions as go karts and yes, meeting Santa. In mid and late October, the park also takes on a Halloween theme. During September and October, Santa’s Village is only open on the weekends and note that its last day of operation for 2022 is October 30. Kids under 36 inches are free but everyone else needs a ticket, which runs around $40.
16160 Highway 12 East, Midland, ON
Here’s another solid day trip option, located less than two hours outside of Toronto. This “provincially significant wetlands and woodlands,” covers 3,000 acres and is home to dozens of wildlife and bird species, some of whom you can meet at the Wye Marsh Nature Centre, a kid-friendly interpretative centre. Also on-site are trails, picnic facilities and guided kayak and canoe tours. Admission starts at $9, with kids three and under free.