From the great museums and beautiful brunch spots to chasing cherry blossoms during springtime, it can be easy to find yourself unable to leave the city limits of Toronto. Although there is definitely much to love about this incredible city defined by the CN Tower, a short trip away to one of the many charming small towns near the city could prove to be a relaxing breath of quaint air.
With a name inspired by the Irish phrase “croí mór”, meaning “big heart”, it comes as no surprise that this pretty town in the heart of Ontario’s countryside is referred to as “the village with a big heart.” Discover a true sense of community, plenty of spots for hiking, cycling trails, and scenic drives through rolling hills just 90 minutes from Toronto.
Get a feel for the local cuisine and drop into Bank Café for made-from-scratch gourmet food. If you happen to be in Creemore for a weekend, visit Purple Hill Lavender Farm—a family-run lavender farm—and book a luxury picnic!
📍 Simcoe County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 124 km = about 1h 30 min
2. Port Hope
Don’t underestimate the adventures to be had in charming small towns near Toronto. Port Hope offers a more rural experience whilst promising a fun-filled getaway. You can zipline through the Ganaraska Forest, conquer biking trails, visit the beach or head on a shopping spree at the country markets or beyond the heritage storefronts.
Downtown Port Hope is known for its 19th-century architecture and popular stores such as Smith’s Creek Antiques for antiquing enthusiasts. This picturesque village also has a great food scene featuring casual eats, fine dining, gastro pubs, and great bakeries (try out the signature raspberry-almond squares at Sugar Dust Bakery).
📍 Northumberland County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 108 km = about 1h 10 min
Just a stone’s throw away from Port Hope, Cobourg is one of the most charming small towns for a getaway. With a beach, marina, and harbour along Lake Ontario, this spot has been recognized as “One of Canada’s Best Places to Live” many times by MoneySense magazine. There is a lot of family fun to be had in Cobourg thanks to swimming, hunting, golfing, cycling, tobogganing, fishing, and so many more activities to try—there’s something for every member of the family.
Visit the local museums to learn more about Cobourg’s rich heritage and try some delicious food at some of the best restaurants the town has to offer, including The Buttermilk Cafe and The EL.
📍 Northumberland County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 118 km = about 1h 13 min
If you’ve already been blown away by Niagra’s majestic falls, why not spend some time in Niagra-on-the-lake? Stroll down tree-lined streets, explore the best of the region’s vineyards, and decide for yourself whether the charming small town deserves a reputation as the “Culinary Capital of Canada”. From pub fare to fine dining, Niagra-on-the-lake has it all when it comes to food.
HobNob at The Charles is a must for couples on a romantic break, and hearty diners will appreciate The Irish Harp Pub’s mean steak and Guinness pie. Stay at one of Niagra-on-the-lakes’ cosy country inns such as Old Ivy Walk or School House Country Inn.
📍 Niagra County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 129 km = about 1h 22 min
While you won’t find the Eiffel Tower or Champs-Élysées in Ontario’s Paris, this is one of the prettiest small towns in Canada. Kayaking and tubing on the Grand River are among the many popular activities attracting visitors. If you consider yourself to be an adventurous type, Paris is perfect for long hikes, following cycling trails, and flyfishing. Head to Grand River Street for some shopping in local boutiques. From designer clothes and jewellery to the hand made designs at The Gem Marketplace, there is no end to the gems you’ll find.
📍 Brant County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 111 km = about 1hr 9 min
Located in Prince Edward County, a wine region in Ontario, Picton is a little town with a lot to offer. Locals adore The Miller House Cafe Brasserie specializing in tapas and sharing platters. Grab an unforgettable ice cream with sprinkles from Slickers Ice Cream and wander down the beautiful streets.
Although most getaways are about relaxing, Macauley Heritage Park is an historic site worth taking the time to visit. What’s more, you can test your wine tasting skills at TerraCello Winery or catch the 1915 Malborough Flyer Steam Train from the Picton Railway Station for a picture-perfect railway journey through a valley of vineyards, wetlands, and across the Wairau River.
📍 Prince Edward County, Ontario
🚗Driving distance from Toronto: 213 km = about 2h 20 min