When flowers bloom, temperatures rise, and happy chatter fills the outdoor café terraces, it can only mean one thing: spring is in the air! From March to early June, Ontario comes to life during the most fragrant season of all. It’s the perfect time to get outdoors and soak up all that this naturally beautiful province has to offer. Check out our springtime activity guide to Ontario.
Visit a sugar shack
Get ready for an unbeatable sugar high. From March through April, spring is also known as the sugaring season, with maple sugar shacks popping up all over Ontario. Learn how to tap the maple trees to collect the sweet sap and then transform it into pure maple syrup, maple butter, and taffy. Make sure you partake in the Canadian tradition of pouring this delicious liquid gold over snow for a sticky, mouth-watering treat. For the full maple immersion, head to Picton for the annual Maple in the County festival where you can hone your maple tapping skills, watch glass-blowing demonstrations, and sample gourmet maple cheeses and mulled wines.
Canadian Tulip Festival
Nothing says spring like the annual Canadian Tulip Festival, bursting into full bloom in May. More than a million tulips are on display in Ottawa’s public areas, with 250,000 of these colourful blossoms in Commissioners Park near Dows Lake. You’ll feel like you’ve entered another world where flowers reign supreme, fragrance fills the air, and artists capture the moment at their easels.
Explore on two wheels
Spring is the season to cycle! Ottawa’s recreational bike trails span more than 170 kilometres along waterfront parkways, through vibrant cityscapes, and past the Rideau Canal World UNESCO Heritage site. The 7.5-kilometre Sightseeing Cycle Route takes in the city’s national historic sites, such as Parliament Hill and the Bytown Museum, as well as the region’s bountiful green spaces, including the Ottawa River, Major’s Hill Park, and Victoria Island. Follow the trail over the Gatineau Bridge into Quebec and stop off at the Canadian Museum of History, then turn around and head back to Ottawa where the path guides you to the National Gallery and ByWard Market.
Now that the weather has warmed up, it’s time to make the most of Ontario’s great lakes. Take a ferry from Toronto’s lakefront and explore the Toronto Islands with their beaches, picturesque cottages, and lighthouses. Relax on Wards Island Beach and check out the family-friendly Centre Island, with its vibrant gardens, a maze, and paddle boats. For something a little more adults-only, go au natural at Hanlan’s Point Beach, the islands’ official nude beach.
Canoe and hike Algonquin
Algonquin Provincial Park comes to life in springtime, teeming with wildlife, glittering waterways, rugged forests, and maple hills. Canoe any one of the lakes (there’s literally thousands to choose from), hike the rocky ridges and forest trails, and listen out for the eerie call of the loon. You’ll want to keep your camera handy. Home to moose, beavers, bear, wolves, 30 kinds of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of breeding birds, your Instagram page will thank you. Check out Mizzy Lake Trail, specifically designed for wildlife viewing.
The romance of spring is amplified as you explore the narrow channels of this pristine archipelago by boat. This stunning collection of more than 1800 islands on the St Lawrence River is best accessed from Gananoque, halfway between the cities of Toronto and Ottawa. Jump on a day cruise and discover the secluded beaches, quaint family cottages, and opulent homes along Millionaires’ Row. Stop off at Boldt Castle, dripping in grandeur, and learn the tragic story of George C. Boldt who built this fairy-tale castle for his wife, who sadly died in 1904, before it was complete. The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority completed the task Boldt began and you’re free to explore its glorious grounds.
A bird lover’s paradise
The national and provincial parks in southwestern Ontario are a Mecca for bird watchers, and spring is the ultimate season to witness the migration of hundreds of species. Dust off the binoculars and keep your eyes peeled for raptors, swans, hummingbirds, majestic birds of prey, and vast numbers of songbirds. Head to the Festival of Birds at Point Pelee National Park for the ultimate birding experience in early May. If 390 bird species aren’t enough, you can hike the wildflower trail, cycle the Centennial Trail and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of the Giant Swallowtail, Canada’s largest butterfly, living almost exclusively at Pelee.
The quintessential town of Niagara-On-The-Lake takes on a magical quality during spring. Just half an hour from Niagara Falls, this historic town is a designated World Heritage Site, with character-filled inns, charming antique shops, boutiques, and 19th century architecture around every corner. Nestled in the Niagara wine region, it’s the perfect season to cycle around the bountiful orchards. Stop for lunch at Inniskillin winery where you’ll discover the secrets of Niagara’s unique microclimate, and learn the art of ice wine making.
Hike Bruce Peninsula
Explore the spectacular carved rock formations and lush nature trails of Bruce Peninsula before the summer rush of tourists. The crystal waters of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay give way to the grotto with its eerie blue-water pool, accessible via the Georgian Trail. More than 1240 miles of grey-pink granite line the shore, making this UNESCO biosphere reserve a strikingly beautiful spot for kayaking, sailing, swimming, and fishing. Stay in nearby Hamilton, known as the city of the waterfalls and home to Canada’s largest botanical garden, a must-visit during spring when thousands of flowering plants come to life.