Many people just use Pickering as a way to get to Toronto, but it is actually a very interesting place to visit. Not only has it been around for a very long time, but it also has a very active arts scene. Still, travelers often forget about it, even though it has a lot to offer.
The city is right on Lake Ontario, just to the east of Toronto. You can get there by train or car from the big city. If you get the chance to spend some time in Pickering, these are the 10 best things to do.
1. Take a walk in a park
Not just any park, but the Rouge National Urban Park, which is 62.9 square kilometers. About 10,000 years ago, Palaeolithic hunters, Iroquois farmers, and early European explorers all lived in this historic park.
The park was made by Pickering, Toronto, and Markham in 1995, because it is in all three of these cities. It has wetlands, farmlands, and places set aside for conservation.
In the park, there are three trails that people can hike on in the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, people can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on these trails. Along the way, keep an eye out for rare birds and animals like white-tailed deer, coyotes, beavers, red foxes, and minks.
2. Spend the day by the water.
The Nautical Village in Pickering is a unique place that sits on the edge of Lake Ontario. It’s a great place to get away from the busy city center, take a stroll, and enjoy everything it has to offer.
There are cute shops, ice cream shops, bakeries, and cafes in the area. Even better, there is a beach with volleyball nets and places to swim.
The Frenchman’s Bay Yacht Club, Tenkey Marina, and Wharf Street Marina are all places where boaters can spend time. On Frenchman’s Bay, you can rent a boat, canoe, or wind sail, or you can just look at the beautiful yachts and sailboats.
3. Take a walk through the woods
The 53-hectare Altona Forest is a great place to go hiking and is also important for the environment. It is home to many plants and animals that live in the area, as well as a few that don’t.
You can go hiking on your own or join a free guided hike through the forest every Saturday morning. You can look at the wildflowers, ponds, trees, and plants, or you can try to spot the birds that live in the forest.
The Altona Forest trail system has seven ways to get in, but people coming by car should use Altona Road. All year, you can go into the forest and look around.
4. Go for a walk by the water
The Waterfront Trail is a set of trails that run along Lake Ontario and connect to each other. The trail goes all the way from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Cornwall, which is to the east. Pickering is somewhere in the middle.
The Pickering part of the trail starts at Rouge Beach Park and goes east to Frenchman’s Bay, around Frenchman’s Bay, and past the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. It ends at Simcoe Point and then goes on into the nearby city of Ajax.
Stop at Beachfront Park, Alex Robinson Park, and Bay Ridges Kinsmen Park along the way. At the very south end of Frenchman’s Bay, you can also walk along the Beachpoint Promenade.
5. Enjoy street food
Don’t miss the Pickering Food Truck Festival if you happen to be in Pickering in August. This three-day festival is a paradise for food lovers, with food trucks selling their best dishes.
When more than 40 food trucks take over Esplanade Park near Pickering City Hall, it becomes a food lover’s dream. There are eat-offs, live music, and even a village for kids.
There is no charge to get into the festival or to park. Still, you’ll want to bring more money than you think you’ll need so you can try lots of different foods and craft beers.
6. Visit a zoo
Just west of Pickering and next to the Rouge National Urban Park is the huge Toronto Zoo. It is the biggest zoo in Canada and one of the biggest in the world. It is 287 hectares.
The zoo is home to more than 5,000 animals from all over the world. In fact, it is split into seven areas called zoogeographic regions, and each one has some interesting animals.
Look at white rhinos, Sumatran orangutans, spotted hyenas, red pandas, Komodo dragons, and snow leopards as you walk around the zoo. There is even a zoo for kids where they can get close to animals.
7. Go back to the past
Go to the Pickering Museum Village to find out about the city’s history. The museum is in a number of old buildings that show how people lived in Pickering after 1830.
Some of the historic buildings in the village are the Puterbaugh Schoolhouse, the Duffin’s Creek General Store, the Oddfellows’ Hall, the Combination Barn, and the Bible Christian Chapel. There are also log houses, homes, and gardens, like the Collins House Medicinal Garden.
The museum village also has clothes, china, furniture, photographs, and other things from the city’s past. In the Robert A. Miller Building, there are also special exhibitions.
8. Look in windows
Or, you could go shopping at the Pickering Town Centre, which is a large mall with more than 200 stores. Since it opened in 1972, the mall has become the busiest in the area.
International and local brands like H&M, Roots, American Eagle Outfitters, Lush, and The Body Shop are all in the mall. A Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH also exists.
There are restaurants, fast food stands, and a movie theater in the shopping mall, so it’s easy to spend a whole day there. There is even a game arcade with virtual reality!
9. Get out of town
If you go to Pickering in the winter, don’t miss the chance to go skiing, snowboarding, or tobogganing in the hills. At Lakeridge Ski Resort and Dagmar Ski Resort, both of which are right outside of the city, you can do this.
Both of these ski resorts are in Uxbridge, just north of Pickering. From the city center, it takes less than 30 minutes to get there. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring your own gear, because you can rent it at both places.
Lakeridge Ski Resort has 23 runs and three terrain parks, making it the bigger of the two. There are 18 ski runs and two jump lines with 1/4 pipes, hips, pyramids, spines, and more at Dagmar Ski Resort.
10. Look up at the trees
At the Petticoat Creek Conservation Area, there are about 69 different kinds of trees and a lot of wildlife. You can walk along the trails and look at the oak, birch, willow, and pine trees.
The Waterfront Trail goes through the Petticoat Creek Conservation Area. From there, you can see Lake Ontario from many different angles. Mountain biking is also an option, but you’ll need to bring your own bike.
The conservation area is also a great place to have a picnic, since there are six places to do so. If that isn’t enough, there is also a beach, a pool that is 1,600 square meters, and a splash pad that is 1,000 square meters.