Ontario is one of the most sought-after travel destinations in Canada. This territory is characterized by plenty of fascinating ecosystems, inhospitable and virgin areas, and landscapes of dazzling beauty and size. In the same breath, Ontario also offers the cosmopolitan and urban atmosphere that identifies one of the main cities on the face of earth: Toronto. The nearly-mystical-and-pure silence of lands that seem to have been discovered not long ago, like Manitoulin.
The legendary thunder of one of the most universal travel icons: Niagara Falls. Ontario is one of the common destinations for Latin American tourists traveling to Canada. Some 400,000 Latin American people presently live in this province, which explains part of the growing interest in Ontario beyond its south border. It has gained momentum as the number-one choice for thousands of travelers, especially from Mexico, who want to experience the diversity of its landscapes, environments, atmospheres and ecosystems. This is a list of suggestions for you, who live in Canada, but also for your relatives and friends that will soon come to visit you.
The Niagara Falls are Canada’s most famous travel destination and one of the most popular spots in North America. This natural space is also a border between Canada and the United States, with high iconographic value thanks to such immortal movies as Superman or Niagara, with Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten.
Crowded by tourists in summertime (the Canadian side is annually estimated to receive 20 million tourists), and perhaps over-marketed, the Niagara Falls don’t specifically stand out because of their height –they have been included in the ranking of the 500 highest waterfalls worldwide-, but for the power of the fall, which generates spectacular water curtains and a din that cannot be avoided during the visit. In terms of water volume, no other place in North America takes this waterfall’s crown, where the equivalent to over a million water bathtubs is poured every second. It is easy to understand the reason why Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse chose this place to build the first hydroelectric power plant back in 1895, which officially marked the beginning of the electrification worldwide. Near the falls, visitors will find a gorgeous town named Niagara on the Lake and the entire region of vineyards and wineries, the most productive of Canada.
Manitoulin is a quiet and peaceful place with beaches and summer houses (the famous cottages). It especially stands out as the largest freshwater island of the world, located in the middle of Huron Lake. Traveling to Manitoulin is like going into an infinite tong twister of native toponyms that give us a different historic perspective of the remote past of these gorgeous and enormous lands. Names with mythological resonances, such as Mindemoya, Sheguiandah or Wikwemikong, can be found with every step you take and explain part of the origins of Canada. “Haweaters” (the people born in Manitoulin) have gotten used to the difficulties shown by foreigners when pronouncing their toponymy.
The land is made up of white quartzite and granite, which give it a glowing and peculiar look, nearly magical. The Amerindian culture is present throughout the territory as its main identity sign: the eight communities based on the island have managed to preserve their local gastronomy (wild rice and corn soup) and outdoor adventure sport (canoeing, horse riding, hiking). The ‘pow wows’ evoke their remote past with drums, dances and oral stories.
TORONTO AND THE CN TOWER
The CN Tower is Toronto’s icon per excellence and one of Canada’s most famous symbols. The huge needle dominates the gorgeous skyline of Toronto with its 553 meters and, despite the frenzied growth of the downtown, none of the new skyscrapers has taken its title. It is the highest tower on the western hemisphere and the visitors can go up to the top in a glass elevator that turns out to be unsuitable for people that suffer from vertigo. The luxurious revolving restaurant offers the best views of Toronto. It undoubtedly is the great tourist attraction of the city, with over 2 million visitors reported yearly. That’s the reason why this structure –the highest structure on earth without wire support -, is surrounded by the main tourism circuit in town with the Rogers Centre –home to the Blue Jays-, Ripley Aquarium –right in the base of the tower-, Air Canada Centre to the east side, the stadium where the NBA Toronto Raptors and NHL Maple Leafs play, and the Hockey Hall of Fame, the most important ice hockey museum of the world. We have to underline that Toronto is an essentially sports city, with teams participating in almost all world elite competitions. Moreover, Toronto is the most multicultural city of the face of the earth, a first-sight reality when visiting such neighborhoods as Little Italy, Chinatown, Little Korea, Greektown or Little India, and the boom of restaurants that offer gastronomies from every corner of the world, including Latin America.
The impressive Ontario Lake (one of the five big lakes in North America, along with Erie, Huron, Superior and Michigan), is another key element in this city and gives it a coastal look with its beautiful bay and sports dock. Toronto also offers a long list of museums and art galleries, with a leading role played by AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario), ROM(Royal Ontario Museum) and Ontario Science Centre, one of the most prestigious institutions on its field, which are perfect for visits with children.
Surrounded by natural splendor and a relaxed urban environment, Ottawa is one of the can’t-miss destinations in Canada. The political and administrative capital of the country is the best representative of Canada’s bilingual essence and a melting pot of cultures and influences. When it is about to celebrate its 150th anniversary (on July 1), it is a good moment to visit Canada and learn about its origin and history by attending several events. The main administrative buildings of the country are based in Ottawa: the Parliament with its slender central tower and the large leisure area, and the famous Rideau Canal, the only monument in Ontario that has been included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list. During the winter season, due to the low temperatures, it becomes the largest ice rink of the world and, in summertime or spring, it is a great canal for nautical activities. Moreover, the country’s capital offers a long list of monuments, museums and artistic sceneries that express its great creative and natural vitality. Canada’s National Gallery showcases the most important art collection of the country, as well as temporal exhibits by outstanding international artists.
The Canadian Museum of History pays tribute to Canadian and international cultures, and it houses the biggest indoor collection of totems in the world. ByWard Marketplace is absolute epicenter of the city, with an unrivalled group of stores, bars, restaurants, cafés and breweries; which carry the peculiar mark of that French and Anglo-Saxon double personality.
The cliffs are bathed by the turquoise waters of the Georgian Bay. In the large stretches of forest, black bears rule and rare species of reptiles find shelter in rocky areas and wetlands. Old cedar trees create spiral shapes at the edge of the cliffs, crowds of orchids and ferns make up a different habitats, in a unique ecosystem. It is the Bruce Peninsula and its National Park , one of the best-kept secrets of Ontario at the Georgian Bay. A matchless view can be enjoyed from the highest spot on the cliffs. High trees guard an endless stretch of water and sky. From beaches and paths for bikes to agriculture markets and lighthouses, breweries, vineyards, caves, cliffs, cafés, art galleries and concerts… bohemian and pure nature. The Bruce Peninsula is like a small country within Ontario, a cultural, environmental and social micro-cosmos near Toronto. Enjoying fair games or sailing on the ferry are small pleasure that go up to another dimension here.