5Ontario is a province in central Canada with tons of attractions. The attractions we saw were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Ontario has to offer.
Ontario borders New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In a nutshell, we zigzagged across the borders between Ontario and NY and MI. While we stayed stateside in WI and MN, Ontario was still a stone’s throw away from some many points along WI and MN’s shorelines.
Attraction 1: Gananoque
From Alexandria Bay, NY, we crossed into Ganonoque, ONT. Both historic cities offer ferry rides down the St. Lawrence to tour their shared famous thousand island region. Both have their share of touristy traps, I mean, attractions, like shops, cafes, restaurants, and scenic viewpoints. Gananoque has a monument and plaque in the downtown area in memory of the raid by the U.S. and commemorating the lives lost in the War of 1812. There is a visitor’s center next to a small picturesque pond, complete with swans and geese. We even spied a groundhog traipsing through the green grass and colorful flowers. In the water park, there was a live jazz concert which we enjoyed while playing frisbee and eating ice cream from the local food truck.
Attraction 2: Victoria Park and Cobourg Beach
From Gananoque, we traveled to Victoria Park and Cobourg Beach in Cobourg where we chanced upon a busy junior beach volleyball tournament. We settled in to watch the activities, listen to the rocking music, and walk alongside the waves. This beachtown was a great place to hang out on a hot summer’s day. There’s a row of restaurants and shops where you can grab lunch or cool down. And as someone who has grown up with the Atlantic Ocean sort of in my backyard (Rhode Island is that small), I couldn’t tell this beach apart from other ocean beaches I’ve been to. The water is a bright blue and there are actual waves! Not part of the ocean like I would have though, this shoreline belongs to Lake Ontario, the first Great Lake we encountered.
Attraction 3: Toronto and Missisaugua
From Cobourg, we trekked to Toronto and Missisaugua where we met up with friends and family. Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the most populated city in Canada. There are tons of attractions (waterfronts, Chinatown, skyscrapers, gardens, etc.) in Toronto. They are easy to find and do once you’re in the city. Like Toronto, Missisaugua is a diverse area with ethnic restaurants and shops galore. Unknowingly, we discovered a Seafood City (large Filipino grocery market with a food court, Valerios, and Jollibee) in Mississaugua while looking for a Marshalls. The local Walmart even sells dragonfruit and Indian bittermelon. Imagine that!?
Attraction 4: Wineries and Niagara Falls
On our way from Missisaugua to Niagara, there is a string of wineries along the highway. We actually stayed overnight at Legends Winery just before we arrived at Niagara. This area is known for blush wines although they offer other varieties of wine. If you’re not in a rush, you can stop by one or two to relax and enjoy the scenery. Some may have lake views like the one we stayed at. And finally we make it to the Canadian side of Niagara. One of my most memorable moments of this RV trip so far has been of our ferry ride right up to the falls (Canadian side is so much better) where the waterfall poured down on us. It was a sight to behold and an experience unlike any other.
Attraction 5: Point Pelee
Instead of crossing over into Buffalo, NY, we stayed on the Canadian side along the lake’s edge. This marshy area of Ontario near MI, WI, and MN is known for their early history of trading highly sought after beaver fur. Hunted to near extinction in this area, beavers have been making a comeback. Beavers live by lakes and in the wetlands or marshes (which act like the kidneys of the earth in absorbing and filtering waste or pollution). The interpretive exhibits in Point Pelee National Park (Leamington, ONT) contained a wealth of information about the importance of wetlands in the global ecosystem. Point Pelee’s beautiful marshes are a haven for birds and waterfowl of all kinds and we spotted and heard them on our hike on the boardwalk through the marsh. Point Pelee is the southernmost tip of Canada and from here, we could see the States in the distance.
From Point Pelee, we headed to the U.S. through Detroit, MI. We journeyed through MI by way of Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Upper Peninsula where we caught sight of the shores of Ontario again at Whitefish Bay. Had we not planned to visit Pictured Rocks National Park in Munising, MI, we would have crossed over into Canada yet again on our westward trek.
Among many reasons (beaches, diversity, and marshes), I love that Ontario is so accessible to the states it borders. Later on our trip, when we visited Voyageurs National Park in MN, we stayed at Rainy Lake on the U.S. side and could see the lights from the Canadian homes across the lake. In the winter when the lake is frozen, the park shovels the snow on top of the lake and people can actually drive on the lake to get to and fro. I’ll have to see it to believe it but I’m not brave enough to visit during the harsh winters here. They say Ontario folks head south for the winter. Vermont, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan!
All in all, we didn’t venture far enough into Ontario to see the multitude of attractions it has to offer. Maybe next time! However, the ones we saw are worth visiting again. Perhaps if we’re brave enough, we will even venture out during a different season other than summer.
What are some other places or restaurants in Ontario that everyone must visit?