1. See at least 2 new waterfalls this year. I can think of 8 waterfalls we’ve seen in the 9 years we’ve been here; Tiffany Falls, Albion Falls, Ball’s Falls, Devil’s Punchbowl, Tews Falls, Smokey Hollow, Chedoke Falls, and Washboard Falls. Beautiful and inspirational as these wonders are, may I also recommend you learn to ID poison ivy (there is plenty beside trails all over Ontario) & bring a bag and gloves to preserve the pristine beauty by picking up any broken glass or garbage you encounter along the way. As I grumblingly wonder why anyone would litter when specifically coming to see something so beautiful, I try to comfort myself with the fact that we’re ensuring more plastic doesn’t harm animals or enter our lakes and oceans.
  2. Paddle Cootes Paradise. This is a big personal goal missing from my Hamilton ‘Bucket list’. The RBG has regular canoe trips you can register for, they provide the canoe & lifejackets.
  3. Go Jump in the lake – we have a huuuuuge beach, yes we do and it’s pretty great if you can get over the view of the giant pylons. Sure the water is cold but you can wade in on a hot day & toss a beach ball or Frisbee. I like to bring an umbrella as shade is fairly scarce; if you’re not sporty you can listen to an audiobook from the library or bring a sketchbook if you need to ‘unplug’.
  4. Ride around to Princess Point on your bike or rent a SoBi / take the bus. Picnic, or go for a hike (watch for Poison Ivy again) and try to positively ID a native plant, shrub or tree
  5. Walk the boardwalks & bridges over the marsh and hike the trails to enjoy the incredible abundance of life where water meets land. The Royal Botanical Gardens ‘Cherry Hill Gate’ area absolutely beautiful & only charges for parking (make it cheaper by riding a bike or taking the bus there)
  6. Take the free trolley to the waterfront and have a picnic in Bayfront Park – there are some lovely hidden spots. No time to pack a picnic? Grab a bite from Hutchs and enjoy the roller rink near Williams cafe!
  7. Visit the inlet under the Burlington canal lift bridge. As well as the giant cargo ships passing through, an incredibly diverse amount of ducks and swans seem to hang out here.
  8. Rainy day you say? Go to the beautiful new Gage Park Greenhouse with a book. Free and fabulous. (check for opening hours online)
  9. Camp in your own backyard – set up a tent or improvise your own homemade version, throw in loads of pillows to create a ‘sultans tent’ with all the luxuries of home nearby. Don’t forget to add some fun snacks and a cooler of beverages.
  10. Napped in the heat of the afternoon and now you’re wide awake? The waterfront trail near Van Wagners, Hutch’s on the Beach or Confederation park is well lit and lovely for an evening stroll or walk right along the beach. I find the lake has a different quality at night, quite mysterious and its always cooler than the city.