The centerpiece of Canada's Golden Horseshoe, an area that borders Lake Ontario and encompasses the Niagara Falls, Toronto serves as a great starting point in which to explore the region. There are a high number of adventures that mix both terra firma and aquatic pursuits (check out Algonquin and Massasauga Provincial Parks), while folks who just want to stare undisturbed nature in the face surprisingly don't have far to go.
Three of the Great Lakes are with a day trip of Toronto and all three have parks in their vicinity and unique islands that attract the audacious spirit. The Toronto Islands are most approximate and are a great place to see the city skyline, as well as stroll and swim in a land without cars. Manitoulin Island is at the center of Lake Huron and, despite the longer travel time, has waterfalls, hikes, and great water views worth the effort in getting here. Pelee Island in Lake Erie and the Thousand Islands (about 1,700 actually) region in Lake Ontario are both worth a look for more leisurely trips.
For those who'd like to do some swimming, the Beaches neighborhood (northwest along Lake Ontario from downtown) is consistently clean and fashionable, while a lot of the Toronto natives head north to the impressive Wasaga Beach, which is also popular for snowmobiling and snow-shoeing trails in the winter.
For walking and hiking in a natural environment, start in the city, which has a surprising amount of green space for such a heavily populated area. Try out the North York neighborhood, where the Edwards Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Gardens are lovely. To the west of the city is the region's greatest natural area, the broad and geologically vital Niagara Escarpment, which is your best opportunity for a natural escape matched with the variety and beauty of epic, eroded cliffs. The best way to see this area is along the well-maintained Bruce Trail, which originates near Niagara Falls and snakes hundreds of miles through both civilization and wilderness, terminating in the excellent Bruce Peninsula National Park, the best zone for scuba diving in the center of this massive country.
There are also plenty of chances to ski and snowboard in the winter (Centennial Park and Earl Bales Park, both within the city's jurisdiction), while the local beaches and green spaces lend Toronto a remarkably high adventure value, especially to those who may just be considering it for its nightlife and culture. Take a look at our listings, and related travel videos and pictures for more information.