9 Reasons Fall is the Best Time to Travel in Ontario

Find out what this beautiful province has to offer come the cooler days.

Ontario encourages everyone to travel safely during this time and follow public health guidelines. Learn more at Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

While most Ontarians plan their travel during the spring and summer months, there are plenty of unique and exciting factors that make fall the best time to hit the road and see this gorgeous and diverse province. 

Hit pause on digging out the snowshoes and sharpening your skates to truly enjoy the picture-perfect fall colours and comfortable weather while taking advantage of fewer crowds, affordable prices and the amazing activities Ontario has to offer.

When does fall start in Ontario? The first day of fall is typically September 21, but often the weather has begun to change by the middle of the month—or earlier, depending how far north in the province you go. This means you have much of September and all of October and November to get out and explore.

Grab a cozy sweater and a hot apple cider, and settle in to read our favourite reasons fall is the perfect time to see Ontario. 

9 Reasons Fall Is The Best Time To Travel In Ontario

1. Fall Colours

Overhead view of lake surrounded by colourful forest.
Follow the fall foliage around the province. Photo: Derek Sutton

Each September, Ontario begins to transform from vibrant greens to a patchwork of oranges, reds and yellows. 

The changing leaves are just begging you to take a scenic drive through Muskoka or to visit Algonquin Park for a day hike. Because these are top fall destinations, though, they do tend to get busy—if you are looking for a quiet wilderness experience, head to Restoule or Mikisew provincial parks instead. The views are just as lovely, but you’ll have them all to yourself. 

The fall foliage is beautiful no matter where in the province you travel. Before you head out, track the leaf colour changes using this Fall Colours Progression Report.

The best fall colours in Ontario are not limited to the trees! September and October are some of the best months for taking in the stunning Aurora Borealis, or northern lights. 

For a trip of a lifetime, head to Cochrane and catch the Polar Bear Express train to Moosonee. You can choose to stay in Moosonee or travel across the Moose River to Moose Factory and stay at the Cree Village Ecolodge. This location will not only give you an opportunity to see the northern lights, but you can also take a trip to James Bay or stay closer to your home-away-from-home with a short canoe excursion or sunset boat tour.

You can also take your pick of the 9 Most Beautiful Places In Ontario—which are of course all the more gorgeous in the fall.

2. Shoulder Season Prices

Overlooking river with brightly coloured leaves on trees in background
Take in views like this for less in Ontario this fall. Photo: Sylvain

Choosing to travel in Ontario during the shoulder season puts you right in the sweet spot. 

Prices aren’t as high as they are during the peak summer season and the weather is certainly more comfortable than the winter low season. 

Take advantage of potential savings in your accommodations, equipment rentals, tour bookings and entrance fees.

3. Fewer Crowds

Muskoka chairs on a rock with people in canoe paddling by.
Have lakes like this all to yourself. Lake of Two Rivers, Ontario. Photo: Elenathewise

After the Labour Day weekend, crowds are few and far between. 

You’ll still find hikers in the parks and boats out on the water, but there won’t be nearly as many. 

Fewer crowds mean more time and space for you to engage with your surroundings at a pace that suits you. Throw caution to the wind and leave your itinerary open.

When you aren’t worried about long lines, sold-out experiences or jockeying for position when seeing the sights, you can spend more time enjoying the things you really want to be doing. 

Take advantage of the quiet by spending a peaceful afternoon with your toes in Kenogamisis Lake at the beach at MacLeod Provincial Park, or take your time exploring one of the province’s many historic sites.

Our only advice is to call ahead to avoid disappointment. Some businesses close at the end of summer; this is especially true if you are travelling after Thanksgiving weekend.

4. Comfortable Weather 

People sitting next to fire at night
Cozy up next to the fire on a crisp fall evening. Photo: Tegan Mierle

Ontario weather in the fall is about as close to perfect as you can get. 

No sweltering summer heat, but still enough warmth and sunshine to get outdoors and have some fun. 

No frigid temperatures or ice and snow to fight with, but still enough crispness in the air to enjoy bundling in blankets and sweaters. 

And perhaps best of all, the cooler, more comfortable fall weather in Ontario means no more bugs. Deer flies, horse flies, black flies and mosquitos—forget about them! 

Take that Temagami canoe trip or hike the trails at Neys Provincial Park without being eaten alive.  

5. Amazing Food 

Apples on a tree
Pick an apple right off the tree to eat. Photo: Anastasiya Romanova

Ontario is a veritable wonderland of culinary delights.

Whether you’re planning a classic lakeside shore lunch in the backwoods of Northern Ontario, or spending an afternoon cycling from winery to winery, there is a little something for everyone. 

And the best part about exploring Ontario eats in the fall are the apple and pumpkin harvests. 

Nothing says fall quite like fresh-picked apples and warm apple cider. Visit an orchard to pick your own or grab a basket from a roadside fruit stand while road tripping. 

Visit a pumpkin patch or farmers’ market to take advantage of seasonal squash. More than just decorations, pumpkins are the perfect fall ingredient. From sweet pies to savoury soups and chilis, let pumpkin be the star of your dinner table, and feel good knowing exactly where the ingredients were grown.   

6. It's Super Cozy 

Looking down at sock feet on wooden stairs with coffee, blanket, book and pumpkin.
All the cozy things. Photo: Alex Geerts

Fall is the perfect time to get cozy.

Visit or rent a cottage or cabin where you can make the most of the temperature and light changes with a roaring fire, warm blanket, good book, and hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate. 

It is also the perfect time to treat yourself to a spa or resort visit. Remember, shoulder season prices! 

Places like Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa near Timmins have a little bit of something for everyone. Well-appointed rooms and private chalets provide an escape from the everyday. Go on a wildlife tour and then take advantage of the onsite spa and Nordic Baths to eliminate stress and increase the cozy factor. 

At Blue Mountain Resort you can enjoy the last days of mild temperatures by playing a little golf or tennis, mountain biking, taking a mountaintop Segway tour, boosting adrenaline on a zip-line, relaxing in the spa, or wandering the shops, bars and restaurants nestled in the scenic mountain village.

7. The Best Holidays 

Thanksgiving dinner spread
Spend Thanksgiving somewhere special. Photo: Element5 Digital

The fall season has two of the best holidays of the year: Halloween and Thanksgiving. 

At Halloween, all the ghosts and ghouls come alive. Celebrate this by going on a spine-tingling, spooky adventure. Pay a visit to the North Bay Museum and participate in a 60-minute haunted hike through town. Learn of North Bay’s past, its haunted hotels, hidden burial grounds and more. 

For the faint of heart (or those with little ones), places like Gammondale Farm in the Slate River Valley hold their annual Pumpkinfest each fall and it is full of activities for people of all ages. Pick a pumpkin from the patch, try to find your way out of the forest maze and visit the farm animals. Family fun at its finest.

Instead of staying home, why not take advantage of some amazing Thanksgiving getaway packages? Cozy resort cottages, golf packages, boat cruises, ATV trails, wilderness retreats, spa days and glorious food. Whatever your family desires, you can find it in Ontario. 

8. Gaining an Hour of Sleep

Stars overhead with tent lit up beside water
Make the most of your extra hour. Photo: Saptashaw

Daylight Savings ends on the first Sunday in November, leading Ontarians to set their clocks to “fall back” by one hour.

This means an extra hour of sleep—or an extra hour to spend enjoying Ontario’s fall splendours. 

Take advantage of this little gift by staying up a little later to take in the stars (or northern lights) from your campsite, or use it to recover from an exciting day of viewing the best fall colours from one of these great cycling routes

9. Amazing Activities 

Corn maze with blue sky
Get lost in a corn maze. Photo: Vibe Images

With so many places to visit in Ontario during the fall months, there is no shortage of amazing activities to occupy your time. 

Whether you’d like to relax and unwind or find some more adventurous things to do, this stunning province has you covered. 

Here’s our shortlist to get you started: 

  • Challenge your bravery and smarts with a haunted corn maze
  • Visit a maple syrup farm like Maple Ridge Farm in Gore Bay to participate in the province-wide Fall In Love With Maple event hosted by various Ontario maple syrup producers. 
  • Go on one of the best fall hikes in Ontario.
  • Go canoeing or kayaking.
  • Visit a Pumpkinferno like Science North’s event at Dynamic Earth.
  • Take in a fall fair or festival like Wordstock in Sudbury or the Fall Rendezvous in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • See the monarch butterfly and bird migrations from a national park.

Fall Is The Best Time to Travel in Ontario

Ontario is a hive of activity, full of breathtaking natural beauty and fascinating historic sites. 

While you can take it all in at any time of year, fall is when Ontario is at its most unique and spectacular. 

We gave you the top nine reasons fall is the best time to travel in Ontario, but trust us—we could have given you a dozen more! 

About Marissa Evans

Marissa is the digital editor at Rapid Media, the media company behind Paddling Magazine and Kayak Angler Magazine. In summer, you'll find her canoe tripping, hiking, adventure racing and probably making a pit stop at Kawartha Dairy for ice cream. In winter, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, skating and, without question, still eating ice cream. 

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