Everyone loves a great road trip and us Canadians are no different. With a vast amount of farmland, an abundance of quaint little towns, massively huge cities and a never-ending amount of water, there is no shortage of destinations or things to see or do along the way.
I have collaborated with a few of my travel blogger peeps to provide you with the best road trip destinations in Ontario. So let’s pack up those road trip essentials, grab that Timmie’s and hit the road.
BLUE MOUNTAIN, ONTARIO
Recommended By: Guide Your Travel
Blue Mountain is a beautiful spot located in southern Canada. Located just a two hour drive from Toronto, Blue Mountain is easily accessible and is one of the best road trip destinations in Ontario. The drive is around 100 miles long so it’s a fantastic day trip or place to escape for the weekend if you have a bit more time. Blue Mountain can get quite crowded though during popular tourist times. Try to avoid holiday, weekends and visit during the week if you can.
This area is known for its incredible scenery and panoramic views. Sunsets can be especially beautiful if the weather conditions are favorable. Make sure to visit the popular Blue Mountain Village which is definitely a touristy spot but a must-see place if you have never visited the area before. Blue Mountain is the perfect place to come for serenity and to get back in touch with nature. You will love the raw beauty of this place and its incredible views.
Popular summer activities include hiking, biking, water sports and camping, and it is especially well-known for its skiing during the winter months. Take a guided e-bike tour to learn more about the local nature without having to worry about pedaling too much. After a long day outdoors you should stay at the Blue Mountain Resort which is stunningly beautiful with lots of shops and restaurants nearby. There are also other fun activities available such as gondola rides, a mountain roller coaster and mini golf. If you want to try all the activities I recommend that you look into getting an all day pass which will be the most affordable option. They do tend to sell out fast though so try to book in advance.
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Recommended By: Just One Passport
Nestled along the sandy shores of Lake Huron in North-Western Ontario lies the sleepy little town of Kincardine. I can’t help but wonder what it is that continues to tug at my heart strings and continues to draw me to this warm and loving town time-and-again. What I can tell you is that that it is by far one of the best road trip destinations in Ontario.
Listening to the sound of the waves as they crash against the coastline and the site of the energetic surfers and kiters riding the waves and flying high above the lake is enough to keep me entertained for a full day, however, if the lake and water sports aren’t for you, don’t let that stop you from visiting one of Ontario’s best kept secrets.
The main street of Kincardine is a foodies delight offering a plethora of family owned restaurants which will satisfy anyone’s pallet. When you have had enough of exploring the quaint, unique shops scattered throughout the downtown core, stop in at Grey Matter for a cold one to quench your thirst.
Typical of most small towns, the people of Kincardine will welcome you with open arms, so be prepared to talk to “strangers”. You truly are a “Stranger Only Once” when visiting this community, so be warned you won’t want to leave. Most people call Kincardine God’s Country, but I call Kincardine “home”.
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JUST ONE TIP: Reserve a spot on the patio at the Tarten Tusk for dinner and enjoy a front row seat to one of the world’s most beautiful sunsets.
MUSKOKA, AN ONTARIO ROAD TRIP DESTINATION
Recommended By: Nina Out and About
Muskoka is the cottage country capital of Ontario. Every summer, Torontonians flock to this gorgeous lake area. You will find road trippers, cottagers, and more driving north to read this stunning natural area.
Muskoka is best known for the lake from which it gets its name. Lake Muskoka is the tributary of two other large lakes that offer plenty of room for water activities, boating, and jet skiing. When the summer temperatures go above 20 degrees Celsius, every cottage opens their doors and takes to the lake.
The most Canadian way to visit Muskoka is to either rent a cottage or stay overnight at one of the numerous resorts. Then grab a caesar cocktail or a beer and sit on a Muskoka chair over looking the lake. It is the perfect way to unwind and leave your real life far behind.
People often consider Muskoka be very expensive, with many celebrities owning cottages in the area. While it can be expensive, there are many ways to make it more affordable. I recommend renting further north on Lake Joseph where the water is cleaner and the buildings are less crowded. You can have plenty of fun swimming and hanging out on the dock without needing to rent expensive equipment to enjoy the lake.
When in Muskoka, make sure to stay up late enough to see the stars. Muskoka has less light pollution than most places in Southern Ontario, so it is easier to see the Milky Way on a clear night. You may even glimpse some fireworks being set off by a neighbour!
Don’s Bakery is a must-stop for an Ontario road trip through Muskoka. It is best known for its cinnamon buns and donuts – on long weekends you even have to reserve a spot in advance!
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Recommended By: In Search of Sarah
Just 20 minutes from Niagara Falls is the beautiful town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL), sitting on the shores of Lake Ontario and at the mouth of the Niagara River. This charming area is well know for its wineries, theatre shows, award-winning restaurants, and boutique shops. You will be transported back into the Victorian era with its horse-drawn carriages and tree-lined streets.
This popular wine region is only about 90 minutes from Toronto and makes for an awesome Ontario road trip destination. There are over 30 wineries in the immediate area to choose from, each with its own unique flair and appeal. Take a bike tour through the countryside and winery hop, or take part in one of the many wine tours offered from downtown. Skate at Wayne Gretzky’s winery in the wintertime, enjoy seasonal ciders on the colourful patio at Small Talk Winery during the summertime, or take in the views of Lake Ontario from Konzelmann Winery.
Stroll through the flower-filled streets and admire the architecture in the quiet neighbourhoods, or enjoy takeout from one of the many restaurants and relax along the Niagara River as you take in the views.
Stay for an afternoon play at the Shaw Festival Theatre before enjoying a farm-to-table meat at one of the cozy restaurants along the main street, or spend an afternoon perusing through the many shops offering one-of-a-kind items that you won’t find anywhere else – from a hat boutique to an entire shop dedicated to jams and marmalades, home decor stores, and many boutiques offering hand-made items.
There are plenty of activities to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake aside from wineries. Whether you take a historic walk downtown, visit an art gallery, or a tiny church, or treat yourself to afternoon High Tea at the Prince of Whales Hotel, I can guarantee that you won’t be bored.
Whether you choose to make it a day trip or a stop on route from Niagara Galls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is surely not a town to be missed. The relaxed vibe and war atmosphere will make you understand whit it’s beloved by locals and Ontarians alike and makes it the perfect Ontario road trip destination.
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Recommended By: Just One Passport
Norfolk County is my favorite Ontario road trip destination and it is only a hop skip and a jump away from Kitchener (where I live). If I only have a few hours to escape the city, Norfolk County is the direction I head.
If you are a lover of beer, wine, food and the great outdoors, then this road trip is for you! There are several wineries where you can enjoy some wine tasting (but not too much). The Burning Kiln Winery often has a live band playing in the vineyard, making it the perfect spot to sit back while sipping a great glass of vino, while listening to some awesome music. Not a lover of wine? There are also several beer tasting locations. My all-time favorite is the Charlotville Brewing Company. If alcohol is not your cup of tea, then I recommend checking out Hounds of Erie for some cider tasting.
If you are in the mood for a little bit of adventure, head to Long Point Eco Adventures for some hiking, ziplining, canopy walking, kayaking and maybe even a little bit of axe throwing. After all of that physical activity, you will definitely want a cold one. Lounge on the Marshview Patio over-looking a Canadian UNESCO Heritage Site, and enjoy a beer or their specialty drink of the day, as well as some of the yummy eats from the food truck!
If your plan is to have a little too much to drink during your road trip, plan in advance and reserve a pod at Long Point Eco Adventures and spend the night (they book up fast, so plan well ahead).
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Recommended By: Emma’s Roadmap
As the capital of Canada, Ottawa is definitely a must-see in Ontario. Luckily this rather small city is perfect Ontario destination for a day trip! Choosing Ottawa as a destination for your next road trip is deal if you want to get to know more about politics and institutions in Canada. In that case, you must schedule a visit to Parliament Hill to take a tour of the Senate and the Canadian House of Commons. During a guided tour you will get to know every interesting detail about the institutions of this Country.
Another prominent part of Ottawa is the Ottawa River. You will see many companies advertise river cruises to take you on a boat ride down the river. If you don’t fancy getting out on the water, then you might enjoy walking alongside the river instead. What you also can’t miss when you are in Ottawa is the Byward Market. At this large market, you will find everything from souvenirs to delicious cookies.
Although Ottawa is the perfect city for a day trip, if you want to experience Ottawa to the fullest it is best to reserve at least two days to explore everything that this fine city has to officer Thanks to the nature of its activities, both out on the water and indoors, Ottawa is one of the best Ontario road trips to take year round!
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POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK
Recommended By: Pina Travels
Point Pelee National Park is special because it is at the most southern point in Canada, known as “the point” because the park is a peninsula that tapers out into a long, sharp point, surrounded by the waters of Lake Erie. The park is a 4 hour drive from Toronto, 2 hour drive from London, and 1 hour drive from Windsor. It is a wonderful road trip destination because the park can easily be explored in just a couple days. And, it’s within driving distance of other notable spots to visit!
Point Pelee is home to a unique ecology and location. Because of this, it is one of North America’s most renowned spots for birdwatching. In the spring, you can watch bird and butterfly migrations, and attend the annual Festival of Birds, which includes fun and educational activities. Year round, visitors can hike in the park. Point Pelee has 8 self-guided trails that range from 15 minutes to 2 hour long hikes, suitable for people of all ages and abilities. In the summer, spend an afternoon relaxing on one of the park’s beaches, swimming, or paddling through Point Pelee’s marshes. Point Pelee is a designated Dark Sky Preserve, so on some nights you can stay late to gaze at the stars.
When road tripping to Point Pelee, you can stay within the park by renting one an oTentik, or you can camp at the nearby Wheatley Provincial Park. There is also the option to book a hotel, cottage or Airbnb in the nearby towns of Leamington, Kingsville, or Essex. If you are looking to explore more of the southern Ontario region while visiting Point Pelee, you can drop by nearby conservation areas, beautiful towns like Amherstburg, as well as wineries, breweries, and even a lavender farm, all of which are within an easy drive of Point Pelee.
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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO
Recommended By: Love Life Abroad
One of the best road trip destinations in Ontario is the beautiful town of Thunder Bay and exploring Northwestern Ontario. Located on the lakeshore of Lake Superior, Thunder Bay, and the surrounding area is worth exploring (even if it means little extra driving kilometers).
There are many things to do and see in Thunder Bay and surrounding areas. In Thunder Bay, you will want to stop at Fort Williams Historical Park where you will to taken back in time to relive the fur trade era with a French voyageur. Then, you may want to visit the old Alexander Henry icebreaker. Prince Arthur’s Landing is a great place to relax by the Lake and Hillcrest Park offers one of the nicest views of the Bay.
Just outside the city, the Terry Fox Lookout also offers a great view of the area. It is here that Terry Fox was forced to stop his cross-Canada run. For an unusual activity, you may want to go to the Amethyst Mine Panorama to dig your own gems. But no Thunder Bay road trip is complete without hiking at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and admiring the Kakabeka Falls from the boardwalk.
Thunder Bay also has a rich cultural heritage. It is home to one of the largest Finnish communities in Canada. Make sure to stop at the Finnish Bay & Algoma Historical District for some traditional Finnish pancakes. Niva’s or Kangas Sauna are great options to eat good Finnish pancakes. There is also a great Ukrainian diaspora in Thunder Bay, so you will get the chance to admire some beautiful orthodox churches.
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Recommended By: Bucketlistplaces
When in Ontario, you can’t miss a trip to the province’s capital, Toronto. One of the top bucket list places in Canada as a whole, Toronto is a fabulously diverse city, with its multicultural population reflected in the international food and variety of experiences awaiting you there.
PRO TIP: pay homage to Toronto-native, Drake, by referring to the city as The 6ix (his nickname for Toronto based on its area code, 416)
One of the best parts of visiting Toronto is that it is a “city of neighborhoods,” each with unique vibes and interesting attractions. Check out Trinity Bellwoods for lively public parks, West Queen West for local live music, and Yorkville for elite fashion; Bloor Street in Yorkville is known as “Mink Mile” thanks to the high-end stores like Chanel and Tiffany.
The Distillery District is a must-visit pedestrian village filled with breweries, quirky shopping, and art galleries. Nearby, the St Lawrence Market in Old Town offers stalls upon stalls of amazing food options from many cuisines. And to finish your day, the iconic CN Tower in downtown Toronto is the best place to catch the sunset from over 553 meters high.
For an added bonus, try out the road trip by train and take in the incredible scenery along the way. The cheapest months to travel to Toronto from Ottawa by train are April and May. And although most guides will encourage you to visit Toronto in warmer spring and summer months, you can actually beat the crowds by bundling up and braving the cold in winter. Toronto becomes a veritable winter wonderland with Christmas markets, light festivals, and ice skating. Plus, winter is an excellent time to explore the amazing museums and galleries in the city while taking a break from the chill outside.
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Ontario offers an abundance of amazing road trip destinations and I know that there is a destination out there that will satisfy your interests, whatever they might be. What is your favourite road trip destination in Ontario?
Safe Road Trippin 🙂
FOLLOW ALONG FOR MORE ONTARIO DESTINATIONS
JUST ONE TIP: Still unsure of your road trip destination? Grab a map (that’s right, a paper map.) Pick a spot on the map that you haven’t been and hit the road! Highlight your road trip route and have fun watching the map fill up with each destination!
PIN FOR THE BEST ROAD TRIP DESTINATIONS IN ONTARIO