You’ve heard the saying “nature heals,” and it’s true. Scientific studies show that being in nature lowers stress, elevates mood, improves sleep, increases productivity, and even creates pleasant feelings. We need all of these now more than ever after long periods spent indoors. Nature is connected to our health and if you’re looking to connect with nature, there’s no better spot than Ontario’s Southwest. There’s a reason our tagline is “Shaped by Nature”.

Nature trail

Here are all of the ways you can get out there and get active in the nature of our region:

On Your Feet

Lacing up a pair of shoes is all you need to get started in hiking. Well that and this list of favourite hiking trails all across Southwestern Ontario. After you’ve explored these, there are countless more trails waiting to be discovered. Start finding your new favourite trails with the Ontario Trails interactive map. It has options in each part of Ontario’s Southwest.

Hiking 5

On the Water

If your activity of choice to escape into nature is dipping your paddles in a new waterway, you won’t be disappointed with any of these kayaking and canoeing spots. From quietness of Big Creek and biodiversity of the Pinery to the well known Grand and Thames rivers, you are spoiled for options.

For the truly adventurous, the ultimate solo paddling trip can be had in Ontario’s Southwest on the Thames River. Kevin Callan, known as the Happy Camper, paddled the length of the Thames over eight days and filmed his whole journey. Watch his adventures and all the stops he visited.


On Two Wheels

The trails of Ontario’s Southwest aren’t just for travel by foot, one of the best ways to explore the Carolinian forest is on studded tires. Tune up your mountain bike, or fat bike, and go for a rip on these biking trail routes spanning our region.

Want to stay on the paved roads and go for distance? We’ve put together a number of guides that feature multi-day cycling adventures. These downloadable guides offer up everything you need to plan a long ride and you’ll get to take in the fresh air on open country roads and explore friendly communities.

woman cycling on iron bridge

Speaking of friendly communities full of small-town charm, you can enjoy a great mixture of both off-road trails and road riding in the counties of Haldimand and Oxford. Both are amazing cycling destinations with trail networks that connect their communities and offer unique sites & stops.

couple cycling on trail

On a Towel

Now that you’ve been active, you’re probably looking for relaxation too. There’s no better way of relaxing than sinking your toes in the sand and taking a dip. Of course, you don’t want the big crowds of busy beaches when you just want to take it easy and with so many amazing waterfront, Ontario’s Southwest has you covered. We’ve pulled together a list of quiet beaches that fly under the radar so you can soak in the rays without being towel to towel. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

couple relaxing on Beach

Now that you’ve got a tease of all the nature that awaits you in our region, explore even more options with our collection of blogs and traveller stories where fresh air fun is the star!

Please take a moment prior to your visit to confirm that the places you plan to enjoy will be operating when you arrive. The partner listings in our Things To Do section are a great resource to find operator websites and phone numbers.