Autumn is beautiful in Ontario. The days are still pleasant and warm. The evenings are cool and romantic and can be enjoyed in just your favourite sweater or a light coat. October sees the fall colours on full display, making the Thanksgiving long weekend the perfect time for a getaway close to home.
Here are just a few of our favourite destinations in Southern Ontario for a short, early autumn road trip.
While most people think of the Muskoka region as a summer destination for cottage-goers and those that love to swim in the many lakes, it is also a great place to visit in the fall. The panorama of vibrant red, orange, yellow and gold leaves on the lakeside forests and reflected on the calm waters is truly something to see.
Local resorts, cottages and even the yurts and cabins of the parks offer a variety of accommodations for every taste through the long weekend.
The leaves start to change faster the further north you go, so for peak times to catch the best colours in the various destinations that make up Muskoka, you can check out the Ontario Fall Colour Report.
There are reasons to visit the Blue Mountain region all year round – from the hiking and biking trails in summer to the sky hills in winter. As if that weren’t enough, the Thanksgiving long weekend offers you one extra great attraction: The Blue Mountain Apple Harvest Festival. Taking place from October 6-8 this year, the event features pie eating, scavenger hunts, live music and much more.
Plus, fall is a great time to hike the variety of trails without the summer heat. Try out the eco-adventures that the region is famous for, such as the tree top boardwalk, zip lining and mountain biking. Trails stay open until the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors can also explore the scenic caves and enjoy the many attractions in the cobblestone streets of Collingwood with its lively shops, restaurants and bars.
Prince Edward County.
With fresh air, farms and vineyards lining colourful country roads, picturesque Prince Edward County is the perfect spot for a fall weekend getaway.
This region is famous for the beautiful beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park, but it also boasts many other great reasons to visit. The Taste Trail allows travellers to visit farmers’ markets, wineries, breweries and more to experience the many flavours of the harvest in Ontario.
Thanksgiving weekend also marks the annual Scarecrow Festival in Picton, a fundraising event where visitors can create their own scarecrows.
Peterborough and the Kawarthas.
Peterborough offers visitors an enviable combination of both a city and a country getaway. In fact, “Have some city with your country” is the regional motto. The small city is home to museums and galleries as well as a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. Nature lovers can also enjoy the many trails and paths along the Otonabee River and watch the boats go through one of the highest hydraulic lift locks in the world. Peterborough is also the central hub of the Kawartha Lakes region. This picturesque area boasts lots to explore with hiking trails, forests and lakes, a pioneer village and the country’s largest known concentration of Aboriginal rock carvings.
A charming, history-rich town dotted with 19th century homes and buildings, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers amazing shopping and dining opportunities, art galleries to browse and live music in the pubs, as well as scenic drives and hikes.
Located on the shores of Lake Ontario in the heart of Ontario wine country, no trip feels complete without visiting the local vineyards and fruit farms. Nearby attractions include Niagara Falls and the Niagara Parkway – a beautiful stretch of road that follows the river from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Fort Erie.
You can also find some great bargains with a shopping trip to the Outlet Collection, an open-air discount mall located right in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
With the fall colours on full display and an abundance of celebrations and festivals in small towns across the province, the Thanksgiving long weekend is a great time to get out and explore all that this province has to offer.