If you are looking for bucket list ideas for your trip to Canada, visiting Ontario in fall has got to be on your list. The variety of vibrant red, orange, and yellow leaves that change throughout the season is breath-taking. There are also so many fall activities in Ontario to make it such an enjoyable time of the year.
As well as fall activities, there are many places to see fall colours in Ontario. If you have time, you will want to do them all.
Some fall activities in Ontario require reservations, so you will need to think ahead and stay organised. I will go into detail about the reservations you may need to help you plan your fall itinerary.
In this article, I will talk about fall activities in south eastern Ontario, where the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is. The weather in Toronto is very pleasant in September and October for sightseeing; however, during this time I recommend that you go outside the city and see as much nature as possible.
If you are looking to see some fantastic fall colours in Northern Ontario, you should head to Sault Ste. Marie where you will find the Agawa Canyon Tour Train.
When is Fall in Ontario?
The fall season in Ontario officially starts on September 22, the same as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
The peak colour of the autumn leaves has generally gone by mid-October and the leaves will start to fall. By late October, typically the majority of the fall leaves have fallen.
To keep track of the fall colours, you should keep an eye on the Ontario Parks fall report. Click here to see the fall colour report.
If you are planning an international trip to Ontario in autumn and need to book travel arrangements, I suggest booking your trip dates for early to mid-October.
If you are travelling from within Ontario and have a degree of flexibility, I would recommend you keep a few dates available in your calendar and keep track of the fall colours as it gets closer.
The weather is quite unpredictable in Ontario in fall. It can be cold and require you to get wrapped up for some apple picking, or it can be warm, and you will be wearing a light jacket.
Read more: What to Wear in Canada in Winter
In 2020, it was uncharacteristically warm in Ontario in November, and I was able to go out on a canoe on the Port Credit River wearing a t-shirt. One week later it snowed!
Recommended Fall Activities in Ontario
There are plenty of fun things to do in Ontario in autumn, which is why it is one of my favourite times of the year to be in Ontario.
As well as the usual fall attractions, consider some other activities that can only take place in September or October. For example, the Bala Cranberry Festival, which takes place in mid-October every year for one weekend.
Find out what else is going on at the Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery here.
Wine Country Ontario
Speaking of wineries, consider visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake during the harvest period. You may also wish to attend the Niagara Harvest Festival.
You can contact some wineries using the email address on their websites to arrange a tasting or a tour. For more information on wine tours, visit the Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries website and check directly with the wineries to see what events they offer during the harvest.
You should also consider a wine tour in Prince Edward County during fall to learn about the grape harvesting process. For a review of different wineries in Prince Edward County, visit this website.
One thing that I associate with fall in Ontario is apples. That is because I always make sure I go apple picking in Ontario in September or October. The apples usually last a few months, which means I will be making apple pie and various other apple desserts for a while – but I am not complaining!
At some farms, you must pay an entrance fee and then pay for your apples on top. Other farms allow you to pay for just the apples with a pre-selected bag that you can fill.
There are plenty of options on where to go apple picking in Ontario. Some of the places I have visited over the years are Dixie Orchards, Chudleigh’s Farm and Wheelbarrow Orchards.
Chudleigh’s Farm is a popular place to visit in fall because it has a range of activities, including apple picking, tractor rides, farm animals, and many food and beverage options.
You need to reserve tickets to visit Chudleigh’s. So, make sure you keep up to date with information on the website to book your slot when your dates become available.
Dixie Orchards is a great all-rounder fall destination. Not only does it have apple picking, but it also has a corn maze, wagon rides, pumpkin picking, sunflower fields, and a seasonal market.
Dixie Orchards was the first orchard I ever visited many years ago. For me, it was the perfect introduction to the fall season in Ontario.
You will need to make a reservation to visit Dixie Orchards.
I must admit I have ended up at Wheelbarrow Orchards twice by accident. I had tried to go to Chudleigh’s Farm for two years in a row before they implemented an online booking platform, and it was too busy to enter.
Wheelbarrow Orchards is located around the corner from Chudleigh’s. Wheelbarrow Orchards offers apple picking as well as a well-stocked farm shop of seasonal produce.
Another association I have with fall is the colour orange, and what better to satisfy this need than to visit a pumpkin patch in Ontario. Make sure you purchase a few to carve for Halloween too.
You can find pumpkin patches all over Ontario. Or you can sometimes find them on the side of a road in areas like Milton, Ancaster, and Caledon. Many places where you can pick apples also have pumpkin patches, such as Dixie Orchards that I mentioned previously.
While you are at one of these farms, you can also buy gourds (they look like small and colourful pumpkins). You will also see them in grocery stores or farmer’s markets, such as Herridge’s Farm Fresh Market in Mississauga.
Lindley’s Farm & Market
Lindley’s Farm is a great fall destination in Ontario. You take a tractor hayride to the pumpkin field where you can select your pumpkin to take home.
There is also a corn maze for you to walk around, as well as a pumpkin slingshot. Plus, it is dog-friendly.
Downey’s Farm Market
Downey’s Farm is popular to visit in the fall – particularly among those visiting for its autumn-friendly Instagram photo backdrop. It also has an incredible corn maze with 10km of trails.
Hence, it has to be on a list of Fall Activities in Ontario.
Upper Canada Village
If you are looking for something a little different to the usual fall activities, consider a visit to Upper Canada Village, a 19th century village, and its Pumpkinferno festival.
Many of the places I listed above have great corn mazes to visit in fall, such as Downey’s Farm, Lindley’s, and Dixie Orchards. Some farms design a path through the corn with a creative drawing. You can check out their design for the year on their website or social media.
Wolfe Island Corn Maze
Another corn maze that deserves recognition is the Wolfe Island Corn Maze, part of the 1000 Islands.
The corn maze on Wolfe Island is outside the Greater Toronto Area. However, it is worth mentioning if you decide to make the journey towards Prince Edward County, Kingston or Ottawa.
To get to the corn maze in Wolfe Island, you take the car ferry from downtown Kingston and then follow signs to the corn maze.
Please note: Wolfe Island’s corn maze closed in 2021 due to covid-19.
One way to get the most out of an Ontario autumn is by getting up close and personal with the fall leaves and nature. Hiking through forests with wonderful autumn leaves are one of my favourite fall activities in Ontario.
There are many spectacular walks in Ontario, whether you are looking for a leisurely walk or a more energetic exploration. I will outline some fall hiking ideas below.
Halton has some of my favourite places to go for hikes in Ontario in fall. The Halton Conservation area walks all require reservations now. You need to book your time slot and pay for your reservation ahead of time.
The Halton area has many places to visit in Ontario in fall, such as Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point, Kelso and Mount Nemo. For more information about the other parks, visit their website.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
If you are looking for picturesque walks in Ontario in autumn, Mono Cliffs is a good option. The vibrant colours of this park are worth the drive north of Orangeville, Ontario.
When I visited in October 2020, it was extremely busy, and the car parks were overflowing, with cars parking alongside the road. The paths within the park were also extremely busy. Luckily, Mono Cliffs Park now requires a day permit to limit the crowds. Do not try to park on the side of the road, or your vehicle could be towed away.
To make your reservation to visit Mono Cliffs, visit the Ontario Parks website and select Day Use. Under the Daily Vehicle Permit, select Mono Cliffs, your date, and your preferred time of use.
Rouge National Urban Park
A visit to Rouge National Urban Park makes it easy to forget that you are so close to a big city. The park covers a large area, with forests, scenic viewpoints and walking trails – a great spot to explore in fall. Learn about the different hiking trails here.
Fall Scenic Viewpoints in Ontario
When autumn rolls around, you have a limited number of days and weekends to see the fall colours. Therefore, you need to choose your fall activities wisely. Here are my recommended fall viewpoints that you cannot miss.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin is one of my favourite provincial parks in Ontario. I highly recommend a visit here to see the fall colours in Ontario. One of my favourite spots in Algonquin Park for autumn colours was the Hardwood Lookout Trail and its view over Smoke Lake.
The Algonquin Park Visitor Centre streams a webcam year-round, therefore in fall, you can look at the webcam to see how the colours are changing. You can also visit the location of the webcam for an impressive view across the park. You should keep track of the fall colours in Algonquin Park with the Algonquin fall colour report.
I also recommend Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower, which is close to Algonquin Park. Plus, the scenery at Deerhurst Resort is unbeatable. I stayed the night here when I visited Algonquin Park in fall.
Note for 2021: Algonquin Park is now requiring visitors to re-book their day-use permit 5 days before they visit. You can find information about Algonquin Parks’s Day Use Fees here. Additionally, Dorset Scenic Lookout is currently closed due to COVID-19.
Read more: What to do in Algonquin Park in Autumn
I had heard about Cheltenham Badlands when I first came to Canada, but it had to close for several years due to excessive erosion from numerous visitors. Therefore, now it has reopened, you are not allowed to walk on the landscape to protect it.
You may walk along the boardwalk and stay behind the fence protecting the area. There is still a great view of the Badlands.
The Cheltenham Badlands in fall is a thing of beauty. The natural landscape of the Badlands is already impressive. When you mix in some stunning fall leaves to frame the location, it is one of the best places in Ontario to visit in fall.
There is a short walk to see to get to the viewing platform, so make sure you are wearing suitable footwear like these hiking boots.
Reservations are required to visit the Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon. It is a popular spot, so you need to be organised and make a booking as soon as the dates become available. You can reserve a spot online two weeks prior.
The drive to the Cheltenham Badlands is also remarkable from the way the leaves frame the road. You cannot stop your car on the road next to Cheltenham Badlands because there is a police patrol car guarding the road.
For more fall colour lookout points, visit the Ontario travel website.
This place is not too well known, but Beaver Valley must be on your list of places to visit in fall in Ontario. The road from Meaford to Kimberley has a spectacular view of the valley and autumn leaves.
Drive to Old Baldy Trail and hike the trail as far as you like to get a view across the valley. It can be extremely muddy, so make sure you are wearing suitable walking boots that are waterproof and that you do not mind getting muddy.
Stop for lunch or dinner at Heart’s Tavern after.
Scenic Fall Drives in Ontario
The weather in fall in Ontario may not always be cooperative with your plans. Therefore, you might be looking for ways to see the fall colours without leaving your car. Here are some fall scenic driving routes throughout Ontario.
All these fall activities in Ontario are the reason why I love autumn so much. My only complaint is that I wish the season lasted longer so I can experience more before the winter activities begin.
Where to Stay in Fall in Ontario
Here is a list of ideas for places to stay at during fall in Ontario.
- Algonquin Park
- Beaver Valley
- Blue Mountain
|Deerhurst Resort $$||A hugely popular resort hotel perfectly located in Huntsville on the edge of Peninsula Lake||Click here|
|JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa $$$||Luxury hotel perched on the edge of Lake Rosseau||Click here|
|Killarney Lodge $$$||Lakefront cabins in the heart of Algonquin Park on the Lake of Two Rivers, each equipped with a canoe||Click here|
|Couples Resort $$$||An all-inclusive hotel on the outskirts of Algonquin Park serving good food and plenty of activities for couples||Click here|
|Arowhon Pines $$||Log cabins deep inside Algonquin Park serving 3 meals all-inclusive (no wifi)||Click here|
Further reading from Fall Activities in Ontario
If you discovered something new, feel free to share this blog post on fall activities in Ontario with your friends and family.
You can also read about other ideas for things to do in Ontario in summer, as well as the best time to visit Ontario. In the article I talk about hotels I recommend you stay in when visiting Niagara Falls.
I have also written in detail about visiting Algonquin Park in autumn.
As fall comes to an end you will start to think about winter, read this article on Ontario winter activities.
For Canadian summer ideas, you can read this Calgary to Vancouver road trip article.