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Refresh and recharge with a unique Ontario weekend escape

Sunny summer days are here, and as the temperatures rise, city life gets hot and sticky. Why not refresh and recharge with a unique Ontario weekend escape? Check out these five little-known weekend summer escapes within a two hour drive of the province’s capital.

#1. Collingwood Elvis Festival

Okay Toronto Elvis fans,, mark your calendars for the weekend of July 28-30. It’s time to head to Collingwood, Ontario for the 2017 Collingwood Elvis Festival, billed as “the world’s largest Elvis Festival”. The festivities kick off Friday evening with a street party, and continue on through the weekend with a variety of tribute bands as well as the main competition rounds for Elvis impersonators. And don’t wait to book your accommodations - the Collingwood Elvis Festival draws over 18,000 visitors to this scenic Ontario cottage country town, almost doubling the population for the weekend!

#2.  Get Crafty in  Alton

If you’re looking for a romantic country weekend to shake off that Toronto summer grime, book a Summer Lovin’ Getaway at Alton, Ontario’s charming historic hideaway, The Millcroft Inn.
This  beautiful old Inn and Spa in the tiny village of Alton is also home of the Alton Mill Arts Centre, an award-winning arts centre housed in a mill on the banks of the scenic Shaw’s Creek. This Ontario weekend escape suits art lovers, local history lovers, and those who want to be pampered. Get creative at a weekend workshop at the Arts Centre, enjoy a hike in the woods, or simply enjoy the scenery as you relax at The Inn’s new hot springs and polar plunge pool.

#3. Go See Hamilton

While some Torontonians may laugh at the industrial city of Hamilton as a contender for a delightful weekend summer getaway, the area offers several unique landmarks and experiences, if you know where to look.
Spend an afternoon immersed in history at  the Dundurn National Historic Site, or visit one of the many  in  beautiful local waterfalls. Enjoy a free walking tour of the downtown area or go it alone on the waterfront trails following the shores of Lake Ontario. Take a short drive to nearby Westfield Heritage Village, a recreated 19th century pioneer village complete with fully costumed historical interpreters.

#4. Check Out The Tall Ships in Penetanguishene

Simcoe County’s scenic Penetanguishene makes the list because of its beautiful scenery and unique experiences for visitors, such as touring the two replica tall ships in Discovery Harbour. And if you prefer to spend time out on a boat that isn’t docked, book a breezy paddle-wheeler boat cruise on The Serendipity Princess.

History buffs should visit Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, a fascinating pioneer village and recreation of life in the 1600s, suitable for visitors of all ages.

#5. Blue Mountains Without Snow

You may know of the Blue Mountain ski resort as a popular winter weekend destination for Torontonians, but did you know the Ontario Blue Mountains region is full of unusual activities for a fun summer weekend escape as well? Cool off by spending a few hours canoeing or kayaking, or explore the nearby scenic caves, caverns and crevasses. And while you’re at it, check out the views from the Suspension bridge, the longest footbridge in southern Ontario.

#6. Burlington Ribfest

Nestled west of Toronto between Oakville and Hamilton, beautiful Burlington offers a gorgeous waterfront park, pier and promenade plus Canada’s largest Ribfest. An annual event every Labour Day weekend (September 1 - 4, 2017), Ribfest offers up delicious ribs of 19 “Ribber Teams” from all across North America, attracting an incredible 182,000 visitors in 2016. And if the crowds get to you, slip away to the peace and tranquility of the Royal Botanical Gardens, just a 10 minute drive from downtown Burlington.  

The key to a great weekend getaway outside of Toronto is to find a place which offers activities and sights that appeal to you - and that aren’t available within the city limits. And remember to book ahead - you aren’t the only one trying to escape the city’s summer heat!