Summer is here and if the final weeks of spring have shown, we’re in for a particularly hot one. Be sure to beat the heat this season by eschewing the packed beachfronts and public pools, and making your way out of town—without ever being too far from home. Explore the best in pristine outdoor water spots—some off the beaten track, some hiding in plain sight—and visit all of these killer swimming holes in and around the GTA. Be sure to add your own, and click here for more.
319 Wellington County Road
If you’re looking to get away from the chokehold of the city’s crowded beaches and pools, you’ll certainly find that it’s worth the drive to Elora. Nestled in the quaint Grand River conservation area about an hour north of downtown, this limestone quarry spot boasts turquoise blue water, scenic cliffs and a substantial beachfront for the ultimate in chill.
10am – 8pm on weekends, 11am – 8pm on weekdays; $6 per person
Darlington Provincial Park
1600 Darlington Park Road, Bowmanville
Lake Ontario never looked so good, at least not from the sandy shores of Darlington Provincial Park, a massive campground and wilderness area a mere stone’s throw from the city.
The Falls of Hamilton
Following along the Chedoke Radial Trail in Hamilton—a mere 45 minute drive from downtown Toronto—pedestrians and cyclists will stumble upon a number of scenic watering spots, almost all of which come attached to some gnarly waterfalls. While most are easily accessible, and unrestricted, you can certainly do a fair bit of wading at your own risk.
Unsupervised; swim at your own risk
Mono Cliff Provincial Park, Shelburne
Just outside of Caledon—consistently voted the greenest town in Ontario—lies the expansive Mono Cliff Provincial Park, parked along the storied Bruce Trail amid the lush Niagara Escarpment. With countless hiking paths in store, follow McCarston’s trail leads directly to a secluded body of water that is ideal for swimming and sunning.
Day use only; Daily vehicle permits are available for under $20
St. Marys Swimming Quarry
317 James Street South, St. Marys
This famous watering hole, Canada’s largest outdoor freshwater swimming pool, is a fan favourite since the early 1950s. A key attraction to the small town of St. Marys, just outside of London, the area comes complete with sand volleyball courts and eats from the Tiki Hut. As if you needed another reason: this July, expect to find a brand new inflatable water trampoline added to the mix.
June 30 – September 5; 1pm -8pm; $4.75 admission
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville
The swimming options are endless at this nearby conservation area, just off of the QEW past Oakville: you can either hop into the Bronte Creek, an unsupervised stretch of water leading into Lake Ontario, or you can lay a towel next to the massive outdoor pool. Either way, you’re gonna get wet.
Pool admission: $3.25
(Main photo: Grand River Conservation Authority)