Whether you are on a couples trip or a family trip, there are various things to do in Midland and Penetanguishene, Ontario. Discover your options here!
Your wallet might be light, but your thirst for adventure has never been stronger. What’s the best way to spend a day in Central Ontario without breaking the bank?
Better yet, can you enjoy a trip without spending a cent?
Both Midland and Penetanguishene are charming towns along Simcoe County’s Georgian Bay. Both are home to verdant parks, quirky main street areas, stunning public art, and fabulous festivals that draw visitors from all over the country.
Best of all, there are so many free things to do in Midland and Penetanguishene. You won’t have to open your wallet to enjoy natural beauty, eye-catching art, or a range of recreational activities. The only question is: where do you begin?
We’ve created this guide to our favorite free activities in both areas, whether you’re looking for a romantic outing, a family-friendly adventure, or a day of solo exploration. You might have to return more than once to experience all these gorgeous areas have to offer.
Read on to start planning your next Ontario day trip in Georgian Bay.
Explore the Murals of Downtown Midland
If you’re wondering, “What can I do in Midland for free?” you’ll love the popular Midland walking art tours. Midland is a destination for public art, with 33 historic murals within easy walking distance. Local artist Fred Lenz created most of the murals beginning in 1990, and the town has since restored them to their current vibrance.
Take yourself on a self-guided tour of Ontario street art by downloading the free street map. It’s one of our favorite free things to do on a date in Midland, as you’ll be in the heart of downtown, close to marvelous restaurants where you can grab a fantastic meal. It’s also great for families with strollers (or mobile children who need to work out a lot of energy).
Enjoy a Waterside Picnic, Walk, or Bike Ride
Midland and Penetanguishene are perfect picnicking destinations, each with notable beaches and parks where you can lay out a blanket and bask in the bayside splendor.
Both towns are also ideal for a bike ride, as nearly every park has a trail perfect for exploring the natural environment. In Penetanguishene, we’re fond of the 1.25 km Copeland Creek Trail with its stunning bridges and boardwalks. In Midland, consider cycling along the rotary waterfront trail for spectacular views.
If you’d prefer a romantic stroll, the recently updated Parc Rotary Champlain in Penetanguishene is one of our top free family things to do in Penetanguishene. You’ll find walking trails, playgrounds, a brand-new splash pad, and a fishing dock. It terminates on Main Street, where you can extend your walk with a bit of window shopping fun.
Picnic at a Park in Midland
Did you know there are 27 free public parks in Midland, ranging from formal landscapes to urban forests? Exploring the parks is one of our top free family things to do in Midland.
Consider visiting Little Lake Park for various recreational activities, from hiking to disc golf. It also has an excellent playground for younger kids.
Bask on the Beach in Penetanguishene
Penetanguishene has a reputation for its stunning waterfront parks, perfect for beachside picnics. We believe visiting one of the parks is one of the best free things to do on a date in Penetanguishene. In fact, locations such as Bob Sullivan Memorial Park are so romantic you might stumble across a wedding in progress!
Visit the Famous Midland Butter Tart Festival
The Midland Butter Tart festival is hands down the best Butter Tart festival in Ontario – and yes, it’s free to attend! The best bakers in the province gather to compete for the title of Best Tart across a range of unique categories. The beautiful location along the shores of the Georgian Bay makes it a stunning place to browse vendors and enjoy family-friendly entertainment options.
The date of the next festival is June 17, 2023.
>>Click here to learn more about this festival<<.
Expose Yourself to Indigenous Art
The MCC Gallery of Indigenous Art is a can’t-miss, free destination to enjoy on your Ontario vacation. The highlight is the ground floor gallery, where you can find a rotating collection of art by Indigenous creators who work across mediums.
They have a calendar full of free events open to the public, including concerts and lectures. The cultural center also includes a 121-seat theatre where the Huronia Players perform three full-scale productions each year.
>>Click here to learn more about the gallery<<.
Hang out at the Town Docks
Midland and Penetanguishene have unique landmarks you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Visiting each piece of iconic dockside public art is one of our unmissable activities for visitors.
Midland’s Silver Swan
When you visit Midland’s famous Silver Swan, you’ll be right in the heart of the stunning waterfront. The trumpeter swan is 2700 pounds of stainless steel.
Ron Hunt created it in 2001 after the trumpeter swan nearly went extinct. Luckily, efforts from the Wye Marsh Wildlife Center brought the population back. Thus, this impressive swan is a stunning monument to local perseverance.
Penetanguishene’s Kitchikewana Statue
If you’re asking yourself, “what can I do in Penetanguishene for free?” you need to start at the Kitchikewana statue at the entrance to Rotary park.
Kitchikewana is the guardian of Georgian Bay, and the statue is a monument to the town’s Indigenous heritage. The stone and copper statue represents eternity, unity, courage, peace, and fidelity.
If you start at the statue, you’ll be at the very foot of Main Street, where you can explore the docks, local shops, restaurants, and more. Casually exploring the downtown dock area is one of our top free family things to do in Penetanguishene. Families with small kids will be happy to know there is a splash pad nearby to check out in summer.
The Top Free Things to Do in Midland and Penetanguishene
There are endless fun, free things to do in Midland and Penetanguishene. They all allow couples, travelers, or families to explore these charming beachside communities. If you begin at any of our local landmarks, you will surely find an easy, inexpensive way to extend your Ontario adventure.
At To Do Ontario, we have plenty more ideas where these came from! All of our popular getaway packages will keep you busy, no matter which part of Ontario you’d like to explore. Browse our accommodations, and you’ll be on your way to discovering all that stunning Ontario has to offer.