A variety of pink and red flowers in a pot on the ground.

Kingston Farmers' Market | Destination Ontario

Experience springtime in Ontario

A variety of pink and red flowers in a pot on the ground.

Kingston Farmers' Market | Destination Ontario

Close your eyes and imagine an ideal springtime, where warm weather brings the promise of fresh, unexpected experiences. That’s what is waiting for you here in Ontario.

Discover migrating birds in flight, flowers blossoming and welcoming people everywhere you go. Explore Ontario’s diverse landscape of crystal-clear lakes, majestic wilderness, fertile farmlands and cosmopolitan cities. Don’t miss a thing, springtime in Ontario is spectacular.

Brilliant flowers cover the province

As you explore Ontario’s scenic highways and winding nature trails, vibrant Ontario wildflowers are a constant companion. 

Among all the purple, red, yellow and gold, keep your eyes open for white trilliums, the official flower of Ontario. Selected to honour those who served Canada in the First World War, trilliums can be seen everywhere—from the southern shores of Lake Erie to the northern wilds of Algonquin Park.

Surprisingly, one of spring’s most stunning displays of flowers happens in Ontario’s biggest city: Toronto. As April turns into May, exotic cherry blossom trees burst with pink and white flowers in parks throughout this busy urban centre. In the northeast corner of Toronto are Edwards Gardens and the adjoining Toronto Botanical Garden where, suddenly, the big city feels very far away.

About an hour west of Toronto are the Royal Botanical Gardens, the largest in all of Canada. Circle your calendar for later in May, when one of the biggest and most diverse collections of lilacs in the world is in peak bloom.

From there, drive the Niagara Parkway past the floral clock to Niagara Falls and the nearby Niagara Botanical Gardens. Here more than 2,400 roses are on display in a lovely Victorian-era rose garden. Niagara Falls may be one of Canada’s great natural wonders, but these gardens give them competition!

Heading north along the shores of Lake Huron, you’ll arrive at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and Bruce Peninsula National Park. Part of the UNESCO Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, the park is a diverse ecosystem all its own. It provides the ideal environment for orchids to survive; you’ll find more than 44 species of orchids here. Arrive in late May to early July to see the blossoms at their best.

Finally, Ottawa’s world-renowned Tulip Festival is the most anticipated and visited floral celebration in Ontario—and the biggest tulip festival in the world! From May 10–20, 2024, more than three million tulips cover Ottawa with a kaleidoscope of colour.

Birdwatchers, bring your binoculars!

The robin may be the first sign of spring, but warmer days see countless species of migrating birds fill Ontario’s skies. No wonder so many avid birders arrive here each spring! 

At the very southern tip of Ontario sits Point Pelee National Park. The peninsula is a crossroads for two major migration routes; its diverse habitats attract nearly 400 species from sandpipers and warblers to ducks and hawks. Each May, the Festival of Birds invites thousands of visitors to take the 100 Species Challenge!

Less than 30 minutes away from Point Pelee is the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary. What started in 1904 with a modest duck pond is now 400 acres honouring the man considered “the father of conservation in North America” and dedicated his vision of creating a natural, educational, heritage environment for birds and bird-lovers for generations to come.

More adventurous bird watching can be found in Northern Ontario. The St. Joseph Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary's location in the Great Lakes region creates a perfect rest stop for all manner of migrating birds navigating the long crossings over the vast waters.

Are you a truly dedicated birder? The remote Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is accessible only by boat or by hiking the 13-kilometre trail to the “Sleeping Giant.” Making the journey rewards you with bright blue skies, soaring cliff sides and heavily wooded forests teeming with rare bird species — including many seen nowhere else in Ontario.

Wherever you travel in Ontario, keep your ears open for the lyrical call of the loon echoing across the lakes. With its distinctive way of communicating with its mate, the loon is so uniquely Canadian that its image adorns Canada’s $1 coin—nicknamed “the Loonie.”

Golfing here is both challenging and exhilarating

Tee off in Ontario! The province’s diverse terrain allows course architects to apply the area’s natural landscape to their designs, taking full advantage of the hills, rock formations and vistas.

There are many excellent public golf courses welcoming you to tee off. Consistently rated among Canada’s top public courses, Eagle’s Nest Golf Club lies just north of Toronto and offers panoramic views of the downtown Toronto skyline. Ottawa’s leading public course, The Marshes, attracts both golfers and birders — it’s home to PGA events and is also a qualified nature sanctuary.

On Georgian Bay’s waterfront, Cobble Beach Golf Resort boasts jagged, fast running, bump and run characteristics comparable to those found in Scotland and Ireland.

Ontario’s theatre scene will earn your applause

Visit two of Ontario’s most charming towns that have made themselves host to renowned theatre festivals that have received standing ovations from visitors worldwide.

For more than 60 years, the Victorian-era town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has played host to the acclaimed Shaw Festival, dedicated to the works of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries. Each year the stage is set for classic dramas, hilarious farces, beloved musicals and bold new works. Before the show, a horse-drawn carriage ride along Queen Street or a waterfront stroll is a must.

In the quaint town of Stratford, the annual Stratford Festival pays homage to the immortal William Shakespeare. Maggie Smith famously played Lady Macbeth here, while Peter Ustinov once starred as King Lear. But the fest isn’t strictly about Shakespeare. The 2024 season includes productions of La Cage aux Folles, Wendy and Peter Pan, and Something Rotten as well as Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night and Cymbeline.

In Toronto’s Theatre District, shows that have graced London’s West End and Broadway find a new home. At the Princess of Wales Theatre, audiences have applauded productions of The Lion King, Les Misérables, Mamma Mia!, The Book of Mormon, Aladdin and Hamilton, to name a few. Steps away is the Royal Alexandra, a landmark venue where John Barrymore, Fred Astaire, the Marx Brothers and Orson Welles once performed.

Toronto’ pro sports teams are finally taking the field

Canada is famous for ice hockey. But once the season is over, there are still many teams to cheer for.

Be there when the umpire shouts “Play ball!” and the Toronto Blue Jays (Canada’s only major league baseball team) takes the field. Grab a hot dog and join the crowd in a rousing chorus of “Okay, Blue Jays!”. The Jays’ home stadium—Rogers Centre—is ready for both blue skies and rainy days. As the world’s first stadium with a fully retractable roof, the weather is always perfect.

Football (or “soccer” as it’s called here) is quickly becoming the city’s favourite sport. Take your seat among the 20,000 Toronto FC supporters packed into BMO Field, many wearing the iconic FC red scarf. Wrap one around your neck and fit right in!

Is there a faster sport on earth? Feel the excitement of professional lacrosse — “the fastest game on two feet”. With lightning speed and amazing agility, the Toronto Rock consistently thrills their thousands of die-hard #RockCity fans.   

Find the freshest foods at our farmers’ markets

As the flowers bloom and the bees buzz, Ontario’s farmers bring their freshest fruits and vegetables to local farmers’ markets. Rhubarb and asparagus are ready to harvest in early spring, while later in the season the markets are brimming with strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, spinach, carrots and beets.

St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is a sprawling indoor-outdoor market in the heart of the Waterloo region’s Mennonite community. Wander past baskets piled high with local produce, meats and cheeses, and hand-crafted sausages, jams, preserves and baked goods. Don’t be surprised when you see Mennonite farmers bringing their goods to market in their traditional horse and buggy.

Wake up early and spend your Saturday morning at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. The doors open at 5 a.m. and that’s when the best produce is ready to be picked. But don’t shop on an empty stomach. Fill up first with a Canadian peameal bacon sandwich at the Carousel Bakery. Yes, they open at 5 a.m. on Saturdays too!

Since 1801, the Kingston Public Market has stood at the centre of Kingston’s historic downtown. Say hello to farmers displaying organic produce side-by-side with locally produced honey and maple syrup, and smile at a local artisan as you buy something to bring home.

In Canada’s capital city, the Ottawa Farmers’ Market is actually, five very different markets spotted throughout the city. Rent a bike and visit them all! Downtown, the ByWard Market’s traditional farmers’ stalls and trendy shops, restaurants and galleries make it a go-to destination.

An up-and-coming rural area with a growing “cool factor” is picturesque Prince Edward County. Beyond fresh produce, you’ll also discover organic microgreens, raw honey, herbs and artisanal cheeses. Those cheeses pair nicely with Prince Edward County wines originating from this preeminent cool-climate wine region.          

Victoria Day is the weekend Ontario waits for

Back in 1845, Canada proclaimed May 24th as Victoria Day to commemorate the birthdate of Queen Victoria. While the holiday doesn’t always fall on the 24th, everybody in Ontario knows that “May 2-4” weekend marks the official beginning of summer and “cottage season.” It’s when people escape from the city to the incomparable natural beauty of Ontario.

Living the cottage life is the ultimate Ontario experience. Find yourself a quiet rental by the lake in the Muskoka region; relax in an iconic Muskoka chair and take in views that are serene and spectacular at the same time. This awe-inspiring area is the gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park, one of the largest and most inviting areas of unspoiled nature in all of Ontario.

Bordering the southern edge of Algonquin Park are the Haliburton Highlands, an outdoor wonderland of rivers, lakes and woodlands. Hike along rocky trails, head out freshwater trout fishing, paddle a kayak on a glassy smooth lake—it’s all in a typical day in the Haliburtons.

Dotting the Canada-U.S. border along the St. Lawrence River, the 1000 Islands region is an archipelago of 1,864 individual islands. Its history is as remarkable as its scenery; book your cottage and stay where pirates, bootleggers and builders of castles once lived.

Experience springtime in ways you never have before! There’s so much to see and do in Ontario, you won’t want to miss a thing. To help you plan your spectacular spring getaway, check out:

Last updated: May 9, 2024

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