7 Day Trips Less Than 1 Hour From Toronto If You’re In Need Of A Mental Break

Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

As restrictions lift and temperatures soar, Torontonians are looking to get out of the city — away from pollution, construction, and noise — and just relax. It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, and before you know it, you're worn out. If you could use a mental break, making some time to get into nature could be just what you need.

To find out more about the benefits of getting into nature, Mazda consulted with Stress Coach and Wellness Educator, Nicole Porter. According to Porter, there is less stress on your nervous system, your body and your brain when you connect with nature.

"Being in nature is like putting your foot on the brake, and when it comes to our health, our bodies are relying on us to slow down more often," she said.

Are you feeling cooped up or restricted by daily routines? For those wanting to ditch responsibilities for a brief moment, try escaping the city and venturing into nature. If just the thought of driving along an open road with a relaxing playlist, pulling up to a waterfall and dipping your toes in the shallows relaxes you, imagine how good it would feel to do it.

And getting back to nature really is that easy. All you have to do is pack your bags, hop in your car, and start exploring your beautiful city and all that surrounds it. There are many outdoor sanctuaries you can visit to experience a better outlook, clear your mind and have some fun.

Less than an hour's drive from Toronto, there are tons of parks, beaches, and trails — including these seven destinations to get you started.

Rosetta McClain Gardens (ETA: 35 Minutes)

Price: Free

Address: 5 Glen Everest Rd., Scarborough, ON

Why You Need To Go: There's something particularly charming about spending an afternoon in a landscaped garden. Rosetta McClain Gardens is a 23-acre park filled with overflowing flower beds, rock fountains and ivy-covered trellises. Bring a picnic blanket or park yourself on one of the many benches to relax, enjoy a coffee, read a book and take in the surrounding nature and views of Lake Ontario.

Keep your eyes peeled for the creatures who call this park home — like birds, butterflies and the occasional bee.


Cudia Park (ETA: 40 Minutes)

Price: Free

Address: 70 Meadowcliffe Dr., Scarborough, ON

Why You Need To Go: If you're in the mood for a hike with a view, Cudia Park is only 40 minutes from downtown Toronto. But with this much wildlife, you'll feel a world away from the sirens, streetcars, and construction of the city.

Set above the Scarborough Bluffs, Cudia Park has breathtaking views of Lake Ontario and beyond for a picture-perfect moment after your successful hike.


Port Union Waterfront Park (ETA: 1 hour)

Price: Free

Address: 169 Chesterton Shores, Scarborough, ON

Why You Need To Go: Hop in your car and head to Port Union to take in some beautiful scenery as you stroll the almost 4 kilometres of waterfront trail that connects Toronto and Pickering.

Don't feel like walking? Try your hand at rollerblading, skateboarding, or biking. Take a pit stop at one of the many beaches dotted along the route to dip your toes in the water or just watch the birds.


Doris McCarthy Trail (ETA: 40 Minutes)

Price: Free

Address: Ravine Dr., Scarborough, ON

Why You Need To Go: Named for the renowned Canadian artist, the Doris McCarthy Trail is an easy 10-kilometre hike along the Bellamy Ravine Creek down to the edge of Lake Ontario. While you're there, take a moment to admire the sculpture, Passage, that was created in Doris McCarthy's honour.

This is a great place to birdwatch, meditate, and get an uphill workout in. Refresh with a dip in the water at nearby Bluffers Park when you're done.


Hilton Falls Conservation Area (ETA: 45 minutes)

Price: $7 for adults (reservations are required)

Address: 4985 Campbellville Rd., Milton, ON

Why You Need To Go: While Hilton Falls Conservation Area is filled with hiking trails, what it's most known for is a towering 10-metre-high waterfall. Just 45 minutes from the city, this hideaway is like discovering a little piece of paradise.

If you want to extend your day trip, take a drive 42 minutes south to Sherman Falls. The 17-metre-high curtain waterfall is often nicknamed Fairy Falls or Angel Falls for good reason. This is a great place to get in some forest bathing.


Bluffer's Park & Beach (ETA: 40 Minutes)

Price: Free

Address: 1 Brimley Rd. S., Scarborough, ON

Why You Need To Go: If this is your first trip to Scarborough Bluffs, here would be a great place to start your adventure. Bluffer's Park & Beach has a sandy beach, designated picnic areas, a boat launch, lookouts, and plenty of open space for activities like leisurely walks and yoga.

Lie on the beach, watch the sunset (or sunrise, if that's your style), walk along the water, or go for a dip at this laid-back waterside park.


Milne Dam Conservation Park (ETA: 55 Minutes)

Price: Free on weekdays or $4.50 for adults on weekends.

Address: 8251 McCowan Rd., Markham, ON

Why You Need To Go: This park really has it all. If you like watching birds, you might catch a glimpse of blue jays, woodpeckers and Baltimore orioles just to name a few. There's a picturesque 2-kilometre trail that loops around the park and is ideal for walking the dog (on a leash), running or cycling.

Stop for a photo at one (or both) of the park's two suspension bridges.


Who said you needed to go far to reconnect with nature? There are so many places to explore just outside the city to help you pause, refresh and take that mental break you deserve. And when your adventure back to nature, don't forget that it's as easy as jumping in your car.

For more stories, check out Mazda's Seeking Nature series.

To learn more about getting back to nature with Mazda, check out their website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube.

@vancity.hungrycouple | Instagram, @itsjosheats | Instagram

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