It’s summer, it’s crazy-humid and here in Ontario, all we can think about is to find a way to get refreshed! There are public pools, water parks and big beaches of course, but for a little more adventure and that exhilarating off-the-beaten-path vibe, give these lesser-known natural swimming areas a try. Jump into our Guide to the Best Swimming Holes in Southern Ontario!

Elora Quarry 
Where: Elora Quarry Conservation Area, 319 Wellington County Road, Elora
This limestone quarry includes 40-foot-high cliffs and a large beach area with easy access to the water, ideal for families and children. Be aware that this conservation area is so popular that restrictions have been put in place to control the number of visitors. Tickets to the quarry can be purchased in advance here.

St. Marys Quarry 
Where: St. Marys Quarry, 425 Water Street South, St. Marys
West of Stratford, this limestone quarry makes a fun pitstop for Toronto on their way to the beaches of Lake Huron. For extra activities, the quarry features a floating island with a slide plus a water trampoline! You can purchase advance tickets here, as well as the Super Splash waterpark with separate admission.

Kelso Conservation Area
Where: 5234 Kelso Road, Milton
Just west of Milton with recommended advance reservation, Kelso Conservation Area offers activities throughout the year, including their new waterpark. Swimming, fishing, boating, and stand-up paddle boarding are popular in the Kelso Lake reservoir and there’s also a boardwalk around the reservoir for strolling.

Waterford North Conservation Area 
Where: 226 Concession 8 Townsend, Waterford
Also known as the Waterford Ponds, this Conservation Area has three ponds where you can enjoy a family camping trip or just a picnic, go for a boat ride or catch a fish or two. The conservation area also features unsupervised swimming at the sandy beach, and canoe and kayak rentals. Close by is a great route for hiking and cycling, the Waterford Heritage Trail.

Rockwood Conservation Area
161 Fall St. South, Guelph/Eramosa
This large, sandy beach is on the Eramosa River reservoir which also includes towering limestone cliffs, caves, and large glacial potholes. The beach is not patrolled and life jackets are available to borrow at the boat rental concession.

Shade’s Mills
Where: 450 Avenue Road, Cambridge
On a 32-hectare (80-acre) reservoir created by the construction of Shade’s Mills Dam, this day-use spot has a long sandy beach where families can swim, fish and canoe. The area also features 12 kilometres of trails through a mature hardwood forest, boat rentals, a nature centre, a picnic area and a “natural” playground.

Tottenham Conservation Area 
Where: 6787 4th Line, Tottenham
Only 45 minutes north of Toronto in the New Tecumseth region, this small but busy park features a picturesque pond that families love for swimming, boating, fishing and camping. On land, you can also hike the nature path, play disc golf, and more.

Binbrook Conservation Area
Where: 5050 Harrison Rd., Binbrook (Hamilton)
Binbrook Conservation Area has a large swimming beach and children’s splash pad. The area also features picnic facilities, nature trails and boat rentals. It’s also home to FunSplash Sports Park (separate entrance fee) with a floating inflatable obstacle course and the Happy Splash Kids Zone in for young kids.

Get outside with more ideas for outdoor swimming activities here!