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The top 10 things to do in Ontario this fall

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The top 10 things to do in Ontario this fall

Ontario in autumn? It's hard to find anything more glorious than the maples, birch, and Tamarack all ablaze in crimson, orange, and gold. Imagine that reflecting off a placid lake with loons calling at dusk, plus sunny days and mornings with a crisp snap to the air. All you need is a canoe to complete the postcard picture. Here are the top 10 ways to savor the best of the season -- from Toronto and Ottawa to Muskoka's cottage country and romantic Niagara-on-the-Lake.

1. See the fall colors

Mid September to early October is prime time to see the changing leaves at their peak. Take a scenic drive or a stroll. Muskoka Cottage CountryExternal Link Title is the classic choice, but Algonquin Provincial ParkExternal Link Title's fall foliageExternal Link Title is also incredible if you're looking for solitude in nature. Take a walk in a leafy Toronto park,External Link Title especially Don Valley and High Park; picnic in the Caledon HillsExternal Link Title; or cycle, paddle, or walk Ottawa's iconic Rideau Canal. Check this site External Link Titlefor the best spots across the province.

2. Get into nature

Credit: Destination Ontario

Hike, campExternal Link Title, and canoe at mid-province Algonquin Provincial ParkExternal Link Title: 2,955 square miles of wilderness dotted with thousands of lakes. It's not too hot and the crowds have dispersed, so chances are you'll have backcountry trails all to yourself. FishExternal Link Title, backpack along the clear rivers, and watch for wildlifeExternal Link Title. Grab a guidebookExternal Link Title to plan your adventure.

3. Do a foodie driving tour

Fall is harvest time. Drive or bike through rural Prince Edward CountyExternal Link Title in search of fresh produce, artisan cheese, small-batch cider, craft brew, and boutique wines. Follow the Taste TrailExternal Link Title, stopping in at farms and vineyards along the country roads. Or, try the self-driving Rural Routes & Dirty Boots tourExternal Link Title in greenbelt DurhamExternal Link Title for fall for tastings and local tours at mom 'n pop places like Old Flame Brewing Co.External Link Title and Ocala Orchards Farm WineryExternal Link Title. Picnic in a pumpkin patch along the way.

4. Sip in wine country

Fall is crush time in wine country, the best season for tasting and touring Canada's leading wine region, also the world's top IcewineExternal Link Title producer.

Plan your route with a mapExternal Link Title and this Wine Route Planner that will help you choose from 140 wineries on the Niagara PeninsulaExternal Link Title. Hit the icons -- world Icewine leader and pioneer InniskillinExternal Link Title and Peller EstatesExternal Link Title with its sophisticated vineyard restaurant and 10Below Icewine LoungeExternal Link Title. And don't miss the boutique labels like biodynamic Tawse WineryExternal Link Title, 13th Street WineryExternal Link Title and tiny cult fave, Five Rows Craft WineryExternal Link Title.

5. Find bliss at the spa

Rejuvenate before the busy holiday season hits at one of wine country's superb palaces of pampering. Retreat to Spa on the TwentyExternal Link Title in a 100-year-old Colonial set amid gardens in charming Jordan Village, half an hour from Hamilton,  for some vinotherapy. Another top rejuvenation destination with all the bells and whistles is 100 Fountain Spa External Link Titleat the Pillar and Post Inn Spa and Conference Centre in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Unwind by the fireplace-lit lounge and take advantage of the sauna, 12 treatment rooms, saltwater pool, and the region's only indoor/outdoor hot springsExternal Link Title.

6. Celebrate traditional-style with the Mennonites

Rural Ontario's Mennonite communityExternal Link Title does it the old-fashioned way. This means farming by hand, driving in a horse-and-buggy, sewing their own clothes, and cooking from scratch. The Harriston-Minto fall fairExternal Link Title has been a fun way to get to know the community and get back to the land since 1859 -- even if just for the day. Take home some handmade goodsExternal Link Title, fresh produce, maple syrup, and decadent butter tarts. St. Jacob'sExternal Link Title is another welcoming community with a delightful traditional farmers' market.

7. Retreat to the countryside

Slow down to savor autumn with a getaway to the Prince Edward County countryside amid the fall colors. Book a room at The Inn at Huff Estates External Link Titlewinery, tasting included. Take in the lake breeze by the firepit at trendy Drake Devonshire InnExternal Link Title, a 19th century former foundry that feels like artsy summer-camp for grownups. Or in Cambridge near Guelph, sink into Old World luxe at stately Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and SpaExternal Link Title, a Relais & Ch?teaux historic summer estate surrounded by woods and farms and furnished with period antiques. Niagara-on-the-Lake's Riverbend Inn & VineyardExternal Link Title is another top choice: A Georgian manor set on 17 acres of gardens and vines.

8. Get the beach to yourself

The quiet shoulder season is the time to enjoy the beachExternal Link Title. And Ontario is full of them, thanks to Hudson Bay on the north and the Great Lakes to the south. Bruce Peninsula National ParkExternal Link Title on Lake Huron's Georgian Bay is famed for its turquoise waters and white cliffs. Hike to the GrottoExternal Link Title and explore the UNESCO World Biosphere ReserveExternal Link Title without the crowds. Other standouts are Singing Sands BeachExternal Link Title, Sandbanks Provincial ParkExternal Link Title with gorgeous golden dunes, and Outlet BeachExternal Link Title, with great birdwatching and hiking. On Lake Huron, SaubleExternal Link Title is a classic beach with a seaside villageExternal Link Title nearby, plus this area offers a great hike along the  Sauble Trail External Link Titleto a picturesque waterfall.

9. Go to the theater

Get cultured by taking in one of the Bard's classics at the Stratford FestivalExternal Link Title, which stages the plays of Shakespeare plus all-time favorites like "Guys and Dolls" and "Treasure Island" through late October. There's also Niagara-on-the-Lake's internationally acclaimed Shaw FestivalExternal Link Title, North America's second largest repertory theater company. Top global directors animate the works playwright George Bernard Shaw and others from the late 1800s in three venues through October each year. Combine three or four shows with a weekend of wine tasting, dining out, shopping, the fabled Niagara Falls, and sightseeing in the area.

10. Eat seasonally at a farmers’ market

Nibble on a fresh-from-the-oven muffin and sip your latte as you peruse Town Hall's Orangeville Winter Farmers' MarketExternal Link Title in rural HeadwatersExternal Link Title on a Saturday morning. In DurhamExternal Link Title, rub elbows with locals at the popular Port Perry Farmers' MarketExternal Link TitleIf you're in Ottawa, don't miss downtown's historic ByWard MarketExternal Link Title for the region's freshest produce. You'll have 175 vendors to choose from, plus charcuterie, artisan chocolate, and craft cheese.


If Ontario is in your travel plans, fall is a stunning time to visit. Try one of these scenic drives or take up residence in a lakeside cottage and unplug.

Find more great vacation ideas at the Ontario Travel website.