Let's be real for a second, here. Ontario is pretty much the best province, especially when it comes to events. Let's go a little bit deeper: Ontario is pretty much the best province, especially when it comes to free events.
From April to October, you can get behind-the-scenes knowledge while learning about some of Ontario's most unique sites. And you can do it all for free, thanks to the fine folks at Doors Open Ontario.
Since 2002, this six-month long event has been led by the Ontario Heritage Trust and, get this, over 7.8 million visits have been made to heritage sites since! Umm, can someone say "wow"?!
And if those stellar numbers weren’t enough to woo you, try this on for size: This year, Doors Open Ontario includes 36 events across the province and over 900 sites. Oh yeah, and they’re rated one of the top 100 festivals and events in Ontario.
But, actually, there's no better way to discover everything related to architecture, culture, and heritage in the greatest province ever (am I right or am I right?).
With no two sites the same, check out just some of the things you can do this spring, summer, and fall throughout Ontario.
1. Peep the largest telescope at the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill
That’s right, guys—on May 11, you can check out the largest telescope on Canadian soil at the David Dunlap observatory! Think all things astronomy and science—kinda like a Magic School Bus episode for adults (and, okay, maybe your inner kid, too).
P.S. For other cool, free sites in Richmond Hill, check here.
2. Act a fool at Fool's Paradise in Toronto
Okay, maybe scale back on acting a fool, but do get pumped to visit Fool’s Paradise in Toronto. This totally rad house and artist’s studio includes a daily sketching workshop from 12 to 3 p.m. on May 25 and 26. Plus, you can also check out the Insta-ready views of the Scarborough Bluffs.
For more fun Doors Open activities in Toronto, check here.
3. Take "the good journey" at Odeyto in Toronto
Okay so, legit, “odeyto” is an Anishinaabe word meaning “the good journey.” Cool, right?
Even cooler is the fact that this entire space is dedicated to Indigenous elders on Seneca College’s Newnham Campus. Anddd you can check it out for free May 25 to 26, thanks to Doors Open Ontario in Toronto.
Insider tip: It was named one of the top 10 Canadian Architecture Projects of 2018!
4. Sip a cold one at Mudtown Station Brewery and Restaurant in Owen Sound
A former Canadian Pacific Railway station, this epic brewery is part of Owen Sound’s heritage, and you can discover it all for free on June 1. Think prairie and art deco vibes, plus an amazing gastropub and local hops. Hells yeah!
As if that wasn’t cool enough, there’s a bunch of other free Doors Open Ontario sites that you can check out in Owen Sound here.
5. Walk, talk, and explore at Shadow Lake Centre
On June 1, explore this latest addition to Doors Open Ontario in Whitchurch-Stouffville. With over 300 acres, this beloved vacation spot boasts a gorgeous lake, forest, walking trails, and buildings dating back over a century. During Doors Open, you can enjoy walking tours, displays, crafts, games, and a campfire with refreshments and marshmallows.
Check out more fun activities happening at the event in Whitchurch-Stouffville here.
6. Get crafty at Church-Key Brewing Company in Campbellford
From June 1 to 2, you can enjoy a craft beer at Church-Key, located in Northumberland County.
Super fun/awesome/amazing party fact: this brewery is in an abandoned church! Yep, that’s right—it was previously part of a Methodist church, but it’s been a brewery since 1999. Plus, Church-Key uses local ingredients and suppliers to create their epic brews—can we get an amen?
There's tons more excitement happening in Northumberland, check it all out here.
7. Get Insta-famous at Roseneath Carousel
Also located in Northumberland County, this epic carousel has 40 basswood horses and two boats. Talk about authenticity, guys—this entire place makes for a seriously sweet Insta moment (or two or three or four... You get the picture).
And ‘cause you know Doors Open Ontario is here to hook you up, you can ride for free June 1 to 2.
8. Channel your inner Parisian at the French Embassy in Ottawa
Hear us out, guys, ‘cause this place is actually super hype! It’s all up on that art deco vibe, and it features an actual replica of the Vimy Memorial, tapestries, and a mural. Insider tip: pre-registration is totally necessary if you plan on visiting free from June 1 to 2.
Seriously, though, the only thing you’ll need to worry about bringing are the macarons. And, okay, maybe the croissants, too.
9. Go behind bars at HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel
But actually, though, HI-Ottawa is a mega tourist destination loaded with a ton of cool history.
Formerly Carleton County Gaol, it opened as a hostel in 1973, and Doors Open Ottawa is giving you the chance to check it out June 1 to 2! You may wanna leave the cuffs at home, though… or not *wink wink*.
10. Read the day away at Hillsburgh Library
Opened in June 2018, Hillsburgh may be a new library, but it’s on the shores of a mill pond that was once part of an epic distillery empire.
Just picture it: you, plus your fave new read, beneath the summer sun in Erin. This is the stuff dreams are made of. You can check it out June 8—no library card required.
For more epic Doors Open sites in Erin, check it all out here.
11. Get political at Rideau Hall in Ottawa
Rideau Hall, AKA the house of the Governor General of Canada, is a straight up marvel to behold. Beautiful both inside and outside, this national historic site boasts a garden landscape and some serious interior eye candy (see the beautifully striped room above). Plus, considering it's been the official residence of Canada's Governor General since the 1800s, you could say it's seen some pretty important moments in our country's history go down.
Visit it for free this upcoming June 1 and 2, and prepare your Instagram for some awesome photos!
12. Play tourist at Algoma Orchards Store and Plant in Clarington
Apple lover, anyone? On June 8, Doors Open Ontario is giving you the chance to check out this 160,000 square-foot facility.
Whether you’re an apple or cider lover (or both), this is one delicious stop on your epic Ontario tour you’re not gonna want to miss (trussst).
You can find more exciting Doors Open activities happening in Clarington here.