From Cityscapes to Nature Escapes: Ontario's Best Road Trip Ideas

The Fun Of Road Trips

Despite all the places you can fly to nowadays, Ontario road trips are still very popular, and it's easy to see why. Sometimes, you want to avoid paying the high prices of air travel and deal with the chaos of an airport. There are other times when you're not going very far, and a car will do the job. You may like the scenery nearby or enjoy the reward of making it to the destination yourself. Whether you're looking for an afternoon away, taking a weekend trip, or spending an entire week away from home, as long as you ensure you have proper car insurance and keep road trip safety tips in mind, you'll be good to go.

While scenic road trips are a great way to spend time with your family or friends away from home, you must ask yourself an important question: where are you going? Would you rather get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature instead, visit a variety of cute towns, or get the excitement of seeing a beautiful city that's very different from the one you live in? Do you want to get the thrill of visiting a place a day or two away, or do you prefer the convenience of only being a few hours from home? No matter your destination, an Ontario road trip can provide what you want.

Many Great Ontario Road Trips Across The Province

There are many reasons to choose an Ontario road trip destination. One is the vastness and variety of fantastic destinations. If you want to see a city, you can visit large cities with world-famous landmarks, many small towns with distinct cultures, beautiful provincial parks offering fantastic views of nature, and anything in between. To experience nature, you can choose between beautiful lakes, beach-like conservation areas, forests, provincial parks, waterfalls, and more. The large amount of variation in the province also means that going at different times of year increases this variety. Whether you want to see a lakeside coming to life in the spring, the sheer variety of wildlife a fully bloomed provincial park shows in the summer, the beauty of a forest in autumn, or enjoy a winter wonderland on an Ontario road trip will make it possible. Plenty of cities are right by nature, giving you the best of both worlds. Don't let paralysis of analysis get you down; we're here to provide some great Ontario road trip ideas for you.

Northern Ontario Road Trip Ideas

Northern Ontario is an overlooked area of the province, mostly since over 90% of people in the province live within 200 kilometres of the American border. Don't let that discourage you from visiting on your Ontario road trip, though. If you love nature, the northern part of the province is full of beautiful destinations and pristine lakes. It's varied enough to be home to almost any biome and seasonal environment you can think of.

Boreal Forest

morison insurance road trip boreal forest

This forest has enough land to warrant its own travel article. It is the largest intact forest on Earth and runs through Ontario. The part of the forest that runs through Ontario goes from east to west, heading from just south of James Bay to the northern tip of Lake Superior. The Ontario region of the forest takes up almost half of the province, measuring about 50 million square hectares (500,000 km), or around the size of Spain! Wildlife seen here include moose, bears, caribou, wolves, beavers, wood frogs, lynx, pike, trout, 20 species of trees, over 300 bird species, and many more.

Don't worry, though; there is a way through. The 1,700 km boreal driving route that starts and ends in Sudbury will allow you to drive through provincial parks, including Ivanhoe Lake, White Lake Campground, Nagagamisis, Fushimi Lake, Rene Brunelle, Esker Lakes, and Kap-Kig-Iwan, allowing you to have a fabulous road trip where you see everything nature has to offer.

Lake Superior Park

morison insurance road trip lake superior

There's a certain charm to relaxing along the shore of the largest great lake. Long away from major cities, the largest freshwater lake in the world is a perfect place to enjoy freshwater in its purest form. Lake Superior Provincial Park provides campgrounds and various activities for those who want to stay here during their Ontario road trip. Boats, including powerboats, are permitted on the lake; just be sure to keep boat safety in mind. Eight canoe routes are also ready, ranging from the brief 3km long crescent lake route that can be finished in an afternoon to the Lake Superior Coastline route, which is over 100 km long and can take a week (not recommended for beginners). Fishing, hiking and swimming are also allowed in certain areas.

Thunder Bay

morison insurance road trip thunder bay

For those who want to experience the outdoors but still want to spend the night in the comfort of the city, Thunder Bay might be the Ontario road trip destination for you.

Outdoor physical summer activities in the area include climbing with the Alpine Club of Canada or the Boulder Bear Climbing Centre, cycling in Trowbridge Forest, teeing up in one of the 11 golf courses (including disc golf and foot golf), hiking any part of the 34 km long Thunder Bay Recreational Trail System, horseback riding, and more. If recreational vehicles are more your style, ATVs and boating are also available, as are activities like canoeing and kayaking.

Winter activities include dog sledding, ice fishing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and the locally popular game of ice racing.

Central Ontario Road Trip Ideas

Moving closer south brings us into some more populated places within the province, including our nation's capital. This area features a good balance of city living and natural adventures, making for a series of very balanced Ontario road trip destinations.

Algonquin Provincial Park

morison insurance road trip algonquin

The 1,891,208-acre Algonquin Provincial Park is Canada's oldest provincial park, starting in 1893. It is only a few hours away from cities like Ottawa and Toronto, making Algonquin Park a great way to see the beauty of nature, only taking an afternoon to get there.

The more popular activities to be enjoyed by guests in the summer by the water include boating, canoeing, fishing and swimming. Those who prefer to stay on land can enjoy biking, hiking, birdwatching, and their discovery program, including films, guided walks and other educational experiences. During the winter, guests may enjoy cross-country skiing, skating, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.

Ottawa

morison insurance road trip ottawa

Being our nation's capital means Ottawa has plenty of sights to see while on your Ontario road trip. An easy example is that you can see Parliament Hill, and if you go in the summer, you can catch the free sound and light show. This unique experience started in 2015 and plays every night, beginning at 10:00 in July, 9:30 in August, and 9:00 in September. The Rideau Canal is a beautiful summer boat-filled stream and a fantastic winter outdoor skating rink.

The city has plenty of museums. History lovers will likely enjoy the Canadian War Museum, featuring live tours and real wartime vehicles put on display. The National Gallery of Canada features over 40,000 works of art, ensuring everyone will find something impressive. The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Canadian Museum of History and National Arts Centre can also be seen here.

Stratford

morison insurance road trip stratford

Ontario's artsiest city is worth consideration for those who love creativity. Like its English namesake, it's home to plenty of theatre, including the Stratford Festival. Running from April through October, this festival is one of the world's most famous places to see a Shakespearian play in the modern day. Studio Theatre, Tom Patterson Theatre, The Avon Theatre and Festival Theatre are the four theatres that share this festival.

While visiting, on their Ontario road trip, guests can also see Shakespearian Gardens, you can paddleboat in the Avon River, and take the Art Walk.

Thousand Islands

morison insurance road trip thousand island

You might think there's no way this little archipelago has 1,000 islands. You're right; it doesn't; it has 1,864 islands! For those curious, Thousand Island considers a piece of land an island if it is above water year-round and supports at least one tree. This area on the St Lawrence River runs on both sides of the border. The largest is Wolfe Island, which is 124 square kilometres, home to over 1,000 people, and accessible via ferry.

There are many fun activities on this chain of islands. If you want a bird's eye view, consider going up in the elevator on Hill Island or checking out the Thousand Islands helicopter tour to get a bird's eye view. For those who want to get on the water during their Ontario road trip, the Thousand Island boat cruise showing shipwrecks from centuries ago or one of the kayaking tours might be up your alley. For those who prefer to stay on the ground, taking the Kingston Trolley Tour or viewing the Thousand Island Boat Museum might be more your style.

Southern Ontario Road Trip Ideas

As the most populated area in the province, Southern Ontario will always have a lot to see. With world-famous landmarks and plenty of places to get the big-city vibe, the southern points of the province will always have something to see while you're on your Ontario road trip.

Brant County

morison insurance road trip brant county

Brant County is made up of some small municipalities, including Brantford, Paris, Oakland, Scotland, St. George, Falkland, and many more. You can see the Mohawk Chapel, Canada's oldest surviving Church, experience the Chiefswood National Historic Site, The Woodland Cultural Centre, and many other Six Nations landmarks. The Brantford Twin Valley Zoo is a great place to see some animals in an hour or two.

Bruce Peninsula

morison insurance road trip bruce peninsula

Another lakeside location, Bruce Peninsula National Park in Tobermory, divides Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron. With over 150 km worth of scenic trails to explore, you have several choices of what to see on your Ontario road trip. There are also five different boat cruises for you to enjoy. The Blue Heron will give you an excellent view of historic ships and shipwrecks, Bruce Anchor cruises will show several other historic sites, Divers Den will provide the opportunity for snorkelling, Fathom Five Fishing includes a list of several different tours that vary throughout the day, and the MS Chi-Cheemaun is designed for special events, and features a culinary crew.

Other activities include birdwatching, fishing tours, a 9-hole golf course, canoeing, kayaking, and the opportunity to see plenty of exotic wildlife and plants.

Haldimand-Norfolk & Beyond

haldimand norfolk

If relaxing days are more your style, try heading to the Haldimand-Norfolk area on your Ontario road trip. Located on the north shore of Lake Erie, towns such as Simcoe, Tillsonburg, Cayuga, Port Dover, Delhi, Waterford, and Turkey Point have fantastic views of the lake, as well as various wineries and vineyards to explore. If you prefer beer over wine, you're just in luck; there are many different breweries to check out across Haldimand County and Norfolk County. Road-tripping here also gives you the chance to visit local farmers' markets and enjoy fresh produce. There are also multiple provincial parks with scenic biking tours and walking trails to explore in Haldimand-Norfolk County.

Niagara Falls

morison insurance road trip niagara falls

Located in South Eastern Ontario, one of North America's most well-known landmarks, the beautiful Niagara Falls refers to waterfalls by the same name. Those who want to see a beautiful landmark, see some great shows, and even visit the States briefly will likely enjoy going here for their Ontario road trip. The Canadian Falls, named Horseshoe Falls, is approximately 57 metres (188 feet) tall and 670 metres (2,200 feet) across. At its peak, over one million bathtubs worth of water goes over the falls every second, with about half of this amount going over in the winter. A little-known fact is that this massive waterfall sits on the Canada-U.S. border, and 10% of the waterfall is situated in New York. There are also two smaller falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, both featured in the states. The three waterfalls are also separated by a pair of islands known as Goat Island and Luna Island.

Several events are held at different times of the year, including boat tours allowing for incredible views up close to the falls, fireworks displays, festivals, light shows, and many more. Built for tourism, the area is also home to many incredible restaurants, coffee shops and grand hotels, making it an excellent place for a long-term stay on your Ontario road trip.

Prince Edward County

morison insurance road trip prince edward county

Located near Kingston and halfway between Toronto and Ottawa, Prince Edward County can provide a beautiful view of Lake Ontario. This area provides you with the opportunity to visit many places. Provincial parks include Sandbanks Provincial Park, which features three sandy beaches and the world's largest baymouth barrier dune formation. There is also Lake On The Mountain Provincial Park, which is a fantastic picnic location.

There is the Wellington Heritage Museum, Mariners Park Museum and Ameliasburgh Heritage Village for those who prefer learning. Festivals include Comedy on The River and the Sandbank Music Festival in the summer and Icebox and Flashback February in the winter, giving you lots to do on your Ontario road trip.

Toronto

morison insurance road trip toronto

For those who prefer to visit a big city, the largest city in the country will have plenty of opportunities for fun activities for your Ontario road trip. There will be something for everyone in this city of approximately 3 million people. It has the two largest art museums in the province: The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. Animal lovers can see Ripley's Aquarium, with over 20,000 aquatic animals, and the Metro Toronto Zoo - Canada's largest zoo. Sports fans can visit the Hockey Hall of Fame and see a Raptors, Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Argos or Toronto FC game. The Canadian National Exhibition (aka The Ex) is also every year near the end of summer. There are also many tours on buses, trains and even helicopters. There are plenty of Malls, like the Eaton Centre, for you to grab an exclusive bargain, and many fantastic restaurants to visit.

Enjoy Your Road Trip

It doesn’t matter whether your road trip idea is to experience the excitement of a big city, the unique feel of a small one, or to explore the wilderness, enjoy your Ontario road trip! One of the best things about Ontario is the sheer vastness of the province. You can enjoy almost any environment, with each season also giving you a different look. Choose the road trip that’s right for you and your family.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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