10 Small Towns You Have To Visit In Ontario When You Want To Get Away From The Big City

Charming small town vibes for the win!
10 Small Towns You Have To Visit In Ontario When You Want To Get Away From The Big City

As enthusiastic Torontonians would mostly agree, big city life is amazing. Everything is right outside your door and there's so much to do and see you couldn't possibly get bored. 

But sometimes, that hustle and bustle can become a little over the top. You might think to yourself how wonderful it would be to escape for a little while and head to a small town that gives off chill vibes and features low-key attractions. Well, look no further! Ontario is full of beautiful small towns that will do just that. 

1. Port Hope 

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Port Hope is a charming little town just east of the city. It has some really cute antique shops and one of the most well-preserved main streets in all of Ontario. You can do a little downtown shopping, check out hiking alone Ganaraska River, or hit up Cobourg Beach for some fun in the sun.

2. Wellington, Prince Edward County 

Distance from Toronto: 2.5 hours

This super small lakeside village offers fine dining, award-winning wines, and some epic music and arts events. With its own stunning beach and a boardwalk that leads to a lighthouse, there's plenty to see in this quaint artist town. It also offers the best view of the Sandbanks Dunes.

3. Shakespeare 

Distance from Toronto: 3.5 hours

The quiet little town of Shakespeare is just outside of Stratford and was named after ⁠— you guessed it — William Shakespeare. It's home to a unique array of antique stores, and craft and artisan foods, so expect to get your eat on while visiting.

4. Paris

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Rivalling the French city of Paris, this small town in Ontario is so beautiful that you'll feel as though you just stepped out of Ontario and into France. Voted the "Prettiest Little Town In Canada", there's so much to be admired. There's walking trails, a motorcycle speedway, and it's even been used to film big Hollywood productions.

5. Almonte

Distance from Toronto: 4.5 hours

This scenic mill town is super friendly, so be prepared to wave and smile and strangers. Their 19th-century main street has some seriously cool shops, and their historical buildings along the Canadian Mississippi River are a must-see.

6. Niagara-on-the-Lake 

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a super popular spot for Torontonians, and for good reason. The small-town vibes are unmatched with their 19th century-style buildings and tree-lined streets. With a ton of things to do, such as wine tastings and the Summer Shaw Festival, there's a reason people keep going back.

7. Bobcaygeon

Distance from Toronto: 2 hours

Located between Sturgeon and Pigeon Lakes in the Kawarthas, Bobcaygeon is a beautiful place to visit when you need to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life. With a beautiful sandy beach, quaint shops, and some cool local pubs, this place should definitely be on the bucket list.

8. Merrickville 

Distance from Toronto: 4 hours

Spanning along both shores of the Rideau River, Merrickville is a historic village full of nice surprises. It's at the site of a lock station and has some of the coolest independent shops you'll ever see. It also claims to be home to Canada's oldest operating foundry.

9. Stratford 

Distance from Toronto: 2 hours

Located on the Avon River, this charming town is bigger than most on this list, but it doesn't make it any less quaint. You'll want to visit Stratford for its stunning beauty and small-town feel, but you'll stay for its Shakespeare Gardens, beautiful architecture, and unique art gallery.

10. Erin

Distance from Toronto: 1 hour

This place has the power to channel that homey feeling without the heel clicks of any ruby slippers. Erin is super close to Toronto, so you can even make it a day trip out to visit. You can discover one of their many unique shops, or just explore the natural beauty of the downtown area or the scenic wonder of the local trails or Erin Water Tower Hill.

We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment and obey any local laws.