Ontario is a great city to visit and it doesn’t have to be an expensive jaunt for a family. There are plenty of things to see and do that fit within a family budget. All it takes is a little research to find them.
The motto of the city is “yours to discover” and there are plenty of discoveries to be made that family members of all ages can enjoy. Below is a list of the top 10 affordable family vacation destinations in Ontario.
The Rideau Canal is in eastern Ontario and is listed as both on lists for National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This urban waterway was constructed as a backchannel after the War of 1812 as part of a series of lakes and rivers to connect Montreal and Kingston in water routes. This was a backstop in case the U.S. ever tried to commandeer the St. Lawrence River.
Today, it serves as a great spot for cyclists and hikers with its bike paths and woods. Canoes cost around $50 a day and bikes cost around $10. The canal becomes the world’s largest ice skating rink during winter months so it makes a great place to visit year-round.
Niagara Falls is a stop you can’t miss when you are visiting Ontario as the Canadian side provides for the best views. While it can be expensive, a visit to this wonderful beauty doesn’t have to be costly. There are free vantage points and the Niagara Falls Light Show occurs nightly. The summer and special occasions also are times when a fireworks display is included.
Free activities around the falls include the Niagara River Recreation Trail and Niagara Glen. You can ride a boat underneath the falls using the Hornblower boat. Your family can also get a closer look by boarding the Maid of the Mist ferry. The cost is $18.75 for adults, $10.65 for children, and kids under five are free.
Bike trails also route along the Niagara River, the Butterfly Conservatory, and the Bird Kingdom Aviary.
Main Street of Niagara Falls has family offerings that include Ripley’s Believe It or Not, haunted houses, midway rides, and Hershey’s World of Chocolate. Those seeking a more relaxed pace can head to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town that has parks and ice cream shops.
Sleeping Giant is a provincial park in northern Ontario near Thunder Bay. It is 94 square miles of space on the Sibley Penisula that has incredible views and recreational activities that include nature walks, films in the amphitheater, fishing, and campfires. There’s cross-country skiing in the winter and beaches in the summer.
All kinds of things from kayaks to bikes can be rented and facilities are comfortable and upgraded. There are more than 250 campsites.
Amethyst Mine Panorama
While visiting the Thunder Bay area, another place to check out is the Amethyst Mine Panorama. Your family can dig for amethysts there and may end up with other minerals. The mine is open during warmer months from mid-May to mid-October, seven days a week including holidays.
Admission is cheap at $8 and free for children under 5 years old. It costs $3 a pound to dig, plus tax.
Algoma Central Railway
The Algoma Central Railway is a one-day scenic trip from Sault Ste. Marie to the north into Agawa Canyone. It takes riders through a granite wilderness and they are allowed to get out and explore the trails at the bottom of the canyon, eat lunch, and view a waterfall. There are lots of wide windows, cameras that show the views from the front of the train, and snacks on board.
A venture to Hamilton will bring your family to this Italianate-style castle that was built in the 1830s. The 40-room villa sits on Burlington Heights, a site of a former fortified military encampment that the British created in 1813. It is a national historic site.
Admission is only by guided tour and includes a visit to The Hamilton Military Museum. It’s best to purchase tickets in advance as tours sell out. There is also the Historic Kitchen Garden to explore during the warm months of mid-May through mid-October and that is a self-guided tour.
Hours are from Tuesday through Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. with the site closed on major holidays. Adult admission prices are $14.75 with seniors getting a discounted $12.75 ticket. Students 13 to 17 years old pay $12.75 and children between 6 to 12 years old have a $9 admission ticket. Those under 6 years old are free.
Larger families have an advantage as a family of two adults and unlimited numbers of dependent children under 18 have a group admission price of $40.75.
The Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo allows families to look at more than 460 animal species, making it one of the largest zoos in the world. It has a children’s zone with demonstrations, interactive exhibits, and a splash park. Its renovation features conservation and educational elements.
Admission is $23 for adults during winter and $29 during summer. Kid prices are $14 during the winter and $19 during the summer. Children under 2 are free.
Stones and Bones Museum
The Stones ‘N Bones Museum is one of the most highly rated venues by visitors. It has 10,000 square feet of space that hosts fossils, gemstones, artifacts, insects, taxidermy, and dinosaurs among other things.
It operates Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. General admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children under 12.
Museum of Illusion
The Toronto Museum of Illusion has more than 100 rooms that will fascinate everyone in the family with holograms, games, 3D puzzles, and vortex tunnels. It’s a full day of family fund that costs just $19.l98 per adult.
Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum sits on a former military base. It covers Canadian aviation from 1909 until today and is developing a Cold War exhibition. It’s open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. but will be temporarily closed from Sept. 11 through Oct. 6. Ticket prices start at $18.36 for adults but there are numerous discounts for seniors, children, and families. A family of six with two adults can get a group price of $46.33.
Visiting Ontario offers a wide range of adventures from outdoor activities to a plethora of museums, culture, and dining. Your family will be amazed at all there is to see and do so make plans today to reserve your spots for your favorite activities!