10 places to explore in Ontario and Quebec

By , on May 27, 2014

Summer is on its way; meaning, it’s almost time to pack your bags and hit the road again for a fun getaway. We all deserve it, right? Having endured an eternal winter, summer is the perfect time to bury our memories of winters past.

Central Canada, composed of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is known to have harsh winters; but come summertime, both can promise you a warm, sunshiny weather to enjoy.  Not only that, the duality of the two provinces can give you endless travel choices—offering a mix of modern and historic experiences.

Are you now convinced to visit Ontario and Quebec? Here are ten travel destinations in the two provinces that you can visit with your family, friends, or a significant other (in no particular order):

1. Niagara Falls

A view of the Niagara Falls from the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel/ Photo by Saffron Blaze/ CC BY-SA 3.0
A view of the Niagara Falls from the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel/ Photo by Saffron Blaze/ CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most popular, if not the most popular, tourist destinations in Ontario is the majestic Niagara Falls. Three falls, namely the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the American side and the 2,600-foot Horseshoe Fall on the Canadian side, make up the entirety of the famous Niagara Falls.

Bias aside, there are more attractions, restaurants and nightclubs on the Canadian side. It is also where you can get a better view of the falls.

Other must-see attractions: Journey Behind the Falls, Maid of the Mist, Casino Niagara, Marineland, Skylon Tower, Niagara Skywheel, Butterfly Conservatory, Lundy’s Lane

2. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Hotel Prince of Wales in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Photo by Philipp Hienstorfer, CC BY-SA 3.0
Hotel Prince of Wales in Niagara-on-the-Lake/ Photo by Philipp Hienstorfer/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming town, which is less than 30 minutes away from the falls. Aside from being an arts and crafts community, the town is also called an oasis to wine lovers. It is home to top wineries, ranging from large estates to medium and small boutiques. You shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to go on a wine tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake to sample some of the best vinos in the world.

Other must-see attractions: Shaw Festival, Welland Canal Locks

3. Toronto

Toronto at Dusk/ Photo by Benson Kua/ CC BY-SA 2.0
Toronto at Dusk/ Photo by Benson Kua/ CC BY-SA 2.0

With over 140 languages and dialects spoken, Toronto is truly a diverse and vibrant city. Being the biggest city in Canada and the capital of Ontario, you will never run out of places to see and things to do all year-round in this cosmopolitan city.

Toronto is known for its upscale, vintage and local shops and restaurants, exciting theme parks, amazing museums, spectacular festivals, and other incredible attractions.  Also located in the city is the CN Tower, the third tallest freestanding tower in the world, which cost $63 million to construct. Aside from the observation deck and a revolving restaurant, you can also try CN Tower’s newest, thrilling attraction, the EdgeWalk.

Other must-see attractions: Rogers Centre, The Hockey Hall of Fame, The Royal Ontario Museum, Air Canada Centre, Casa Loma, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science Centre, Eaton Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Toronto Island, St. Lawrence Market, The Distillery District

4. Ottawa

Parliament Hill, Ottawa/ Photo by Asif Ali/ CC BY-ND-NC 2.0
Parliament Hill, Ottawa/ Photo by Asif Ali/ CC BY-ND-NC 2.0

Ottawa is Canada’s capital. It might not sound as exciting as Toronto or Montreal, but the city has a lot to offer to its visitors too. Most attractions can be found within the Parliamentary Precinct. This is where government buildings, museums, and galleries are located.  Visit the Parliament Buildings to see its magnificent architecture. At night, you can also watch the sound and light show on Parliament Hill.

Other must-see attractions: The Peace Tower, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian War Museum, Bytown Museum, Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada, Gatineau Park, Byward Market, Rideau River, Canal and Falls

5. Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park/ Photo by Johannes Lietz/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Algonquin Provincial Park/ Photo by Johannes Lietz/ CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This park, which is located between the Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River, is not only the oldest provincial park in Canada, but also a very popular one. Why? Located in the park are over 2,400 rivers and 1, 200 kilometers of streams. It is also a sanctuary for thousands of flora and fauna species.

6. Georgian Bay

Voted as one of the travel hidden gems in Canada, the Georgian Bay features more than 30,000 islands and 2,000 kilometers of shoreline. There are also many activities you can do in each of the communities around the Bay, like cruising on a glass bottom boat on the Bruce Peninsula, taking the Waterfall Tour in Owen Sound and Area, or just relaxing on the sands of Wasaga Beach.

7. Kingston and Thousand Islands

Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario/ Photo by Viaje a Canada/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario/ Photo by Viaje a Canada/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The historical city of Kingston is also known as the “Limestone City”, for its many heritage buildings are built of local limestone. Besides being the freshwater sailing capital of the world, Kingston is also known for its restaurants and eateries, with menus spanning the globe. You can also hop aboard a cruise ship for dinner and a sightseeing tour of the famous Thousand Islands.

Other must-see attractions: Confederation Trolley Tour, Fort Henry, Queen’s University, Royal Military College

 8. Stratford

Stratford is renowned as one of the greatest art towns in North America. It is where the Stratford Festival is celebrated annually, running from April to October. The Festival is very prominent for its productions of Shakespearean plays. If you are a theatre enthusiast, then you will enjoy visiting the city as many playwrights, actors and theatre-goers flock to Stratford during the event.

9. Montreal

Montreal Cafés/ Photo by Doug/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Montreal Cafés/ Photo by Doug/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Montreal is the second biggest city in Canada. Even though locals speak English too, it is one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world. The city offers a unique combination of old and modern world. It offers a wealth of attractions and an abundance of restaurant choices. Manila is a sister city of Montreal.

Famous tourist spots are Old Montreal (Vieux Montréal), known for its shopping, restaurants, outdoor cafes, nightlife and its Old World charm; The Basilica of Notre Dame, a historic church with a vast and remarkable interior; and the underground city (RESO), an underground complex that connects more than 2,000 shops and restaurants. Visiting Montreal is like stepping into Paris without leaving Canada.

Other must-see attractions: Mont-Royal Park, St. Joseph’s Oratory, Expo Islands, Montreal Casino, Olympic Park, The Laurentians, The Magdalen Islands, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal Botanical Garden, Mosaicultures Internationales, Lachine Canal, Old Port of Montreal

10. Quebec City

Quebec City, Rue St. Louis/ Photo by Chensiyuan/ CC BY-SA 3.0
Quebec City/ Photo by Datch78/ CC BY-SA 3.0

Three hours away from Montreal is Quebec’s provincial capital, the impressive Quebec City. Just like Montreal, Quebec City brings you the ambiance of Europe with its cobblestone streets, stone buildings, museums, and outdoor cafes and bistros. Most of the city stretches out on rocky cliffs, overlooking the scenic St. Lawrence River. The city’s rocky high point, Cape Diamond, is 103 meters above the river.

Other must-see attractions: Montmorency Falls, Old Quebec, Citadel, National Battlefields, Chateau Frontenac, Notre-Dame-de-Quebec Basilica, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, Île d’Orléans, Tadoussac, Gaspé Peninsula