Ontario, Canada, is one of the best places in the world to watch the green maple, oak and birch leaves of summer turn orange, crimson, and gold before falling in time for winter. And nothing makes an Ontario leaf peeping trip more complete than using one of the province's quaintest small towns as your home-base.
Submerge yourself in the beauty of fall and the charm of Ontario at one of these four must-visit small towns filled with cozy accommodations, delightful eateries, unique shops, and plenty of pictorial natural scenery.
Photo credit: Mdrewe
Ontario's Muskoka region is known for the fiery trees that surround its mirror-like lakes in the fall months. Bracebridge offers plenty of small town charm, quaint shops (including must-visit Santa's Village for holiday shopping), the Muskoka Brewery, and plenty of places to rent a kayak or canoe and admire the fall colors from the water. However, some of Bracebridge's best features are its waterfalls, which are even more picturesque when backed by the colours of autumn.
Collingwood is located on Lake Huron's picture-perfect Georgian Bay and minutes from Ontario's famed Blue Mountain Resort. Use charming, lakeside Collingwood as your home base for ziplining, hiking, mountain biking and other action-packed activities atop the mountain and submerged in the vibrant reds and yellows of fall. Fall is one of the best times of year for camping along the lakeshore, but those seeking a few more amenities will find exactly what they're seeking at the Craigleith Manor or Willow Trace Bed and Breakfasts. Wherever you stay, there's no doubt you'll feel right at home when you arrive in Collingwood.
Photo credit: Artur Staszewski
You'll understand why Elora is often called, "Ontario's most beautiful village," when you pull into town in the colourful months of fall. The town is famous for the 24-metre-tall limestone cliffs of the Elora Gorge that plummet into the Irvine and Grand Rivers. Elora's stunning natural beauty can be explored by hiking, camping, hot air balloon, zipline, or grabbing a kayak and getting on the water. However, it's also the adorable boutiques, world-renowned eateries, 19th-century architecture, and rich culture that attract visitors back to Elora time and time again.
You've probably never heard of the tiny community of Barry's Bay, located in the Ontario township of Madawaska Valley. But this quaint town of 1,300 is minutes from some of the best leaf peeping in the country. Visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee on the Madawaska River in the morning and explore the world-renowned fall colours at Algonquin Provincial Park in the afternoon.
Algonquin Park is known for postcard-worthy fall scenery that can be found on scenic drives, canoe trips, hiking trails, just about every inch of the tree-covered park. Those who stay in the cozy town of Barry's Bay can experience the best of Algonquin Provincial Park by day and retreat to the calm and affordability of hamlet life before dark (accommodations inside the park are not cheap in autumn). The Ash Grove and Pinewood Inns offer comfortable and budget-friendly accommodations overlooking the beauty of the Madawaska River.
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