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The Township of Uxbridge is just one of dozens of quaint destinations in the province that are often best explored on foot to be fully appreciated. A popular self-guided tour is the Lucy Maud Montgomery Trail and the pretty downtown is home to many shops, restaurants and heritage sites.CENTRAL COUNTIES TOURISM

Longer days and warmer temperatures inspire Ontarians to plan summer escapes. Weary from winter, they dream of slow and stress-free fun, and walking tours are an easy way to experience the fresh outdoors and the wonderfully diverse culture, history and food of beautiful Ontario.

Just a short drive from Toronto, the region of York Durham Headwaters is a good place to start.

“There has been a deeper interest in walking tours in our region,” says Chuck Thibeault, executive director of Central Counties Tourism. “I believe residents of Ontario, especially in York, Durham and Headwaters, took the opportunity during the pandemic to truly explore their own backyards and discovered some hidden gems along the way – things they had no idea were in the region. We are lucky to live in an area that is rich in history, heritage and nature, and our communities have developed some wonderful podcasts and self-guided tours that give visitors and locals the freedom to explore at their own pace.”

The Municipality of Clarington offers several self-guided walking tours that invite visitors to get acquainted with the hamlets and towns of Tyrone, Bowmanville, Orono, Newtonville, Newcastle, Jury Lands and Solina. Each tour is accompanied by a downloadable online brochure with pictures and a map for a fully integrated experience. A popular tour in Bowmanville is the Jury Lands Tour, the site of the infamous Camp 30, where high-ranking officers of the Third Reich were held prisoner during the Second World War. Before that, the campus was a school for truant boys. Though the haunting Jury Lands are currently owned by a private developer, they are available for the public to discover and remember.

For fans of Anne of Green Gables, Uxbridge is the place to be. The Lucy Maud Montgomery Trail offers a rare glimpse into the life of Montgomery, the author of the popular series of books about Anne, in a self-guided journey through Uxbridge, Leaksdale and Zephyr. Walking at your own pace, you can trace the footsteps of Montgomery while listening to a podcast on your mobile device about her life in the area from 1911 to 1926.

If you are in the mood for a good ghost story, the new Spine-Tingling Trail is an exciting array of experiences complete with podcast and map that resurrects the chilling tales and eyewitness accounts of ghostly apparitions in the historic region of York Durham Headwaters. Thrill seekers can learn about “The Man in the Miller-Cole House” on a haunted walk of Pickering Museum Village or listen to the sounds of invisible children playing at Collins House on the museum’s property. For those who love the charm and camaraderie of a pub, prepare for a terrifying twist at Jester’s Court in Port Perry, where taps inexplicably turn on and off and salt shakers slide across tables on their own.

Just an hour outside the Greater Toronto Area, the sights, sounds and savoury foods of Northumberland County attract visitors year after year. The colourful countryside and charming towns and villages invite visitors to take it slow and soak in the local shops, galleries, restaurants and the stories of the past.

“It’s about getting grounded, about wellness – in the most relaxing and welcoming way that word ‘wellness’ can be felt by others. There is no pretentiousness here,” says Eileen Lum, tourism manager for Northumberland County.

“We have this incredible combination of fresh air, historic towns and villages, welcoming local businesses, clean waterways and a local, farm-to-table approach to food and drink.”

One of those towns is Port Hope, the ultimate destination for day-trippers from Toronto who long for a stroll down a perfectly preserved main street from the past. A walking tour guides visitors along Walton Street, named Best Preserved Main Street by TV Ontario. Movie buffs can take in a digital tour of the locations where Stephen King’s It movies were filmed in the historic town.

For more movie trivia, the nearby town of Cobourg offers four unique walking tours that explore the lavish, neoclassical style of magnificent buildings from the 1800s, including the birthplace of silver screen star and Academy Award winner Marie Dressler. Her former residence is now the Canadian Women in Film Museum that showcases the journey of women in film.

Adventure and enlightenment continue in the communities in Campbellford and Hastings where walking tours delve into the influence of the Trent River and the construction of the Trent Canal System in the mid-19th century. Only a short drive away, the town of Warkworth offers a walking tour around the thriving artists’ community founded on land purchased from Mississauga First Nation in 1784 to provide settlement for United Empire Loyalists.

Easily accessible from Toronto by bus, train, subway, taxi or car, the City of Brampton is a walker’s paradise, with shorter walks exploring the local heritage to longer walks or hikes surrounded by trees and nature.

Did you know the City of Brampton was once known as the Flower Town of Canada? The city’s Downtown Heritage Walking Tour explores the roots of the designation and the many other fascinating bits of history going back a century or more. Visitors can access the Heritage Pass using a special online program to check in to the city’s many historic locations.

Brampton’s extensive recreational trail system offers more than 40 kilometres of guided and paved recreational trails throughout the city. From the nine-kilometre Chinguacousy Recreational Trail to the 34-kilometre Etobicoke Creek Recreational Trail, there are stories and discoveries awaiting.

Centrally located between Stratford and London, St. Marys sits on the banks of the Thames River and Trout Creek where First Nations people once hunted. Enjoy one of several self-guided walking tours around what has been dubbed The Stone Town because of the many structures built from limestone dating back to the 1840s. Travellers will marvel at the cluster of churches rising majestically over the town with their turrets, towers, steeples and lancet windows.

Just beyond the downtown core is the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame with an actual ball field set in a natural amphitheatre in the centre of the 32-acre property.

For a personal guide, visitors can download the free Driftscape app to access cultural and historical information, tourism assistance such as culinary tour guides, and fun and informative structured tours.

Travellers wanting the freedom to move at their own pace in the great outdoors will love exploring Ontario on foot. Gather your friends or family and plan your next walking adventure. Check out the many options for self-guided or guided tours and enjoy rediscovering the beauty and history of our great province, one walk at a time.

Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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