Pick a watery diversion, any watery diversion, and Ontario can surely make it happen. With an incredible one-fifth of the world's freshwater filling its 250,000-plus lakes and 100,000 kilometres of rivers, it's no wonder that everything from fly fishing and cliff-jumping to white-water rafting and kite-boarding is hugely popular in the province. Plus, there's never any need to rinse salt off your swimsuit or wait for the tide to come in.
For thrill seekers: Owl Rafting
West of Canada's capital the Ottawa River narrows dramatically, creating sections of whitewater ranging from gentle Class 1 rapids to cataclysmic Class 5s. The latter may not look navigable, but Owl Rafting guides thousands of guests safely down these frothy chutes every summer, albeit with plenty of screams, wide eyes and hilarious capsizings. Owl offers just about everything vacationing paddlers could want: cabins, cabanas and campsites; a fine sandy beach with volleyball courts, kayaks, canoes and a swim dock with slide, among other watery amenities; and hearty buffet and barbecued fare. Rafting, of course, is always front and centre here, with a host of half-, one- and two-day packages ranging from beginner-friendly family trips to "adventure" overnights where you just know you're going to get completely stoked and soaked.
For foodies: Lodge at Pine Cove
You know your taste buds are in for a treat when fresh Manitoulin rainbow trout is grilled slowly for hours over an open flame. If the mere thought of this makes your mouth water, you're in luck: Twice this summer, the luxurious Lodge at Pine Cove is hosting Argentine-style barbecue feasts on its secluded sandy beach on the French River southeast of Sudbury. If you can't make it to one of these Asados, don't fret: The in-house Brûlé Restaurant bakes the same trout with almond and caper salsa every summer evening. Guided canoe trips, meanwhile, include gourmet picnic lunches of garlic-roasted chicken with figs and green olives alongside mushroom and goat cheese frittate. All the better to fuel your efforts as you paddle past eagles' nests and diving ospreys, or pick blueberries or cranberries for tomorrow's morning bowl of house-made granola.
The Lodge at Pine Cove, above and middle right, offers gourmet picnic lunches for your adventures; Killarney Mountain Lodge, middle left, exudes calm in Group of Seven country; and Owl Rafting, bottom, ups the wow factor for any thrill seeker
For sightseers: Gananoque Boat Lines
Would the Thousand Islands be quite as famous if they were more accurately called the 1,864 Islands? The rounded-down moniker takes nothing away from this gorgeous archipelago dotting the St. Lawrence River between Kingston and Brockville, especially since getting a closer look at hundreds of isles – some home to magnificent holiday estates, others tiny outcroppings with cabins clinging to their shores – is so easily achieved. Several different Gananoque Boat Lines sightseeing cruises depart daily from their namesake town in the heart of the region, including highlights such as the magnificent 120-room Boldt Castle, abandoned mid-construction by its millionaire owner when his wife passed away in 1904.
For shutterbugs: Killarney Mountain Lodge
Whether you're snapping selfies or setting up tripods for that perfect sunrise shot, the Killarney region on the northern shore of Georgian Bay will deliver the visual (and Instagram) splendor you seek. The Group of Seven cemented this ravishing reputation decades ago, when painters A.Y. Jackson and Franklin Carmichael committed Killarney's shimmering lakes, white quartzite hills and sun-dappled forests to canvas. Camera-toting canoeists often venture into the namesake provincial park to capture (and post) this rugged splendour, with the savvy ones ending up at Killarney Mountain Lodge for some plush accommodations, cooked-to-order wild blueberry pancakes and a sunset cruise aboard a 46-foot ocean-going sloop.
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