4 Amazing Places in Ontario that UNESCO Wants You to Experience

A pillar of rock rises out of clear blue waters on the shores of a forest beyond.

In case you’re wondering, UNESCO recognizes World Biosphere Reserves as protected natural spaces that contain unique land and water ecosystems, maintain a sustainable balance between the environment and humans, protect at-risk species, contain important Indigenous and heritage sites, and focus on eco-education. These distinct ecologies are rare, with just over 700 recognized worldwide.

Lace up, gear up and get ready to explore Ontario’s Amazing Places by foot, pedal and paddle.

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

Many tourism experiences require advance bookings or have restrictions in place due to COVID 19. It is important to check directly with the business operator before you travel. Get the most up-to-date information now.

Ecotourism Destinations in Ontario

Georgian Bay (AKA 30,000 Islands)

The largest freshwater archipelago in the world, this biosphere reserve is made up of a cluster of islands, bays and inlets that extend over 13,000 sq km along the eastern Georgian Bay shoreline. The unique topography supports forest and wetlands and boasts out-of-this world scenery.

Do: Cross the suspension bridge over the French River with awesome views of the rock-walled gorge below. Hike through old growth pine forests to Wemtagoosh Falls and paddle traditional routes of Indigenous people in Point Grondine Park.

Stay: For the ultimate nature retreat, reserve one of the secluded waterfront cabins at Christian Beach in Georgian Bay Islands National Park.

Long Point

This diverse landscape of woodlands, sand dunes, bluffs, marshes, meadows and beaches is shaped around a giant sand spit deposit that extends 40 km into Lake Erie, the largest formation of its kind in the Great Lakes. The area is teeming with flora and fauna, including over 350 species of birds, making it a globally significant migratory birding area.

Do: Hike or bike through undisturbed marshlands in Big Creek National Wildlife Area. Enjoy sublime views from a 166-metre long bridge on the Black Bridge Waterford Heritage Trail. Zipline through the Carolinian forest with Long Point Eco Adventures.

Stay: Long Point Eco Adventures is home to a variety of glamping options, from rustic camping pods to luxury wilderness suites complete with an outdoor shower so you can suds up under the stars.

Hike or bike through undisturbed marshlands in Big Creek National Wildlife Area. Enjoy sublime views from a 166 metre long bridge on the Black Bridge Waterford Heritage Trail. Zipline through the Carolinian forest with Long Point Eco Adventures.

Stay: Long Point Eco Adventures is home to a variety of glamping options, from rustic camping pods to luxury wilderness suites complete with an outdoor shower so you can suds up under the stars.

Niagara Escarpment

Stretching over 700 km from Queenston, in the Niagara Region, to Tobermory, on the southern shores of the Georgian Bay, this spectacular limestone ribbon of forest, wilderness, cliffs and wetlands has the most topographic variability in southern Ontario, ranging over 430 metres in elevation.

Do: Descend into ancient caves and follow the rocky ridges of the escarpment along the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest hiking path. Rock climbers are drawn to the challenging climbs and rewarding views at Mount Nemo and Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Old Baldy Conservation Area in Grey County and Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula.

Stay: Located near Caledon Village, the Insta-worthy glamping sites at Alabaster Acres Farm allow you to get in touch with nature without sacrificing the creature comforts of home.

Frontenac Arch

Referred to as the ‘backbone of the mother’ by the Indigenous people of the area, the Frontenac Arch biosphere represents the ancient granite bridge connecting the Canadian Shield in the north to the Adirondack Mountains in the south, extending roughly 2,700 square km through southeastern Ontario, and includes the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands.

Do: Step back in time, experience 19th century military life at Fort Henry, or go deep into the rocky earth along the Silver Queen Mine Trail. Check out the view from Spy Rock, the 1000 Islands Tower or Mink Lake Lookout in Frontenac Provincial Park.

Stay: Experience the remodeled Victorian Rosemount Inn and Spa, a heritage boutique hotel. The limestone manor at The Rosemount Inn has been in the historic Old Stones district of downtown Kingston since 1850, and it’s the perfect blend of old and new. You’ll find historic craftsmanship alongside modern comforts and amenities.

About UNESCO Biosphere Reserves


UNESCO, as we mentioned, stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and UNESCO’s goal is to ‘contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture and communication and information contribute towards the realisation of those goals’. Although UNESCO is generally thought of as a champion of socio-economic efforts, ecotourism and land protection is also extremely important.

UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves are learning areas for sustainable development. They span many ecological, social and economic situations. There are over 700 biosphere reserves in over 100 countries, and Ontario is proud to protect these four.
 

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