Québec may be bigger, British Columbia may have more mountains, and Alberta is certainly flexing its economic biceps at the moment, but when it comes to culture, cuisine and sophistication, Ontario wins hands down. Sure, there are just as many empty, cold acres here as anywhere else, but when you’re in Ontario, you can’t help but feel a palpable connection with the rest of the planet. Forget ice fishing, conifers and bear for a minute – this is global Canada, big-city Canada, sexy, progressive, urbane Canada.
Most Ontarians live in the south within a few hundred kilometers of the US border, where winters are bearable and steamy summers lure folks outside. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is here – a blazing metropolis overflowing with multicultural arts, entertainment and eating opportunities. Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is changing too. No longer a steadfast political filing cabinet, contemporary Ottawa is as hip as you want it to be. Year-round, Ontario celebrates its diversity with a cavalcade of festivals.
Thespians rejoice over Stratford’s Shakespeare Festival and the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Connoisseurs of a more hedonistic activity – beer drinking – immerse themselves in Kitchener’s Oktoberfest and the London Beer Festival, while a festival-free weekend in Toronto is an event unto itself. Cities and festivities don’t float your boat? Not far from the madding crowds, low-key agricultural towns and historic settlements define Ontario’s country civility. And if you must seek out wildlife, there are some excellent national parks here too. From arctic Hudson Bay in the north to the temperate Great Lakes in the south you’ll find more than enough boreal forests, undulating hills and vineyards to keep you feeling green.
And don’t forget Niagara Falls – if you’ve found a natural wonder more deserving of the adjective ‘spectacular, ’ drop us a line.
Show in Lonely Planet