Planning a March Break has its own set of challenges. For one, the weather: “will it be an early spring or will winter still be clinging?” Many people opt to hop on a plane and chase a guarantee of a warmer climate, but there are so many wonderful destinations just a few hours away from London. With March Break around the corner, here are some family-friendly vacation destinations that can be reached in about 4 hours or less from London, Ontario.
1. Toronto, Ontario
Toronto and the GTA are so jam-packed with destinations and activities that there is enough to fill the next five March Breaks, but let’s start with this one.
One of the best ways to see Toronto’s main attractions is the CityPASS which offers savings at several must-see stops around the city. The pass includes admission to Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, Casa Loma Castle, Royal Ontario Museum, and either the Toronto Zoo or the Ontario Science Centre! If it’s your first time to the city, the pass gives you access to something for everyone in the family!
Other sites worth a visit include the Hockey Hall of Fame - home of the Stanley Cup -, the Ontario Art Gallery, and Canada’s Wonderland Amusement Park. As for dining in the city, Toronto is one of Canada’s most diverse populations, so it is the perfect place to try food from all around the world! Spend a day downtown to shop at the Toronto Eaton Centre, see Yonge-Dundas Square in motion, and of course, eat out!
Distance from London: 2 Hours and 30 Minutes Away
2. Hamilton, Ontario
Closer and less crowded than a trip to Toronto is its neighbour Hamilton. Hamilton is just around the corner from Toronto (about an hour and fifteen minutes away) in the southwestern corner of Lake Ontario.
Hamilton offers an exciting mix of indoor and outdoor activities to help your family make the most of the weather this March Break. Indoor attractions include the Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Dundurn National Historic Site, and the Battlefield House Museum & Park, most of which have unique children’s programming over the break. Those looking for an outdoor adventure can spend the day exploring the Hamilton Waterfalls and their nearby trails. Some iconic sites include The Devil’s Punchbowl, Webster Falls, and Albion Falls - beautiful in every season. Sweeter still is a trip to the Westfield Heritage Village and their celebration of the Maple Syrup Festival throughout March!
If there is something you really want to see in Toronto, staying in Hamilton is one of many alternatives. Day-trips to Toronto are still possible - and since the two cities are connected by GO Train, you can choose not to deal with the traffic.
Distance from London: 1 Hour and 20 Minutes Away
3. Niagara Falls, Ontario
From natural beauty, to family-fun resorts, to endless hours of entertainment out on the town, Niagara Falls can be an unforgettable March Break experience.
That fun starts where you stay and there are plenty of resorts to offer indoor fun if the weather just isn’t cooperating. Two popular resorts are the Americana Waterpark Resort & Spa and the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark & Falls Avenue Resort. The Americana Resort offers guests access to its Waves Indoor Water Park which has slides, a wave pool, and an arcade for the kids and private cabanas, bar service, and a spa for adults to enjoy. Fallsview is a massive indoor waterpark with access to a cluster of nearby resorts. The park features water slides, pools, play structures, and dry areas while the resort complex includes even more entertainment and dining options.
The other perk of staying in Niagara Falls is having access to the attractions in the city. You can see the Canadian side of the Falls from boating tours, zip lines, from the top of the Skylon Tower, and even venture behind the falls on a special tour. A wide range of indoor attractions like fun houses, arcades, escape rooms, themed mini-golf, and haunted houses are within walking distance from the Falls too!
Distance from London: 2 Hours Away
4. The Blue Mountains, Ontario
Named after the Blue Mountain Formation, this town is in Grey County on the Georgian Bay and about 170km northwest of Toronto.
In warmer weather, visitors can experience the coastline of the Georgian Bay - highlights include the fossil-rich Craigleith Provincial Park, the Georgian Trail, and Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. Many of these trails are groomed for winter sports and the sights are just as beautiful in winter.
Even in March, it’s still cold at the top of the region’s namesake Blue Mountain. The downhill skiing and snowboarding season carries on through March and offers special March Break learning camps. First-time skiers and boarders can rent equipment from convenient facilities and sign up for daily or private lessons. With 43 trails to choose from and 12 options for on-site lodging, Blue Mountain Resort is the ultimate ski getaway in Ontario! Even if you aren’t interested in tackling the Mountain, the Resort offers several unique spa experiences for supreme vacation relaxation. Between volcanic rock therapy, Scandinavian Baths, massages, and an array of natural skin treatments, there is plenty to keep a spa-enthusiast busy while others are out in the cold.
Distance from London: 3 Hours Away
5. Huntsville, Ontario and the Muskoka Region
Another stunning northern destination is the Muskoka Region and its largest town, Huntsville. The region is home to an extensive network of lakes and it borders with Algonquin Provincial Park making it a renowned cottage country and all-season outdoor paradise.
Where and how you stay in Muskoka is important because it serves as the vacation’s anchor. Fortunately, there are so many options that it’s easy to find the perfect experience for your family. This popular region is home to many hotels and award-winning resorts like Deerhurst Resort, often with access to spas, fine dining, and indoor family entertainment. While those looking to be closer to nature can rent a lakeside or woodland cottage.
If it’s chilly enough this March, then skating down one of Muskoka’s famous ice trails is a good way to spend the day. Muskoka’s Cranberry Trail and Arrowhead Provincial Park are two of the most popular trails, taking skaters on a journey through beautiful forests. Trails in the Muskoka Region are open to skiing, snowshoeing, and sometimes snowmobiling. Other ways to enjoy the ice and snow are to rent a cabin and go ice fishing or to drive to the Haliburton Highlands and try your hand at ice climbing.
Distance from London: 3 Hours and 40 Minutes Away
6. Algonquin Park
Algonquin Park holds the honour of being the oldest Provincial Park in Canada and being a National Historic Site. The park is also massive - spanning over 7500 square kilometres. If your family is filled with active outdoor adventurers, then a week in Algonquin is bound to be a memorable one.
Lodging options for a week in Algonquin are going to depend on the weather and your family’s experience with the outdoors. Winter in Algonquin lasts longer so the park will likely have more snow and lower temperatures than London - despite that, all-season camping is a popular option. Some campgrounds like Mew Lake are kept snow-plowed and open even through the winter. The campground offers electrically-heated yurts and a washroom, shower, and laundry facility on-site for campers’ convenience. The other option is to stay in a lodge or to rent a cottage for the week with many having pet-friendly accommodations.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and winter fat biking are just some of the ways you can experience the park’s winter trails. Algonquin is also the perfect scenery for wildlife watching as moose, otters, foxes, wolves, and many kinds of birds can be seen during the winter. Looking for a closer animal encounter? Try dog sledding, a wintertime exclusive activity available on two of Algonquin’s trails.
Distance from London: Algonquin’s West Gate is 4 Hours and 15 Minutes Away
7. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Not all of our destinations are in Canada, but they sure are close! Frankenmuth is a small town in Michigan known as “Little Bavaria” for the German influences that make this such a charming spot to vacation.
Some of the biggest attractions in Frankenmuth are also some of the town’s most exciting hotels. Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark has a massive indoor aquatic play space for guests of all ages to enjoy. Spend time together playing a team sport like pool basketball and riding in a twisting 4-person family tube or ride alone down the lazy river or the 4-story Perilous Plunge. The German-themed Bavarian Inn Lodge is another fun place to stay that allows guests to really experience Frankenmuth’s German roots. The Lodge has waterslides, pools, arcades, and a special pretzel-making workshop that the whole family can take part in.
Waterpark hotels can be so much fun that it’s difficult to leave them, but at least one day of the vacation should be dedicated to dining and shopping around Frankenmuth. Special mention goes out to SugarHigh Bakery, Frankenmuth’s Fudge Kitchen, and the Chocolate Haus, a trio that sounds like a sweet-tooth’s dream vacation. There is even a Tim Hortons in Frankenmuth if you start to feel homesick. Nearly four months after Christmas - who cares? Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland sure doesn’t! A year-round Christmas store and one of the largest in the world, Bronner’s sells everything Christmas from gifts to decorations and is must-see attraction itself.
Distance from London : 2 Hours and 45 Minutes Away
8. Rochester, New York
New York is another state to share its border with Canada and a little further into that state is our next destination, Rochester.
Rochester has a little bit of everything and a lot for kids to enjoy. The Strong National Museum of Play should be the top of a curious kid’s list! This unique experience has exhibits on DC Superheroes, Dragons, Toys, and Video Games alongside more traditional topics like science and history. This museum encourages kids to get involved with the exhibits and to learn while they play! Another day calls for another museum and Rochester has a great line-up: the Strasenburgh Planetarium - with telescope viewings, the Cumming Nature Center - March is Maple Syrup season, the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and the Seneca Zoo to top it off.
Every day in Rochester could be a “museum day”, but that wouldn’t leave time for another important activity: shopping! No cross-border exploration is complete without a little shopping - The selection and deals in America really are without compare, so it’s worth spending one day at the mall. Speaking of malls, there is a great one called Eastview in the city, but some even more impressive stops just out of town. A 40 minute drive will get you to the Waterloo Premium Outlets - home of frequent mega-sales (50-65% off)!. If you are really committed, an hour on the road will get you to Syracuse, the home of the 6th largest mall in the United States: Destiny USA. Destiny USA is an attraction all by itself with an indoor amusement park, indoor playground, laser tag, arcades, mini-golf, and an IMAX theatre - this is in addition to its 250+ stores!
Distance from London: 3 Hours and 30 Minutes Away
9. Erie, Pennsylvania
One of the farthest American destinations on the list, Erie, Pennsylvania, squeaks in at just 4 hours away from London. Directly north of Pittsburgh, Erie is an award winning All-American city filled with historical monuments, exciting attractions, and incredible state parks.
Lake Erie might be a little too cold in March, so it’s a good thing that aquatic fun in Erie can be enjoyed all year. Splash Lagoon has it all: a place to stay, indoor water rides, games, and lots of different play structures for all ages. The indoor water park has a wave pool, lazy river, slides, tube rides, and a brand new surf machine. There are tons of options for people who would prefer to keep dry as well with an arcade, Virtual-Reality Machine, and a rope-course. Toddlers and young children can join in the family-fun too with specific slides, pools, and playhouses.
You can easily spend a day exploring the city, too. History-buffs will enjoy a trip to the Erie Maritime Museum with a collection dedicated to the history of the Great Lake. This includes some shared Canadian-American history with an exhibit in the Battle of Lake Erie (war of 1812) and a tall-ship replica of the U.S. Brig Niagara. Younger museum fans will enjoy a day at expERIEnce Children’s Museum with a collection of exhibits designed for interactive, hands-on learning. Other sights to see include Presque Isle State Park, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, and the Erie Zoo - which reopens for the season on March 1st, just in time!
Distance from London: 4 Hours Away
10. Sandusky, Ohio
Another spot on the American side of Lake Erie is Sandusky, Ohio, a lakeside city well-known for its amusement parks and attractions.
The city’s amusement park, Cedar Point doesn’t open until the summer, but there are several great indoor parks and resorts ready to offer a sweet off-season deal! One of those resorts is Cedar Point’s Castaway Bay which remains open over the winter. The Bay is themed after a Caribbean getaway complete with palm trees and warm waters in their indoor park. The park has slides, playgrounds, pools, and snacks for everyone to enjoy. There is also an option to visit Castaway Bay with a day pass so you can stay at another resort or location off-site.
The first is Kalahari, an indoor experience with a waterpark, safari animal park, mini golf, bowling, an arcade, and underwater Virtual Reality. Kalahari and its attractions are open to the public, but there are certain perks for staying at the resort: waterpark admission is included and guests have access to the attractions earlier than visitors.
Next is Great Wolf Lodge, another water park in Sandusky that offers resort guests and day-pass access to their indoor attractions. Great Wolf Lodge is a highly kid-friendly destination with easy entry splash pools, slides, and play structures designed with all ages in mind. The Lodge has fun on dry land as well with an arcade, kid crafts, camps, and activities to fill break times from the water park area.
Distance from London: 4 Hours Away
Can’t decide on just one destination this March Break? Take a few suggestions and map out a road trip - you might even discover some gems in between that weren’t on the list.