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Wondering what the best road trips from Toronto are? I lived in Toronto for five years, and well I love exploring the city – I equally loved exploring the surrounding area.
As an outdoor adventure addict, I often found myself craving to escape into the wilderness. Thankfully, there are many beautiful Ontario road trips to take from Toronto.
Located in the heart of the Great Lakes, Toronto is the perfect gateway to the beautiful nature Ontario has to offer.
Whether you’re looking for a fun day hike or want to explore an entirely new city, these Toronto road trips will inspire your next adventure.
Short road trips from Toronto
These Toronto road trips are close enough that you can visit them in one day, but of course, you can always turn it into an extended trip and stay overnight.
All distances and timings are listed for one-way trips, so keep the return journey in mind when making your plans for the great Toronto area.
1. Chase Waterfalls in Hamilton
Driving time: 44 miles (72 km) – 1 hour
Not only is this the highest concentration of waterfalls in Canada, but it also earns Hamilton the title of “Waterfall Capital of the World.”
In Hamilton, you can make a loop around of of the waterfalls. Though the driving route on this road trip is short, you’ll want to plan time to move through the region slowly and hike to as many of these waterfalls as you can.
You’ll start by making a large loop around the outskirts of the city- through areas such as Dundas, Ancaster, and Stoney Creek- where you’ll find the most waterfall trails.
Be sure to stop at the top five waterfalls (at least), including the Devil’s Punchbowl, Tews Falls, Webster’s Falls, Chedoke Falls, Rock Chapel Falls.
The Devil’s Punchbowl is a 37-meter-high waterfall in the center of a canyon. Tew’s Falls are close by, which is the tallest waterfall in Hamilton at 135 ft high.
After a long day of hiking and driving, end your journey on Locke Street, where you can grab a microbrew, a donut at the local hotspot Donut Monster or treat yourselves to a lovely dinner.
Hamilton is just an hour away from Toronto (assuming you don’t get stuck in traffic), so you can easily see a few waterfalls in a day. But if you want to see more, you can always stay overnight in Hamilton.
Along with beautiful nature, Hamilton has thriving art, music, and craft beer scene to explore.
2. Outdoors Sports & Relaxation in Blue Mountain
Diving time: 106 miles (171 km) – 2 hours
Blue Mountain is a year-round popular destination for outdoor activities in Ontario.
During the winter in Ontario, it becomes one of the best places for downward skiing and snowboarding. In summer, you can go golfing, mountain biking, and hiking.
There are indoor and outdoor hot tubs, cold pools, steam rooms, saunas, and relaxation areas, which you can cycle through for as long as you please.
The spa is open year-round and is busiest during the summer. I visited in winter on a frigid and snowy Canadian winter day. I thought it would be unpleasant being in the outdoor pools, but watching the snowfall over me while soaking in the hot tub was a magical experience.
3. Frolick in a Lavender Field in Milton
Driving time: 46 miles (75 km) – 1 hour
While these images may look strikingly similar to the south of France, this lavender field is just an hour away from Toronto.
Located between Milton and Guelph, Terre Blue has become an Instagram hot spot in recent years.
The Lavender bloom peaks during the summer, making it an ideal Toronto summer day trip.
Be sure to end your trip with a visit to the ice cream shop so you can indulge in the famous lavender to cool off from the heat.
4. Rock Climbing in Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
Driving time: 39 miles (63 km) – 45 minutes
If you’re looking for a nice place to go hiking that’s not too far away from Toronto, then head to Rattlesnake Point in Halton.
Following along the Niagara Escarpment, this area has beautiful views of the valley below with 13km of trails to explore. It’s also one of the best places to go rock climbing in the province, with three designated rock climbing sites.
If you’re not ready to leave nature behind, you can also camp here overnight and enjoy the magnificent stargazing.
5. Tubing in Elora Gorge Conservation Area
Driving time: 71 miles (115 km) – 1 1/2 hours
Elora Conservation area is one of the best day trips from Toronto. It has beautiful hiking trails and a river that you can go tubing down. You can rent the tubes there and spend a few hours floating down the river, soaking in the natural beauty of the gorge.
It’s also home to the Elora Quarry, which has been turned into a public swimming hole. It’s jam-packed in the summer, so get here early if you want to avoid the crowds.
Afterward, make a stop in town to explore the quaint locally owned cafes, art galleries, and one-of-a-kind shops. Famous Group of Seven painters A.J. Casson called Elora “Ontario’s Most Beautiful Village.”
6. Caledon Cheltenham Badlands
If you want to escape somewhere completely different that’s still a close drive to Toronto, head to the town of Caledon. This hidden gem is home to the beautiful Belfountain Conservation Area, a local farmers market, and is the gateway to the Cheltenham Badlands.
I thought badlands were only in Alberta! This unique area is actually a result of overgrazing in the 1930s. But still, It’s incredible that you can drive less than an hour away from Toronto and be in such a different landscape.
7. Marvel at the natural wonder of Niagara Falls
Driving time: 120 miles (193 km) – 2-3 hours
I can’t write an article about scenic road trips from Toronto and not mention Niagara Falls. This magnificent world wonder is one of Canada’s top bucket list experiences, and it’s just two hours away from Toronto.
What makes it so unique is the combined height and volume – 168,000 cubic meters of water goes over the Falls every minute!
However, most people agree that the Canadian side is the more scenic as you can see all three waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil, and American Falls). Turn it into an extended road trip and visit New York if you have the time!
Niagara Falls is full of outdoor adventure. You can go zip-lining over the falls, take a helicopter ride for epic views, ride an open-top jet boat, or even journey behind them on a boat cruise. I highly recommend the latter; just prepare yourself to get soaked.
In the evening, head to Clifton Hill for a night of fun.
Looking for a place to stay in Niagara Falls with epic views? Check out Marriott on the falls!
8. Bike through Vineyards at Niagara-on-the-lake
Driving time: 90 miles (129 km) – 2 hours
Nearby to Niagara Falls is Niagara-on-the-lake, a famous wine-producing region in Ontario.
The two towns are connected via the Niagara Parkway, a short but sweet drive. As you leave behind the falls, you can see the landscape change from the Niagara escarpment into the vineyards of Niagra on the lake.
After winding through historic Niagara-on-the-lake (and visiting the famous “Laura Secord” house), be sure to check out their historic downtown and stroll through the parks filled with Canadian war monuments.
You’ll find a few fun extras like art galleries and the occasional cheese shop and some easy hiking trails along the Niagra Escarpment with views of Lake Ontario.
You can combine the two into one road trip and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake as a separate day trip from Toronto.
If you want to enjoy wine tastings without worrying about driving, it’s best to stay overnight. There are many cute B&Bs to stay around Niagara on the Lake, or you can take a day tour from Niagara Falls.
9. Wasaga Beach
89 miles/143 km – 1.5 hours from Toronto
Take a short road trip to Wasaga Beach, one of the longest freshwater beaches in the world, located on the southern end of Georgian Bay.
Enjoy the soft sandy beach, swim in the clear waters, and soak up the sun. Wasaga Beach is a popular summer destination with beachside activities, water sports, hiking trails, and vibrant events.
10. Port Hope
78 miles/126 km – 1.5 hours from Toronto
Embark on a road trip to the charming town of Port Hope, situated along the shores of Lake Ontario. Known for its beautiful heritage buildings, picturesque streets, and vibrant arts scene, Port Hope offers a delightful escape from the city.
Explore the historic downtown area, filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious dining options. Take a stroll along the Ganaraska River, visit the Capitol Theatre for live performances, or indulge in outdoor activities like hiking and fishing in the nearby Ganaraska Forest.
Port Hope’s small-town charm and scenic location make it a perfect destination for a relaxing day trip or a weekend getaway.
Weekend road trips from Toronto
These weekend road trips from Toronto are all 2+ hour driving time from the city, so they are ideal for a long weekend getaway or 3-day road trip in Ontario.
11. Algonquin Provincial Park
Driving time: 190 miles (306 km) – 3 hours 20 minutes
Just a few hours away from Toronto is one of Canada’s most beautiful destinations – Algonquin provincial park. Covering over 3,080 square miles of rugged Canadian Shield, Algonquin is home to rivers, dense forests, islands, diverse wildlife, and over 2,400 lakes!
It is popular amongst travelers looking for outdoor adventure, but it also has a major appeal for artists and photographers, thanks to its beautiful scenery and unique wildlife spotting.
Algonquin Provincial Park is a great place to see Canadian wildlife. Some animals you may see here include black bears, deer, moose, bald eagles, beavers, and various species of birds.
Algonquin is also one of the best places in Canada to go canoeing, with over 990 miles of canoe routes that follow lakes, streams, and portage trails. Many people do multi-day backcountry portaging trips in Algonquin, as it allows you to see sights simply not accessible by road.
On your road trip from Toronto to Algonquin Provincial Park, make sure to take Highway 60 into the park. It’s a scenic drive, but wildlife sightings are common, so drive slowly!
Once you’ve entered, you may want to spend a night or two at an outfitters lodge, or backcountry camping Algonquin’s trails to make the most out of your trip.
12. Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
Driving time: 86 miles (139 km) – 1 1/2 hours
If you don’t want to go as far as Algonquin but want to experience Ontario’s incredible paddling opportunities, check out Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park which lies adjacent to the Muskokas.
It’s the largest park in Southern Ontario after Algonquin, with an oasis of paddling routes and cycling trails to explore.
Take a long drive through Lindsay, Kirkfield, and Sebright, followed by the towns of Bobcaygeon, Kinmount, and Rosedale.
Along this scenic route, you’ll experience the second-highest hydraulic lift lock in the world, endless roads of farmland, a train museum, and lots of lakes. It’s a good place to go kayaking!
Be sure to stop at the infamous Kawartha dairy- the original location. To commemorate the experience, strike a pose with your towering ice cream cone. Moose Tracks, Bear Claw, and Death by Chocolate are some of the most popular flavors with the locals.
13. City explorer: Ottawa and Montreal
Driving time: (278 miles (449 km) to Ottawa 123 miles (198 km) more to Montreal – 4 -7 hours
While a city may seem like a weird thing to add to a list of road trips for outdoor enthusiasts, Ottawa fits the bill. Although it’s the capital city of Canada, it’s one of the greenest cities in the country.
While the bulk of this journey is on a highway, it’s quite a nice one with plenty of towns to pull into if you want to extend your travels or ONRoute rest stops for quick breaks. Once you arrive, be sure to check out Parliament Hill, the infamous Byward market, and the National Art Gallery.
If you’re traveling in the winter months, be sure to bring your skates and lace up for a trip down the Rideau Canal.
Gatineau Park is a short drive away from downtown Ottawa, a beautiful green space that has more than 165 km of hiking trails to enjoy. A great time to visit Ottawa is in May during the Canadian tulip festival. Come then, and you’ll be able to admire over one million tulips blooming throughout the city.
Need a place to stay? Check out the stunning Fairmont Chateau Luxury Hotel!
For an extended road trip, keep driving toward Montreal. It’s my favorite city in Canada, with the richest arts and culture in the country.
The drive from Toronto to Montreal takes about six hours in usual traffic, so breaking it up with a stop in Ottawa is a great idea.
14. Prince Edward County
110 miles (177 km) to Prince Edward County / 162 miles (261) km to Kingston / 3 hours
Prince Edward County is one of Ontario’s most up-and-coming tourist destinations, with unique attractions around every corner, making it the perfect setting for an Ontario road trip. The county is on an island accessible by four bridges or by ferry.
While many of these attractions are family-friendly, PEC is particularly well-loved by couples celebrating a special milestone and friend groups planning a sophisticated girls’ getaway.
To extend your stay, book a room at one (or more) of the highly-photogenic retrofitted “luxury” motels and spend some time enjoying the gorgeous vineyards and wine.
Beach bums will adore the plethora of white sand beaches, including the protected shores of the ever-popular Sandbanks provincial park, one of three provincial parks in the area. It also happens to be home to a plethora of vineyards and restaurants; just follow The Taste Trail for a gastronomic experience.
You can easily pack your itinerary with trips to award-winning vineyards, hiring a curated picnic experience, or picking your own flowers at the Dahlia May flower farm.
For some nighttime entertainment, be sure to visit one of the few remaining drive-in movie theatres (The Mustang) and catch a show on the big screen.
From Prince Edward County, you can head back to Toronto or carry on to Kingston and the Thousands Islands.
15. Kingston and Thousand Islands
Driving time: 220 miles (354 km) / 4 hours 30 minutes
From Prince Edward County, you can easily add Kingston to your plans, or you can do it as a separate road trip from Toronto as there is much to do in both areas. You can get to Kingston by ferry, which is a fun way to break up your road trip.
Kingston is a city rich in history, nick-named ‘the Limestone City’ for its elaborate 19th-century buildings that you can see walking around the historic center. You’ll feel transported to Europe!
It is also home to one of Ontario’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, Fort Henry, where you can step back in time and experience 19th-Century military life.
Continuing on the St. Lawrence River from Kingston and you’ll reach Thousands Islands National Park, home to a group of scenic islands along the St. Lawrence river that span the border of Canada and the U.S.
The Thousand Islands archipelago might be one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets. Nestled along the Saint Lawrence River is this stunning collection of 1,864 islands, to be exact.
I recommend taking a boat trip to experience the archipelago to the fullest, but even if you decide to stay on the mainland, you will find plenty of stops and things to do. Through several historic small towns, you’ll find lighthouses, boat museums, quiet boardwalks, lookout trails, and even a castle.
16. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Driving Time: 185 miles (298 km) / 3 hours 40 minutes
When I saw photos of Bruce Peninsula National Park, I couldn’t believe it was in Ontario. The color of the water makes it look like the Caribbean! With the towering cliffs rising from the turquoise water of Georgian Bay, it’s no surprise this has become one of the most popular Ontario weekend trips.
Sauble Beach is best known for its beach shops, dunes, and summery restaurants, but it’s also home to several family-friendly attractions, including arcades, mini-golf, speedways, and laser tag.
You’ll want to hike in early in the day to avoid big crowds during the summer, and if you want to camp in the park, you need to book well in advance. Along with the stunning landscapes, the park is a dark sky preserve, so it’s a dream for stargazing.
You can spot a range of wildlife here, from black bears, deer, and coyotes to smaller residents such as chipmunks and porcupines.
From Tobermory, you can take a boat tour to Flowerpot Island, which is part of Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Marvel at the unique rock formations known as the Flowerpots, hike scenic trails and explore the island’s rich maritime history. Don’t forget to bring your camera, as the views are simply breathtaking!
17. Rent a cottage in Muskoka
Driving time: 129 miles (208 km) – 2 hours
If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway from Toronto, head up to cottage country in Muskoka.
The best things to do here revolve around nature, as there are endless hiking trails and activities like mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, boating, fishing, and swimming.
The best way to visit cottage country is to get invited to someones’ cottage, but if you’re visiting from away, this may not be so easy (although Canadians are known for being friendly, so you never know).
If not, you can choose from a wide array of accommodation styles to suit your needs. Just to give you a brief snapshot, you could easily enhance your trip with a stay in a rustic cabin, a monstrous lakehouse, a chalet-style lodge, or a fancy couple’s resort. This area has some of the most unique stays in Ontario!
Though at first glance, Ontario’s cottage country might seem like one massive adult summer camp (and it certainly can be), massive tourism dollars have gone into making it a top luxury destination.
Those who choose to splurge on their Muskoka adventure will enjoy fine dining, exclusive spas, and a remote hideaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
While this route is a much more popular choice during the warmer months, winter road-trippers will be equally rewarded with snow-capped pines, frozen lakes, and quintessential Canadian winter activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating.
Gather up a few friends, rent a car, and enjoy a blissful weekend in one of the most beautiful areas of Ontario. Cottage country life is all about lakes and campfires.
18. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Driving time: 110 miles (178 km) – 2 hours
You know a national park is going to be amazing when it’s only accessible by boat. Georgian Bay is the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, and Georgian Bay Islands National Park is the best place to explore this untouched paradise.
Take the daily boat over for the weekend and immerse yourself in the beautiful nature around you. This park was one of the inspirations for the group of seven, and after spending some time here, it’s guaranteed you’ll leave feeling inspired too.
19. Awenda Provincial Park
I hadn’t heard of Awenda Provincial Park until a friend asked me to go camping there over Victoria Day weekend. It’s such a gem.
Just a two-hour road trip from Toronto, Awenda Provincial Park is great for a low-key camping weekend. It has beautiful beaches, dramatic sunsets, and relaxing hiking trails. I did the bird-watching hike organized by the park and learned a ton about wildlife in Ontario!
If you’re looking for a unique Ontario park with few crowds, Awenda is an excellent choice.
92 miles/148 km – 1.5-2 hours
Stratford, Ontario, is a charming city known for its rich cultural heritage and world-class theater scene. The renowned Stratford Festival is a major attraction, showcasing a variety of plays and Shakespearean productions.
Other attractions include the picturesque Avon River, the vibrant downtown area, and the well-preserved Victorian architecture. Nature lovers can find solace in the city’s beautifully maintained gardens and the serene Tom Patterson Island.
21. Manitoulin Island
226 miles/364 km – 5-6 hours
Manitoulin Island, located in Lake Huron, is the largest freshwater island in the world and a hidden gem in Ontario. It offers a serene and picturesque escape with its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and rich Indigenous history.
The island is known for its tranquility, making it a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful retreat. It offers a vast network of hiking trails, which lead to breathtaking viewpoints, hidden waterfalls, and lush forests
22. Quebec City
500 miles/800 km – 8 hours
Quebec City, situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, is one of my favorite cities in Canada. Steeped in history and European flair, the city has a unique and charming character that makes it stand out.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec is a must-visit, with its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and fortified walls.
Plus, you can indulge in delicious French cuisine. From cozy bistros serving hearty poutine and maple-infused dishes to fine dining establishments offering innovative gastronomic experiences, Quebec City is a paradise for food enthusiasts.
While a Toronto to Quebec City road trip is one of the longer ones on this list, you can break up the journey by stopping at places like Kingston along the way.
23. Finger Lakes, New York State
216 miles/348 km – 3.5 hours from Toronto
Embark on a scenic road trip to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York, one of the best road trips from Toronto to US.
The Finger Lakes region of New York is a picturesque and enchanting destination known for its stunning landscapes, charming small towns, and, of course, its namesake lakes. From the majestic shores of Lake Seneca to the serene waters of Cayuga Lake, visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming.
The Finger Lakes also boasts an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, including the famous Finger Lakes Trail, which spans over 900 miles and showcases the region’s diverse landscapes, from waterfalls and gorges to forests and meadows.
Renting a car in Toronto
If you don’t have a car or a friend to sweet talk into driving, the best way to get to the places listed in this post is to rent a car.
There are many car rental places throughout Toronto, including the downtown core. To find the best deal, search on Discover Cars as they will search all the car rental agencies in the city for you.
If you’re planning a road trip that includes crossing into the United States, check with the car rental company that you’re allowed to do that and ensure you have the proper documentation in the car.
If you can’t rent a car, there are still other great options. Check out the Park Bus, which runs shuttle buses from Toronto to several places mentioned, including Algonquin Park, Bruce Peninsula, Elora Gorge, and more.
Tip: The worst part about taking a road trip from Toronto is the hellish traffic leaving the city (especially if you are going from downtown Toronto).
There will almost always be some traffic, but if possible, avoid going during rush hour (7-10 am, 3:00-6 pm). If you can, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches.
FAQ: Toronto road trips
What are some good trips to take out of Toronto for three days?
Some good trips to take out of Toronto for three days include Niagara Falls, Algonquin Provincial Park, and Prince Edward County.
What state is 4 hours away from Toronto?
The state that is approximately 4 hours away from Toronto is New York.
What is two hours away from Toronto?
Some places to drive to from Toronto are Kingston, Niagara Falls,
What cities are 4 hours from Toronto?
Some cities that are approximately 4 hours away from Toronto include Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, and Detroit, Michigan, in the United States.
What is the most beautiful drive in Canada?
The Icefields Parkway in Alberta, which stretches between Jasper and Banff National Parks, is often considered one of the most beautiful drives in Canada.
Where should I go on a road trip in Ontario?
Some popular road trip destinations in Ontario include Niagara-on-the-Lake, Muskoka, the Thousand Islands region, the Bruce Peninsula, and the scenic Lake Superior Circle Tour.
What are some family-friendly road trip destinations near Toronto?
The best road trip destinations from Toronto for families include Ottawa, Kingston, Niagara Falls, and Quebec City.
Are there any scenic drives near Toronto during the fall season?
Yes, there are several scenic drives near Toronto during the fall season, including Algonquin Park, the Kawarthas region, and the Niagara Parkway.
What are some must-visit attractions along the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario?
Some must-visit attractions along the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario include the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ouimet Canyon, and the Terry Fox Monument in Thunder Bay.
Are there any coastal road trip routes near Toronto?
While Toronto itself is not located on the coast, you can enjoy a coastal road trip by exploring regions such as the Bruce Peninsula and the North Shore of Lake Erie.
Final thoughts: fun road trips from Toronto
It’s easy to think of Toronto as not being close to nature, but the truth is there’s an abundance of it not so far away. Ontario is a province that continually surprises me with its natural beauty.
I hope these road trip ideas from Toronto could inspire you to get outside and enjoy this stunning province!