Ontario list touts its special places

The CN Tower. (Courtesy Ontario Tourism - ontariotravel.net)

The CN Tower. (Courtesy Ontario Tourism - ontariotravel.net)

JIM FOX, FREELANCE WRITER

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

With many people opting for closer-to-home travels, have you ever wondered what makes Ontario so special?

The Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership has put together a list of the biggest, tallest, longest, most exciting things that together make us "unique."

This includes some of the obvious, such as the CN Tower and Rogers Centre, the abundance of lakes and rivers, Niagara Falls and the Stratford and Shaw festivals.

Also making the list are eis wein, the Lake of the Woods Regatta, whistling swans, the amethyst mine, Uncle Tom's cabin and Guy Lombardo.

Here's the first 24 on the list, with the balance to follow next week:

Eis Wein. Taste the Niagara Peninsula's ice wine, judged one of the world's best wines at Vin Expo in Bordeaux, France.

Caribana. It's a long way from the Caribbean, but Toronto's still the site of the world's largest Caribbean festival.

Stratford. This charming Victorian city is home to the acclaimed festival featuring world-class productions from May to November.

Bruce Trail. Hike Ontario's oldest and longest trail, covering 731 kilometres along the picturesque Niagara Escarpment.

Manitoulin Island. Explore the world's largest freshwater island for its native culture, "floating inland" lakes, outstanding hiking, fishing and picturesque Bridal Veil Falls near Gore Bay.

Lakes and rivers. Ontario has 400,000 of them -- more lakes than any other region in the world, which means more fishing, canoeing, waterskiing and ice fishing.

Sandbanks Provincial Park. It's not the Sahara, but it is the world's largest system of freshwater sand dunes, near Picton.

Winterlude. Winter turns the Rideau Canal into the world's longest skating rink with eight kilometres of activities.

St. Jacobs and Elmira. Shop at one of the largest authentic farmers' markets in North America in this region that's home to one of the world's largest Mennonite populations and an annual maple syrup festival.

Agawa Canyon. Journey from Sault Ste. Marie to one of the most spectacular canyons in the world on a train bound for high adventure.

Toronto. Experience the most ethnically diverse city in the world with the world's largest Italian-speaking community outside of Italy.

Rogers Centre. Tour the world's first fully retractable roof stadium. Its design allows the roof to open or close in 20 minutes. There's also a hotel overlooking the playing field and the world's largest TV screen for replays.

CN Tower. Test your fear of heights atop one of the world's two tallest buildings. It's a great way to survey Toronto with a revolving restaurant, lounge and outdoor observation deck.

Snowmobile trails. Charge through the world's largest network of snowmobile trails with 33,600 kilometres of spectacular winter scenery.

Scottish Festival. The biggest Scots bash in North America takes place in Fergus the second week in August.

Lake of the Woods Regatta, Kenora. In August, set sail for the world's largest freshwater sailing regatta.

Peterborough lift locks. Pass through the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world -- rising more than 24 metres.

Lakeside resorts and fishing lodges. The region with the most lakeside resorts and fishing lodges in the world isn't Russia. It's here.

Toronto International Film Festival. During September, take in North America's largest film festival and do some celebrity watching.

Ontario canoe routes. Ontario also has more canoe routes than anywhere else, branching out 96,000 kilometres, many of them in Algonquin, Ontario's first and largest provincial park.

Niagara Falls. One of the wonders of the natural world, where nearly 3.6 million litres of water a second thunder over a 57-metre drop.

Changing of the Guard, Ottawa. It's North America's extension of the famous London tradition, held in July and August at the Parliament buildings.

Theatre. Ontario has one of the largest English-speaking theatre-going audiences for its dazzling and often huge productions.

Old Fort William. Visit North America's largest reconstructed trading post, near Thunder Bay, to recall the colourful fur-trading era.

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IF YOU GO

To learn more about travel experiences and opportunities around the province, contact Ontario Tourism at www.ontariotravel.net or 1-800-ONTARIO (668-2746) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays.


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