Some places are so beautiful it’s difficult to believe they exist. If you’re looking for the best day trips in Ontario, you’ll want to check out our list of hidden gems that are easily accessible by GO Transit. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, or simply looking for a place to step away from the bustle of the city, the natural charm of these locations will have you jumping to plan your next getaway.
Cootes Paradise Sanctuary (McMaster University GO Bus Terminal) or (Lakeshore West - West Harbour GO)
Great for: ✔️ nature, ✔️ relaxation, ✔️ photography, ✔️ walking trails, ✔️ wildlife
Obsessed with plants and wildlife? Looking for the perfect day trip in Hamilton, Ontario? Stop, drop and get on a GO train or bus to visit the Cootes Paradise Sanctuary, located in the Royal Botanical Gardens. This 600-hectare wildlife sanctuary which contains one of the highest biodiversity of plants per hectare in Canada and the highest biodiversity of plants in the region. It is also listed as a National Historic site, a Nationally Important Bird Area, and a Nationally Important Reptile and Amphibian Area.
✔️ Must-see: The Arbortetum is more like an English landscape park than a garden. As its name implies, this is the place where you can see a wide variety of trees and other woody plants up close. It is especially beautiful in spring and fall.
Pro tip: The Cootes Paradise Sanctuary is a great place to relax, reflect and mediate. If you’re a senior, or know someone who is and would love a stunning change of scenery, senior discounts are available on GO Transit.
Guild Park and Gardens (Lakeshore East – Guildwood GO)
Great for: ✔️ architecture, ✔️ art, ✔️ dates, ✔️ photography, ✔️ walking trails, ✔️ waterfront views
Looking for a romantic day trip in Toronto? Visit Guild Park and Gardens, a hidden gem filled with historic relics that will make you feel like you’ve travelled to Europe. This former artist colony features stunning architectural remnants including a 19th-century log cabin, which is among the oldest in Toronto. Beautiful during every season, this sanctuary is offers gorgeous woodland trails and unforgettable views of the Scarborough Bluffs.
✔️ Must-see: There are several landmarks through the park, including an incredible Greek Theatre, where you can view theatrical performances during the summer.
Pro tip: The trip to Guild Park and Gardens is less than 40 minutes from Union Station. However, it’s important that you always check your schedule in the event of changes.
University of Guelph Arboretum (University of Guelph Bus)
Great for: ✔️ nature, ✔️ photography, ✔️ walking trails, ✔️ wildlife
Unleash your inner horticulturist at the University of Guelph Arboretum, which features 400 acres of tree and shrub collections, gardens, walking trails, natural woodlands, wetlands and meadows. There’s variety for everyone here – there are several easy trails for leisurely strolls – and there are more challenging trails which can be combined into larger loops.
✔️ Must-see: When open, the 9-hole Disc Golf Course at the Arboretum will provide hours of fun for the entire family. Make sure to pre-book your time if you plan to play. Don’t forget, kids 12 and under ride free on GO trains and busses!
Pro tip: You can visit the Arboretum virtually before you go IRL thanks to the The University of Guelph. The university features year-long workshops covering a wide variety of topics from birds to mushrooms to gardening to art.
Main Street Unionville & Toogood Pond (Stouffville – Unionville GO)
Great for: ✔️ biking, ✔️ food, ✔️ nature, ✔️ photography, ✔️ walking trails, ✔️ wildlife, ✔️ waterfront views
For a staycation in Toronto that you’ll never forget, check out Main Street and Toogood Pond, two of the most beautiful features of Markham’s historic Unionville community. Main Street is renowned for its variety of delicious eateries and historical architecture which has a quintessential European feel. Toogood Pond is open year-round and offers public skating in the winter and plays host to a variety of community events during the warmer months.
✔️ Must-see: Every summer, the outdoor Main Street Unionville Market offers a wide variety of fresh foods and specialty items from local artisans.
Pro tip: Footwear is important. Make sure you’re wearing supportive, comfortable shoes when you’re for an all-day excursion.
Humber River Recreational Trail (Kitchener GO, UP- Bloor GO)
Great for: ✔️ biking, ✔️ dog walking, ✔️ photography, ✔️ walking trails, ✔️ wildlife, ✔️ waterfront views
The Humber River Recreational Trail is highly accessible trail which feels like a history and geography lesson rolled up into one. This centuries-old trail was used by a variety of indigenous groups as a route between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe. Today, this trail is a popular spot for cyclists, photographers and bird watchers who are inevitably mesmerized by the beauty of the locale.
✔️ Must-see: If you love bird watching, or are looking for a scenic place to unwind, check out James Gardens. It offers a scenic lookout over the Humber Valley to downtown Toronto and features flower gardens, terraced stone pathways beside sparkling spring-fed pools and streams.
Pro tip: The Humber River Recreational Trail is a great spot for a dog-friendly hike. Don’t forget, leashed dogs are welcome and ride free on GO Transit.
We hope that you’re inspired to get outside and explore some of the great things mother nature has to offer in our great region. If you found this helpful, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.