Summer vacation is the perfect time to get away with your family, enjoy the warm weather, and go on an adventure – but not everyone is able to take a week off work and travel somewhere far.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 day trips to take with your family this summer that are fun, active, outdoors, and only a few hours away from Toronto by car. We’ve even included a side stop to make enroute. So start practicing your “I Spy” and “20 Questions” car-game skills, and get ready for an awesome day of summer family fun!
To come up with some of your own ideas, start by checking our listings for Fun Things to Do With Kids in Toronto (and the surrounding area).
1. Six Mile Lake Provincial Park
Located near Georgian Bay on Six Mile Lake, just under two hours away from Toronto, lies Six Mile Lake Provincial Park, a beautiful, family-friendly park – and one of the best fishing spots in the province.
You don’t have to be an expert outdoorsman to take advantage of all the park has to offer – with the Learn to Fish program that supplies you with an instructor and all the fishing equipment you’ll need (including a single-day fishing license and life-jacket), even the tiniest fishermen can reel one in!
Side Stop: Elmvale Jungle Zoo.
Six Mile Lake Provincial Park
2024 Joe King Road, Port Severn, 705-756-2746
2. Darien Lake Theme Park
Get your passports ready! This incredible theme park just across the border is only a two and a half hour drive from Toronto. With bumper cars, swings, a mini roller coaster, a go kart track, and more, there are rides for thrill seekers of all ages. Then get wet and wild at the water park in the wave pool, water slides, and kiddie lagoon, or head to the lazy river for a rest.
Whether you pack a lunch or eat at one of the many in-park restaurants, make sure to save room for dessert! Youngsters – and parents – with a sweet tooth will want to indulge in the classic amusement park confections, like homemade fudge, make your own Icee, Dippin’ Dots, and made-from-scratch funnel cake.
Side Stop: The first ever Tim Hortons location, which happens to be in Hamilton.
Darien Lake Theme Park
9993 Alleghany Rd, Darien Center, NY, 1-585-599-211
3. Heeman’s Strawberry Farm
One of the best parts of summer is eating delicious in-season fruits and veggies, and they’re even better when you get to pick them yourself!
Heeman’s 50-acre strawberry farm is known not only for its incredible strawberries, but also for its fun, family-friendly strawberry-picking experience. The whole family gets to ride the wagon out to the field and fill their baskets with this sweet, kid-approved fruit. Before heading home with your personally picked berries and other in-season produce, stop off at the sundae bar to try ice cream topped with Heeman’s famous, fresh berry sundae sauce.
Side Stop: Dundurn Castle in Hamilton.
Heeman’s Strawberry Farm
20422 Nissouri Rd, London, 519-461-1416
4. Storybook Gardens
Young children get to watch in awe as their favourite nursery rhymes and fairytales come to life in this enchanted park on Storybook Lane in London. Roaming around the park, little story lovers will get to meet all their favourite fairytale characters.
Spend the day riding the ferris wheel and carousel, playing on a pirate ship play structure, getting soaked at the splash pad and dancing to music at the outdoor stage. Your little ones will live happily ever after – or at least be happy on the drive home.
Side Stop: Webster’s Falls in Hamilton.
1958 Storybook Ln, London, 519-661-5770
The charming city of Stratford in Perth County is well known for its Stratford Festival – but your kids won’t want to sit through Macbeth. Instead, those interested in theatre should check out the World Festival of Children’s Theatre, featuring performances for and by children from all around the world.
Arrive before the show in time to see the Avon Theatre, walk down to the Avon River, feed the swans, and set up a picnic for lunch. After the show, walk around the city’s quaint downtown area, popping into the toy store Family and Company for an incredibly fun experience.
Don’t forget to stop for an ice cream cone before heading home! JENN and Larry’s Brittle & Shakes ice cream parlour is considered the best in the city, and Scoopers is rumoured to be Justin Beiber’s hometown favourite.
Side Stop: Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory.
6. Blue Mountains
Don’t forget to pack running shoes, sunscreen, and bathing suits for a day of summertime family adventures in Blue Mountains!
Start your day off at Scenic Caves Nature Adventure for some spectacular views of Georgian Bay. Young geologists will love exploring the caves, caverns, and trails that are part of Canada’s great natural wonders, and little history buffs can travel back in time to the days of the Klondike while gemstone mining.
Once the kiddos have worked up an appetite, head over to the Blue Mountain Village for a bite to eat. While you’re there, explore the shops, check out live performances in the amphitheater, and ride the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster.
If you need to cool off before heading home, visit Plunge! Aquatic Centre, where parents can relax on the dock or in the hot tub while the little swimmers splash around in the pool, water playground, rope swing, and slides.
Side Stop: Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon.
Scenic Caves Nature Adventure
260 Scenic Caves Rd, The Blue Mountains, 705-446-0256
Blue Mountain Village
156 Jozo Weider Blvd, The Blue Mountains, 1-877-445-0231
7. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
Take the kids on a time-travelling journey 370 years in the past – and it only takes two hours to get there. The National Historic Site of Sainte-Marie among the Huron marks the first European settlement in Ontario, a French Jesuit settlement established in 1639.
Recreated on its original location, young historians in training who visit the site can learn all about 17th century European and Native life and culture through the hands-on activities and demonstrations offered during June and July.
The whole family can participate in storytelling in a longhouse and First Nations games in a wigwam. Kids can also learn how to write with a quill pen, make candles, and make dolls out of corn husks, just like early Canadians in the 1600s.
Side Stop: Lake Simcoe for the views and some splashing around.
Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
16164, Highway 12 East, Midland, 705-526-7838
8. Santa’s Village Family Entertainment Park
Sitting on Santa’s lap is probably not how your little elves expected to spend their summer vacation – and that’s what makes Santa’s Village in Bracebridge so much fun!
Enjoy all your favourite Christmas-time activities, like sing-alongs and decorating gingerbread cookies, plus some awesome summer ones, like riding Santa’s roller coaster, a mini train, and a merry-go-round.
The best part about celebrating Christmas in July? Getting to cool off in the candy cane fountains and splash pad, or taking a dip in the Muskoka River – so bring bathing suits and towels! For older kids, there is a Sportsland park and zipline and aerial park on the premises.
Side Stop: Willow Beach Conservation Area.
1624 Golden Beach Rd, Bracebridge, 705-645-2512
9. Niagara Falls
Summer is the perfect time to experience this breathtaking natural wonder. The Hornblower Niagara Cruises boat tour and the Journey Behind the Falls will get you and your kids up close and personal with Niagara Falls, so get your rain ponchos ready. Looking for a thrill? Take the Whirlpool Aero Car cable car over the mesmerizing Niagara Whirlpool.
When you’re ready to dry off, the kiddos will love strolling down Clifton Hill, a fun-filled entertainment area of the city with lots of gift shops, video arcades, haunted houses, wax museums, and themed restaurants. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, Dinosaur Adventure Golf, and The Great Canadian Midway entertainment complex are some of the kid-approved attractions they won’t want to miss!
Side Stop: Beamer Falls in Grimsby (to prepare for the main event, and to put things in perspective).
Niagara Falls, Ontario
10. Deerhurst Resort
Purchasing a day pass from Deerhurst Resort is a great way to squeeze the best parts of a Muskoka cottage experience all into one day! Adventurous kids can check out the inflatable water park and take wakeboarding and waterskiing lessons on the lake, while little swimmers can enjoy the outdoor wading pool.
On land, little ones can scale the rock climbing wall or learn how to play tennis. Got kids who love animals? They can ride ponies at the stables or meet goats, sheep, chicks, emu, calves, pigs, and an alpaca at the petting zoo!
Side Stop: Scales Nature Park in Orillia.
1235 Deerhurst Dr, Huntsville, 1-855-243-7103
Hilary Roth is a writer, educator and editor who works full-time in marketing and LOVES everything to do with kids. When she’s not stumping people with her amazing riddles or playing mobile games, she can be found reading YA novels and cooking vegetarian food. Follow her on Twitter @hilroth12.
READ MORE LIKE THIS:
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