6 Hidden Gems in Ontario You Need to Visit Right Now

You haven’t fully experienced Ontario until you’ve checked out these quirky sights and natural wonders.

Explore Lost Villages

Long Sault Parkway, a scenic ribbon of highway between Kingston and Montreal, connects an archipelago of 11 picturesque islands, each with their own beaches, parkland and campgrounds. These islands are all that’s left of the Lost Villages, a handful of Ontario hamlets that were cleared and flooded to create a dam and man-made lake during the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s. When the days are clear and the water level is low, some of the villages’ remnants—churches, houses, stores—are visible in the water from the shoreline. Morrisburg.

Bust Some Ghosts

The largely abandoned town of Balaclava, accessible just off Highway 41, could pass for the set of Sleepy Hollow. A handful of residents still live there. But they’re outnumbered by eerily antiquated structures, such as an empty blacksmith shop, rickety general store, dam and a 200-year-old sawmill—all best viewed from a safe distance (for both supernatural and structural reasons). Balaclava.

Take a Hike

We’re calling it: the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, in Georgian Bay, is officially the most beautiful spot in Ontario. The magical lagoon looks like something off a Caribbean island, with cerulean waters, rocky outcroppings and an underwater tunnel (for viewing only) that’ll leave you feeling like the Little Mermaid. It’s about a 45-minute hike through the just-as-lovely Bruce Peninsula to get to the grotto. Due to COVID, all visitors must pre-book a four-hour time slot. Tobermory.

Bring Home the Bacon

Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and David Chang are just some of the celebrity gastro-geeks who’ve sampled the peameal bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery, the most famous stall in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. It’s hard to find a better lunch downtown for less than $10: a stack of four fat peameal slices smeared with hot mustard and squished into a puffy white bun. Toronto.

3-D Print a Mini-You

Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer, a Dutchborn Canadaphile, has spent a decade building Little Canada, a gobsmackingly elaborate miniature model of the Great White North. Included at the new museum, set to open this summer, are dollhouse-sized versions of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Mont Sainte-Anne and Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, with additional sites to come later this year. For $79, they’ll 3-D print you as a figurine that you can place in the mini-destination of your choice. Toronto.

Ring Bell’s Bell

In 1874, Alexander Graham Bell created the world’s first telephone in his father’s Brantford farmhouse; two years later, he made the first long-distance phone call, between his workshop and Paris, Ontario. Now a museum, the Alexander Graham Bell Homestead has been restored to its Bell-era glory, with original furnishings in the library, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and carriage house workshop, along with models of Bell’s first telephones. Brantford.

Next, check out these awesome hidden gems across Canada!

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Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada