Where to See Fall Leaves Outside of Toronto

Take in the stunning fall colors aboard the RMS Royal Mail Ship Segwun as it cruises Lake Muskoka. Photo courtesy of Muskoka Steamships.

Toronto is a great city to live in. It’s also surrounded by beautiful countryside and small towns and villages with tons of seasonal attractions. Fall festivals and fall colors make southern Ontario all the more appealing.

If you’re looking to escape the city and enjoy all the province has to offer this fall, there’s no shortage of stunning destinations. In honor of the Thanksgiving long weekend, discover seven great places to admire the fall foliage and enjoy the season within a three-hour drive of Toronto.

FALL COLORS.03.RPJ.,A boathouse nestles in the fall color 2 km from the town of Bala in the District of Muskoka, Ontario.  For a photo report on country colors for Saturday.  (RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR) (Photo by Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Take in the fall colors in Bala, Ontario. (Photo by Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Muskoka is magical almost any time of the year, but fall is quite special as the leaves begin to change color. The Muskoka Steamships offer great fall hikes on the Muskoka lakes, with fabulous views of the fall colors all around.

Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Vineyard also owns some 27 acres of property in Bala and grows ripe red cranberries, which are harvested in the fall. On-site activities include wagon tours, wine tastings, and more. For even more cranberry fun, the Bala Cranberry Festival takes place October 14-16, with food, local vendors, live music and other goodies.

Try a stroll along Southwood Road (it connects Highway 11 to Highway 169) to take in the stunning fall colors at a leisurely pace. Top resorts include the JW Marriott Le Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa and Deerhurst Resortnear Huntsville.

Forget-Me-Not Alpacas is a fun family spot in Beaverton, Ontario.  PHOTO BY JIM BYERS.

Forget-Me-Not Alpacas is a fun family spot in Beaverton, Ontario. Photo by Jim Byer.

This picturesque region is full of family activities, such as Myosotis Alpacasa farm in Beaverton where you can mingle with and feed the animals. The Sunflower Farm is also a great place to enjoy nature and find the perfect Instagram shot.

In town, discover The underground bakery or fresh bread and sweets, like The Love Child, which staff call the product of an affair between Madame Muffin and Monsieur Croissant (a buttery croissant rolled in salt and sugar and baked in a muffin tin). The Shortiss Cafe Bar is right downtown and serves great coffee, and looks like a hip place in Toronto or New York.

Not far from there is Cider Banjo, a top cider-making venue that often features live music. Try a stay at Villa Vida Locawhich has a small hut you can rent for the night, a farm stand with excellent local cuisine and special dinners with the best local chefs.

Opening day of the new St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, June 11, 2015. In 2013, a fire tore through the old market, destroying one of the area's top tourist attractions.  (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

St. Jacob’s Farmers Market is one of the best and largest markets in Ontario. (Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Kitchener–Waterloo Oktoberfest is an annual festival about an hour west of Toronto. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as “Canada’s largest Bavarian festival” and is said to be the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. It’s the perfect way to ring in the fall for beer and pretzel lovers, and there’s usually live music and dancing, until October 15th.

Great experiences offers guided canoe and kayak trips on the Grand River, which has excellent fall foliage. The Walper is a terrific boutique hotel in Kitchener and a great base for Oktoberfest. THE MUSEUM is a short walk away and has great exhibits.

In Waterloo, the Ken Seiling Museum of the Region of Waterloo is first rate, and is located next to Doon Heritage Village, a collection of historic buildings in a forest of pretty trees. Don’t miss the St. Jacob Farmer’s Market — one of the best and largest markets in Ontario.

The Whirlpool Aero Car takes you on a thrilling ride down the Niagara River.  PHOTO COURTESY OF DESTINATION ONTARIO.

The Whirlpool Aero Car takes you on a thrilling ride down the Niagara River. Photo courtesy of Destination Ontario.

niagara on the lake has a large new and modern hotel called 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa, and it’s quite different from the usual chintz-laden hostels. Head toward Treadwell Kitchen next door at the Gatehouse Hotel for some of Ontario’s best food, as well as local wines.

Just south of town, Ravine Vineyard Wine Estate has a stone pizza oven and offers great wines, including Cabernet Franc and a lovely sparkling wine. Wayne Gretzky Estates offers both wines and spirits, including a good whisky.

In Niagara Falls strictly speaking, the Hornblower II offers great catamaran rides that take you to the base of Horseshoe Falls. Try a hike down to the river at Niagara Valley for great fall colors, or check out the views from the Whirlpool Aero Carwhich takes you to the other side of the river and brings you back in a small cable car.

Springridge Farm is an excellent family and gourmet address in Milton, Ontario.  PHOTO BY JIM BYERS

Springridge Farms is a great family and gourmet address in Milton, Ontario. Photo by Jim Byer.

The Mount Nemo Conservation Area is one of the most rewarding walks in southern Ontario; an easy walk over flat terrain to a wonderful lookout atop the Niagara Escarpment north of Burlington. You’ll have stunning views of Burlington and Mississauga and, on a clear day, downtown Toronto. Reservations are required, so plan ahead.

Springridge Farm is a charming, family-friendly place nestled against the Niagara Escarpment in Milton. It’s a fourth generation farm still owned by the Hughes family, and you can feel a sense of pride.

Children will love discovering goats, rabbits and other animals. They also have slides, a huge covered sandbox with dozens and dozens of bright yellow trucks, rubbery animals for kids to bounce on, an escarpment viewing platform, and wagon rides. There is a large store with everything from apple pies to butter chicken and lasagna, as well as coffee and fresh pastries.

Foxingham Farms Bed and Breakfast in Mulmur, Ont.  Photo by Jim Byer.

Foxingham Farms Bed and Breakfast in Mulmur, Ont. Photo by Jim Byer.

The Hockley Valley, northwest of Toronto, is an exceptional place to see the glory of a Canadian waterfall. Start in Orangeville and take Highway 10 North to Hockley Road and turn right, then go as far as you want.

Airport Road offers a rollercoaster and doodle ride through the Caledon-Headwaters region, with stunning color. The Hockley Valley Resort has great food, spacious units and an excellent golf course. Next to it is Adamo estate vineyardwhich has a large sunny patio and very good wines.

Foxingham Farm Bed & Breakfast is run by a lovely couple and is opposite the Mansfield Ski Club in Mulmur. Stopped at Heatherlea Farm Shoppe in Caledon for fresh baked goods, beef and tasty sandwiches.

Zim Art Rice Lake Gallery is an amazing place in Bailieboro, Ontario.  Photo by Jim Byer.

Zim Art Rice Lake Gallery is an amazing place in Bailieboro, Ontario. Photo by Jim Byer.

Located just outside of Bailieboro, ZimArt Gallery Rice Lake is one of the most surprising places in southern Ontario, a garden deep in the woods with hundreds of Zimbabwean stone carvings. The owner of the place, Fran Fearnley, brings Zimbabwean stone art almost every year, and also brings a Zimbabwean artist to show his work. It is traditionally open from around June 1 to Canadian Thanksgiving.

Bailieboro is also home to Doo Doo’s, a bakery that has won several awards for the best butter pies in the province. North of Peterborough, Petroglyph Provincial Park displays amazing rock art painted by local First Nations people.

A few minutes east of Lakefield, Warsaw Caves Conservation Area is a great hiking spot with exposed rock slabs and beautiful fall colors. The seaside resort of Elmhirst is a great place to stay on Rice Lake.

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