25 Perfect Summer Getaways & Vacations in Ontario

Hike, bike, paddle, relax—amid some of the most beautiful scenery in the province.

Are you ready for summer? You’ll find a lifetime of adventures in Ontario, the diversity of landscapes lending to a huge range of outdoor activities. Of course, you’ll find good old standbys like world-class canoe routes and stunning hikes in pretty much every corner of the province. You’ll discover some surprising adventures, too—including the best mountain biking east of the Rockies, endless beaches on freshwater seas, opportunities to learn and reconnect with nature, and epic long-distance backpacking trails.

Assembling a concise list of the best summer getaways felt like an endless task! But we were up to the challenge: Here’s a rundown of some of the finest summer getaways Ontario has to offer in communities large and small, all across the map. 

North Bay

North Bay hugs the shoreline of sprawling Lake Nipissing; the cool breezes off the lake make it a wonderful community to visit in the summer. Hikers can explore the trails at Duchesnay Falls in the northwestern corner of town, just off the Trans-Canada Highway. A three-kilometre loop brings you to a series of cascades that are beloved by photographers. Laurier Woods Conservation Area offers 10 kilometres of trails close to the junction of highways 11 and 17.

Interested in paddling? You don’t need any gear or experience to sign up for a guided local kayak tour on Lake Nipissing with Shockwaves Paddle Adventures. North Bay is also a key stop on the 645-kilometre Voyageur Cycling Route.

The Chief Commanda passenger ferry has long been a fixture on North Bay’s waterfront. Now the 99-foot steel hull, which plied Lake Nipissing from 1947 to 1974, has been reclaimed as The Boat, a lakeside restaurant and bar. While in town you can also check out the award-winning farmers’ market and stay at the Sunset Inn on the shores of Lake Nipissing. 


The Nickel City has shed its reputation as a hardrock mining town and embraced outdoor adventure. Kivi Park is an all-season destination with great mountain biking, hiking and paddling in the summer months. This 480-acre greenspace near the city centre at Long Lake has something for everyone, including mountain bike, SUP, kayak and canoe rentals on site. Meanwhile, explore 15 kilometres of single-track mountain bike trails in Walden, or check out countless walking and hiking options in parks and conservation areas all around the city.

Get a taste of Sudbury-roasted java at Twiggs Coffee Roasters or Old Rock Roastery in the morning, and visit Stack Brewing or Crosscut Distillery at night. For local food, check out the Sudbury Market, or sit down to fine-dining at the Verdicchio Ristorante.


This small town on the Trans-Canada Highway east of North Bay is nestled in a stunning pine-cloaked valley at the junction of the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers. The town of Mattawa is ideally located for outdoor adventures, with plenty of local establishments making it easy to access the surrounding wilderness and partake in activities.

Located adjacent to Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, the Canadian Ecology Centre is a great destination for adventurous families with cabin rentals, trails and optimal waterfront on the Mattawa River. Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge is another unique place to stay on the Ottawa River near Mattawa with yurt accommodations and access to hiking, biking and paddling opportunities.

Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie is rapidly emerging as one of Canada’s best adventure towns for its easy access to world-class outdoor activities on both land and water. The midsized Northern Ontario city has made big investments in mountain biking. The 30-kilometre network of single-track at Hiawatha Highlands, including brand-new flow trails and a variety of options for all levels of riders, is among the province’s best. Bike rentals are available at Velorution, located just around the corner from the trailhead. Meanwhile, Red Pine Tours offers guided cycling adventures on mountain, road and gravel bikes throughout the area.

If paddling is more up your alley, the Sault College Waterfront Adventure Centre, located on the St. Marys River close to downtown, offers canoe, kayak and standup paddleboard rentals. You can also sign up for a guided tour with Thrive Tours, an Indigenous operator offering rich cultural experiences.

Book a stay at the Water Tower Inn—the top-rated place to stay in Sault Ste. Marie—for easy access to mountain biking and hiking trails. For food, check out The Mill Steakhouse in the Canal District or Giovanni’s for authentic Italian food in the city’s north end. Visit OutSpoken Brewery or Northern Superior for locally brewed beer and pub fare.


Lake Temagami has been a popular tourist destination for over a century—with good reason. This expansive body of water boasts countless inlets and islands as well as world-renowned old-growth pine, making it a favourite destination for paddlers, anglers and cottagers.

You have several options for an adventure-ready basecamp stay. Great Spirit Lodge is located in the lake’s southwest arm, away from the busier “Hub” area of Lake Temagami. Ojibway Family Lodge is part of Keewaydin, a legendary youth canoe camp. Lastly, there’s the Wanapitei Chateau on remote Sandy Inlet. All three offer excellent cuisine—along with world-class canoeing and kayaking and immediate access to great hiking trails.


This small town just east of Thunder Bay has come alive in recent years—yet it’s always had a place on the map for outdoor adventure. You’ll likely pass through Nipigon en route to the Ouimet Canyon, a stunning 100-metre-deep rift in the Canadian Shield, Northern Ontario’s own Grand Canyon.

Nipigon is also the headquarters of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area and boasts a fantastic 10-kilometre hiking trail which connects to the nearby town of Red Rock. For its part, Red Rock is home to a popular folk music festival held annually in August. Ducky’s Diner offers home-cooked meals and a fun, quirky dining experience in Nipigon.

Goulais River

Goulais River is a small community just north of Sault Ste. Marie that comes alive in the summer. The local guides at Forest the Canoe offer family-friendly and interpretive hiking and paddling tours to share some of the best scenery in the Algoma Highlands, including canoeing at Robertson Lake and day hiking on the Voyageur Trail.

Also in the area, check out Norm’s Cabin for a unique place to stay. This remote, off-grid retreat is located on the quiet Bone Lake, with immediate access to a huge network of mountain biking and hiking trails. Contact Blaq Bear Tours for more details.

Aerial view of the scenic lookout atop Mount McKay
Visit the scenic lookout atop Mount McKay, and learn about the people of Fort William First Nation. | Photo: Destination Ontario

Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay’s revitalized downtown area embraces the shores of Lake Superior, with stunning views across open water to the Sleeping Giant and Pie Island. Get intimate with the big lake on a sailing or Zodiac tour with Sail Superior. Do you prefer terrestrial adventures? Ride some of Ontario’s finest single-track mountain bike trails at Shuniah Mines, featuring over 35 kilometres of trails in the Trowbridge Forest. Bike rentals are available at Rollin’ Thunder.

For a family-friendly activity, visit Fort William Historical Park. Step back in time with in-character interpreters and facilities that recreate the historic fur trade post which anchored the Canadian economy 200 years ago.

Batchawana Bay

The main attraction in the community of Batchawana Bay is its namesake: a sprawling lobe of Lake Superior that’s shallow and sheltered from the main body of water and abundant with sand, making for ideal swimming conditions. One of the finest beaches on Batchawana Bay is located off the Trans-Canada Highway, only 45 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, and is accessible to customers of the Voyageur’s Lodge and Cookhouse. Its location has double appeal: not only is the swimming and paddleboarding fantastic, you can also enjoy great Canadian-inspired cuisine, spend a night in a clean and cozy motel, or—at the very least—sample the “world’s best” apple fritters. Numbers alone support owner Frank O’Connor’s claim: the cookhouse sells over 20,000 of these irresistibly sweet treats per year.


Perhaps the prettiest town on Lake Superior, Rossport resembles a Scandinavian fishing village with its vista of tall islands and glimmering waters. Rossport is located about two hours east of Thunder Bay, off the Trans-Canada Highway. The town has always been a noted stop for travellers; the Willows Inn B&B keeps the tradition alive with cozy rooms mere steps from the waterfront.

It’s easy to spend a weekend in Rossport. There’s a fantastic town park with a family-friendly sand beach and great swimming on Lake Superior. As well, Rossport is the western terminus of the Casque Isles Trail, a rugged backpacking route with good options for day hikes. Paddlers can rent kayaks or book guided day touring or overnight trips with SAND Adventures to explore the area’s island-sheltered waters.


The Georgian Bay town of Killarney bustles in the summer months for good reason. For starters, the village serves as the main access point for Killarney Provincial Park, providing a wide range of accommodation and dining options for paddlers, hikers and campers coming and going from a wilderness adventure in Northeastern Ontario.

Killarney Mountain Lodge is a favourite when it comes to places to spend the night before or after a backcountry trip, or as a place to base your stay for day trips into the Park. For an off-grid experience, book one of Avalon Eco Resort’s waterfront cabins or campsites, located just up Highway 637 at Tyson Lake.

Killarney Kanoes and Killarney Outfitters both offer canoe and kayak rentals, as well as tips for making the most of your visit to the area—including suggestions for paddling routes and great hiking trails. No matter what you do, though, a trip to Killarney isn’t complete without getting fish and chips at Herbert Fisheries on the Georgian Bay waterfront.

Terrace Bay

The Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay is dominated by spectacular views of Lake Superior’s north shore. About three hours from Thunder Bay, the town of Terrace Bay is home to a brand-new visitor centre for the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, making it an ideal pit stop to learn more about your surroundings.

Terrace Bay is perched on a steep shoreline with long views to the Slate Islands—a remote provincial park and popular destination for advanced sea kayakers—about 10 kilometres offshore. A visit to the town’s marina at the mouth of the Aguasabon River reveals an immense sand beach and access to the Casque Isles hiking trail, which offers many options—including an easy walk to a stunning river gorge and cascade.

Continue down the highway west to Schreiber, another small town featuring a railway museum, access to Lake Superior and authentic Italian food at Filane’s Restaurant.  


Kenora is your gateway to Lake of the Woods, a vast expanse of freshwater, hidden bays and countless islands in Northwestern Ontario. Life here revolves around the waterfront, with great options for paddling, angling, boating and time at the beach. Houseboating is a classic Kenora outdoor vacation—and easily compatible with those who love to kayak and SUP. Book your trip with Houseboat Adventures or Lake Life Houseboats.

Check out Green Adventures for canoe and kayak rentals. Blue Lake Provincial Park and Rushing River Provincial Park both offer full-service campgrounds for tenting, trailers and RVs—as well as access to canoe tripping on the Path of the Paddle (part of the Trans-Canada Trail).

You’ll find lots of options for dining in Kenora, too, including the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, a popular taproom in a reclaimed historic firehall.

French River

French River is arbitrarily defined as the beginning of Northern Ontario, and it certainly gives an amazing glimpse of all this region has to offer. The French has a rich history as an Indigenous canoe route and later served as a focal point in the Canadian fur trade, linking the Great Lakes to the Ottawa River. A stay at the Lodge at Pine Cove is a luxe way to sample this rich history, offering gourmet meals and cabin accommodations in a spectacular landscape of tall pines and polished granite.

For the more adventurous (and for a truly immersive experience), sign up for a multiday canoe trip on the French River with Black Feather, a legendary Canadian outfitter that offers trips for all levels.

South River

South River is the western gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park, located between Huntsville and North Bay on Highway 11. The small town is home to outfitters including Northern Edge Algonquin, which offers canoe tours, yoga and accommodations, among other activities, and Voyageur Quest, a guiding company that also offers a popular Algonquin Log Cabin retreat.

South River boasts fewer crowds than Algonquin access points along the Highway 60 corridor, but it’s still busy in midsummer. Be sure to plan and book your adventure early to avoid missing out.


Wawa was once the best-kept secret along the Trans-Canada Highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, closely guarded by adventurers and anglers. Not any more. The small town is your gateway for experiencing Lake Superior. Better act fast if you want to score a room at Rock Island Lodge, the area’s only accommodations on Lake Superior. This stunning four-bedroom bed and breakfast located at the mouth of the Michipicoten River is beloved by photographers and paddlers; you can sign up for a photo workshop or register for kayak, SUP or canoe day trips and instruction with Naturally Superior Adventures.

There’s great hiking in Wawa, too—including an amazing waterfall trail along the Magpie River. For a surprising dining experience check out the Kinniwabi Pines Restaurant, which features authentic Caribbean fare.

Blind River

This small Northern Ontario town on Lake Huron’s North Channel features lots of potential for outdoor adventures. Hikers can visit the Boom Camp, a unique natural space encompassing wetlands, rocky ridges and tall pines, as well as easy trails adjacent to Lake Huron and the mouth of the Mississagi River.

Head north of Blind River on Highway 557 to access the more rugged Voyageur Trail. Just west of town, the long-distance Great Lakes Waterfront Trail cycling route leaves the Trans-Canada Highway in favour of quiet country backroads, providing some of the best road riding in Central Algoma.

Stay at Melwel Lodge on Basswood Lake and visit the historic 12-sided Cordukes/Weber Barn for unique gifts.


Want to experience Ontario’s James Bay frontier? Cochrane in Northeastern Ontario is your starting point for a bucket-list adventure—with several attractions of its own. Be sure to spend an afternoon in Cochrane at the Polar Bear Habitat, where you’ll encounter three resident polar bears and learn more about their biology, and a night at the historic Ontario Northland Station Inn. Then board the Polar Bear Express for a wilderness train journey to Moosonee.

Canoes paddling a tree lined river
Find out what fun programming Voyageur Wilderness has to offer in Atikokan. | Photo: Destination Ontario


This town in Northwestern Ontario is known as the Canoe Capital of Canada. Atikokan is the main entry point to Quetico Provincial Park, a legendary expanse of traditional wilderness canoe routes. Voyageur Wilderness provides a great introduction to the region, with services ranging from cabin and lodge accommodations to guiding and complete canoe trip outfitting. Quetico Outfitters offers a similar array of services, with additional options for anglers.

While in Atikokan be sure to stop by Little Darlings Restaurant for coffee, lunch and home-baked goodies.

Manitoulin Island

The largest island on the Great Lakes offers no shortage of outdoor adventures, all within easy access from Southern Ontario aboard the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry. For starters, there are great cycling routes for road riding, with the all-inclusive Alvar Cycle Tour emerging as one of the most popular multiday cycling events in Ontario.

Looking for a family-friendly hike? Ascend the northern terminus of the Niagara Escarpment on the Cup and Saucer Trail, located near Little Current. The scenic trail is also the namesake of one of Manitoulin Brewing Company’s microbrews.

Want to extend your stay? Manitoulin Eco Park offers campsites for tents and trailers, as well as bunkie and tipi rentals—all part of a Dark Sky Preserve that offers some of the finest stargazing in the province.


Timmins may be off the beaten path, but this Northeastern Ontario community has all the amenities of a midsized city with easy access to world-class outdoors. Great paddling abounds, with the local Ramada Inn offering kayak packages. Timmins Adventure Tours also offers kayak lessons, tours and rentals, as well as mountain bike rentals.

For a more immersive adventure experience check out WildExodus, a local outfitter that offers glamping and yurt accommodations; paddling, hiking and fishing tours; specialty retreats; and gourmet dining on the wilderness edge of Kenogamissi Lake in the boreal forest.

Elliot Lake

Elliot Lake shines as a summer destination in Ontario for its abundance of crystal-clear lakes. Located on Flack Lake, about 20 minutes north of the city centre, Laurentian Lodge is a great base camp for couples and adventurous families. Cabins and condo-style accommodations are set within a mature forest, steps from the waterfront and scenic cascade on the Boland River. There’s great swimming, paddling and fishing—and easy access to hiking trails in nearby Mississagi Provincial Park.

Laurentian Lodge’s on-site dining and kitchen-equipped suites makes it simple to plan a weeklong vacation. Make the most of the summer weather during your stay by taking a dip in the waterfalls and pools that descend from Flack to Mikel Lake, at the resort’s two beaches, or from a peddle boat in the middle of the lake.

Temiskaming Shores

Temiskaming Shores comprises the communities of New Liskeard, Haileybury and the Township of Dymond on Highway 11, and is located on one of the largest lakes in Northern Ontario. Lake Temiskaming is a sprawling body of water surrounded by cliffs, beaches and steep hills at the headwaters of the Ottawa River, making it a good “big water” destination for experienced sea kayakers.

Landlubbers can get a sense of Temiskaming on the three-kilometre Devil’s Rock trail from Bucke Park. For a learning experience check out the Hilliardton Marsh Research and Education Centre—in particular, be sure to attend the Hummingbird Garden Party that takes place each August. Meanwhile, cyclists will find an impressive list of paved, gravel and hard-surface biking routes

St. Joseph Island

St. Joseph Island is a gem located in the North Channel of Lake Huron, east of Sault Ste. Marie. Cyclists are spoilt for choice with an array of quiet backroad routes to choose from and with easy access to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. Meanwhile, hikers can explore easy trails at the Township of Jocelyn’s Mountainview Park.

Become immersed in the history of the War of 1812 at Fort St. Joseph, a Parks Canada historic site that offers walking trails, excellent birding and sweeping views of Lake Huron. Sample a cup of locally roasted St. Joseph Island coffee at the Black Bear Cafe & Eatery

Explore the wonders of Ontario this summer

This list should keep you busy! And in case you’re wondering, there’s even more across the province to discover. So pack your bags, grab your boots, bike and paddle, and get out there and enjoy a summer outdoor getaway in Ontario.

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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