15 Best Things to Do in Oshawa (Ontario, Canada)

Written by Veronique Raes
Updated on
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This Toronto suburb is more than just a suburb. It is a city that sits on the shore of Lake Ontario and is a prominent centre for sports events and entertainment.

Oshawa is also extremely rich in culture, as well as having plenty of parks and trails. This makes it not only a lovely place to live, but also a great place for a holiday.

Not many tourists go much further than Toronto, so Oshawa is often missed. But it has so much to offer, especially if you are looking for a laid-back place to enjoy. If you ever find yourself in city, these are the best things to do in Oshawa:

1. Look at cars

Canadian Automotive MuseumSource: wikipedia
Canadian Automotive Museum

One of the city’s most visited attractions is the Canadian Automotive Museum. Come here if you want to look at cars, especially Canadian-made ones.

The 2,300 square metre museum is housed in what used to be a local car dealership. Today, it is filled with cars that date all the way back to 1902.

There are two levels in the museum, with the second level featuring Canadian-made cars. When walking through the museum, you can expect to see a 1908 De Dion-Bouton Rpadster, 1926 Bentley 3 litre Speed Model, 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III, 1957 Dodge Regent and a plethora of other fantastic automobiles.

2. Wander around an estate

Parkwood EstateSource: flickr
Parkwood Estate

The Parkwood Estate was once the residence of the founder of General Motors of Canada; Samuel McLaughlin. Today, the magnificent property is open to the public.

Wander around the estate and admire the landscape, architecture and interior design of the mansion. There are housewares, artwork, memorabilia and books all set up like they were when the family inhabited the estate.

Today, Parkwood Estate is a national historic site. It features 55 rooms and an incredible garden where weddings and photos shoots often take place.

3. Look at art

Robert McLaughlin GallerySource: rmg
Robert McLaughlin Gallery

Look at contemporary and modern Canadian art at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The gallery was opened by and features works by the Painters Eleven; a group of abstract artists.

Walk around the gallery and admire the art displayed on the walls. There are over 4,500 works in the gallery’s collection.

Paintings, prints and sculptures created by artists in the Painters Eleven can be seen throughout, particularly those of Alexandra Luke who founded the gallery.

4. Learn about the Canadian Forces

Ontario Regiment (RCAC) MuseumSource: flickr
Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum

Since 1980, the Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum has opened its doors to the public. The museum is a great place to explore if you want to learn more about the Canadian Forces.

The museum collects and preserves history and artefacts of the Canadian Forces, especially the Oshawa-based Ontario Regiment. It also features the largest collection of armoured vehicles in the country!

Visit the Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum to see vehicles like the leopard 1A5, M60, universal carrier, ferret scout car and many more. There are also weapons, uniforms and medals on display.

5. Go for a long walk or ride

Waterfront TrailSource: blog.uoit
Waterfront Trail

The 994 mile long Waterfront Trail stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Brockville, passing through Oshawa along the way. It is one of the best places in the city to go for a walk or a bike ride.

The trail goes through the entire city along the edge of Lake Ontario. Parts of it are off-road, while others are on-road.

There are a few car parks and washrooms along the trail, as well as two lookout points. This portion of the trail happens to be one of the most significant remnant coastal wetlands in the entire area.

6. Visit a park

Darlington Provincial ParkSource: wikipedia
Darlington Provincial Park

The lovely Darlington Provincial Park is located just to the east of the city on Lake Ontario. It is a small park, but it is a nice place to spend a day.

Darlington Provincial Park is home to a plethora of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, coyotes, grey wolves and monarch butterflies. In fact, there are so many butterflies that it is part of a conservation program.

If you want to spend more time here, there are three campgrounds onsite. There is also a beach, hiking trails and picnic facilities.

7. Smell flowers

Oshawa Valley Botanical GardenSource: flickr
Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden

Sitting along the Oshawa Creek from Adelaide Avenue to Gibb Street is the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden. This network of parks it is fantastic place to stop and smell the flowers.

The summer is the best time to explore the gardens, although it is open year-round. The gardens feature beautiful trails, pavilions and picnic areas, as well as a playground for the kids to enjoy.

Parts of the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden have outdoor fitness equipment and places to sit and relax. It should be noted that it is a popular place for wedding photographs, so you may want to avoid visiting on the weekends.

8. Celebrate Oshawa

Henry HouseSource: oshawamuseum
Henry House

Or learn about the city’s history by going to the Oshawa Museum. The historical museum is both a museum and an archival storage.

The museum displays items that date back to the 15th century, all of which celebrate the history of the city.  The permanent collections are within two buildings, both of which date back to the 19th century.

Robinson House is where you will find the archaeology exhibit, whileis a living museum. The third building at the Oshawa Museum (Guy House) is not open to the public.

9. Hike through a wildlife reserve

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife ReserveSource: flickr
McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve

There are around seven kilometres of walking and cycling trails in the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Some of these are mown grass trails while others are gravel, wood or hard surface.

The McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve has 11 trails to choose from, though often visitors walk along more than one. One of the trails was designed specifically for the visually impaired.

There are three entry points, two of which have car parks. There are also a couple of information boots, viewpoints and picnic areas within the reserve.

10. Look at animals

Oshawa Zoo And Fun FarmSource: oshawazoo
Oshawa Zoo And Fun Farm

And even interact with them at the Oshawa Zoo and Fun Farm. The nine hectare zoo is home to over 45 animal species.

Sheep, pigs, mini donkeys, belted Galloway and goats are some of the domestic animals you will see at the Oshawa Zoo and Fun Farm. You will also see camels, lemurs, monkeys, llamas and wallabies.

The zoo often saves abandoned or injured animals. Some of the animals you will see were these animals, which have since been given food and love.

11. Explore the city centre

Downtown OshawaSource: wikipedia
Downtown Oshawa

There is so much to see in Downtown Oshawa and a walking tour is the best way to explore it. Many top attractions are here, as are some lovely parks.

Downtown Oshawa sits on the west side of the Oshawa River. There are numerous cafés, restaurants and local shops in the area that are fun to relax or browse in.

There are two trails in the area that head south to Lake Ontario, or just stay in the area and explore it. This is also the most popular part of the city in terms of accommodations.

12. Go for a swim

Donevan PoolSource: jjmcguire
Donevan Pool

There are a number of swimming pools throughout Oshawa, some of which are indoors and some that are outdoors. Head to any of these pools to go for a swim.

The Civic Recreation Complex Pool is the largest, having six-lanes for doing laps. There is also a diving board and a sauna.

The 25-metres indoor heated Donevan Pool is also a great option, as is the 30-metre heated outdoor Rotary Pool. Then there is the Legends Centre Pool, which features a lazy river, a beach and two waterslides.

13. Watch a game

Oshawa Generals Hockey TeamSource: thewhig
Oshawa Generals Hockey Team

Oshawa is a haven for sports lovers, as it is home to numerous local teams. There is a hockey, lacrosse, basketball, rugby and football team in the city.

The Oshawa Generals hockey team is probably the city’s most well-known team, as it has famous alumni like Bobby Orr, Wayne Cashman, Eric Lindros and Dave Andreychuk. The Oshawa Green Gaels lacrosse team is also pretty top notch.

If you are a sports lover, watching a game is a must. Some are quite popular and may sell out fast, so be sure to buy tickets ahead of time.

14. Please your taste buds

Southern BBQSource: taylorfladgate40906
Southern BBQ

Oshawa has recently become a food city, with many restaurants and emerging chefs popping up at every corner. Downtown is the area that has the most options, though food can be enjoyed all over the city.

Everything from healthy eats to Southern BBQ joints can be found in the city, giving you plenty of opportunities to please your taste buds. Indian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Mexican cuisine are just a few of the options available.

Some restaurants have live music, while others offer a fine-dining experience. No matter what you are looking for, you are sure to find it here.

15. Shop till you drop

Downtown Oshawa 2Source: flickr
Downtown Oshawa 2

There are numerous opportunities to do this in the city, both in shopping malls and along streets. You will find local boutiques and known chain shops in Oshawa.

If you are looking for unique items, head to Downtown Oshawa and explore the local boutiques and artesian shops. If indoor shopping is more your thing, head to the Oshawa Centre.

Oshawa also outdoor malls with a few larger shops, like Walmart and Best Buy. These also often have outlet shops.

15 Best Things to Do in Oshawa (Ontario, Canada):

  • Look at cars
  • Wander around an estate
  • Look at art
  • Learn about the Canadian Forces
  • Go for a long walk or ride
  • Visit a park
  • Smell flowers
  • Celebrate Oshawa
  • Hike through a wildlife reserve
  • Look at animals
  • Explore the city centre
  • Go for a swim
  • Watch a game
  • Please your taste buds
  • Shop till you drop