Welcome to Lake Ontario

You probably already know that Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes in North America, but did you know it’s the smallest and easternmost one? Let’s explore some interesting facts about this fantastic freshwater lake to help you plan your next trip.

First, Lake Ontario covers an impressive surface area of 19,009 square kilometers. Now, that may make it the smallest among the Great Lakes, but don’t let the size fool you! Being a part of the Great Lakes, it hosts plenty of exciting tourist spots and activities around its shores.

If you plan to visit Ontario, one of the must-see cities is Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Situated along the coast of Lake Ontario, it contains numerous neighborhoods and attractions worth exploring. While you’re there, remember to visit the waterfront, where you can appreciate the beauty of the lake up close.

Apart from Toronto, Lake Ontario is also bordered by several other cities in Canada, such as Hamilton, as well as Rochester in the United States. You can even take a boat from Toronto to Niagara Falls, making it an excellent choice for a day trip.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for fun activities or a history buff exploring the region’s rich past, Lake Ontario has something for you!

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Best time to visit

Top 3 Facts About Lake Ontario

01

Island Living

Lake Ontario isn’t just a large body of water; it’s home to several inhabited islands! Among them, Wolf Island stands out as the largest, spanning 48 square miles with a population of about 1,400. Be sure to pop by the island’s bakery if you visit!

02

Babe Ruth’s Watery Home Run

Baseball history was made on Lake Ontario’s shores when Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run into its waters in 1914. This legendary moment in sports history adds a splash of athletic fame to the lake, and somewhere in its depths lies a baseball with a story unlike any other.

03

Historic Shipwreck Underwater Museum

Dive into history with Lake Ontario’s underwater treasure—the Bay State shipwreck. Sunk in 1862, this early propeller-driven steamship met its fate during a storm and now lies as a hidden relic on the lake’s bottom, creating an unintentional time capsule of maritime history.

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Must-See Attractions

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Niagara Falls

Natural Wonder

You simply can’t miss the breathtaking Niagara Falls! As one of the world’s most famous natural wonders, it attracts millions of visitors annually. Witness the thundering cascades and feel the mist on your face. You can explore the falls from various viewpoints, take a boat tour, or even zip line above the falls for an extra thrill.

St. Lawrence Market

Food Market

A foodie’s paradise, St. Lawrence is filled to the brim with fresh and exciting things to try and buy. Head to the South Market to find over 120 specialty vendors offering an array of fresh produce, meats, and unique non-food items, or visit the North Market for its famous Saturday Farmers’ Market and Sunday antique dealers.

CN Tower

City Highlight

Another must-visit if you’re staying near Toronto is the impressive CN Tower. The journey to the top itself is an adventure, with an elevator ride that feels like a feat of engineering. For the daring, the CN Tower also offers the EdgeWalk, where you’ll walk around the tower’s perimeter, 356 meters above the ground.

Annual Events and Festivals

June 28, 2024

Toronto Pride Festival

Join in on the fun at the Toronto Pride Festival, a vibrant and colorful celebration of diversity and inclusion. As one of one of the world’s largest gay pride festivals, you can look forward to a thrilling parade, live music, DJs, and plenty of side events. The entire celebration spans 22 blocks, and stars have even been known to pop in to add their voice to the cause.

December 2024

Toronto Christmas Market

Bid farewell to your winter blues and embrace the festive spirit at the Toronto Christmas Market, set in the charming Distillery Historic District. Throughout December, the cobblestone streets are lined with twinkling lights and Christmas decorations, and numerous vendors are set up to offer delicious treats. With attractions like Santa’s House, a Ferris Wheel, and live entertainment, this market promises a magical holiday experience for all ages.

May 2024

Rochester Lilac Festival

Breathe in the fragrance of spring at the Rochester Lilac Festival, an enchanting celebration of the largest collection of lilacs in North America. Held in the picturesque Highland Park, the festival showcases over 500 varieties of lilacs, along with live music, a wide array of food options, and fun events like a Lilac 5K/10K run and a wine and craft beer expo.

Top Hiking Trails

Limehouse Conservation Area

12169 Fifth Line, Limehouse, ON L0P 1H0, Canada

Located between Halton Hills and Georgetown, Limehouse Conservation Area is the perfect place to go for a quick but stunning hike. Throughout, you’ll witness fascinating karst formations, historical ruins, and even the famous ‘Hole in the Wall’. While you could very well have the trails to yourself during the week, the conservation area fills up quickly over the weekends.

Niagara Gorge Rim Trail

454 Main St, Niagara Falls, NY 14301, United States

Experience the expansive beauty of the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail, a 5.3-mile journey through three state parks: Devil’s Hole, Whirlpool, and Niagara Falls State Parks. Starting from the Devil’s Hole parking area, this trail offers continuous views of the Niagara River, leading you along a wide, relatively flat route perfect for taking in the fresh air and natural splendor.

Hilton Falls Conservation Area

4985 Campbellville Rd, Milton, ON L7P 0G3, Canada

A short drive from Toronto in Milton, Ontario, the Hilton Falls Conservation Area is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Many of the trails here lead to the stunning Hilton Falls, best visited during spring or after rainfall for its most impressive flow. If you prefer something more tranquil, head out on one of the trails leading to the picturesque Hilton Falls Reservoir. Or, to up the pace, try the mountain biking trails!

Best Golf Courses

Glen Abbey Golf Club

1333 Dorval Dr, Oakville, ON L6M 4G2, CANADA

Designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1976, Glen Abbey Golf Club is a testament to world-class golfing and has hosted numerous major tournaments. The 18-hole course is known for its challenging layout, featuring the iconic “valley holes” near Sixteen Mile Creek and bunkers that have tested many greats. Plus, with facilities like a putting and chipping green, driving range, restaurant, and golf academy, it’s easy to see why it’s tricky trying to tee up a time to play.

Visit their website for more information

King’s Forest Golf Course

100 Greenhill Ave, Hamilton, ON L8K 6M4, Canada

Set against the backdrop of the Niagara Escarpment in the Red Hill Valley, King’s Forest Golf Course is renowned for its picturesque setting and challenging play. Ranked among the top public courses in Canada, this Hamilton-based course provides a perfect blend of well-maintained fairways and greens with stunning natural views. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just visiting the area, King’s Forest offers a memorable golfing experience with every round.

Visit their website for more information

Eagles Nest Golf Club

10000 Dufferin St, Maple, ON L6A 1S3, Canada

Eagles Nest Golf Club, located just north of Toronto, offers a delightful golfing experience amidst a rugged landscape of sand dunes and dense fescue. Designed by renowned architect Doug Carrick, this links-style course challenges golfers with features like slick greens and sod wall bunkers. This is certainly not a course to take lightly!

Visit their website for more information

Water Sports

Zoom Tours Niagara Falls

Boat Tours & More

From the exhilaration of the Hornblower Boat Cruise to memorable helicopter excursions, Zoom Tours Niagara Falls offers a range of options to get you up close to this natural wonder. With a commitment to satisfaction and small group sizes, Zoom Tours ensures a memorable visit to one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, complete with complimentary pickup from Toronto Downtown Hotels.

Visit their website for more information

Find A Way Flyboarding

Flyboarding

Experience the thrill of flight with Find A Way Flyboarding, where the dream of flying like a superhero and swimming like a dolphin becomes a reality. Located in Turkey Point, this exciting water sport uses top-of-the-line hydro flight devices to ensure a thrilling experience for everyone aged 12 and up. Whether you’re a first-timer or an adrenaline junkie, Find A Way Flyboarding promises an exhilarating adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories.

Visit their website for more information

Get Up Stand Up Paddle Co.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding with Get Up Stand Up Paddle Co., a premier rental company in the Haliburton Highlands. Offering quality Surftech paddleboards and expert guidance from Paddle Canada Certified instructors, they cater to all skill levels, ensuring a safe and enjoyable paddling experience. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended adventure, their convenient delivery service to your cottage door means you can focus on the fun.

Visit their website for more information

Winter Activities

Ice Skating

In Toronto, experience a unique outdoor ice skating adventure under the Gardiner Expressway at The Bentway Trail. This 220-meter figure-eight skate trail, surrounded by colorful woven arches inspired by the northern lights, is a must-do for skating enthusiasts. Available from mid-December to mid-February, you’ll want to dress in layers, but once you’re whizzing around, you’ll certainly forget about the cold.

Snowshoe

For a serene winter experience, High Park in Toronto is an excellent destination for snowshoeing. With its snow-covered trails, especially along the west side leading to Grenadier Pond, you’ll have the opportunity to witness and photograph the abundant wildlife in its natural winter habitat. This activity offers a peaceful and romantic escape, ideal for those looking to connect with nature during the colder months.

Cross Country Skiing

Transforming into a winter wonderland, Centre Island provides a picturesque setting for cross-country skiing. Accessible by ferry, it’s a fantastic spot for those seeking a tranquil day out in the snow. The island’s scenery is especially magical during winter, draped in snow and icicles. Keep in mind that island vendors are seasonal, so it’s advisable to bring your own snacks. For ski rentals, visit a shop in Toronto before heading out to the island.

Where to Eat

Aria

$$ – $$$ • Upmarket Italian

Days on Front

$$ – $$$ • Modern Canadian

Moxies Hamilton Restaurant

$$ – $$$ • Bar & Grill

Where to Shop

Harbour Gifts

Gift Shop

The Lake Ontario Gift Shop

Gift Shop

Viking Shop Gifts Collectibles

Gift Shop

Where to Sleep

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Islandview Family Cottage

Bathrooms 1
Bedrooms 3
Sq Footage 1,350
Carbon monoxide detectors, Fire extinguisher, First aid kit, Generator, Smoke detectors
$250.00 / day

Tips on Renting a Vacation Home on Lake Ontario

Location and Accessibility

Lake Ontario spans a vast area, touching parts of both Canada and the United States. If you’re interested in urban experiences, Toronto’s waterfront offers cultural and culinary delights. For more tranquil, nature-focused retreats, look towards the smaller towns and rural areas along the lake’s shores. Also, consider the accessibility of the rental, especially if you’re not planning on having a car.

Seasonal Variations

Lake Ontario experiences four distinct seasons, and your experience will vary greatly depending on when you visit. Summers are ideal for beach activities, boating, and fishing, while winters, though cold, offer unique charms like ice fishing and skating. Spring and fall are quieter and can offer more affordable rental prices, but some attractions and services might be limited during these shoulder seasons.

Amenities and Accommodation Type

Vacation rentals around Lake Ontario range from luxury condos in high-rise buildings to quaint cottages by the shore. Decide what amenities are important to you, such as a full kitchen, outdoor space, proximity to the water, or Wi-Fi connectivity. For a more authentic local experience, consider rentals that are off the beaten path or those that offer unique features like a fireplace or a private dock.

Budget and Booking Time

The cost of rentals can vary widely based on location, size, and amenities. To find the best deals, consider booking well in advance, especially for peak summer months. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you might find better rates during the week rather than weekends and during the off-peak seasons.

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Jet Skiing

Going Deeper on Lake Ontario

The history of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, is as deep and varied as its waters. In fact, it began as little more than a small stream, but over thousands of years of erosion and glacier activity, it took its present shape around 11,000 years ago. Fast forward, and since the mid-1700s, the shoreline of Lake Ontario has undergone extensive development. Human interventions, such as the construction of dams and barriers, have altered the natural rhythms of the lake, leading to significant ecological changes. However, thanks to many groups who now advocate for the lake’s health, you can look forward to embracing the beauty of Lake Ontario for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Ontario

When exploring Lake Ontario, you’ll find several charming towns worth visiting. Some top options include Kingston, a historic city in eastern Ontario with a lively waterfront and rich limestone architecture, and Canandaigua in New York, which offers scenic beauty, boat tours, and luxury sunset experiences.

Lake Ontario boasts a range of attractions suitable for all types of travelers. Some popular choices include boat tours, dinner cruises, and exploring the Toronto Islands. For nature enthusiasts, there are numerous parks and wildlife reserves around the lake, offering excellent opportunities to get outdoors for some hiking and birdwatching.

Popular vacation spots around Lake Ontario include the Thousand Islands, a beautiful archipelago offering various accommodations, cruises, and fishing opportunities. Additionally, the Sandbanks Provincial Park is known for its picturesque sandy beaches and excellent swimming conditions, making it a great destination for beach lovers.

The ideal way to reach Lake Ontario depends on your starting point. If you’re coming from Toronto, you can access the lake easily via a short drive. If traveling from the US, particularly New York, consider a road trip to experience the scenic beauty. Additionally, there are guided tours available, which often include transportation to and from the lake.

Swimming in Lake Ontario is generally safe, but it’s essential to check the local conditions and water quality before you dive in. Be aware of lifeguard-patrolled areas, particularly during peak season, and follow any posted safety guidelines to ensure a fun and secure experience.

Tourists visit Lake Ontario for its diverse attractions, picturesque scenery, and recreational opportunities. From scenic cruises and luxury sunset tours to exploring nearby towns, parks, and wildlife reserves, the lake caters to various interests, making it a fantastic destination for any traveler.

Muskoka is known for its picturesque towns and charming villages. Some popular towns you can visit include Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, and Port Carling. Each town offers its unique attractions, shops, and restaurants, making them perfect stopovers during your exploration of the Muskoka region.

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