Summer is coming to an end here in Ontario but there is still plenty of time for you to plan the perfect end of summer road trip.
If you are looking for the perfect Ontario road trip, look no further than the Cruise the Coast road trip which takes you to Canada’s most southerly point. Once you do this trip you will completely understand how appropriate this name is. Cruise the Coast extends 258.4 km (160.5 miles) along Lake Erie in the southern part of Ontario. It takes you through many small towns with quaint shops and family owned eats and treats, spectacular lookouts and many lighthouses. There is a never-ending opportunity for the landscape photographer to capture the best that Ontario has to offer.
When driving the Cruise the Coast route you will have ample opportunity to view the diversity of Ontario’s farmland as the topography forever changes from tobacco, to fruit, to wineries. There are plenty of places to stop along the way for a “quick dip” in the lake or a leisurely day at the beach, so remember to pack up a picnic and your beach essentials before hitting the road.
FULL GUIDE TO THE PERFECT ONTARIO ROAD TRIP
- About Cruise the Coast
- What to See and Do on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
- Port Dover, Ontario
- Long Point
- Port Rowan, Ontario
- Port Burwell, Ontario
- Port Stanley, Ontario
- Blenheim, Ontario
- Leamington, Ontario
- Kingsville, Ontario
- Where to Eat on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
- Port Dover Eats
- Long Point Eats and Drinks
- Port Rowan Eats and Coffee
- Port Burwell Treats
- Port Stanley Eats
- Best Burger in Leamington
- Kingsville Eats, Treats Drinks
- Where to Stay on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
- Port Dover Accommodations
- Port Stanley Accommodations
- Kingsville Accommodations
- Ontario’s Most Amazing Road Trip
About Cruise the Coast
How Long is the Cruise the Coast Road Trip
While Cruise the Coast is popular among motorcyclists, it also makes for the perfect Ontario road trip along Lake Erie in Southern Ontario. The Cruise the Coast road trip begins at Highway 3 (also known as the King’s Highway) in Fort Erie and continues for 258.4 km (160.5 miles)to Windsor, Ontario. This road trip will take you through many Regions of Ontario, including Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Oxford, Elgin, and Essex. After spending time discovering one of the wonders of the world in Niagara Falls, or wine tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, head over to Fort Erie to begin your journey on this road trip. Start early in the day in order to avoid traffic.
If you only have one day, don’t panic. You don’t have to begin this road trip in Fort Erie. In fact you can access this road trip anywhere along Highway 3, and you can drive as far as you want. From where I live in Kitchener, Ontario, I access the highway in Simcoe which is about the half-way point.
There is no direct route for this particular road trip and the best way to know exactly where you are is to stay as close to the lake as possible. This is also where you will pass through many great small towns and hamlets. The entire trip (one way) takes approximately 7 hours, but I recommend taking 2 days so you are able to enjoy the scenery along the way.
What to See and Do on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
Port Dover, Ontario
The first stop I recommend making during your Cruise the Coast road trip is Port Dover, which is well known for its fresh perch caught straight from Lake Erie and Friday the 13th. It is also a great place to take an early morning “quick dip” in the lake to freshen up.
Just One Tip: For authentic perch caught straight out of the lake, I recommend the Erie Bell Restaurant
For the cheese lover, a stop at the Dover Cheese Shop should be in order to pick up a snack for the drive.
The nature lover definitely won’t want to miss a stop at Long Point. Here you will be able to view one of Canada’s biosphere sites right from the highway, where you will be inspired to co-exist as one with nature. Long Point Biosphere is located in Norfolk County in the heart of the Carolinian Forest. With an abundance of hiking trails, ziplines, suspension bridge, and more endangered species than anywhere in Canada, it will be difficult to leave. Just don’t forget to pack your hiking gear.
For the wine lover, this area is also home to up and coming vineyards and I highly recommend a stop at the Burning Kiln Winery. For the most spectacular views of the marshland and some amazing wine, a stop at Inasphere Winery and Market, a family owned winery, is an absolute must before departing this area.
Just One Tip: Cabbage is also grown at Inasphere Winery. You will difinately want to pick one up!
If you fall in love with this area of the road trip and want to stay a little bit longer, glamping is available at Long Point Eco Adventures, but must be booked well in advance. For a larger group, there is a cabin with yurts available for rent by contacting Long Point Eco Adventures.
Port Rowen, Ontario
The waterfront in Port Rowen is the perfect spot to stop for a picnic. The old-fashion boat houses will transport you to an old-time fishing village.
If you forgot to pack up a picnic, stop at the seasonal market located at the harbour, for some locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables.
Port Burwell, Ontario
Port Burwell is the perfect stop if you want to spend the day on the beach. There is plenty of space to set up the blankets and laze while watching the kiddos splash in the Lake. For the fisherman, there is also a pier which makes for the ideal spot to cast a line for a couple of hours.
There are also public restrooms, making it the ideal stop on this road trip.
Port Stanley, Ontario
Next stop, and my favourite, is Port Stanley. With all of the family owned restaurants and quaint boutiques, Port Stanley is the perfect spot to spend the night (more on accommodations later).
Port Stanley is the ideal spot for the beach lover and it is considered to be one of Ontario’s best beach towns. There is a large beach area, with restaurants and beach shops on one side of the harbour and awesome boutiques, coffee shops, and ice-cream parlours on the other side of the harbour. No matter what side of the harbour you are on, you will be able to enjoy watching an abundance of boats coming and going.
The kiddos and old folks alike will love taking a train ride through to discover the local area on the Port Stanley Terminal Rail.
Even if you only have a day, a stop in Port Stanley is a must when on the Cruise the Coast road trip.
Blenheim is one of the largest “cities” along the Cruise the Coast route, which makes it the perfect spot to stop and stretch your legs or top up your Timmies. For the adults who are searching for a cold one, a visit to the Red Barn Brewery should be on the agenda.
You can’t go on one of Ontario’s best road trips without a stop at Point Pelee National Park in Leamington! It would be so easy to spend an entire day hiking one of the many trails, biking the trails and boardwalk, kayaking through the marshland, birdwatching, or just simply lazing at the beach. This is the perfect spot for the nature lover and adventure enthusiast and it can’t be missed.
If you are planning on taking a few days to do the Cruise the Coast road trip, then Kingsville is where I recommend you make your home base. There are so many shops, wineries, brew pubs, and beaches that you are guaranteed not to want to leave. It is also just a short drive to Leamington, making it easy to return to Point Pelee National Park.
The ferry to Pelee Island also leaves from Kingsville during certain months of the year which further entices people to make Kingsville their home away from home while road tripping along the coast of Lake Erie.
Where to Eat on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
There are so many great places to eat on the Cruise the Coast road trip, which is what makes this road trip one of Ontario’s best.
Stop at a Market
There are so many fruit and vegetable stands all along the Cruise the Coast route which makes it easy to grab healthy food and picnic along the way.
Port Dover Eats
- Arbour Dog for the best foot long hotdog
- Erie Beach for fresh Lake Erie Perch
- The Beach House for the view
- The Ice Cream Tank for the best ice cream
- Dover Cheese Shop for fresh cheese
Long Point Eats and Drinks
- Marshview Patio for pub food, salads and beer
- Burning Kiln Winery for wine and weekend entertainment
- Inasphere Winery for wine and the best view in the area
Port Rowan Eats and Coffee
- Harmony for the best breakfast around, not to mention coffee and baked goods
Port Burwell Treats
- Simply Scoops for the best ice cream around
Port Stanley Eats
- Solo on Main has a great patio for people watching. Be sure to get their kale Caesar salad!
- Windjammer Bed and Breakfast has the best breakfast I’ve ever had. The dinner is also awesome
- Kettle Creek Inn to be taken back in time
- Village Square Coffee House for a quick breakfast and a fantastic cup of coffee to get your day started
- The cook in the family just has to pay a visit to Pepper Tree Spice Co. for the absolute best spices out there
Best Burger in Leamington
- Freddy’s Restaurant for a fantastic burger and fries. When dining on the patio you will feel like you are in the Caribbean. It also serves up fresh yogurt cones!
Kingsville Eats, Treats and Drinks
Kingsville is jammed packed with places to pick up treats. It is so difficult to decide so you just have to try them all!
- Dutch Boys Chocolates for hand crafted truffles and chocolates
- Momma Bear’s Bakery for every kind of cupcake you can imagine
Sweet treats isn’t the only thing that Kingsville is know for. A visit to a winery or brew pub will be needed to wash down all those sweets.
- Willow Ridge Pub and Eatery for craft beer and great pub food
- Banded Goose Brewing Company for beer tasting, fabulous food truck food and a bit of entertainment
- O’Sarracino Trattoria and Wine Bar for a touch of up-scale dining
- Aleksander Estate Winery
- Black Bear Farms of Ontario Estate Winery
- Mastronardi Estate Winery
- Learn the “vine to wine” at Kingsville Winery
- North 42 Degrees Winery
- Oxley Estate Winery
And of course no road trip is complete for us Canadians without a good cup of java! Before heading out stop at Red Lantern Coffee Co. to pick up a coffee for the road.
Where to Stay on Ontario’s Best Road Trip
Okay, so here’s the catch on this particular road trip. Since Cruise the Coast doesn’t take you through any large cities, accommodations can be difficult to find, but not impossible.
Since this Ontario road trips will take you along the lake, there are plenty of campgrounds along the way, but reservations well in advance should be made if this is your accommodation of choice.
- Long Point Provincial Park
- Port Burwell Provincial Park
- Long Point Eco-Adventures has yurts and a cabin for larger groups
- Turkey Point Provincial Park
- Rondeau Provincial Park
- Point Pelee Provincial Park
Port Dover Accommodations
- Erie Beach Hotel
- Clonmel Castle if upscale accommodations are preferred
- Dover House Bed and Breakfast
- There are also many cottage rentals and Airbnb’s available
Port Stanley Accommodations
Port Stanley offers the most accommodations when taking Ontario’s best road trip, which I why I highly recommending stopping here if you plan on doing the Cruise the Coast in two days.
- Windjammer Inn. Request a room in the Coach House
- Inn on the Harbour
- Kettle Creek Inn
- Port Stanley Beach Hotel
- Telegraph House Inn
If you choose to do the entire Cruise the Coast, I recommend making Canada’s most southern town your home away from home. It offers a plethora of options for accommodations to suit every style and budget.
- the Grove Hotel offers a fun twist on its rooms and is located right in the center of town
- Inn 15 Loft Suites
- The Woodbridge House
- Walnut Grove Bed and Breakfast
- Kingsville House
- Vintage Goose Inn & Spa
- Distinctive Inns of Kingsville
Ontario’s Most Amazing Road Trip
With so many things to see and do when taking Ontario’s most amazing road trip, I recommend that you set aside at least one week so that you can take in all the sights and relax along the way.
If you weren’t able to see everything that you wanted on the way, then make time on your return trip to stop and see whatever was missed. If you are anxious to get home or don’t have the time, hop the 401 for your return journey. It is not near as nice and has a ton of traffic, but it will get you home much quicker.
“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations” – Confucious
I’m in love with this Ontario road trip and every time I go I find new treasures that I haven’t seen before. That’s why I consider the Cruise the Coast to be one of Ontario’s best road trips. What do you think?
Happy Road Trippin 🙂
PIN THE PERFECT ONTARIO ROAD TRIP