Wherever you go, be sure to visit a fall fair in local communities along the way as they celebrate the fall harvest. Autumn is the perfect time to discover the beauty of Ontario. Look for the seasonal Fall Colour Report at www.ontariotravel.net for regular updates on the progress of the colours.
Canada's capital city Ottawa perfectly combines urbanity with outdoor beauty. Groomed park lands and outdoor spaces have a wide range of trees with leaves that change to brilliant oranges, reds and yellows in the fall. Peak season for fall foliage tends to be toward the end of September. View Ottawa’s fall splendour while riding along its many bike trails or while cruising, canoeing or kayaking its famed Rideau Canal waterway – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit the Haliburton Highlands (2.5 hours north of Toronto) where a canopy of scarlet and gold spreads out before you as far as the eye can see. Climb the Dorset Lookout Tower for a panoramic view of Haliburton’s blaze of colour.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Nature lovers flock to Ontario’s most famous provincial park each summer, but autumn is probably the best time. The expanse of colour across the park’s vast tree covered 7,725 square kilometres (3000 square miles) is truly a sight to behold. Catch the maples at their peak in the last week of September or, occasionally, in the first few days of October. A couple of weeks later, the aspens, tamaracks and red oaks hit their best and put on their own kaleidoscopic show.
Hike the majestic cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment along the world famous Bruce Trail stretching from Niagara Falls in southern Ontario to the trails of Bruce Peninsula National Park in central Ontario. The escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere and offers a feast for the eyes – and camera lenses – each fall.
Enjoy a 1000 Islands cruise from Kingston, Rockport or Gananoque in eastern Ontario on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Autumn has to be one of the most beautiful times to visit this region as you can view the fall colours along the banks of the St. Lawrence River. For another vantage point, climb the Skydeck Tower on Hill Island and take in the islands in their fall colour glory from 400 feet above the St. Lawrence River.
The 30,000 Islands in Georgian Bay off the shores of Parry Sound, is another incredible island paradise to see by both land and air. Enjoy an afternoon lunch cruise with Georgian Bay Cruises or Midland Tours and let them take you through the islands, which are breathtaking in the fall. Then take to the air with Georgian Bay Airways for a spectacular aerial view of the colourful islands dotting the sparkling blue waters of Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay Airways offers a unique fly and dine excursion where you tour the islands by air and then land at Henrys Fish Restaurant on Frying Pan Island for the best pickerel you’ve ever had! Henry’s Fish Restaurant is only accessible by plane or boat!
Muskoka is the tranquil vacation region 2 hours north of Toronto. All year long Muskoka’s resorts and cottages are the perfect places to start off from on a fall colour tour of the region. The forests that surround Muskoka’s small towns and communities are the colourful backdrop during a visit to a local heritage museum, a cruise aboard the classic RMS Segwun steamship, a game of golf at dozens of public and private golf courses, a canoe and portage in nearby Algonquin Provincial Park, a hike or bike ride along many trails or a lazy day of lounging on a lakeside dock in one of the famous Muskoka chairs. When you’re done a day of exploring, visit a spa and then give your taste buds a treat at one of the resorts.
Agawa Canyon Tour Train
Step aboard the Algoma Central Railway’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train to witness this part of Northern Ontario in all its fall colour glory. The region is ablaze with colour during the fall and the train’s large picture windows allow for great views and pictures. This one day wilderness excursion will take you 114 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie, over towering trestles, alongside pristine northern lakes and rivers, and through the awesome granite rock formations and mixed forests of the Canadian Shield.
Fall in rural Ontario also marks harvest time and various fall fairs invite you to celebrate Ontario’s rich agricultural bounty. Visit Port Elgin's Pumpkinfest and check out an underwater pumpkin-carving contest, scoop up delicious berries at the Bala Cranberry Festival and celebrate the hop and the grape at Kitchener-Waterloo's Oktoberfest and the Niagara Wine Festival, respectively.
Bird and Butterfly Migrations
Say goodbye to thousands of birds representing over 300 different species as they make their way down south through Point Pelee National Park and Presqu’ile Provincial Park during the fall. Also making their way south are hundreds of thousands of monarch butterflies. Find them at Point Pelee as well as they cluster before making the annual trip to Mexico (traditionally, the third week of September).