Things to do in Canada in Summer: Ontario + Quebec attractions
Ontario is the most populated province in Canada, so as you can imagine, there are plenty of things to see and do this summer. Equally, when it comes to Quebec, while most visitors head for the two main cities, Montreal and Quebec City, there is plenty to explore throughout the entire province: historical sites, cultural institutions, festivals, small towns and beautiful parks, are just some of the highlights.
There are so many adventures to be had in both these amazing provinces that it can be hard to know where to start. To point you in the right direction, Canadian Immigrant has compiled this list of must-do attractions for Ontario and Quebec in our Things to do in Canada in Summer series.
Check out must-do attractions in B.C. here!
Top must-do attractions: Ontario and Quebec
Niagara Falls is more than waterfalls
It’s probably already on your bucket list, but did you know that Niagara Falls is so much more than the world-renowned falls? It’s a whole region that has plenty for the whole family to do.
When it comes to checking out the falls themselves, there are plenty of options: take a Journey behind the falls or a Maid of the Mist tour. And during the summer months, you can even experience Niagara Falls with exploding fireworks high above the thundering waterfalls.
The fireworks run May to October, but you can see the colourful illuminations on the Falls every night of the year.
As well as being the oldest provincial park in Canada, Algonquin Provincial Park, located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Ontario, it is one of the most popular provincial parks.
There is plenty to see and do at Algonquin, and if you love the great outdoors, there are more than 1,200 campsites that have something for campers of all tastes.
The Algonquin Visitor Centre has a wealth of information about the natural and cultural history of the park, while other summer time activities include fishing, swimming, birdwatching, mountain biking, horseback riding and day hiking — there really is something for everyone.
Cottage Country — Muskoka
About a three-hour drive north of Toronto is an area known as Cottage Country or Muskoka: home to cottages, lakeside resorts and marinas. It’s a beautiful spot and very popular, so If you plan to go, don’t forget that during the summer months it’s very busy, particularly on weekends.
Parliament Hill in Ottawa
No visit to Canada’s capital would be complete without a trip to Parliament Hill, the political and cultural heart of the city. The Parliament Buildings are a gorgeous Gothic-style structure, overlooking the Ottawa River, where politicians debate the issues of the country.
Free guided tours are available daily, and during the summer, the Hill is also the focal point for a number of the biggest celebrations in the country including Canada Day (July 1), which sees about a hundred-thousand people descend upon this landmark for entertainment and a thrilling fireworks show. Also during the summertime, the Sound and Light show happens nightly — well worth staying up late for.
The National Gallery of Canada
Located in Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada is Canada’s premier art gallery and a great place for locals and tourists alike to get a cultural fix. The gallery has a large and varied collection of art and although its focus is on Canadian art, it has works by many noted American and European artists as well.
Fort William Historical Park
Fort William Historical Park is an attraction in Thunder Bay, Ontario, devoted to re-creating the days of the North-West Company and the Canadian fur trade. With 57 heritage and modern buildings on 250 acres, Fort William offers vivid insights to Canada’s history including the fur trade culture, domestic life and heritage farming.
Step back in time at Place-Royale, a famous cobblestone town square bordered by 17th- and 18th-century buildings. This is where French America was born, as the first French settlement was started here in 1608. Located in Quebec City’s Lower Town, Place-Royale was the town’s main marketplace for more than 200 years.
Old Montreal is a part of downtown Montreal that has been preserved in much of its original state, with the oldest buildings dating back to the 1600s. This historic neighbourhood is a vibrant community filled with tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, shops and much more.
The Old Montreal website has a well laid out and thorough self-guided walking tour complete with photos and maps, to make sure you visit all the important points of interest.
Montreal Botanical Gardens
The Montréal Botanical Garden (or Jardin botanique de Montréal) is a large botanical garden in Montreal, with more than 75 hectares (190 acres) of thematic gardens and greenhouses.
It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2008, as it is considered to be one of the most important botanical gardens in the world due to the extent of its collections.
Step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendour at the majestic Casa Loma, the only full-sized castle in North America, and one of Toronto’s premier historical attractions.
The former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, this castle is full of regal opulence, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables and beautiful five-acre estate gardens.
During the summer months from June to August, Casa Loma will host Symphony in the Gardens, a unique series of performances by the Toronto Concert Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Kerry Stratton.
Baie de Beauport
Did you know you can swim in the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City? The Baie de Beauport beach is only a five-minute drive from Quebec City, and is popular with swimmers and beach-goers alike. It is also the perfect spot for all kinds of water and beach sports including kayaking, paddle boarding, kitesurfing and beach volleyball. It is also the site of a series of summer events, including several big-name shows.