Named for the Royal Navy cruiser, Ajax is a small town in the east of the Greater Toronto Area and a popular suburb for commuters. For travelers, it’s much more than that, as the laid-back town sits along the shores of Lake Ontario, has numerous walking trails, and is rich in culture.
Many people who come to Toronto don’t often venture to this Far East region, but Ajax is definitely a must for a holiday, especially for those looking to spend some time outside the bustling city. These are the 15 best things to do at Ajax.
1. Walk along the waterfront
The 740km coastal walk extends east from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Brockville, passing through Ajax along the way. This trail runs along Lake Ontario and offers some spectacular views.
The Ajax portion of the trail passes through some beautiful parks, including Rotary Park, Ajax Waterfront Park, and Paradise Park. It is also connected to the Trans-Canada Trail, the longest network of recreational trails in the world.
While enjoying the Ajax portion of the trail, be sure to stroll around Veteran’s Point Gardens and take in the views of Lion’s Point. Relax at Lakeside Park and end the walk.
2. Go to the beach
Paradise Beach is located along the coastal path, but it is an attraction in itself. This is the town’s main beach area and a great place to spend a sunny day.
The beach is public, although there are many cottages in the area, some of which are owned by wealthy Torontonians. Still, it’s a friendly beachfront location that’s perfect for the whole family.
The beach is backed by Paradise Park with its meadows, trees and picnic tables. There are also benches near the water where visitors can sit and relax and enjoy the view.
3. Look at art
There are many places throughout Ajax showcasing the art of local artists, including the Town Hall and Village Community Centre. There are also some works that can be seen outside.
Take a walk around town and admire the local art at the parks, buildings and entrances to many buildings. There’s even some debris on some trails in town.
Be sure to gaze at the mural on the façade of the Village Community Centre’s entrance, the abstract metal sculpture at Ajax Town Hall and the giant “solar sail” at the Ajax Operations Centre. Also, don’t miss the totem poles at Duffins Trail Head and the interactive sculpture at Lion’s Point.
4. Play games
One of the biggest attractions in Ajax is the Ajax Casino with its 900 slot machines. But there’s more to it, like electronic blackjack, baccarat, and roulette.
The entire casino is completely electronic, and points are converted into cash when you leave. They also have weekly promotions like points or cash draws.
The casino is open 24 hours a year! There is even a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
5. Shop for handicrafts
Pickering Market is the best place in town to shop for local handicrafts. The huge indoor market is not actually in Ajax, but just west of Pickering.
There are more than 500 vendors on the market, selling everything from antiques to homemade pastries. Pick up a painting, a sculpture, a candle, a silver pendant, or even a diamond ring.
Soothe your muscles with a massage after walking around and browsing through all the stalls. You can also eat delicious food like grilled chicken, sushi, ice cream and tacos.
6. Surround yourself with nature
In addition to the parks along the promenade, Ajax is also home to the Greenwood Reserve. Nature lovers will explore this town in paradise.
Greenwood Reserve has a network of forests, grasslands and hiking trails. The trails are marked with signage that not only leads the way, but also informs hikers about the area’s wildlife and heritage.
Hike or cross-country ski along the trails, or enjoy a picnic lunch. You can even fish along the rainbow trout-filled creek.
7. Be a Viking
If you’ve ever wanted to be a Viking for a day, you can at BATL (Backyard Axe Throwing League). This backyard hobby was turned into a dream by founder Matt Wilson and happens to be just minutes away from Ajax in neighbouring Pickering.
BATL offers indoor throwing axes and has a licensed bar and kitchen. Walk in from 6pm to 9pm Friday, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Be a Viking for a day and throw an axe at a target while doing it under the direction of the staff. It’s an exciting and stress-relieving experience, and many people find themselves hooked even after trying it once.
8. Participate in competitions
Ajax Downs has been streaming Quarter Horse Racing live since 1969 and it still does today! Spend a Sunday on the track or watch live horse racing on one of 70 viewing screens.
Ajax Downs features a full 6 furlong oval with over 800 slot machines. Additionally, the viewing area offers off-market betting throughout the year.
Live competitions run from May to October, but are open year-round. It even has a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day.
Ajax has a network of 140 kilometers of cycle paths, perfect for cyclists of all levels. Some trails are off-road, some are paved, and some are shared lanes.
Rent a bike in town and enjoy cycling; along the waterfront, through downtown and Greenwood Reserve. It’s a great way to watch Ajax and enjoy the fresh air.
You can reach almost anywhere in Ajax by bike, see the sights and enjoy the scenery. Cycling events are even held every year, such as the TrailFest and the annual Falcon Fondo.
10. Play golf
Avid golfers won’t get bored here as there are some great places to play golf in Ajax. In fact, there are four golf courses in town and several more in the adjacent area.
Deer Creek Golf Club is arguably the best and its two courses are well known in the province. The 27-hole course is divided into three nines, and its par-71 championship course is often used for tournaments.
Annandale Golf and Curling Club also has an 18-hole course and Riverside Golf Club’s 9-hole course. Those looking to play golf with the kids should definitely visit the family-run Carruther’s Creek Golf and Country Club.
11. Enjoy the outdoors
Hike, mountain bike or fish in the Heber Down Conservation Area east of Ajax near Whitby. The reserve has two terrain units; a valley formed by a creek and a Lake Iroquois glacier.
The west of the area is the valley, while the east is the beaches of Lake Iroquois. Explore the entire reserve and enjoy the outdoors.
The area has a rich history and was used as a crossing by horse thieves in the late 19th century. There is also an abandoned railway bridge built in 1910.
12. Shop until you give up
There are plenty of shops in Ajax, but the best place to shop is in Pickering town centre. It’s easy to spend a whole day here, even late into the night.
The mall has more than 200 stores to choose from, including internationally renowned brands such as The Body Shop, H&M, Swarovski and MINISO. There are also Canadian favorites like Roots, La Senza and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
The mall also houses restaurants and fast food chains, offering a wide variety of options. Afterwards, enjoy a movie at the live cinema or have fun at the virtual reality arcade.
13. Spend the day indoors
Not sitting in a hotel room, but at the Ajax community center. There’s a lot to choose from in this large facility, so staying indoors is a good option.
The center features a squash court, indoor pool, fitness center and wellness studio. It even has four arena ice pads.
The community center also has an outdoor area with a skate park, basketball, tennis, soccer and cricket clubs. No matter the time of year, no matter the weather, you can have fun here.
14. Be a kid again
Or take your kids to be kids in the endless fun; a huge indoor playground. Open every day except Tuesdays, children under 1 and over 15 can play for free.
Endless Fun has a three-level game structure that includes slides, mazes, and spider climbs. There is also an upholstered area dedicated to young children.
Parents can also play, or they can enjoy coffee at the on-site snack bar. It also serves snacks like grilled cheese, granola bars, rice crisp cubes, and pizza!
This can be done in the Oak Ridge Moraine, a 20-minute drive north of Ajax. No matter what skiing experience you have, you can visit and hit the scenic slopes in winter.
Dagmar Resort has 18 running tracks with different terrains, as well as four ropeways, two magic carpets and two jumpers. There is also a cozy cabin where skiers can enjoy hot chocolate or a beer.
The larger Lakeridge Resort has 23 runs, from novice to pro, accommodating skiers and snowboarders. The resort is also open during the warmer months for mountain biking, hiking and climbing.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Ajax, Canada
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