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Ontario is Canada’s economic and political hub, its capital city boasts the famous CN Tower and Rogers Centre, world-renowned museums, art galleries, and an abundance of world-class restaurants.

But did you know Ontario has much to offer beyond its city boundaries? The province holds around 20% of the world’s freshwater supply in its 250,000 lakes, and its land coverage is greater than the areas of France and Spain combined — making Ontario a wonderland for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and leisure seekers alike.

This is just a taste of how much there is to see and explore in the province and why it should be on your travel list this year. There’s so much to discover!

1. Year-Round Outdoor Activities

Unlike some travel destinations that are at their peak during just one season, Ontario offers a wealth of outdoor activities year-round.

  • Spring is perfect for hiking, nature spotting and visiting maple tapping operations.
  • Summer months are ideal for swimming, water skiing, kayaking and paddle boarding in one of the province’s many lakes — Ontario’s cottage country is home to the world’s longest freshwater beach!
  • Fall sees corn mazes in rural communities, hayrides, pumpkin picking, and beautiful colour changes (offering phenomenal photo opportunities).
  • In the snowy winter months, visitors to cottage country enjoy ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, and tobogganing.

Regardless of the season or the climate, cottage country in Ontario has an abundance of diverse outdoor activities for all ages.

2. Accommodations Are Picturesque and Bountiful

A visit to cottage country wouldn’t be complete without a cottage. A true Canadian cottage experience will see a traditional country style of architecture, outdoor firepits, and proximity to nature. Fortunately, there is a wonderful selection of beautiful, rural lodgings for those looking to rent a cottage in Ontario in various styles and sizes to accommodate all parties.

3. Food and Drink

Fresh, seasonal produce is a huge boon to cottage country in Ontario. There are farmer’s markets in rural hamlets boasting the freshest corn you’ll ever taste — ideal for barbequing or roasting on the firepit at the cottage.

Ontario also takes its maple syrup and apple production seriously; 15 types of apples are grown in the province. Visiting a maple farm is a must while in cottage country; there’s nothing better than fresh maple syrup on your pancakes in the morning. Fruit picking is also a fantastic seasonal activity, with many local orchards and farms offering pick-your-own opportunities.

A lesser-known fact about Ontario is that it produces copious amounts of wine, cider, and craft beers. Two-thirds of Canada’s vineyard acreage is in Ontario. In addition to regular grape wine, apple and cranberry wines are also grown and bottled. The region also produces the incredibly unique Icewine — a dessert wine that’s sweet, intense, and smooth.

So, opportunities abound in cottage country and surrounding areas if you enjoy wine tours, trying new wines, or sampling craft beer flights.

5. Festivals and Street Parties

There’s a reason why the tiny towns of Ontario are frequently used in the making of Hallmark movies. Such picture-perfect backdrops are the ideal setting for seasonal street festivals. Many townships in Ontario’s cottage country will host outdoor events for locals and visitors.

Cottage country townships host annual events like Maple Fest (for example), where visitors can take in live music, enjoy kid-based activities, and sample maple syrup all ways — think maple baked goods, maple beer, maple coffee and maple taffy. The rest of the year sees other seasonal festivals in cottage country, like art shows, classic car conventions and antique boat shows.

6. Get Away from It All

Arguably, one of the most important elements of taking a vacation is the ability to get away from your usual day-to-day and enjoy calming natural surroundings. Ontario cottage country allows for optimal relaxation, whatever the season. In the cooler months, one can curl up indoors by the fireplace, drink good wine, cook great food, read the book you’ve been meaning to start (and finish!) and take time to regroup.

The Ontario scenery sets the perfect tone for relaxation in the warmer seasons. There’s no hustle and bustle here — just ample time to lay by the dock, roast marshmallows under a starry backdrop and swim in crystal-clear waters.

Cottage country in Ontario is sublime. There’s quite literally something for everyone, so whether you value active, adrenaline-filled holidays or slower-paced, tranquil vacations, cottage country will scratch the itch. Factor Ontario into your travel plans this year — you won’t regret it!

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