to visit (southern) Ontario:
Best weather: May-September. For winter sports, December-March.
Worst: October-March unless going for
Ottawa's Parliament Building and the Rideau Canal in summertime, the city's convenient activity hub.
Ottawa: Canada's national capital is relatively small with a population
of well under one million, 35% of whom speak French as their first
Ottawa is an eminently liveable city, well-planned, traditional in style
and spacious, with an abundance of recreational and cultural activities,
but apart from Parliament Hill, the National Museum of Civilization, the fantastic
National Gallery and various performing arts centres there isn't
much here that a tourist must do...unless you're a skate freak,
in which case the 5 mile long winter rink of the Rideau Canal, particularly
during the Winterlude Festival, is made for you.
Skating: on the 5 mile Rideau Canal,
with heated changing rooms, from about mid January thru February depending on the weather.
Skiing: there are various pretty good
ski slopes within an hour's drive.
Walking, jogging, blading and biking: The city has plenty of pedestrian-friendly streets, including
downtown's ByWard Market and Sparks Street. In fact Ottawa boasts 104 miles (170 kms) of dedicated cycle/blade/pedestrian paths, as well as the 125 mile Rideau Trail. Gatineau Park, just across the river from Ottawa is the bikers favourite buzz with 90 kms of trails.
Algonquin Park, near Ottawa is huge
and full of nature's best.
Sailing and canoeing: on the ubiquitous
Rideau Canal of course.
Beaches: Ottawa offers half a dozen safety-checked lake beaches nearby on the shores of Meech, Philippe, La Peche and Leamy lakes.
Golf: 30 courses near Ottawa Well,
what do you expect with all the politicians and businessmen around? April-November.
Autumn maple leaf colour changes: mid-September
Pictures; Ottawa Map; more Ottawa information.
A female moose in Algonquin Park, Ontario
Moose caution: if you're driving around beware the moose! Large and occasionally aggressive they will not necessarily get out of the way at night and if a moose comes through your windscreen at 90kph you may regret not taking that apparently dumb but possibly suicidal expression seriously.
Algonquin Park: this lush and lovely nature reserve more-or-less between Ottawa and Toronto offers excellent camping (some of it campgrounds that can only be reached on foot, ski or canoe), hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife-watching, swimming and especially canoeing, though blackflies are buzzing from mid-May thru June and mosquitoes till July.
Take precautions as the West Nile Virus exists in Ontario and is transmitted by mozzies. The park is about 3.5 hours drive northeast of Toronto and 2.5 hours west of Ottawa. More Algonquin.
Toronto reflected off Lake Ontario, Canada.
Toronto: on Lake Ontario, Toronto is an energetic, diverse and scattered city with a high standard of living and a low crime rate, but unfortunately regularly ranks as the most expensive Canadian city - it is home to the country's main financial and business services, after all.
Public transport involves the usual buses and an efficient subway system, but also less efficient though pleasant streetcars.
main tourist focus is downtown. Some of many attractions are:
-The Harbourfront Centre that buzzes with markets,
galleries, boat trips and excellent innovative theatre on the Word Stage.
-The St Lawrence Market for stunning architecture and food.
CN Tower's observation deck for costly but sensational views and even a seriously scary outdoor hanging walk two-thirds of the way up the tower at 356m (over 1,000ft). It's called EdgeWalk and open from May to October.
- Royal Ontario Museum (World Culture and Natural History), Ontario Science Centre, Casa Loma and several other interesting museums.
- Toronto Islands Park via a short ferry
ride - with walking trails, restaurants and children's amusements; more of those at Ontario
- Steam Whistle Brewery's fun and good value tours.
-An hour/90 minute drive will get you to Niagara Falls, quaint little Niagara-on-the-Lake (for a blast-from-the-past atmosphere, fine wines and cute shops) or to the USA via the Peace Bridge.
Casa Loma museum.
Beaches: there are various beaches both on the city shore - such as the Beaches district - and on the south shore of the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario via a short ferry ride. Superb Wasaga beach is two hours drive away.
Walking, biking,roller blading: Plenty of possibilities including downtown, the Lakefront, Harbourfront and many parks. Free walking tours are available.
Sailing and canoeing: in pleasant enclosed Toronto Harbour as well as around the Toronto Islands chain. Rentals available.
Scenic Train Tour: the Agawa Canyon train tour is a famously twisting, ooh-err rail ride above deep gorges, past lakes and hills and around the wilds of north Ontario.
Toronto Map; Toronto
Pictures; more Toronto information.
Toronto and Ottawa's climates are similar, tending towards cold, white winters November - March, and warm, humid summers
with temperatures ranging from 73F (23C) - 88F (31C).
Niagara Falls, Canadian side, Ontario.
Niagara Falls: the world's most photographed sight keeps on thundering over the top, even though
tacky attractions now envelop it like mist.
You should take a boat under the deluge to really appreciate the
Around the Falls there is also the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory and Niagara-on-Lake's 'British' village with its well-known Shaw
Festival. More information and Niagara Falls pictures.
Just Room Enough Island, one of the Thousand Islands on the St Lawrence River.
Kingston: sometimes known as Limestone City due to the large number of historic limestone it houses, Kingston is located at the junction of the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands, 93 miles (150 kms) from Ottawa and a few miles further to Toronto.
The city's main attractions for tourists are Kingston's picturesque waterfront, historic Fort Henry, freshwater sailing and boat cruises around the Thousand Islands and their castles, and fresh-water wreck diving on a dozen of the best wrecks in the world (out of almost 100 sunk near Kingston).
Bad for the environment but great for diving, zebra mussels have invaded the area recently and cleared the water to a remarkable degree so visibility is startling.
Southwest Ontario cities worth visiting if time is available: Windsor, Stratford and Kitchener.
North Ontario attractions: the city of Thunder Bay, Quetico Provincial Park, Muskoka and Parry Sound.
- February, weekends only, Ottawa Winterlude Festival features parades, dances, snow races, ice sculptures,
sleigh rides and more, but especially skating. If you love skating,
this is a definite must-do.
- Mid-May, Ottawa Tulip Festival, a five day city-wide street party
for all ages surrounded by 100,000's of tulips.
- End of July-August, one week, Toronto, Caribana Caribbean carnival, complete
with parades of calypso bands, parties, ethnic foodstuffs and dancing
in the street.
- July, Ottawa, Canada Day, free concerts, marching bands, fireworks and other events.
- May-November, Niagara-on-Lake, Shaw (theatrical) Festival.
some more precise dates see: English