9 Beautiful Places to Visit in Fall in Ontario

Destinations so amazing, you won't believe they can all be found in the same province.
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With tens of thousands of islands and probably just as many lakes, Ontario is as vast and varied as it is beautiful. Visitors flock to the province in the fall to see the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls, historic Rideau Canal, pristine vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake and unusual “flowerpot” rock formations at Fathom Five National Marine Park.

However, those willing to venture north of Barrie and beyond will be rewarded with some of the best places to travel in October in Ontario, including the picture-perfect landscapes that inspired the Group of Seven. Below you'll find nine of the most beautiful places to visit in fall in Ontario. 

1.   Agawa Bay

With 4,385 km of shoreline to explore, it’s an impossible task to narrow down the most beautiful spot on Lake Superior. But one of the most interesting—and most worth visiting—is Agawa Bay. Located about 90 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, it’s home to Lake Superior Provincial Park, which is best known for its canoeing (there are eight routes in the Park, including along the Lower Agawa River and the Anjigami River) and the Agawa Rock pictographs.

Believed to date back to the 17th century, this is where generations of Ojibwe recorded their dreams in red ochre paint. In total, there are 35 paintings visible on the 15-story-high granite cliff, including Mishipeshu (the Great Lynx), making this one of the most unique places in Ontario. Go in the fall for thinner crowds and to hike under a canopy of colourful leaves on your way to the coast.

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2.   Temagami

Considered to be the gateway to Ontario’s wilderness region, Temagami holds a special place in the hearts of many outdoor adventurers. It’s here you’ll find old growth pine forests, sparkling lakes—so many lakes!—and an abundance of wildlife, all set within a sprawling patchwork of crown land and provincial parks. In other words, Temagami holds ample opportunity for wilderness adventures, and there are plenty of ways you can experience it in the fall months.

Car camp at Finlayson Point Provincial Park, stay at an inn or lodge near the village of Temagami, hike the Fire Tower Trail and explore the White Bear Forest—the sixth largest remaining old-growth red and white pine forest in the world. Of course, the quintessential experience in Temagami is going on a canoe trip.  

However you choose to explore this area, though, and wherever you choose to go within it, you’ll be viewing some of the most beautiful landscapes at one of the best places to visit in ontario in fall.

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3.   Pukaskwa National Park

With Algonquin and Killarney provincial parks getting all the glory, it’s easy to forget Ontario is also home to five national parks—including Pukaskwa, one of the country’s least visited. The number of visitors doesn’t translate to its worthiness to visit, though. Located just outside Marathon, this is where you’ll find thousands of kilometres of boreal forest, driftwood beaches and the stunning Pic River sand dunes.

You can spend a day here hiking the 18-km White River Suspension Bridge Trail, which will take you 23 metres above the powerful Chigamiwinigum Falls. Or, if you have more time, tackle the 60-km Coastal Hiking Trail or the Coastal Paddling Route. Embrace the crisp fall days and lack of bugs!

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4.   Cheltenham Badlands

It’s hard to think of fall destinations in Ontario without conjuring up images of the vast Canadian Shield—which is perhaps why it’s so jarring to discover the province is also home to “badlands.” First formed by an ancient sea over 450 million years ago, the Cheltenham Badlands were created when early farming practices caused the shallow topsoil to erode in the early 1900s, exposing the Queenston shale underneath.

Since then, this site has become iconic for its red gullies—and so popular that an accessible boardwalk was erected in 2018 to protect it. Visitors must now also pay a small fee to access the site, which can be found just northwest of Brampton in Caledon.

Want to make the Badlands a stop on a day of adventure? Rent ebikes from Caledon Ebike Rentals and spend the whole day touring the beautiful countryside—and cruising up the many hills.

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5.   Mattawa River

Despite being travelled along for thousands of years by Indigenous people and later the early explorers, one of Ontario’s most underrated waterways might be the Mattawa River, which flows east out of North Bay’s Trout Lake. With a name meaning “meeting of the waters” in Algonquin, the 76-km-long river passes through flatwater lakes, through rapids, and over waterfalls on its journey to the Ottawa River in Mattawa. All while being framed by pristine forest, offering a spectacular fall colour show in September and October.

Today, it’s a designated Canadian Heritage River. You can access it by staying at the Mattawa River Resort, going on a family-friendly voyageur canoe tour at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, signing up to participate in the Mattawa River Canoe Race or learning how to Plan a Mattawa River Canoe Trip.

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6.   Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Bike, hike, camp and—if you dare—swim to your heart's content when visiting Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, situated on a peninsula jutting out into majestic Lake Superior. The Park's namesake is a massive cliff rising up from the peninsula that has the appearance of a giant lying down on its side. The Top of the Giant Trail is a quintessential Ontario hike, providing panoramic views over the lake and out to Thunder Bay. 

Add in fall colours, cool temperatures and fewer people, and you've got yourself a perfect fall getaway. Read the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

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7.   Bruce Peninsula National Park’s Grotto

If you saw a picture of the Bruce Peninsula’s aquamarine waters and confused them for a tropical locale, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. Located about a four-hour drive north of Toronto, this national park is known for its dramatic cliffs, ancient cedar trees, and unique flora and fauna, including orchids.

What it’s most famous for, however, is its Grotto—a limestone cave filled with Georgian Bay’s pristine turquoise water. Parking is at a premium, which is part of the reason Parks Canada issues a limited number of entry permits to the site per day. To eliminate the challenge of trying to find a space for your car, you can travel to the park with Parkbus on a one-day tour from Toronto. The cost includes your Grotto entry pass.

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8.   Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

Looking for truly cool places in Ontario? This provincial park is miniscule when compared to giants like Algonquin. But for its 5 sq kms it packs a lot of punch, including being home to the province’s second-highest waterfall, Kakabeka (or “Niagara of the North”) and 1.6 million-year-old fossils. With nearly 17 km of hiking trails, you can spend the night camping in the Park or find a room in nearby Thunder Bay.

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9.   Bridal Veil Falls on Manitoulin Island

Compared to Niagara Falls’ showy display, Manitoulin Island’s Bridal Veil Falls is a delicate exhibit of ethereal beauty, particularly in the fall. The 11-metre-high falls can be found just off Highway 540 just outside the village Kagawong. They’re much easier to access than the neighbouring High Falls and you can even swim in the pool below (although water shoes are recommended).

During your visit, don’t forget to stop in Kagawong, which calls itself “Ontario’s prettiest village,” owing to its heritage buildings including the century-old Sailors’ Church. It’s also where you’ll find Manitoulin Chocolate Works, which creates handmade Belgian Callebaut chocolate treats.

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See the most beautiful places to visit in fall in Ontario for yourself

From ethereal waterfalls to sparkling lakes to dramatic canyons to dazzling cliff-top views, Ontario is full of surprises. And that’s just scratching the surface. With so many varied landscapes and so much wilderness, there are hundreds of beautiful places to visit in fall in Ontario. Get started with the places above—and then set out to find more gems tucked away in the province’s wild places.

About Jessica Wynne Lockhart

Originally from Cold Lake, Alberta, Jessica Wynne Lockhart is an award-winning Canadian freelance journalist and the Contributing Editor of Verge Magazine. With a background in international development, she specializes in ethical and adventure travel. Her features have appeared in Outside, Paddling Magazine, The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star and Air Canada’s enRoute, amongst others. 

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