Now that autumn is officially in full swing, there’s no better time to make the most of the picturesque fall days and head out to experience the beauty of the season.
And we highly recommend heading out on a road trip so you can take in our beautiful province in all its fall glory.
Not sure where to head this season? We’ve rounded up our favourite fall road trips from Toronto that are all within a few hours of the city.
In line with current health and safety regulations, social distancing and face masks are required in indoor space and/or outdoors when specified.
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Drive 2.5 hours east of the city and you’ll see nothing but vineyards, scenic beaches, and lush countryside as far as the eye can see. PEC is easily one of the best road trips in Ontario, and it’s just as good an idea in the fall as it is in the summer. Spend your days checking out the beautiful fall foliage and the famous Sandbank Provincial Park and complete your trip by eating your way through the Taste Trail which features artisanal cheesemakers, cafes, wineries, and restaurants that serve dishes made from fresh local ingredients.
If you stay the night, we highly recommend heading to Sanctuary in the County, a beautifully renovated loft inside a former Methodist church. As of July 10, face coverings are required in enclosed public spaces.
“Wearing face covering is an additional measure we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep each other safe. This means that, with some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an enclosed public space are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside,” said the Prince Edward County website. “The requirement to wear a mask or face covering also applies to an outdoor market or farm stand when physical distancing is not possible.”
Filled with history and unparalleled vineyards, breweries, and restaurants, Niagara-on-the-Lake is even more stunning in the autumn months. Spend the weekend either on foot or on a bicycle, and explore the tree-lined streets, the wineries, and the lake. Autumn is also the perfect time to visit the falls as they aren’t as overrun with tourists, as well as the many apple orchards and pumpkin patches throughout the region.
As of July 23, it is now required to wear face masks, face shields, or face coverings in all indoor public spaces, abiding by health and safety regulations.
Muskoka is always a good idea. But, experiencing Muskoka during the fall months when the leaves are changing is almost magical. Muskoka’s signature maple trees are now fiery red, creating a fall foliage scene that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The best part is, you can spend the weekend checking out the scenic views in a number of adventurous ways with kayaking, ATVing, hiking, zip-lining, and boating being popular options.
In Muskoka, it is required to wear a face-covering in public indoor spaces, public transit. “Children under the age of 2 or those under 5 who cannot be persuaded, are not required to wear a face covering, as well as individuals whose health or ability, or cultural or religious reasons would prevent them from doing so,” said Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
Regardless of the season, there’s always lots to do in Blue Mountain and fall is no exception. From zip-lining and downhill roller coasters to Scandinavian baths, and indulgent food, you’ll be able to keep yourself busy from sunrise to sunset. Make sure to plan ahead as the number of guests will be monitored and may be limited during peak times.
Physical distancing is enforced with signage for pedestrian walkways.
“For your safety and those around you, we strongly recommend you wear a mask in our public spaces. Physical distancing may not always be possible outdoors, at indoor locations and some attractions may require you wear a mask,” said Blue Mountain Village.
There really isn’t a bad time to visit the picturesque town that is St. Jacobs, however, the fall is particularly special as it tends to be less overrun with tourists. Steeped in history and set in a charming location along the Conestoga River, St. Jacobs has a unique Mennonite history that’s unlike anything you’ll ever experience in Toronto.
From the beloved St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and antique stores to the horse-drawn trolly tours and the iconic covered (kissing) bridge, you’ll find plenty of things to do while in town. If you’re visiting the Village, visitors are asked to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask indoors.
Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Canada and consists of thousands of lakes, rolling canopies of Sugar Maple Trees, and a variety of campsites that are suitable for all campers – from those who prefer comfort to those who like to rough it. Canoeing is a popular activity, as the Park’s interconnected ecosystem joins up with a variety of lakes and rivers, creating a truly remarkable experience. Hiking is also a preferred activity, especially during the fall as visitors can truly take in the beautiful foliage.
Make sure to keep in mind that Algonquin is known for its wildlife, so be sure to keep your distance. As of July 14, masks are not required for indoor public spaces in Algonquin Park and visitors are asked to bring your own hand sanitizer and masks. Several activities will be closed for the year and are listed on their site.
Four hours north of the city you’ll find Tobermory, a quaint harbour village on the Bruce Peninsula. We recommend heading here to rent a cottage with some bubble friends for a guaranteed unforgettable trip. Spend a weekend exploring the Bruce Peninsula National Park or hiking the Cyprus Lake Trail, which leads to an incredible grotto that shows off the crystal clear waters of the Georgian Bay.
As of June 1, Parks Canada began reduced capacity areas in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Located 90 minutes north of the city you’ll discover Awenda Park, located in Tiny Township along the Georgian Bay. Known for its pristine crystal-clear waters and superb biking and hiking trails, this is the perfect escape from the city. Spend an afternoon strolling along its rocky beaches and then explore the trails and take in the bold yellows, reds, and orange leaves before they change.
For visitors, Ontario Parks ask that you continue to follow public health advice including physical distancing by keeping at least two metres from others. This also includes wearing a face-covering where required and when physical distancing may not be possible.
For those who don’t want to commit to a lengthy car ride, Dundas Peak provides incredible views of the changing leaves and is only under an hour away from the city. Home to arguably the best lookout point in the province, Dundas Peak is located just outside Hamilton and offers everything you need for the perfect fall day: two waterfalls, an incredible hike, and, of course, optimal views of the changing leaves.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the overwhelming popularity of Dundas Peak & Tew Falls and Webster Falls, HCA has instituted online reservable parking in 2-hour time slots,” said the Hamilton Conservation Authority. “From Sept. 19 – Nov. 15, 2020, all visitors, including HCA passholders, will be required to make a reservation prior to their visit.”
Visitor numbers and physical distancing will be monitored to ensure everyone’s safety.
With files from Ainsley Smith
Disclaimer: To ensure your safety and well-being when visiting parks, practice physical distancing between you and other visitors, stay on marked trails, and abide by trail closure signs. To avoid hazards, we recommend keeping a safe distance back from slopes, bluffs and river edges. More info on how to prepare for a visit to Parks Canada places during COVID-19: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/securite-safety/covid-19-info