Many people dread the end of summer but I can’t say I’m one of them. As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, it means my favourite season is on the horizon. Before the arrival of winter though, we’re spoiled with beautiful colours, sweater weather and pumpkin everything. While I am a winter baby, I 100% adore what autumn has to offer. It really is absolutely incredible so let’s make the most of it! Don’t miss out on these incredible things to do in fall in Ontario this season.
How to Experience Fall in Ontario
We’re so lucky in Canada to have all four seasons and Ontario truly is one of the best provinces to enjoy the season. Whether you’re up north exploring some provincial parks or heading to South Eastern Ontario for an awesome road trip, you’ll fall in love with these great autumn experiences.
Do Some Leaf Peeping
Let’s be honest – this is the best thing about fall. The changing colours make Ontario’s beautiful landscapes even more incredible! As a fall colour change enthusiast, I live for the vistas where golds, ambers and reds are scattered as far as the eye can see. Peak time for leaf viewing changes each year so be sure to check out Ontario Parks’ Fall Colour Report. That way you can keep an eye for the best time for fall colours in Ontario!
Go For a Hike
What better way is there to enjoy the colours than with an awesome hike? Luckily we have plenty of fantastic trails in Ontario! If you’re heading to the Niagara Region, you don’t want to miss hiking the Niagara Glen. The turquoise waters of the Niagara River contrasting with the gorgeous fall colours is not to be missed. Don’t mind a little uphill action? Then you won’t want to miss Hamilton’s Dundas Peak hiking trail! This spot is popular for a reason, plus you’ll get a great workout.
Explore Ontario’s Provincial Parks
Speaking of hiking, why not do so at one of Ontario’s incredible provincial parks! You won’t believe just how many beautiful destinations you’ll find within them. Whether you’re an avid hiker or more of a calm wanderer, you’ll find a park that’s perfect for you. Though with over 300 provincial parks in Ontario, it may be hard to know where to go! While many say Algonquin Provincial Park is the place to go, my top choice is Lake Superior Provincial Park. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of great provincial parks to explore!
Chase Some Waterfalls
If you’re like me and 100% disagree with TLC, then you’ll love chasing waterfalls in the fall. While winter is still my favourite time of the year to enjoy them, you can’t argue with the fact that autumn allows for some beautiful scenes. Naturally, I have to recommend Hamilton as the best choice for this – it’s the waterfall capital of the world after all! You’ll have to contend with some smaller waterfalls running dry, but the colours will more than make up for it. Though to be sure, visit shortly after a heavy rain if you want the best chance of seeing an autumn waterfall at its full potential!
If you’re looking to see these flowing beauties…
Check Out This Guide to the Waterfalls in Grey County
See Why Hamilton is Called the City of Waterfalls
Don’t Miss These 10+ Niagara Waterfalls Across the Region
Pick Your Own Apples
When the sun is shining and the skies are blue, walking through an apple orchard picking the ripest, most juicy apples you can find is the epitome of fall. Luckily there are plenty of places to go pick your own apples! Though I have to say I’m impartial to Grey County along the shores of Georgian Bay. Why? This is where I went apple picking for the first time! Grey County is full of great fall adventures and also home to the Red Prince apple which is only found in this area. The bigger question is… what will you do with them afterwards? Apple pie? Apple crisp? The possibilities are endless!
Sip on Apple Cider
If you prefer to enjoy your apples in liquid form, why not head to a local spot for a cider tasting! Whether you choose alcoholic or not, there are plenty of great places across the province to enjoy some! Ontario has really come into its own in terms of craft beverages. Many Ontario cideries are now adding some extra flair to really spice up these autumn flavours. Pumpkin spice apple cider? Or spiced apple cider that tastes like liquid apple pie? You can count me in! Check out these amazing Ontario craft cider establishments for a taste of autumn all year long.
Experience a Cranberry Harvest
Cranberries can only be found in North America so head to Muskoka and see their harvesting first hand! Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh does all things cranberry from wagon rides to sampling cranberry goodies to their famous cranberry plunge. Strap on some chest waders and make your way into the cranberry sea before you. Then prepare to be surrounded by this iconic fall fruit as you pose for some awesome fall photo ops! Afterwards, head over to the Cranberry Emporium to try some sweet treats. The harvest happens only once a year after all, you have to make the most of it!
Enjoy a Wine Tour
While many flock to the vineyards in the summer months, they’re even more incredible during the fall. You’ll have less crowds and the beautiful autumn colours to enjoy as you sip on your favourite vintages. If you’re wondering where to go, I’d say the Niagara Region is the best place for wine tasting in Ontario. November is the perfect month for this as Niagara’s Taste the Season even is happening. Participating wineries offer pass holders delicious food and wine pairings – and the price is a steal! Whether or not you visit then, check out this list of incredible Niagara wineries to plan your visit!
Take a Scenic Train Ride
Get a true taste of Northern Ontario by hopping on the province’s most iconic train ride. The Agawa Canyon Tour Train that departs from Sault Ste Marie takes you deep into the untouched landscapes which inspired the famous Group of Seven. It becomes clear very quickly why they were so enthralled with the area! You’ll be blown away as you travel past beautiful lakes, across 100ft high trestles and into the Agawa Canyon. The views are spectacular all year round but they’re seriously next level with the changing fall foliage! This is one train tour you’ll never forget.
Watch Spawning Salmon
With the fall comes the final act in a salmon’s life as they prepare for the next generation to be born. You know fall is in full swing when the salmon are spawning. September through November is prime salmon spawning season as Coho and Chinook salmon make their way north from the Great Lakes. You can catch this first hand along the Sydenham River in Grey County as part of the Owen Sound salmon tour. Head to Ontario’s first ‘fishway’ and watch them jump great heights to continue their lineage. It truly is a remarkable sight to see!
Indulge at Oktoberfest
It’s not autumn in Waterloo Region until the steins are filled and the dirndls are on! As the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany, people far and wide flock to the area for a taste of this iconic celebration. There are a number of festhalles across the region offering some true Oktoberfest fun. The classic choice is Concordia but newcomer Oktoberfest Haus at Lot42 is incredibly fun as well! Or if you’d like to get your Oktoberfest started early, don’t miss Craftoberfest which is organized by many of the amazing craft breweries in Kitchener-Waterloo. No matter where you go, the beer will be delicious and plenty of fun will be had. This is definitely an event everyone from the area looks forward to every year!
Admire the Monarch Migration
The cusp of winter means Monarch butterflies are well on their way to their final destination in Mexico. Their annual migration has these little insects travelling upwards of 4500km to escape the cold Canadian temperatures. Make your way just south of Windsor to Point Pelee National Park where you can see this in action. Hundreds of butterflies pass through this area each year, making it a wildlife photographer’s paradise. Migration begins in September, however the best time to catch their travels is at the end of September and the beginning of October.
Do Some Pumpkin Carving
As a kid, I always enjoyed pumpkin carving with my parents. It was tradition to sit at the kitchen table and carve faces into the gourds which came to life at night. Plus it was a sure sign that Halloween was just around the corner… and a plethora of candy on the horizon. What kid doesn’t love that?! Although if you’d like to see some incredible sculptures or you’d rather leave the carving to someone else, you don’t want to miss Pumpkinferno. Thousands of hand-carved pumpkins depict beautifully intricate scenes that everyone young and old will enjoy. Head to either Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg or Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishene for some after-dark fun!
Take a Fall Road Trip
Chances are you’ll have to travel a bit to enjoy some of these activities, so let’s make it a road trip! Even the most boring of drives can be transformed into magical road trips during the fall season! I can say for certain you’ll love getting a taste of Northern Ontario with the autumn colours in full force. Whether you head north to Sault Ste Marie, Manitoulin Island, Prince Edward County or out east towards Ottawa, you’ll be amazed at the views – even just from the highway! Not sure where to go? I’ve got a great list of the best road trips in Ontario to help get you started.
Ready to Experience Fall in Ontario?
If you’re going to fall in love with Ontario during any season, my guess is that fall will win you over. The crisp mornings, the crunch of the leaves under your feet and the brilliant contrast of blue skies and fall leaves will leave you wanting more. If you’re wondering when is fall in Ontario, it varies from year to year. However, the best time to visit is usually around the month of October so plan for then. That way you can catch most of what the season has to offer! To recap, here are all the great things to do in fall in Ontario!
- Admire the beautiful fall foliage at its peak
- Hit the trails with an autumn hike
- Explore one of Ontario’s plethora of provincial parks
- Go pick your own apples and enjoy the fruits of your labour
- Sip on some delicious apple cider (alcoholic or otherwise!)
- Break out your dirndl or lederhosen at Oktoberfest
- Do some pumpkin carving or admire the work of others at Pumpkinferno
- Wade up to your waist in cranberries during the annual harvest in Muskoka
- Indulge with a wine tour in the Niagara Region
- Take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train to the heart of Northern Ontario
- Watch the magic of Mother Nature as salmon spawn upstream
- Admire the Monarch butterflies as they make their way south
- Chase some epic waterfalls in Hamilton, Niagara and more
- Hop in your wheels with a beautiful fall road trip
Well, what are you waiting for? Go check out these places to visit during fall in Ontario! What activity is your favourite? Do you have any autumn plans? Have I missed any fall activities in Ontario you think should be on the list? Let me know in a comment below!