Whitby is located in the centre of Ontario’s Durham region; around 48 kilometres east of Toronto. The town dates back to 1855, but today is a suburb of the Greater Toronto Area.
The location of the town means that there is plenty to see and do, not only within Whitby itself, but also outside of the town. Still, it is not often visited by tourists, though it does have a lot of charm.
There are historic streets, nature, green spaces and cultural sites just waiting to be discovered.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Whitby:
1. Be a secret agent
Whitby is home to Camp X, which was a school for secret agents. The school was in operation from 1941 to 1945 to train agents that were parachuted into Nazi occupied territory.
Today, there is not much left of Camp X, although walking tours of the site are available. Go back in time and learn about the ins and outs of the camp and its training.
The location of Camp X; that is now known as Intrepid Park, is marked with a large monument. Walk around the park and see artefacts and learn about what life was like at this famous secret agent school.
2. Explore the waterfront
Port Whitby Marina is a 420-slip, year round facility that sits on a natural harbour on Lake Ontario. The marina has much to offer, from sailing excursions to a relaxing clubhouse.
Explore the waterfront by visiting the marina and going for a walk along the Waterfront Trail, stopping at an ice cream shop along the way. Or relax and have a picnic at Kiwanis Heydenshore Park.
Sailing, kayaking, fishing and paddle boarding are all offered at the marina. It is also possible to take a boating or sailing class.
3. Discover the city centre
Downtown Whitby is not big, but has much to offer. The area has a lovely village like feel to it, complete with some true architectural gems.
It is a charming area of the town that features an eclectic mix of businesses. It is also one of the best places in the city to shop for unique items.
Boutiques, distinctive restaurants and historic buildings are all located in Downtown Whitby. Walk around the neighbourhood and discover the area.
4. Visit a museum
Lynde House Museum is a historic mansion that today is a fabulous museum. It was one of the first homes to ever be built in the town and today is one of its major attractions.
The mansion is now a museum that is open to the public. Wander around the rooms and see what life was like in the 1800s.
Tour guides are there to explain and tell the story about the house, or you are free to explore on your own. Lynde House Museum also hosts special events and shows.
5. Go to the market
The Whitby Farmer’s Market runs every Wednesday from May to October at the Old Fire Hall. It is a fantastic way to mingle with the locals and buy some unique souvenirs.
Explore the market and nibble on fresh fruits or vegetables. If arts and crafts is your thing, visit the artisans’ booths and buy some truly unique items.
There is also prepared foods offered, like fresh baked treats, juices and salads. You can also just walk around and talk to local farmers about their crop and maybe even get a few tips from them.
6. Wander around a heritage district
Right within Whitby is the heritage village of Downtown Brooklin. This is a designated heritage conservation area that is filled with some magnificent architecture.
Downtown Brooklin is bounded by Highway 12, Carnwith Drive East, Thickson Road and Highway 3. Walking around this small area is truly rewarding.
The heritage village is filled with boutiques, restaurants and local businesses, many of which are housed in old picturesque buildings. If you are visit at Christmas time, this is a fabulous place to spend Christmas.
7. Get haunted by ghosts
Some say that the Whitby Centennial Building is haunted. In fact, the first ghost sightings apparently took place in 1873!
The old courthouse was built between 1852 and 1854 by prominent architects Frederick Cumberland and Wallace Storm. It served as a trial court from the day it opened until 1964.
The heritage building is now a theatre, a banquet facility and home to local archives. Today, it is one of the town’s most significant historical and architectural landmarks.
8. Look at art
For over 45 years Station Gallery has been running as a community visual arts centre. It is a non-profit gallery that not only displays beautiful art, but also offers classes.
The gallery’s permanent collection consists of over 300 pieces, most of which were gifts from artists and art organizations. Prints, paintings, lithographs and sculptures are all part of the gallery’s collection.
In addition to its permanent collection, Station Gallery also holds special exhibitions. There are also special events at the gallery, like live music and art talks.
9. Cool off
There are 15 splash pads throughout the town where you can go to cool off on a hot summer day. All splash pads are open daily from 9am to 9pm from June to September.
Every Whitby splash pad is located within a park, so they are also a nice place to spend an afternoon. Cool off with the kids in the water, enjoy a picnic under a shady tree and fly a kite.
Of all of the splash pads, the one at Kiwanis Heydenshore Park is arguably the most popular. This is due to its location along the waterfront, as well as the fact that it has a playground.
10. Go for a walk
The town maintains a number of trails where you can go on a leisurely walk. There are over 60 kilometres of trails in Whitby that allow you to enjoy the town’s natural beauty.
Trails are well-maintained and post marked, so you don’t ever have to worry about not finding your way. The most popular is probably the Waterfront Trail, although they are all quite lovely.
There are 11 trails in total, all of which are also maintained in the winter. This means that no matter when you are visiting Whitby you can enjoy a nice walk.
11. Surround yourself in nature
The Lynde Shores Conservation Area is well known for its wildlife, particularly its migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Explore the conservation area and completely surround yourself in nature.
The best way to enjoy the Lynde Shores Conservation Area is by walking along one of its trails. All trails are easy and suitable for hikers of all ages.
In addition to walking through the area, it is also possible to have a picnic. There are a number of picnic tables in the conservation area adjacent to the main car park.
12. Head to the slopes
If you are visiting Whitby in the winter and are a skier, you will be pleased to know that there are a couple of ski resorts nearby. Hire a car and head to the slopes for a day to enjoy skiing, snowboarding or snow tubing.
Ski Dagmar features 12 runs with varied terrains to suit all levels. It also has four lifts, a charming chalet and two magic carpet rides.
Ski Lakeridge is just a few minutes north of Ski Dagmar in the beautiful Oak Ridge Moraine. It is open year-round, offering skiing, snowboarding and tubing in the winter, and hiking, mountain biking and climbing throughout the rest of the year.
13. Play a round of golf
There are a total of seven golf courses in and around Whitby. What this means is that golfers of all levels will not be bored when visiting the town.
The Pickering Golf Club is the oldest in the region, though it is not the most prestigious. This title is given to the Whitevale Golf club, which is a world-class member-owned club.
Deer Creek is another fantastic place to play a round of golf, which features two courses; north and south. Then there is the Howard Watson designed Cherry Downs Golf Club and the public Watson’s Glen Golf Club.
14. Stop and smell the flowers
The magnificent Parkwood Estate Gardens are on the grounds of the Parkwood Estate, which is in neighbouring Oshawa. The gardens are designed much like a traditional English garden and are a great place to stop and smell the flowers.
The estate was built by the McLaughlin family who had 24 gardeners on their staff to care for the lovely gardens. Each garden has a theme, including the Sundial Garden, Italian Garden and the Sunken Garden.
There are numerous pavilions on site as well as three greenhouses. The greenhouses house tropical plants and flowers, and there is even Japanese Garden.
15. Shop for the latest fashion
There are a number of great places to shop for the latest fashion in Whitby, particularly in small boutiques in Downtown Whitby and Downtown Brooklin. There are also a few plazas around.
For one of the best shopping experiences, head to the Oshawa Centre in the neighbouring suburb of Oshawa. This is the largest mall east of Toronto, with over 230 shops and services.
The mall has 10 anchor tenants, including Old Navy and H&M, as well as a plethora of other stores, like Adidas, Zara, RW & CO and the Gap. There is also a food court with fast food chains where you can grab a quick bite to eat.