Natural playgrounds with interpretive trails, self-guided tours and more.
Summers are for exploring, spending quality time with the family, and getting outdoors wherever and whenever possible. With school out, the learning doesn't have to stop for you and your family. Ontario is full of natural playgrounds with plenty of fun and educational activities like interpretive trails, self-guided tours and more.
Ontario is home to some of Canada's best museums as well, which are bursting with fascinating things to do and see during this summer break. Whether you want to spend the day exploring exhibitions, take the weekend to marvel at provincial parks or set aside a few hours to take an interpretive tour, you have plenty of opportunities to be entertained and learn something at the same time.
When heading out on a big day of soaking up knowledge and exploring the province, it's important to stay fueled with tasty and filling snacks like those from Nature Valley. With all sorts of goodies like granola bars, wafer bars and trail mix, Nature Valley makes it quick and easy to keep your energy up this summer.
From discovering Ontario's wetlands to learning about petroglyphs at the largest display of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada, these are just a few of the ways you can create an educational summer this year.
Befriend Goats, Llamas & Ducks At Valleyview Little Animal Farm
Price: $12 (free entry for kids under 2)
Address: 4750 Fallowfield Rd., Nepean, ON
Why You Need To Go: This functional farm is a great spot to pet cute animals and to teach your kids about agriculture at the same time. Visit the farm's youngest residents in the Little Animal Barn and check out the collection of vintage farm equipment in Bill's Old Farm Museum.
Let the kids loose in the Creative Play Area or take a stroll along the Country Walk, where you can see ponies, horses, sheep and the duck pond.
Discover Wetlands, Woodlands & Waterfowl At Wye Marsh
Price: Up to $12 (free entry for kids under 3)
Address: 16160 Hwy. 12 E., Midland, ON
Why You Need To Go: Set on over 3,000 acres in Ontario's picturesque Georgian Bay, the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre is home to birds of prey, reptiles and bees who don't have the ability to survive in the wild. The Centre is committed to connecting nature and people in understanding how the wetlands play an important role in the provincial ecosystem.
The trails and Birds of Prey field are open during COVID-19, but check before you go to get the most up-to-date information. There are plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic along the trail and stay fueled up for your adventures. Nature Valley Wafer Bars are a delicious snack, filled with peanut butter and topped with crunchy nuts, that make a great on-the-go dessert.
Discover Indigenous Rock Carvings At Petroglyphs Provincial Park
Price: Free (parking fees apply)
Address: 2249 Northey's Bay Rd., Woodview, ON
Why You Need To Go: Home to the largest display of Indigenous rock carvings (petroglyphs) in Canada, Petroglyphs Provincial Park is a sacred site also known as Kinoomaagewaabkong, or "The Teaching Rocks." Here, you'll see petroglyphs depicting birds, snakes, turtles, humans and more.
At the park's Learning Place Visitor Centre, you can learn about the traditions of the Ojibway and the teachings of the medicine wheel. Guided tours and an award-winning educational film are available at the visitor centre too, though check ahead in case COVID-19 has impacted opening times and schedules.
Because the Petroglyphs site is sacred, photography is not permitted, but it is allowed in the rest of the park.
Stay overnight at the onsite camping and check out McGinnis Lake before you leave. It's one of Canada's only meromictic lakes: a lake with layers of water that don't intermix, resulting in a striking blue-green hue.
Marvel At Mother Nature In The Bonnechere Caves
Price: Up to $19 (free entry for kids under 4)
Address: 1247 Fourth Chute Rd., Eganville, ON
Why You Need To Go: Beat the heat by heading underground on a self-guided, supervised tour of Ontario's Bonnechere Caves, where you can wander through waterfalls, fossils, dips and crevices dating back over 500 million years.
The self-guided tour takes about 45 minutes and ends with a waterfall view of Fourth Chute Falls, where you can settle in with a picnic. The caves aren't stroller friendly, so carriers are recommended for kids who can't walk the whole way. Be sure to check out their summer events listing to catch their outdoor concerts too.
Hike, Canoe & Reconnect With Nature At Algonquin Park
Price: Free (parking fees apply)
Address: Hwy. 60, ON
Why You Need To Go: This park is one of the province's most popular attractions. Book your visit ahead online and check out the interpretative trails to learn about nature, meteor craters and a whole lot of history.
With trails between 1- and 10-kilometres long to explore, you'll need to bring some tasty snacks to keep you energized throughout the day. Nature Valley's Lunchbox snack bars are entirely peanut-free and made with 8 grams of whole grains; they even come in flavours like Banana Chocolate Chip and S'mores for a filling snack that can be enjoyed as you go.
Before you head out on your adventure, check out the trail guides to find out which one is best for your family. Some trails are wheelchair accessible (like Algonquin Logging Museum), and others may require waterproof footwear (like the Mizzy Lake Loop, a moderate full-day hike).
Learn About One Of Canada's Favourite Sports At The Hockey Hall of Fame
Price: Up to $25 (free entry for kids under 4)
Address: 30 Yonge St., Toronto, ON
Why You Need To Go: Opening to the public on July 30, the Hockey Hall of Fame is where fans can soak up everything there is to know about one of Canada's favourite sports. Whether you've got a skater in the family or just love the fan life, the Hockey Hall of Fame is the place to score some serious parenting points.
See the Stanley Cup with your own eyes, try and score against the pros in a life-sized interactive exhibit, wander through a replica NHL dressing room, and learn about the greatest hockey players that the country has ever seen.
Educate Yourself On The Importance Of Plants & Their Uses By Indigenous People
Price: Up to $19.50 (free entry for kids under 4)
Address: 16 Old Guelph Rd., Hamilton, ON
Why You Need To Go: Learn about Ontario's rich history by visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens, located within the traditional territory of both the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Nations. Here, you can learn about plants used by the Anishinaabe peoples and why this connection is still a key part of Anishinaabe culture today.
The trail starts at the Arboretum near the Nature Interpretive Centre. The interpretive signs provide visitors with information on the area's plants and their uses. The signs were written by Joseph Pitawanakwat, a traditional plant educator from Wikwemikong Unceded Nation, and Elders from Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
It's important to note that because the trail lies within a nature sanctuary, picking plants is strictly prohibited.
Having a bag full of tasty and nutritious snacks is an absolute must when you're heading out on adventures that will get you moving and stimulate your mind.
Whether you're looking for an indulgent treat or a healthy boost of energy, Nature Valley bars are packed full of natural ingredients and yummy goodness (and are perfect for adventurers of all ages).
Just because school is on break doesn't mean the learning has to stop. With a province packed with fun and interesting activities, Ontarians are spoiled for choice when it comes to making the most of summer with the family. Don't forget to take photos!
To learn more about reconnecting with nature, check out Nature Valley's website or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
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.