When you’re ready to venture beyond the buzz of Toronto there are so many places to soak up nature in the near north. Explore the vast wilderness of Ontario backcountry in one of the provincial parks, paddle a canoe on a mirror-calm lake or eat and drink your way through vineyards and farm to plate experiences.

Here are some of the unique and exciting things you can do within a two-hour drive of Toronto.

 

Follow the Apple Pie Trail

Apple Pie Train - Canada

Just outside Toronto, you’ll find Canada’s largest concentrated area of apple growers. Along the Apple Pie Trail, there are 36 stops winding from Collingwood to Meaford, up, down and around Blue Mountain.

Some beautiful stops include Georgian Hills Vineyard where you can sample the local apple ice wine, cold climate wines and cider. For a cider-focused experience try the Thornbury Village and Cider House & Brewery nestled in the midst of 7500 apple orchards.

Stop for lunch at the uber-local waterside cafe The Grey in the quaint town of Thornbury where local ingredients are showcased in shareable and super fresh appetisers, burgers and salads.

Don’t forget to indulge in some apple pie for dessert – Kaytoo Restaurant & Bar specialises in handmade apple pie dumplings made with local Thornbury apples and served with French vanilla ice cream, cinnamon sugar, caramel sauce and apple Julienne.

 

Get zen at the Scandinave Spa

Image: Scandinave Spa

This place is utter bliss. A Scandinavian-style spa in Blue Mountain, set amongst a thick forest of Canadian maple and pine trees.

The Nordic-style wellness offering is made up of outdoor pools (both heated and ice cold), saunas, steam baths and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas (hint, the hammocks are a fantastic choice).

The tranquil forest bathing will totally rejuvenate you no matter what season you visit.

Silence is valued as part of the experience here. Soak in the peace with all voices to be kept to a whisper and mobile phones, cameras and other digital devices to be left behind. Enjoy your digital detox.

For the full package, you can also opt for a Swedish relaxation massage.

 

Adventure in the Scenic Caves

Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

Image: Scenic Caves Nature Adventures

Outdoor adventure activities rule at this eco-adventure park set within one of Canada’s eighteen UNESCO biosphere reserves.

Choose your own adventure from stepping across the longest suspension bridge in Southern Ontario, flying along on one of the ziplines or taking a guided tour deep into the natural caves and caverns.

In winter, the options expand out to skiing and snowshoeing through the park.

 

Go Cranberry Plunging

Image: Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery.

For three generations, the Johnston family has been dedicated to growing top quality cranberries at Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery.

The best time to visit is while the cranberry harvest is taking place from late September through to the end of October – because this is when you can go Cranberry plunging, (AKA wading around waist deep in a cranberry marsh) I mean how many people can say they’ve tried that?

Visit any time of the year to try their unique cranberry wines. Yes, you read that right. You can make wines with cranberries and boy they’re delicious.

There are also plenty of tasty cranberry-inspired treats to sample. Hint, try the cranberry butter tart.

 

Paddle into a Wilderness Adventure at Voyageur Quest

Image: Voyageurquest

Set in the stunning Algonquin Park, Voyageur Quest offers secluded canoe trips and lodge based eco-adventures.

These trips focus on wildlife viewing, soaking up nature and enjoying gourmet meals. Really, does life get any better?

This place isn’t for day trips though, you’ll need to set aside at least a few days to experience the magic of this place.

Take guided canoe tours and hikes during the day then enjoy the Algonquin Log Cabin at night with its massive fireplace, wood-fired sauna and decks perfect for relaxing with a drink in hand.

There is also Algonquin Cottage outpost which comes complete with a floating sauna! Camping options are available as well.

This place is guaranteed to see you unwind and fall head over heels for Canada.

 

What are your favourite Canadian experiences?