things to do in southern Ontario

Things to Do in Southern Ontario: Top 25 Attractions and Outdoor Activities

Last Updated: September 28, 2023By

Southern Ontario offers a wide range of attractions and outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. From natural wonders to cultural landmarks, there is something for everyone in this diverse region. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a mix of both, Southern Ontario has it all. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the beauty and excitement that awaits you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tobermory’s Grotto: Immerse yourself in the beauty of turquoise waters and stunning cave formations.
  • Flowerpot Island: Discover the unique pillars and caves in the Fathom Five National Marine Park.
  • Wiarton Willy: Experience the excitement of the groundhog’s prediction of spring in Wiarton.
  • White River: Visit the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh and learn about its captivating history.
  • Diefenbunker: Explore a quirky museum built during the Cold War and uncover its fascinating exhibits.

These are just a few of the incredible attractions waiting to be explored in Southern Ontario. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for a fun family adventure, there is something for everyone in this vibrant region. So, get ready to create unforgettable memories as you discover the top 25 attractions and outdoor activities in Southern Ontario!

Tobermory’s Grotto: A Natural Wonder with Turquoise Waters and Stunning Cave Formations

One of the best places to visit in Southern Ontario is Tobermory’s Grotto, known for its turquoise waters and stunning cave formations. Located on the Bruce Peninsula, this natural wonder attracts visitors from near and far with its breathtaking beauty.

As you make your way to Tobermory’s Grotto, prepare to be mesmerized by the vibrant hues of the water. The turquoise waters create a surreal atmosphere that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Whether you choose to swim, snorkel, or kayak, diving into these crystal-clear waters is an unforgettable experience.

But the highlight of Tobermory’s Grotto lies beneath the surface. Explore the hidden cave formations that have been sculpted by the forces of nature over thousands of years. As you wander through these intricate passageways, you’ll be awe-struck by the natural beauty that surrounds you. From towering rock structures to stunning rock formations, every turn reveals a new marvel.

“Tobermory’s Grotto is a hidden gem in Southern Ontario. The turquoise waters and stunning cave formations create a magical atmosphere that transports you to another world. It’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.”

– Traveler’s Journal

Flowerpot Island: Explore Pillars and Caves in the Fathom Five National Marine Park

Another unique attraction in Southern Ontario is Flowerpot Island in the Fathom Five National Marine Park, known for its pillars and caves. This picturesque island offers visitors a chance to explore its stunning natural formations and immerse themselves in its rich biodiversity. A visit to Flowerpot Island is like stepping into a hidden paradise.

As you wander along the island’s rocky shores, you’ll be amazed by the towering pillars that have been carved by the relentless force of the waves over thousands of years. These remarkable formations are known as flowerpots due to their resemblance to flower pots. They stand tall and proud, creating a surreal landscape that is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

Delve deeper into the island, and you’ll discover a network of enchanting caves waiting to be explored. Step into these ancient chambers and marvel at their intricate formations, shaped by centuries of geological processes. The echo of the crashing waves and the play of light filtering through the cracks in the rock create an ethereal atmosphere that is both mysterious and awe-inspiring.

“Flowerpot Island is a hidden gem in Southern Ontario, offering visitors a chance to witness the raw beauty of nature. The pillars and caves on the island are a testament to the power of the elements, and exploring them is a truly magical experience.”

A trip to Flowerpot Island is an adventure that will ignite your sense of wonder. Whether you’re hiking along the island’s scenic trails, picnicking on its pristine beaches, or snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, you’ll be captivated by its natural beauty. It’s a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

Discover the Hidden Secrets of Flowerpot Island

When visiting Flowerpot Island, be sure to explore landmarks like the famous flowerpots, the picturesque lighthouse, and the historic ruins. Take a moment to soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding Georgian Bay and appreciate the untouched wilderness that surrounds you. It’s a place where you can reconnect with the natural world and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Wiarton Willy: Witness the Groundhog’s Prediction of Spring

Wiarton Willy, the groundhog in Wiarton, predicts the arrival of spring each February, making it a unique and fun attraction to visit. This beloved tradition draws visitors from near and far who eagerly gather to watch Wiarton Willy emerge from his burrow and make his forecast. Will he see his shadow and predict six more weeks of winter, or will he not see his shadow and signal an early spring?

This annual event is filled with excitement and anticipation as people bundle up and gather around to see Wiarton Willy make his prediction. The festivities include live music, entertainment, and delicious food to enjoy while you wait for the groundhog’s famous appearance. Whether Wiarton Willy predicts an early spring or a longer winter, the experience of being part of this age-old tradition is truly memorable.

So, why not plan a visit to Wiarton and witness this unique spectacle for yourself? Take part in the festivities, learn about the history of Wiarton Willy, and join in the excitement of predicting the arrival of spring. It’s an experience that will leave you with fond memories and a newfound appreciation for the quirky traditions that make Southern Ontario so special.

What visitors have to say

“Visiting Wiarton Willy was one of the highlights of our trip to Southern Ontario. It was such a fun and unique experience, and we loved being part of the festivities. Plus, seeing the town come alive with excitement was truly special. We can’t wait to come back next year!” – Sarah and Mark, Toronto

“I’ve always been fascinated by groundhogs and their ability to predict the weather. So, when I heard about Wiarton Willy, I knew I had to visit. It was so much fun to watch him emerge from his burrow and make his forecast. The atmosphere was electric, and it was a great way to kick off the spring season!” – John, Ottawa

White River: The Birthplace of Winnie the Pooh

White River in Southern Ontario holds the distinction of being the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh, making it a must-visit destination for fans of the iconic character. This charming town played a significant role in the creation of one of the world’s most beloved children’s books.

“Once upon a time, a little bear named Winnie captured the hearts of millions. And it all started here in White River.”

It was in White River, back in 1914, that a young Canadian soldier named Lieutenant Harry Colebourn purchased a black bear cub from a hunter. He named the bear Winnie after his hometown of Winnipeg and brought her along on his journey to England during World War I. Winnie soon became the mascot of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade and gained popularity among the soldiers.

While stationed in England, Lieutenant Colebourn decided to leave Winnie in the care of the London Zoo. It was during a visit to the zoo that author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin encountered the bear, inspiring the creation of the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories.

An Enchanting Connection to Childhood

White River celebrates its connection to Winnie the Pooh through various attractions and events. Visitors can explore the White River Heritage Museum, which showcases artifacts and memorabilia related to the town’s history and its role in inspiring A.A. Milne’s stories. The museum provides a glimpse into the life of Harry Colebourn and his time in White River with Winnie.

Additionally, a statue of Winnie the Pooh and Lieutenant Colebourn can be found in the town, serving as a reminder of the magical connection between White River and the world-famous bear. It’s a perfect spot for a photo op and a chance to share in the joy and nostalgia that Pooh Bear brings to people of all ages.

For fans of Winnie the Pooh, a visit to White River is a chance to step into the world of Christopher Robin, Tigger, Eeyore, and the other beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. Immerse yourself in the enchanting surroundings and discover the birthplace of a timeless children’s classic.

Diefenbunker: Explore a Quirky Museum Built During the Cold War

The Diefenbunker in Southern Ontario is a quirky museum that was built during the Cold War, offering visitors a unique glimpse into this historical era. This underground bunker, located in Carp, just outside of Ottawa, was designed to be the emergency government headquarters in the event of a nuclear attack. Today, it stands as a fascinating testament to the fears and tensions of the Cold War period.

As you step inside the Diefenbunker, you’ll be transported back in time to the 1960s, when nuclear war was a constant threat. The museum showcases the bunker’s original purpose and features an array of interactive exhibits, including the Prime Minister’s Suite, the War Cabinet Room, and the Bank of Canada Vault. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the various sections of the bunker, each meticulously preserved to recreate the atmosphere of the era.

One of the highlights of the Diefenbunker is the Cold War exhibition, which provides a comprehensive overview of the geopolitical tensions and the arms race between the United States and Soviet Union. Through photographs, artifacts, and multimedia presentations, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the political climate that shaped the world during this time.

Visiting the Diefenbunker is a truly immersive experience that offers a captivating blend of history and nostalgia. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about this fascinating period, the Diefenbunker is a must-visit attraction in Southern Ontario. Step into the past and discover the secrets of the Cold War as you explore this one-of-a-kind museum.

Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake: Natural Wonders and Charming Towns

No visit to Southern Ontario is complete without experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of Niagara Falls and the charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. These two destinations showcase the best of what the region has to offer, from breathtaking natural wonders to picturesque small towns.

At Niagara Falls, you’ll be left speechless as you witness the immense power and grandeur of the cascading waterfalls. The sight of millions of gallons of water thundering down the cliffs is a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you choose to take a boat tour to get up close to the falls or admire them from the observation deck, the sheer force of nature will leave you in awe.

In contrast to the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming town that exudes old-world charm and sophistication. Known for its quaint streets lined with shops, restaurants, and wineries, this town is a haven for food and wine enthusiasts. Take a leisurely stroll through the Victorian-era architecture, explore the local boutiques, or indulge in a wine tasting at one of the many award-winning wineries in the area.

Whether you’re looking for adventure and natural beauty or a peaceful retreat in a charming town, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake have it all. From the thundering falls to the serene vineyards, this region will captivate your senses and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

Parliament Buildings, CN Tower, Casa Loma, and Stratford Festival: Cultural Landmarks in Southern Ontario

Southern Ontario is home to several cultural landmarks, such as the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the CN Tower in Toronto, Casa Loma, and the Stratford Festival. These iconic attractions showcase the rich history, architecture, and performing arts scene of the region.

The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa are a symbol of Canadian democracy and serve as the seat of the federal government. Visitors can take guided tours to explore the historic buildings, learn about the country’s political system, and witness the beautiful architecture, including the iconic Peace Tower.

The CN Tower, located in the heart of Toronto, is a must-visit attraction offering breathtaking views of the city and beyond. As one of the tallest freestanding structures in the world, it provides a unique perspective of Southern Ontario’s skyline. Daredevils can even try the EdgeWalk, a thrilling hands-free walk around the tower’s edge.

Casa Loma, a magnificent castle in Toronto, takes visitors back in time to the early 20th century. With its grand architecture and stunning gardens, it offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the era. Explore the beautifully decorated rooms, secret passages, and the picturesque estate grounds.

The Stratford Festival, held in the charming town of Stratford, is one of the world’s premier theater events. It showcases a wide range of performances, from classic Shakespearean plays to contemporary works. With its top-notch productions and talented cast, the festival attracts theater enthusiasts from around the globe.

Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or the performing arts, these cultural landmarks in Southern Ontario have something to offer everyone. Embark on a journey to discover the region’s rich heritage and immerse yourself in its vibrant arts scene.

Outdoor Adventures: Explore the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, Terry Fox Memorial, and Slate Islands

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Southern Ontario, from the stunning Bruce Peninsula Grotto to the inspiring Terry Fox Memorial and the breathtaking Slate Islands. These natural wonders offer unique experiences and opportunities for adventure.

At the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, you’ll be mesmerized by the crystal-clear turquoise waters and the fascinating cave formations. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters or go snorkeling to discover the vibrant underwater life. This hidden gem is a paradise for photographers and nature lovers alike.

If you’re seeking inspiration, visit the Terry Fox Memorial. This touching tribute commemorates the heroic journey of Terry Fox, who embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise funds for cancer research. The memorial is a reminder of his determination and the impact he made on the world. Take a moment to reflect and pay homage to this Canadian icon.

The Slate Islands, located on the northern coast of Lake Superior, offer a truly remote and wild adventure. These rugged islands are home to a unique ecosystem and incredible geological formations. Explore the untouched landscapes, hike scenic trails, and keep an eye out for wildlife sightings, including the elusive woodland caribou. It’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true.

Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature lover, or simply seeking new adventures, Southern Ontario has it all. From the captivating Bruce Peninsula Grotto to the inspiring Terry Fox Memorial and the pristine beauty of the Slate Islands, these outdoor destinations will leave you in awe of the natural wonders that can be found in this region. Embrace the spirit of exploration and create unforgettable memories in Southern Ontario’s great outdoors.

Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland: Family-Friendly Attractions

Southern Ontario offers a variety of family-friendly attractions, such as the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland. These destinations are perfect for creating lasting memories with your loved ones and provide a range of entertainment options for all ages.

Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary

At the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, you and your family can immerse yourselves in the beauty of nature and observe a wide variety of bird species. This sanctuary is known for its dedication to bird conservation and offers educational programs that teach visitors about the importance of protecting our feathered friends. Take a leisurely stroll along the trails, spot migratory birds, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Royal Botanical Gardens

For a captivating botanical experience, head to the Royal Botanical Gardens. With over 2,700 acres of lush gardens, nature reserves, and walking trails, this attraction is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Explore the breathtaking landscapes, take a guided tour, or pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely afternoon surrounded by vibrant blooms. The Royal Botanical Gardens also offer special exhibits and events throughout the year, making it a delightful destination in every season.

Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland

If you’re looking for some indoor fun, Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland has you covered. This amusement park features thrilling water slides, splash pads, and pools for endless aquatic adventures. Kids will love the interactive water play areas, while adults can relax on the lazy river. But the fun doesn’t stop there – inside FunworX, you’ll find an indoor playground, ropes course, arcade games, and more, ensuring hours of entertainment for the whole family.

Southern Ontario truly offers something for everyone, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks. So gather your loved ones, embrace the spirit of adventure, and explore these family-friendly attractions that will create memories to cherish for a lifetime.


Southern Ontario truly offers something for everyone, from natural wonders to cultural landmarks, making it an ideal destination for those seeking unforgettable experiences.

From the turquoise waters and stunning cave formations of Tobermory’s Grotto to the pillars and caves of Flowerpot Island, nature enthusiasts will be captivated by the region’s unique attractions. And let’s not forget Wiarton Willy, the famous groundhog whose prediction of spring brings excitement to Wiarton each February.

For those looking for a touch of nostalgia, White River, the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh, will transport you back to your childhood. And if you’re a history buff, the Diefenbunker, a quirky museum built during the Cold War, will offer a fascinating glimpse into the past.

But Southern Ontario isn’t just about nature and history. The region is also home to iconic landmarks like Niagara Falls and the CN Tower, as well as cultural gems such as Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings and the Stratford Festival. And outdoor adventurers will find plenty to explore, from the Bruce Peninsula Grotto to the Slate Islands.

Whether you’re visiting the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens, or enjoying family fun at Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland, Southern Ontario is filled with attractions that will leave you with lasting memories.

So why wait? Start planning your trip to Southern Ontario now and discover the diverse range of attractions and outdoor activities that await you in this beautiful region.


Q: What are some popular attractions in Southern Ontario?

A: Some popular attractions in Southern Ontario include Tobermory’s Grotto, Flowerpot Island, Wiarton Willy, White River (birthplace of Winnie the Pooh), the Diefenbunker, the Cheltenham Badlands, the Big Nickel in Sudbury, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings, the CN Tower in Toronto, Casa Loma, and the Stratford Festival.

Q: What outdoor activities can I do in Southern Ontario?

A: Southern Ontario offers a range of outdoor activities, including exploring the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, visiting the Terry Fox Memorial, and discovering the Slate Islands. Outdoor enthusiasts can also enjoy bird-watching at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens, and having fun at Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland.

Q: What is Tobermory’s Grotto known for?

A: Tobermory’s Grotto is known for its turquoise waters and stunning cave formations. It is a natural wonder that attracts visitors from around the world.

Q: What can I see on Flowerpot Island?

A: Flowerpot Island, located in the Fathom Five National Marine Park, is known for its pillars and caves. Visitors can explore these unique geological formations and enjoy the island’s natural beauty.

Q: What is the significance of Wiarton Willy?

A: Wiarton Willy is a famous groundhog in Wiarton, Southern Ontario, known for predicting the arrival of spring each February. Many people gather to witness his prediction and celebrate the upcoming season.

Q: Why is White River famous?

A: White River is famous for being the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. This small town has a connection to the beloved children’s character, and visitors can learn more about this history when visiting.

Q: What is the Diefenbunker?

A: The Diefenbunker is a quirky museum in Southern Ontario that was built during the Cold War. It offers a unique glimpse into the country’s history and the measures taken during that time.

Q: What are some must-visit attractions in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake?

A: In Niagara Falls, visitors can marvel at the natural wonder of the falls themselves and enjoy various activities in the area. Niagara-on-the-Lake offers a charming town with historic sites, wineries, and theaters, including the famous Shaw Festival.

Q: What are some cultural landmarks in Southern Ontario?

A: Southern Ontario is home to several cultural landmarks, including the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the CN Tower in Toronto, Casa Loma, and the Stratford Festival. These attractions offer unique experiences and insights into Canadian history and culture.

Q: What are some outdoor adventures in Southern Ontario?

A: Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Bruce Peninsula Grotto, visit the Terry Fox Memorial, and discover the Slate Islands. These locations offer opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and experiencing the natural beauty of the region.

Q: Which family-friendly attractions can I visit in Southern Ontario?

A: Southern Ontario offers family-friendly attractions such as the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Bingemans Big Splash & FunworX Indoor Playland. These places provide entertainment and educational experiences suitable for families with children.

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