Latest posts by Tim Firmager (see all)
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From trendy queer villages to a hopping nightlife, award-winning spas to the great outdoors, Ontario is the ultimate destination for LGBT travellers looking to relax.
Ontario boasts award-winning spas, hiking through stunning landscapes and parks (and visiting Niagara Falls), LGBT film festivals throughout the year, LGBT-friendly accommodation and a Rainbow Train. This Canadian state therefore makes for an ideal destination of LGBT travellers to unwind and relax. We explore these top 5 reasons to visit Ontario.
1.The Rainbow Train
On September 9th, get wild in the wilderness with Rainbow Train’s exclusive LGBT rail adventure experience. Take a ride through the majestic Canadian Shield and lose yourself to the music, live entertainment and views of the rugged landscape along the way. This unique one-day excursion will transport your body and soul to places of the untamed imagination. The trip includes travelling 500 feet down to the Agawa Canyon floor, where riders exit the train at Canyon Park and are let loose in the splendor of nature, enjoy more live performances, and explore hiking trails and flowing waterfalls with friends. Take a picnic blanket, and spend some time taking in the beauty of the sparkling Agawa River.
2. LGBT film festivals.
Across Ontario, there are an abundance of LGBT and queer film festivals throughout the year. In the southern cities within Ontario, from London (the small city to the UK capital), to Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, and Sudbury queer movies are celebrated throughout. Listings below:
- Inside Out, Toronto, May
- Queer North Film Festival, June
- London Lesbian Film Festival, April
- Ottawa LGBT Film Festival, October
- Reelout Queer Film Festival, Kingston, January
- Kitchener-Waterloo’s Rainbow Reels Queer Film Festival, March
- Queer West Film Festival, Toronto, August
3. LGBT friendly accommodation
The majority of hotel accommodation in Canada focuses on guest experiences regardless of gender or sexual identity. However for those travelling (particularly alone) to a new destination, the knowledge that a certain hotel is LGBT-friendly can be particularly important. For others, it may simply be a case of wanting to stay at a venue that is just that extra bit fabulous. Well Toronto, Niagra and Ottawa provide just that.
There’s no shortage of chic, LGBT-friendly hotels in Toronto. This includes Thompson Toronto, The Drake Hotel, The Gladstone or one of Toronto’s newest digs, The Broadview Hotel (formally a strip club). For those looking for an adult-only property, there is the Wellesley Manor Hotel, located in the village. For that personal touch, find a bed & breakfast or an inn that suits your style. Choose from A Seaton Dream in Cabbagetown or Downtown Home Inn, McGill Inn B&B, Toronto Garden Inn, Jarvis House and Victoria’s Mansion downtown.
In Niagara, experience the wonder of the Falls, sample the flavour of wine country, and indulge in locally inspired, farm-to-table cuisine. You’ll find equally pleasing places to sleep. The Radisson Hotel & Suites Falls view offers a spectacular view in Niagara Falls. Check out the dining and touring packages offers at The Old Stone Inn Hotel. There is a hint of romance in the air at Absolute Elegance Bed & Breakfast, Niagara Inn Bed & Breakfast and A Night to Remember Bed & Breakfast. The Chestnut Inn Bed & Breakfast is a stately colonial that overlooks the scenic Niagara River Gorge. You’ll be spoiled by Vintage Hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake or at The Oban Inn.
Ottawa is brimming with culture, history and attractions, a growing gay village in the heart of the city, and to top it off, is throwing a massive year-long party in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. Let one of Ottawa’s welcoming accommodations direct you towards some capital fun. One of the newest on the scene, the Andaz Hotel Ottawa ByWard Market is a sleek hotel with stunning city views. ARC The.Hotel is another chic downtown option. Alternatively try the Gilmore Inn or the Rideau Inn for a cozy, home-away-from-home experience.
4. Sumptuous Spas
Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding which spa to try in Ontario. Located in the resort of Blue Mountain, two hours north of Toronto, iwa spa opened last year and has already been awarded two wellness awards for Canada including ‘best hidden gem’ and ‘best yoga’ at the Spafinder 2016 Wellness Travel Awards. Traditional treatments on offer include massage, reflexology, manicures and pedicures as well as yoga in the garden or atop Blue Mountain, overlooking the vistas of Georgian Bay. A relaxing Gan·ban volcanic rock therapy is also on offer, for a spa wellness experience with a difference.
Blue Mountain also has the Scandinave Spa, situated on 25 acres of natural Ontario birch, Canadian maple and pine trees, and boasting expansive views of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Niagara Escarpment. This spa offers a renowned Scandinavian Baths experience, including Finnish sauna, eucalyptus steam bath, thermal and Nordic waterfalls, hot baths, cold plunges, relaxation areas and registered massage treatments.
Meanwhile, in Muskoka there is the J.W. Marriott Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa – a luxury lakeside resort offering a peaceful sanctuary. Spa Rosseau is a full -service luxury spa with eleven treatment rooms including a Vichy room for hydrotherapy.
Those in the vicinity of Niagara-on-the-Lake should ensure they incorporate a stop off at Pillar and Post into their itinerary. Home to the award winning 100 Fountain Spa, it is one of the few spas that offers vinotherapy; enriched treatments that incorporate locally grown grapes and wine into the products used.
Then, for a truly Canadian experience, visitors should head to the capital to try Holtz Spa, Ottawa’s oldest spa, which is home to the unique Fulton’s maple – based spa treatments including the Maple Luscious Body Scrub and Wrap.
5. The great outdoors
Home to some of the most pristine environments in the world, 334 stunning provincial parks and six national parks, including Bruce Peninsula, Georgian Bay Islands, Point Pelee, Pukaskwa, Thousand Islands and Rouge Park, Ontario is the ultimate outdoor destination for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Let’s also not forget Nigara Falls itself. The parks offer visitors the chance to escape and unwind with available activities including hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, star gazing and swimming. For the remainder of the year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Parks Canada is offering free entry to all National Parks with a Discovery Pass, meaning there has never been a better time to discover Ontario’s great outdoors.
Follow the journey using hashtag #DiscoverON, and for further information on Ontario in order to plan a trip, visit ontariotravel.net.