The Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Oshawa, Ontario

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Welcome to Oshawa, a city with way more to offer than its industrial heritage. Looking for fun things to do in Oshawa? From exploring its rich history to enjoying the stunning Lake Ontario waterfront, this lively city near Toronto has plenty to surprise you. Here’s the scoop on where to go and what to do in Oshawa.

Things to Do in Oshawa for History Buffs: Museums & Landmarks

Delve into Oshawa’s fascinating past at these museums and historical sites that showcase the city’s unique journey:

Canadian Automotive Museum

Discover the stories behind over 75 vehicles that shaped Canadian automotive history. The Canadian Automotive Museum is a must-visit for car enthusiasts and anyone interested in Oshawa’s industrial legacy.

  • Activity Type: Museum Visit
  • Location: 99 Simcoe Street South
  • What to Bring: Curiosity, camera
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Discover over 75 vehicles that have marked Canadian automotive history.
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, weekdays for quieter visits

Parkwood Estate

Experience the grandeur of the 1920s by exploring this opulent mansion, once home to R.S. McLaughlin, founder of General Motors Canada. It’s a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.

  • Activity Type: Historical Landmark Visit
  • Location: 270 Simcoe Street North
  • What to Bring: Good walking shoes, a guidebook for self-touring
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Step into the former estate of R.S. McLaughlin, a leading figure in Canadian industry and the founder of General Motors Canada, for a glimpse into the lavish 1920s lifestyle.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer months for full estate experience

Oshawa Museum

Step back in time and learn about Oshawa’s evolution from the 19th century onwards at this museum composed of several restored buildings.

  • Activity Type: Local History Museum
  • Location: 1450 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, ON L1G 7K4
  • What to Bring: Note-taking material to capture your personal highlights
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Composed of several restored buildings and houses, the museum showcases Oshawa’s history from the 19th century forward.
  • Best Time to Visit: Whenever you’re curious about the town’s heritage

Ontario Regiment (RCAC) Museum

Explore a century of Canadian military history with a focus on armored vehicles. For the ultimate experience, book a thrilling tank ride (appointment required).

  • Activity Type: Military History Museum & Tank Experience
  • Location: 1000 Stevenson Road North
  • What to Bring: Respect, as it’s a war memorial
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Explore a century of history and even hop into a tank for a ride (by appointment only)!
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime, but check tank ride availability in advance

Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Celebrate the city’s sporting achievements with exhibits on local athletes and Oshawa’s sporting traditions.

  • Activity Type: Sports History Museum Visit
  • Location: General Motors Centre
  • What to Bring: Enthusiasm for local sports history
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Celebrate the city’s athletic legacy, from hockey to lacrosse and beyond.
  • Best Time to Visit: If there’s a local game, visit beforehand to brush up on the area’s sports heritage

See & Experience: Oshawa’s Arts and Entertainment Scene

Oshawa’s arts scene bursts with creativity. Here’s where to find inspiration and entertainment:

Discover a captivating collection of over 4,500 local and international works of art at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Be sure to check for special exhibits and events during your visit.

  • Activity Type: Art Gallery Visit
  • Location: 72 Queen Street, Civic Centre
  • What to Bring: An open mind and appreciation for art
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: A local and international art treasure featuring over 4,500 works.
  • Best Time to Visit: Check the website for rotating and seasonal exhibitions

Regent Theatre

Enjoy a live performance, concert, or movie in this beautifully restored heritage building.

  • Activity Type: Theatrical Performance
  • Location: 50 King Street East
  • What to Bring: Ticket confirmation, and perhaps a date or friend
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Catch a live performance or movie in this lovingly restored heritage building.
  • Best Time to Visit: When there’s a show you’d enjoy!

Outdoor Adventures: Oshawa Parks and Trails

Embrace the beauty of nature with these outdoor Oshawa activities:

Waterfront Trail

Admire Lake Ontario’s beauty on a walk or bike ride along the Waterfront Trail.

  • Activity Type: Scenic Walking or Cycling
  • Location: Along Lake Ontario
  • What to Bring: Bike or good walking shoes, water, and snacks
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Marvel at Lake Ontario’s waterfront.
  • Best Time to Visit: A warm, sunny day

Lakeview Park

Enjoy a variety of outdoor fun, from beach days and picnics to exploring gardens and playgrounds at Lakeview Park Beach.

  • Activity Type: Riverside Relaxation
  • Location: Simcoe Street South and Lakeview Park Avenue
  • What to Bring: Picnic blanket, kite for breezy days
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Enjoy the beach, playground, gardens, and ample picnic space.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer for the beach, but autumn for the colorful gardens

Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Take a peaceful stroll through beautifully manicured gardens bursting with diverse plant life.

  • Activity Type: Tranquil Garden Stroll
  • Location: Gibb Street
  • What to Bring: Camera for the floral scapes
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Take a meditative walk through beautifully maintained gardens.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring to see the gardens in full bloom

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve

Spot various bird species while exploring the coastal marsh and shorelines.

  • Activity Type: Birdwatching and Nature Trail Walk
  • Location: Along Lake Ontario
  • What to Bring: Binoculars, a field guide to local birds
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Explore coastal marsh and shorelines to spot various bird species.
  • Best Time to Visit: Early mornings or late afternoons for bird activity

Darlington Provincial Park

Experience the pristine beauty of this provincial park with its stunning beach, camping, and diverse hiking trails.

  • Activity Type: Beach and Nature Exploration
  • Location: 1600 Darlington Park Road, Bowmanville, ON L1C 3K3
  • What to Bring: Sunscreen, beach gear, hiking shoes for nature trails
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Pristine park with a beautiful beach, seasonal camping, and various outdoor activities.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer for swimming, spring and fall for hiking and birdwatching

Shopping in Oshawa: From Big Malls to Local Finds

Indulge in retail therapy or satisfy your sweet tooth with these unique Oshawa experiences:

Oshawa Centre

Get your shopping fix at one of the Durham region’s largest malls, your one-stop shop for Oshawa shopping with over 230 stores for all your needs.

  • Activity Type: Shopping
  • Location: 419 King Street West
  • What to Bring: Comfortable shoes for shopping, a full wallet for good finds
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: One of Durham region’s largest shopping centers with over 230 stores.
  • Best Time to Visit: Whenever you’re in need of variety and branded options

Courtice Flea Market

Hunt for treasures and unique finds at this vibrant mix of indoor and outdoor vendors offering antiques, collectibles, bargains and unique Oshawa souvenirs.

  • Activity Type: Flea Market Exploration
  • Location: 1696 Bloor Street, Courtice, ON L1E 2N1
  • What to Bring: Negotiating skills, curiosity for unique finds
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Discover antiques, collectibles, crafts, and household items.
  • Best Time to Visit: Weekends for the full market experience

Linton’s Farm Market

Discover fresh, locally sourced produce and delicious baked goods at this family-run farm market – a must-visit for foodies.

  • Activity Type: Fresh Produce and Bakery
  • Location: 571 Raglan Road East
  • What to Bring: Reusable bags, an appetite for baked goods
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: A family-run market offering fresh produce and delicious baked goods.
  • Best Time to Visit: When you’re preparing a homecooked meal or in need of a snack

Hollywood Cone (Whitby)

Embrace your inner child with over-the-top ice cream creations at this whimsical dessert spot just outside Oshawa. It’s perfect for a sweet treat and Insta-worthy photos.

  • Activity Type: Unique Ice Cream Experience
  • Location: 455 Taunton Road East, Whitby (close to Oshawa)
  • What to Bring: Your sweet tooth and a camera for Instagram-worthy treats
  • Why It’s a Must-Visit: Enjoy gigantic, jaw-dropping dessert creations.
  • Best Time to Visit: When you need a sweet escape (summer visits are most popular)

Oshawa Restaurants: Top Places to Eat

A visit to Oshawa isn’t complete without sampling its culinary offerings. Here are a few top picks:

The White Apron Restaurant

Dive into a delightful morning dining experience where breakfast and brunch are celebrated with comfort and style.

  • Cuisine Type: Classic Breakfast & Brunch
  • Location: 10 Bond St W, Oshawa
  • What to Expect: A menu rich with comforting classics and a touch of elegance, served in a relaxed setting with an open kitchen.
  • Notable Dishes: Signature omelets, gourmet pancakes, and artisanal sandwiches
  • Best Time to Visit: Perfect for leisurely mornings or brunch gatherings that call for delicious food in a cozy atmosphere.

Crepe Castle Restaurant

Satisfy your sweet or savory cravings with a wide array of delicious crepes. It’s a casual spot perfect for any time of day.

  • Cuisine Type: Casual Dining Creperie
  • Location: 480 Ritson Road South
  • What to Expect: An array of savory and sweet crepes to satisfy any craving.
  • Notable Dishes: The Classic Crepe, Nutella Banana Delight, and the Chicken Caesar Crepe
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime is a good time for a crepe!

Forum Drive-In Restaurant

Get a taste of nostalgia at this classic drive-in serving up burgers, onion rings, and homemade root beer. It’s a fun and casual option the whole family will enjoy.

  • Cuisine Type: Classic Drive-In Fare
  • Location: 580 Ritson Rd S, Oshawa, ON L1H 5K8
  • What to Expect: Retro vibes and classic diner dishes served to your car window.
  • Notable Dishes: Forum Burger, Onion Rings, and Housemade Root Beer
  • Best Time to Visit: For a fun, nostalgic experience with family or friends

Where to Stay in Oshawa: Best Accommodations

If you want to extend your Oshawa adventure beyond a day trip, consider these accommodation options:

Courtyard by Marriott Oshawa

Enjoy modern amenities, a fitness center, and an indoor saltwater pool for a comfortable stay.

  • Location: 1011 Bloor Street East, Whitby, ON L1N 0N6
  • Why Stay Here: Modern amenities, fitness center, and indoor saltwater pool.
  • Best If: You seek a familiar brand and comfort during your stay.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oshawa Downtown – Toronto Area

Take advantage of the complimentary breakfast, 24-hour business center, and convenient downtown location.

  • Location: 67 Simcoe Street North
  • Why Stay Here: Complimentary hot breakfast, 24-hour business center, and indoor pool.
  • Best If: You want a central downtown location with easy access to Oshawa’s attractions.

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Oshawa

This pet-friendly hotel offers value and convenience, located near the Oshawa Centre.

  • Location: 50 Bloor Street West
  • Why Stay Here: Pet-friendly policy, close to Oshawa Centre, free WiFi and parking.
  • Best If: You’re traveling with a four-legged companion or looking for value and convenience.

Plan Your Oshawa Getaway: Things to Do for Every Traveler

Ready to plan your visit? Oshawa’s diverse attractions truly offer something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking fun things to do in Oshawa for a day trip, a weekend getaway, or even a stop on an Ontario road trip, this city will surprise you. History buffs, art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and foodies will all find something to delight them. Don’t miss out on Oshawa’s hidden gems – start planning your things-to-do in Oshawa adventure today!