We’re not wrong when we say that travel this summer has taken a backseat. But we say why not put the kids in the backseat and explore your own backyard? You don’t have to hop on a plane to have a great family summer vacation—there are lots of amazing travel destinations for families within driving distance of Toronto and the GTA.
Whether your ideal family holiday is hiking through the rain forest or spending a relaxing day poolside in the tropics, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best last-minute family travel destinations in Ontario for everyone who is just about ready to (safely) get out of their homes.
Location: Near Huntsville, ON; 3-hour drive north of Toronto
All developed campsites, yurts, and backcountry campsites are currently open at Algonquin Provincial Park. All reservations must be made in advance, masks are required in all indoor areas, and extra cleaning precautions are being taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
If you’ve never been before, Algonquin is the perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle of city life. With more than 2,400 lakes inside the park, the kids will have no trouble finding an adequate swimming hole, and they might even catch a trout or two. You’ll see plenty of amazing wildlife, and if you’re lucky, maybe even a moose.
Location: Oakville, ON; 1-hour drive west of Toronto
Just a short drive from Toronto is Bronte Creek Provincial Park. It is a great place to spend a weekend with the kids because there is plenty to do and see. Currently, the open activities include biking, a disc-golf course, fishing, and plenty of great hiking trails to burn off any extra energy.
Due to its close proximity to the city, this is a great starter campsite for families with small kids.
Location: Elora, ON; 1.5-hour drive west of Toronto
With the Grand River running through it, Elora Gorge Conservation Area is a beautiful place to spend a weekend. Little kids can float around in the swimming hole, while bigger kids can tube down the river for an adrenaline rush. There are also some amazing hiking trails that run alongside the river.
Elora Gorge Conservation Area is currently operating at a reduced capacity, so be sure to book a campsite before you head out.
Location: Picton, ON; 2.5-hour drive east of Toronto
The Sandbanks is a long, sandy beach perfect for building sandcastles, burying dad, and running through the dunes. It is one of the longest and most beautiful beaches in Ontario. Some food concessions are open in the park, and both roofed and camping accommodation options are operating at limited capacity and are prioritizing cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces between guests.
Location: Bancroft, ON; 2.5-hour drive northeast of Toronto
Kawartha Highlands is a great alternative to Algonquin. It has plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities, as well as a rugged landscape full of lakes, wetlands, and rocky shorelines. Thanks to its secluded location, the night sky is perfect for stargazing, meteor showers, and teaching the kids about constellations.
This is backcountry camping, which means you’ll have to canoe to your campsite, so make sure the kids are prepared ahead of time for their adventure into the wilderness.
Location: 1500 Port Stanton Pky, Severn Bridge
The historic Trent Severn Waterway is the backdrop to the Bayview Wildwood Resort that offers a number of accommodation options including private cottages. The resort requires all guests to wear masks while using indoor shared facilities and some of their venue spaces will have a limit on the number of guests allowed at a time.
Location: Deerhurst Resort. 1235 Deerhurst Dr., Huntsville
No round-up of family-friendly resorts is complete without mentioning this classic destination, Deerhurst Resort. To allow guests to safely enjoy their time, there is curbside pickup as well as delivery service to guests rooms for food. And their expanded green space for guest use is located on Deerhurst Lakeside back 9 holes allows for extra social distancing.
Location: 4432 Fern Resort Rd. Ramara
Stretched along almost 2 km of Lake Couchiching (near Orillia), Fern Resort is the perfect intergenerational vacation destination thanks to its many, many activities. Because of COVID-19, they have added new cleaning measures for their trampoline, boat dock, mini-golf, sports shack and more to ensure your family can have fun safely! Three meals a day are included at this all-inclusive resort—indoor dining will reopen on July 17, 2020.
Location: 18777 Highway 6, Tehkummah
Sleep in a tipi or cabin, or camp in your own tent, at this eco-retreat on Manitoulin Island, off the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. Gordon’s Park Eco Resort is known for its dark sky preserve, with world-renowned stargazing opportunities. Masks are required for all events and indoor spaces.
Location: 1101 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., Barrie
Are your children daredevils? Then Horseshoe Resort, just minutes off Highway 400, might be the perfect fit. Kids (and adults) can try out zip-lining, treetop trekking and ATV-ing when not biking or hiking. Once they’re tired out, lounge on Horseshoe’s private beach and take a dip in its man-made lake. Curbside check-in has been implemented as well as other heightened safety precautions.
Location: 1642 County Rd. 12, Picton
This small resort, on the warm waters of West Lake in Prince Edward County, is a beach-lovers’ paradise. While Isaiah Tubbs Resort has its own sandy beach, it also offers guests passes to the very popular Sandbanks Provincial Park, just down the road. A package that includes some meals is also available for adults.
Location: 1730 Front Rd., St. Williams
Go glamping with the family at this unique eco-resort just inland from Lake Erie and 20 minutes from Long Point Provincial Park. Accommodations include petite “pod” cabins for two; more luxurious Wilderness Suites that sleep four, with double beds and ensuite bath; and a 4-bedroom log cabin. Their camping options are open as of August 1st 2020.
Location: 6015 Highway 89, Alliston
A 45-minute drive north of Toronto gets you to Nottawasaga Inn Resort, home to 6.3 km of trails that are perfect for burning off your little ones’ energy. The indoor pool, golf course, and outdoor patio dining are all currently open.
Location: 70671 Bluewater Highway, Grand Bend
Long stretches of soft sand make Grand Bend one of Ontario’s most popular beach destinations. Oakwood Resort, on Lake Huron with private beach access, is the perfect spot from which to explore Grand Bend and its many activities, including hiking at Pinery Provincial Park.
Location: 1045 Settlers Line, Keene, Ontario
Elmhirst’s Resort provides a unique year-round lakeside retreat and they are taking COVID-19 precautions seriously but also finding ways to keep you entertained. The outdoor pool, bicycles, tubing, boats, and even axe throwing are all still available by appointment. Their patio is open, but they are also offering takeaway service. And their 240 Acres of open spaces and trails are open for you to explore at your own pace.