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The SAIL team’s favourite 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario


September 28, 2022


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The SAIL team’s favourite 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario

Looking for some tips on where to go to find the best views, the best mountains, the best trails or even the best lakes to practise your favourite outdoor activity? Want to escape the city and breathe in the crisp winter air, or enjoy the warm summer breeze? The SAIL team has your back! Our experts have come up with a list of the top 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario so you can get back to nature and have some great adventures.

In this article, you will learn more about:

  1. Rondeau Provincial Park
  2. Collingwood (Simcoe County)
  3. Lower French River (Central Ontario)
  4. Grand River Conservation Areas (Southwestern Ontario)
  5. Algonquin Provincial Park (South-Central Ontario)
  6. A few pro tips

Rondeau Provincial Park

The SAIL team’s favourite 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario_parc_rondeau

Twitchers (birdwatchers) will be aware of the Rondeau Provincial Park already, as the area is widely known as a bird-watching destination of choice. This Canadian Important Bird Area (IBA) is a popular migratory corridor and records more than 360 species on its territory. Talk about variety! The park hosts the “Festival of Flight” every spring, attracting keen birdwatchers from all over to observe birds as they journey north.

But twitching isn’t the only thing to do in Rondeau. The park is the largest area of Carolinian forest in Canada. As such, hikers can enjoy unique forest views as they walk along the trails.

In the fall, hunters flock to Rondeau Provincial Park for the waterfowl hunting season. Fishing enthusiasts are also amongst the regular visitors, and anglers who appreciate ice fishing should definitely stop by during the colder months.

Collingwood (Simcoe County)

Collingwood - ENCollingwood, located in Simcoe County, is a beautiful town with plenty of attractions that warrant a visit. The waterfront offers breathtaking views, as well as opportunities to sail, windsurf or paddle. But Collingwood’s main pull? It is a gateway to several other well-known outdoor places, including Blue Mountain Resort and Georgian Bay.

Blue Mountain is a skiing resort with plenty of outdoor options for winter visitors. While it is famous for alpine skiing and snowboarding, it also features well-groomed tubing, snowshoeing, hiking and mountain bike trails.

Collingwood is located at the southern point of Georgian Bay, which is a fantastic kayaking destination with beautiful landscapes made up of windswept white pines and breathtaking cliffs towering over clear waters. The area is a hidden gem for nature lovers everywhere.

Lower French River (Central Ontario)

The SAIL team’s favourite 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario_riviere_des_francaisThose yearning for a good old-fashioned canoe camping trip should consider heading to French River Provincial Park. The French River, flowing all the way from Lake Nipissing to the Georgian Bay, used to be a trade route travelled by Indigenous people, French explorers and fur traders. It was named Canadian Heritage River back in 1986, and for good reasons! The 110-kilometre-long river features interconnected lakes, gorges, rapids and amazing views of the Canadian Shield terrain, making it a unique canoe route that’s well worth the trip.

The Lower French River is an excellent place to start your excursion, whether you are planning on a short outing or a longer canoe camping trip spread over several days. The river is easy to navigate, with a few rapids along the way. These can mostly be run by more experienced canoeists with a good sense of adventure, and the more intense sections can be portaged without too much difficulty.

Grand River Conservation Areas (Southwestern Ontario)

The SAIL team’s favourite 5 outdoor places to visit in Ontario_grand_river_conservation

Photo Credits: Shari Lovell, Rockwood Licence

The Grand River Conservation Areas (GRCA) are a collection of twelve conservation areas located along the Grand River. Each of those outdoor places offers a specific set of facilities and outdoor activities, from tubing to cross-country skiing, and from swimming to hiking. GRCA caters for everyone: those seeking a more family-friendly camping or picnic spot, birdwatchers hoping for a quiet wetland, or fishing enthusiasts looking to catch their dinner. It’s just a matter of finding the right area to head to. Make sure you check both opening hours and seasons, as well as maximum capacity for each individual conservation area as they vary from one to the next.

Algonquin Provincial Park (South-Central Ontario)


Photo Credits: Ontario Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is another outdoor place with a lot to offer. Visitors should consider camping onsite to get the most out of their trip as there is always plenty to do. Backcountry, frontcountry, winter and canoe camping enthusiasts alike will love the park, and yurts are available to rent for those looking for a little bit more of a luxurious camping experience. Whether you love hiking, paddling, fishing or mountain biking, the park’s well-groomed trail network, beautiful hills, forests and thousands of lakes ensure you can practise your favourite outdoor activities and even try new ones.

The fall is particularly popular with hikers hoping to admire the leaves changing colour, while spring brings a crowd of birdwatchers hoping to catch a glimpse of some spring migratory birds. Nature photography enthusiasts should keep their cameras at the ready at all times!

A few pro tips

  • If you’re lucky enough to spot some wildlife while out on an outdoor adventure, remember never to feed wild animals. This also means not leaving food behind, and bringing back all of your trash.
  • Dog owners should check if dogs are allowed at their chosen outdoor place as regulations will vary from one area to the next, and even from one trail to the next.
  • Always check the weather report before heading out, whether that’s into the woods or on the water, and prepare for the worst case scenario by bringing additional snacks, water and extra layers of clothing. Have a look at our checklist of hiking essentials here to ensure you don’t forget anything.


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