Canada’s largest city is a bustling metropolis that still never fails to feel too big. It’s one of the most livable cities in the world, and part of the reason for this high quality of life is the fact that it’s always easy to escape Toronto and to escape the concrete!
The capital of Ontario, Toronto is found in a superb location on the shores of Lake Ontario, which is resplendent with offshore islands that are just a short boat cruise away. The world’s most iconic waterfall, Niagara Falls, is less than a two-hour drive away, while the surrounding countryside is brimming with charming villages, provincial towns and beautiful wineries.
Whether you’ve got the whole family in tow behind you, or if you’re escaping Toronto on a romantic getaway, there are some excellent day trips from the city!
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Table of Contents
Day Trips From Toronto by Train – York Durham Heritage Railway
Romantic Day Trips From Toronto for Couples – Niagara: Aeroplane, Winer, and Chocolate Tour with Tastings
Best Day Trips from Toronto with Kids – Classic Niagara Falls Day Tour
Burlington is just a short train ride away from Toronto along the coast of Lake Ontario, and it makes for an incredibly easy, yet excellent way to escape the city. Given its proximity to the big city, Burlington is a surprisingly relaxed destination and it’s still relatively under-visited by tourists who tend who to bypass it on their way further around the lake to Niagara Falls.
There’s a lot to do though, from simply enjoying the serene waterfront views to walking through magnificent gardens. Start your visit by strolling along the pier for the best panoramic of Lake Ontario, before heading to the Botanic Gardens to surround yourself in resplendent greenery!
You can also visit the city’s many historic sights. Ireland House dates back to the 1930s and is the oldest building in Burlington, while the intriguing Joseph Brant Museum will give you a real insight into the colonial history of the area, and the pioneering settlers that made the shores’ of Lake Ontario their home.
At the end of the day, enjoy a few drinks or a great meal in the city centre, before jumping back on the train for the quick return journey to Toronto.
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Hamilton is found just a little further along the lakeshore from Burlington and is less than an hour by train from Toronto, making this another excellent, and logistically simple day trip to plan!
The small city has a beautiful waterside location, and here you can enjoy a day trip packed with local history. The city’s most iconic attraction is the HMCS Haida, a retired Canadian Navy destroyer that saw service during World War II, and for many years afterwards. It’s a source of local pride for Hamilton, and the preserved vessel is protected as a National Historic Site. You can explore the ship to learn more about the voyages and the action it saw across the world.
Hamilton is also home to Dundurn Castle, another National Historic Site. This elegant mansion is a lavish affair indeed! You can walk through the extensive grounds, and admire the expensive, Victorian-era architecture which dates back to the 1830s.
As if that wasn’t quite enough history for one day! Next though, you can move onto the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, where you can see one of the last operational, World War II Lancaster Bombers. There’s much more to see too, from the Canadian Football Hall of Fame to art galleries and gardens.
If you are looking for a break from the lake, then a train ride inland can bring you to the city of Kitchener. This is one of the most interesting cities in Ontario, as it was originally founded as a settlement in the 19th century by German Mennonites. They called their new home Berlin, but during World War I, the locals renamed the city as Kitchener in honour of the British Lord Kitchener.
You can still find plenty of German influence across Kitchener however, particularly in the food and drink, and you can easily spend the day exploring taverns, eating bratwurst and drinking German ales.
More than this though, you can visit a living museum showcasing pioneer life in the region before calling in at THEMUSEUM, a museum dedicated to all sorts of interactive and fun exhibits.
Kingston is a little over two hours by train from Toronto, on the northeast shore of Lake Ontario. Again, this is another great day trip for history lovers, as Kingston can claim to be one of the oldest cities in the region.
The city was founded by the French in the late 17th century until it was taken by the British and renamed Kingston in later years. Start your visit to the city by exploring the walls of Fort Henry, which was constructed during the War of 1812. Next, visit the local museum, tour through the city’s former maximum security prison – an unusual, yet exciting activity! – and visit the old home of Canada’s first Prime Minister.
The York Durham Heritage Railway is perhaps the best day trip by train from Toronto because the fun of this day out is the journey itself!
The train line originally connected Stoufville and Uxbridge, in the York and Durham regions of Ontario, and dates back to the 1860s. By the mid 20th century, however, the old tracks had been surpassed by newer projects in the area and the line fell into disuse.
Local volunteers and lovers of heritage wanted to preserve this small piece of history, and the line was restored and is now open for tourism! You can travel along a short section of the railway line on a day trip from Toronto, and you can travel in style in carriages dating back to the turn of the 20th century when rail travel in Canada was in its heyday.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to see the countryside and to learn more about the local heritage in Ontario!
Niagara Falls is the most easily recognisable waterfall in the world! It’s absolutely world famous and no trip to Toronto would ever be complete without a day tour to this spectacular natural sight. This is a waterfall that is on countless bucket lists, and for many, it’s the main reason to visit Toronto in the first place!
There are endless tour opportunities from the city to the falls, but if you are travelling with a partner then you might want to think a little more carefully about your itinerary, and to find something a little bit above the standard coach tours to Niagara Falls.
A great option for a great day trip from Toronto as a couple is to join not just a full day tour, but to fly in by aeroplane before visiting wineries and chocolate factories! What could be more romantic?!
Your journey starts at Niagara-on-the-Lake, as you gear up for a small plane flight over the surrounding region and right over the falls themselves. Your hosts will be serving champagne on the flight, as well as some high-end, local chocolate.
After the flight, and after enjoying breathtaking views of Niagara Falls, you’ll get to indulge in a few wine tastings and see where the chocolate you already sampled is actually produced!
You’ll be shown around one of the best chocolate producers in Ontario, and you’ll learn from master chocolatiers just what it takes to produce a premium product. Then you’ll get to try more chocolate too of course! The day isn’t over yet though, as you move onto a winery to see how grapes are grown locally and turned into quality wine. You’ll have the chance to try a few different vintages, before returning to Toronto.
This really is a trip for the true romantics out there!
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Another great trip from Toronto for couples is the Niagara Falls Evening Lights Cruise. This is another excellent choice for romantics, as you’ll enjoy great food, spectacular light shows and some premium wine too!
You’ll begin the tour in the afternoon, and you’ll travel from Toronto to a local winery on the lake to see first hand how Ontario produces its unique wine. You’ll be guided through the winery, and will learn the process of taking grape to bottle that’s been refined here. Enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the winery, as you also enjoy a few tastings of the best wines that are produced here.
From the winery, you’ll take the scenic route to Niagara Falls, and there will be plenty of opportunities to stop off at lookout spots for beautiful panoramic views of Ontario and then of the falls themselves.
The real fun has yet to even begin though, and next you’ll be boarding a boat for a cruise under Niagara Falls. After this iconic moment, you’ll spend the evening dining in style at the elegant buffet provided at the Fallsview Dining Room, with unbeatable views of the light show which vibrantly illuminates the waterfall once the sun has set.
Yet another excellent and romantic trip for couples!
If you and your partner are really into your wines, then why not consider taking a full day tour from Toronto to the Niagara Wine Region! This is a dedicated day trip for real lovers of wine, and you’ll be given the opportunity to visit the most outstanding wineries in Ontario.
This is a long day, but you’ll be travelling in style on comfortable modern coaches, as you’re driven out from Toronto and into the surrounding countryside of the Niagara Region. Although the area is mostly known for the iconic waterfall of the same name, it’s actually one of the top wine producing locations in North America. It’s also renowned for its locally produced chocolate, and in the morning, your first stop will actually be a chocolate factory. You’ll be tasting some great, high-quality chocolate before you move onto the first winery of the day.
A full guided tour of the winery will give you a unique insight into the history of wine production in Ontario, and you’ll learn about the local grapes produced here to suit the climate and the conditions, before tasting the quality wine that has resulted from years of practice!
You’ll also visit two different wineries in the day too, having the chance to taste even more delicious local varieties! The day trip does include a lunch stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake as well, to give you a break from all that wine tasting and to see one of the prettiest towns in Ontario.
After a long day, you will be returning to Toronto well wined, and well dined!
The perfect trip for couples – perfect the perfect date! – is to take a Toronto City Sightseeing Helicopter Tour! Travel high above the city itself, and be treated to the best view of Toronto possible as you soar through the skies.
The helicopter flight might not last too long itself, as you zip through the clouds and above the skyscrapers, but it’s the ultimate way to escape the city far below you! Enjoy the skyline of Toronto from above, as you gaze out across Lake Ontario and along the shoreline.
While you fly above Toronto, you’ll be given headsets to listen to expert commentary from the pilot, who will be pointing out iconic buildings below you. On the best days, you fly high and far enough to even see the mist rising from Niagara Falls off in the distance, a unique experience to say the least!
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Another unique opportunity for couples to escape the city without ever having to travel too far is to take a trip through the Toronto harbour and across the lake to the surrounding islands.
Begin the day by cruising from the city, with stunning views of the Toronto skyline and all the classic buildings as you make your way out into the lake. Pass through the harbour, while being given quality narration by the boat crew, as they point out the different sights and impart a little bit of local knowledge and history on the tour group too.
From the harbour, you’ll soon reach the Toronto Islands. Found not far from the coast, this small collection of natural islands on the lake help to shelter the city, and also provide a wonderful place for exploration.
The 15 islands are home to beaches, bird sanctuaries and fantastic outdoor areas, and your boat cruise will pass by these beautiful spots and give you the chance to explore a few select areas on foot when the weather is good and the water is calm!
It’s a great day trip out from Toronto, and a fantastic chance to explore a glorious piece of nature, which is surprisingly close to the city!
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A great day trip from Toronto with kids would undoubtedly be the classic full day tour to Niagara Falls! It might be a rather long day out with all the family, but it’s well worth it to experience this incredible natural spectacle in all its glory! Give the kids a memory to last a lifetime and to brag about to their friends when they return home!
This is one of the most powerful and well-known waterfalls in the world, and the whole family will be awestruck by the crashing water. This day trips begins and ends in Toronto, as you’re taken on a scenic drive to Niagara Falls. There will be spectacular scenery, stunning landscapes and the chance to stop off at wineries and at Niagara-on-the-Lake.
When you reach the falls themselves, it’s time for a boat cruise! This is the highlight of any day trip to Niagara Falls, and you will be taken as close to the crashing, thundering water as the boat captain dares!
It’s an exhilarating experience, but if you think it might be too much for the whole family, then instead of taking the cruise into the mist, you can also see the falls from the observation decks too.
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Blue Mountain is found two hours drive away from Toronto, overlooking the tranquil water of Georgian Bay. This is one of Ontario’s premier ski resorts, and it’s a popular place to take the family in winter.
There are fun opportunities to be had here in the ski season for all the family, and you can kick back and relax in beautiful surroundings, hit the slopes, learn how to snowboard, or even go tobogganing. It’s perfectly set up for family day trips from Toronto, and it can be a great day out!
The town of Collingwood, which is right on the shores of Georgian Bay, is also a great place to call into while you are in the area, while in summer, it becomes a haven for those looking to enjoy the sunshine!
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Wasaga Beach is also located on the shores of Georgian Bay and is one of the longest stretches of beach in the lakes area of North America. It’s just over two hours drive from Toronto and in summer, it’s a great place to take the kids.
Interestingly, Wasaga Beach can claim to be the second longest freshwater beach to be found anywhere in the world. It’s 14 kilometres in length, and that means that there’s plenty of room for everyone, even for all the crowds that stream out of Toronto at the first hint of the summer sunshine!
You can go swimming, you can enjoy the soft, sandy beaches, and you can walk along the extensive boardwalks that follow the coast of the lake. There are bars, restaurants and cafes all along the beachfront too, ensuring you can enjoy a full day out from the city.
Toronto, while being an excellent city destination in its own right, is made even better by the array of day trips into the surrounding areas. There is really something for everyone, from traditional travellers, couples and romantics, to families.
History lovers can delve into the nearby culture and heritage of Ontario’s many different cities, uncovering pioneering settlers and even World War II planes and ships. Families can travel to the beaches and to the mountains, while couples can cruise across the lake or fly high across the city in a helicopter.
And of course, no trip to Toronto is ever complete without a tour to Niagara Falls!
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.