Travel is sometimes a luxury that we’re unable to participate in. Despite living in Ontario for the majority of my life, it’s a massive province with lots to see. There are a number of places that just are too far to get to depending on where you live. Luckily, technology now allows us to get a sneak peek from our very own couch. These virtual tours are like a sneak peek that will come in handy whether you’re in self-isolation right now, reading this in the future at a time when you just aren’t able to travel or you want to get a taste of an attraction before you visit. From museums to historical sites and even an amusement park, check out these 30+ Ontario virtual tours!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: I’m creating a collection of online resources that help you virtually travel the world which I’m updating constantly! Just sign up here to get access to this list!
Virtually Visit These Ontario Destinations
As these attractions are scattered throughout the province, I’ve listed them alphabetically. While I’ve scoured the internet to find all of these, I’m sure there are still more to find. I’ll be sure to update the list as I find more!
Ancaster Old Town Hall
Ancaster may now be amalgamated into Hamilton, however it actually is one of the oldest settler communities in Southern Ontario. Built in 1871, this Georgian style stone building has been a central part of this community for generations. While it isn’t a town hall anymore, it’s still used for event rentals and school programming
Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario (aka the AGO) is a favourite of locals and visitors alike. Originally founded as the Art Museum of Toronto in 1900, it has since become one of the largest art museums in North America! While you won’t find their entire permanent collection online since it holds over 80,000 pieces, there are still quite a few to admire. You’ll find artists including Tom Thomson and the famous Group of Seven, Paul Cézanne and more.
Bata Shoe Museum
What started as the personal collection of Sonja Bata in the 1940s became a permanent part of the Toronto landscape in 1995. The permanent collection boasts over 13,000 shoes making it the world’s largest collection of footwear. Some of the items date back over 4,500 years! Online they have two exhibitions focusing on raising awareness of the cultural diversity here. Though I absolutely love their On Canadian Ground exhibition which shares about the footwear worn by Inuit and First Nations Peoples who have lived here for millennia and by early settlers who colonized what is now Canada.
Battlefield Museum & Park
The Battlefield Museum and Park in Hamilton commemorates the Battle of Stoney Creek which was fought on June 6th, 1813. Originally built in 1796, the site interprets the life of the Gage family who were the first colonizers of the area. Battlefield Park still sits on part of the original two hundred acres of land granted to Mary Jones Gage by the crown. The grounds and the buildings on it became a National Historic Site in 1960.
So while Boldt Castle is technically on the American side of the Thousand Islands, it’s still accessible from the Ontario side so I’m sneaking it into this list. Transport yourself to Heart Island as you admire the most impressive summer home you’ll ever lay eyes on. While it was vacant for over 70 years, Boldt Castle is now one of the top attractions in the area. I guarantee once you take a look at their virtual tour you’ll be planning your own trip there!
This museum in Ottawa explores the city’s history from the beginnings of the Rideau Canal and its construction through the history of the city as it became Canada’s capital and more. It was originally founded by the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa with the goal of collecting and preserving Canadian historical records. Located inside the oldest stone structure in Ottawa, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory
For almost two decades, the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory’s 25,000 square foot facility has been committed to conservation, education and research in regards to butterflies and their habitats. Their 10,800 square foot indoor garden has thousands of free-flying butterflies from all over the globe, giving those of us in Waterloo Region a tropical retreat all year round. You’ll also find over 100 varieties of tropical plants, turtles, finches and much more! If you’d like a dose of summer from wherever you are in the world, check out their virtual tour for some quality zen time at home.
You can now visit the first and largest amusement park in Canada from the comfort of your couch! I’ve visited Canada’s Wonderland a number of times in my day, including having a seasons pass when I lived in Toronto. Unfortunately now that I’m older, I don’t know if my vertigo could handle the rollercoasters anymore! Luckily I can enjoy the first-person point of view without fear of feeling sick. Enjoy the twists and turns of the Yukon Striker roller coaster, the views from Psyclone or more family-friendly rides like Klockwerks. There are even a few water rides to enjoy – and you don’t have to worry about getting wet!
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Founded in 1987, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste Marie was originally volunteer-run. It’s housed in what used to be the Ontario Fire and Aviation Divison’s hangar. To this day, volunteers are the lifeblood of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre as they recover, restore, preserve and display Canada’s bushplane and forest fire fighting history!
Canada Science and Technology Museum
Founded in 1967 as a centennial project by the Canadian government, this museum in Ottawa aims to help the public understand the relationships between science and technology in relation to Canadian history. It shares the technological and scientific history in Canada through interactive displays. While we can’t visit in person right now, there’s an online exhibit about the importance of Bombardier snowmobiles as well as a VR tour of the Governor Generals rail cars.
Canadian War Museum
As Canada’s national museum of military history, the Canadian War Museum is one of the most respect museums about the study and understanding of armed conflict in the world. While it officially opened in 2005, its collections can be traced back to 1880. What makes this museum so powerful is its focus on the human experience during war. Their permanent collection consists of over 3 million artifacts along with 12 online exhibits which focus on different aspects of Canada’s war history.
Yes, you can virtually visit North America’s only real, full-size castle! At almost 200,000 square feet, this Toronto landmark took three years to complete and was finished in 1914. Originally built as a home for financier Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma is now one of the most popular event venues in the city. On their website you can enjoy floor by floor photo tours of its Gothic Revival style to give you a taste of its European elegance.
As the most defining building of the city’s skyline, the CN Tower is undeniably one of the top Toronto attractions. It was completed in 1976 and held the record for the world’s tallest tower until 2009 when it lost that title. It was also the world’s tallest free-standing structure for 32 years until 2007, but it is still the Western Hemisphere’s tallest free-standing structure on land. While you can’t go up to the observation deck (which just got a full makeover in 2019) from your home, you can enjoy the views of Toronto! If you’re looking for more Toronto virtual tours, check out this list.
Did you know Ontario is home to a four-story, 100000 sq ft bunker located over 70 feet under the Earth’s surface? It’s true! Built from 1959-1961, Project Emergency Army Signals Establishment (EASE) was built as a refuge for key government members and military in case of a nuclear attack upon Canada. Now known as the Diefenbunker Museum, this National Historic Site became a museum in 1997 to showcase Canada’s preparedness during the Cold War era. Think if Designated Survivor happened in Canada. If going that far underground makes you uneasy, check out their virtual tour from anywhere above ground with an internet connection!
Transport yourself to the 1800s with a virtual trip to Dundurn Castle. Okay so it’s not an actual castle like Casa Loma is, but it was impressive enough for the residents of Hamilton to call it one back in the day! Get a glimpse of what life was like as a member of Sir Allan MacNab’s family as you tour the estate. Each of the rooms has been accurately restored to show you what it looked like in 1855!
RELATED: If you’re planning a trip to Hamilton, take a look at these great indoor attractions for your future visit!
Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Fun fact: it’s the only operating vaudeville-era double-decker theatre left in the entire world! This century-old theatre is a national historic site and it’s thanks to the Ontario Heritage Trust that it’s been restored to its original glory. Peek inside thanks to their virtual tour and get a taste of the atmosphere until you can catch a show yourself one day!
Fanshaw Pioneer Village
This open-air museum is located in the Fanshawe Conservation Area in London. Here you’ll learn about the settlement of Fanshawe, the town itself as well as the area surrounding it from 1820 to the 1920s. While you won’t get to experience their historical reenactments, you can still enjoy a tour of the village online. I did have some trouble playing their videos but hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did. They still have photos and even an audio tour to share the pioneer history of the area.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: I haven’t visited myself, however I don’t see any reference to the Indigneous Peoples who originally inhabited this land. I’d like to bring to your attention that it traditionally belonged to the Anishinaabe and Attiwonderonk (Neutral) peoples before they were forcibly removed from the land due to European colonization.
Fashion History Museum
Located in Cambridge, the Fashion History Museum documents exactly that – how fashion has changed over the years. The museum’s collection boasts over 10,000 items! They range from what could possibly be the oldest existing European footwear worn in North America to much more recent designer fashions from the 1970s. Take a look at their online collections which includes anything you’d wear from head to toe.
Fort William Historical Park
Now we’re going to head to Northern Ontario as we’re transported to Thunder Bay’s Fort William Historical Park. A pivotal location during the days of the North American Fur Trade, visitors see how business was conducted back in the 1800s. Their virtual tour shares the more prominent buildings of the North West Trading Company. I had trouble viewing them myself but hopefully this won’t be the case for you. Either way, you’ll find plenty of information on their website as well as information about the Indigenous of the area and their impact on the Fur Trade.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Arguably Ontario’s most remote national park, unless you’re able to get on Parks Canada’s water taxi (which can book up fast!) or have a boat of your own, it’s tricky to visit Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Luckily you can do so from your couch thanks to Parks Canada and Google Street View! Enjoy the incredible views of Georgian Bay as well as some gorgeous hiking trails with this Ontario virtual tour until you can visit for yourself in the future. If that’s not enough, fuel your wanderlust with these natural and historic sites in Ontario as well as Canada!
Built in 1827, the Griffin House was purchased by Enerals Griffin, an African-American slave, in 1834. While it’s unknown if he himself escaped as a slave or came to Canada from the United States as a free man, this property sheds light on the truths of the Underground Railroad in Canada. In 2008, it was designated as a National Historic Site. Take a look at the virtual tour as you get a glimpse at what his life was like in the 1800s.
Hamilton Children’s Museum
If you’re looking for a more family-friendly option in this list of destinations in Ontario, the Hamilton Children’s Museum is definitely it! Focusing on interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences, it encourages children to learn through self-directed play. This is a little hard to do via a virtual tour, but it does give you a taste of what to expect when you can visit it yourself. The tour also shares previous exhibits which are no longer available so they live on via the internet!
Hamilton Military Museum
Adjacent to Dundurn Castle you’ll find what was originally known as Battery Lodge. Now home to the Hamilton Military Museum, inside you’ll discover what life was like during the War of 1812. It has been sharing the history of this significant battle as well as the impact of World War I. Their virtual tour takes you through the building as well as sharing the stories of descendants whose ancestors were involved in the war.
Helicopter Tour of the Thousand Islands
An epic Ontario road trip destination, the Thousand Islands is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Over 1800 islands dot the St Lawrence Seaway, straddling the Canadian and US Border. While many take a cruise to enjoy some of these beautiful islands, you can also take to the skies! Not only will you cover more ground but you’ll get to enjoy the views from an angle which isn’t seen nearly as often. These tours can be expensive so if it’s not quite in your budget, enjoy the incredible views with a virtual tour!
Hike Ontario Virtually
Ontario is home to so many incredible trails, whether they be in our national and provincial parks, conservation areas or our famous Bruce Trail. But did you know you can enjoy a few of these hikes from home? The Nature Conservancy of Canada teamed up with Google Trekker to share some virtual hikes in the province. Right now they have two Ontario virtual tours. The first is Backus Woods where you will be taken through an old-growth Carolinian Forest which is the habitat for nearly 25% of Canada’s endangered species. The second is the Goldie Feldman Nature Reserve in the Happy Valley Forest. Located just 30 minutes outside Toronto, you’ll find a wide variety of landscapes from old fields to wooded wetlands. They keep adding more to their repertoire so be sure to pop by their page periodically for any updates!
This former maximum-security prison has since become a part of the Correction Service of Canada Museum. Visitors can tour Canada’s oldest prison thanks to the St Lawrence Parks Commission. Inmates were housed here for 180 years before it was closed in September 2013. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be in a federal institution, pay them a visit… or check out their virtual tour! You’ll learn about the key differences between minimum, medium and maximum security prisons and much more.
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Whether you’re happy with our current government or not, The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is an important place for Ontarians. Located at Queen’s Park in Toronto, this is where bills are passed, laws are enacted and many, many debates ensue. If you plan to visit, there are a number of tours like their history and heritage tour. There’s even an option for afternoon tea! Not exactly what you’d expect of the Provincial Legislature. Would you rather just check out the building from the comfort of your couch? Well, their virtual tour will guide you through the ornate rooms within its walls.
Museum of Steam and Technology
It’s no secret that Hamilton has a strong industrial history. You’ll learn more about this with a visit to the Museum of Steam and Technology! It is housed in what was originally the Hamilton Waterworks Pumping Station. This building has remained fundamentally unchanged since it began operations in 1860. The holy grail of the site is their two-tonne beam engines which are said to be the oldest engines in the country! You can read more about my experience touring the museum or take a look at their virtual tour to check it out yourself.
National Ballet of Canada
Founded in 1951 by Celia Franca, the National Ballet of Canada is one of the world’s top ballet companies. It has 70 dancers and even its own orchestra as they perform a wide range of shows. To be honest I know nothing about ballet. BUT it’s pretty neat to see that it’s one of the few ballet companies who actually has a historical archive! If you can’t catch a show at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, take a look at their virtual museum and discover some of their most notable productions.
One of the world’s natural wonders, many visitors head to Niagara Falls to see this beauty for their own eyes. Looking to visit Niagara Falls in the future (don’t miss my tips!) but can’t wait? Or have you been to Niagara Falls before and miss the rushing roar as the Niagara River tumbles over the Niagara escarpment? Satisfy your wanderlust by checking out the live feed of the Horseshoe Falls from the Hilton Fallsview Hotel!
Chances are if you’re visiting Niagara Falls, you’ll probably experience at least one Niagara Parks site. From the Journey Behind the Falls to hiking the Niagara Glen, Niagara Parks protects a number of areas around the Niagara Region. For the times when you can’t visit in person, Niagara Parks has created a number of Ontario virtual tours! From the famous Whirlpool Aerocar to the Wildplay Zipline to the Falls, you can enjoy all of the fun Niagara Parks has to offer from home.
The Niagara Historical Society was formed in 1895 with the goal of fostering appreciation of Niagara-on-the-Lake. A year after its founding, the Society’s president Janet Carnochan realized how important it is to begin collecting historical materials to preserve them for the future. It is housed in the first building ever designed solely for use as a historical museum in the province! From the original Indigenous inhabitants to the present day, the museum is home to over 8,000 artifacts, 40,000 documents, 2,500 photographs and 600 books. Use the link below to check out some of the items from their collection.
RELATED: While Niagara-on-the-Lake isn’t allabout wine, it’s still a big draw. If you’re interested in checking out a winery or two after visiting the museum, here’s a list of the best wineries in Niagara!
Petawawa Heritage Village
A large part of Canada’s history is centred around European settlements on this land. The Petawawa Heritage Village shares the story of the area’s rural communities from the German families who founded them to the First Nations teachings and traditions of those who originally inhabited the area. Online you’ll find photos and descriptions of some of their pivotal buildings including a Canadian Pacific Railway Station, a traditional Wigwam that was constructed by volunteers from the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, and more.
Head back to Canada’s capital city as we tour the Government House also known as Rideau Hall. One of just two official royal sites maintained by the crown, it’s the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. Originally a stone villa was constructed by stonemason Thomas McKay for him and his family. (If you were wondering, it’s the same McKay who helped construct the Rideau Canal). However once it was obtained by the crown, it was expanded significantly as it now has 175 rooms across 9,500m2 (102,000ft2). It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1977 and has over 200,000 visitors yearly for tours. If you can’t be one of them, take a look at their online tour!
Want to be like Ariel and Sebastien and enjoy some of that under the sea life? So it’s not quite the sea but the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto is offering a number of live streams! You can watch sharks swim, be mesmerized by jellyfish, relax with the manta rays or enjoy the fabulous colours of their rainbow reef. On top of these Ontario virtual tours, they also have a number of online resources for learning more about our oceans. There are live stream workshops almost every weekday and work via Google classrooms for pre-kindergarten, elementary and middle school students.
Royal Ontario Museum
As one of the top museums in the world, the Royal Ontario Museum showcases our natural history as well as world cultures. Their collection encompasses over 13 million items including artwork, cultural objects, natural history specimens and more. Founded in 1914, Toronto museum is not only the largest museum in Canada but the most-visited in the country! Take a look at their resources online which aim to give you insight into how Earth and its cultures have evolved over the years and where the future may take us. Oh, and don’t forget to click the little yellow Google Street View man on the right side to virtually tour the museum!
From April to November, the city of Stratford becomes incredibly Shakespearean as the Stratford Festival takes over the city. Since their humble beginnings in 1953, the Stratford Festival has been a driving force in Canadian theatre. They have since become North America’s largest classical repertory theatre company! On their website, you’ll find a number of shows you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately, this is one of the Ontario attractions that isn’t free virtually. However, that means you can support the Stratford Festival by purchasing access AND enjoy the show in your underwear if you want. You can’t do that at the theatre!
Toronto Public Library
Okay so a library in the Greater Toronto Area might not exactly be an attraction in the typical sense but it actually is a really cool building. To access their online materials, you’ll need to live in Toronto in order to obtain a library card. However, there are a number of online exhibits anyone can enjoy! They’re all previous exhibitions that were displayed at various Toronto Reference Library locations. Take a look at the digital versions of these displays from 2001 until 2016!
Town of Lincoln Museum & Historical Centre
The Jordan Historical Museum of the Twenty (how it’s originally known) documents the historical development of the town of Lincoln as well as the surrounding Twenty Valley. It was originally located at the Jordan Museum just over 20 minutes from Niagara Falls. Right now the Town of Lincoln Museum & Historical Centre is currently located at an interim facility in Beamsville as the original site undergoes renovations. Until you can visit, take a look at their items available online!
Whitehern House and Garden
As a prime example of a Georgian style limestone house, the Whitehern is just one of few surviving examples of a walled garden estate. It was completely restored in 1971, just 3 years after it was willed to the City of Hamilton. In 1962, it was added to the list of National Historic Sites in Canada. As you tour the grounds, you’ll see elements from Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian time periods. You’ll also be exploring the heritage of the McQuesten Family who lived there.
Which Ontario Virtual Tour is Your Favourite?
We’re lucky to have all these amazing properties in Ontario but to also have so many we can visit virtually! There are plenty of places to visit in Ontario Canada that I guarantee you’ll have a long bucket list in no time.
If you’re looking to check out some of Ontario’s natural attractions, Google Maps is always a great resource. Hop onto street view and check out some of the highlights of Algonquin Provincial Park. There’s always YouTube where you can enjoy the views of Georgian Bay from the Thunderbird Zipline at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures in Collingwood too!
Until you’re able to visit these places in Ontario yourself, I hope you’ll enjoy this list of virtual tours. You can always explore Canada virtually too! If you’re looking for more inspiration, be sure to check out all of the things to do in Ontario I recommend here on IBB!
Looking for more ways to satisfy your wanderlust when you can’t travel?
Check out these awesome ideas to bring travel to you!