Note: With COVID-19, it’s important to stay safe and practice social distancing. We hope you find the following content entertaining, inspiring, or useful for a future trip. Always research official websites for up-to-date information on closures and new health and safety policies as businesses and destinations reopen.
Are you ready to conquer the vastness of Ontario, a province that boasts 1/5 of the world’s fresh water and the nation’s capital to boot? Where will you stop as you traverse on your road trip in Ontario? Coming up with Ontario road trip ideas is one of our favourite things to do, so we took the liberty of assembling a kick-butt itinerary!
Here are nine Ontario destinations to visit on your provincial road trip:
Welcome to Kenora, Ontario! Kenora is a premiere boating destination and home to unfettered lake terrain. Be sure to stretch your legs at Tug Boat McLeod Park, where you can spot one of the most unique landmarks in Northwest Ontario across the street. Husky the Muskie is his name, and telling you to avoid water pollution is his game. He is also a 12-meter tall muskellunge and kitschy photo op. If you have a few hours to relax, grab lunch and a beer at Lake of the Woods Brewing Company.
Next Leg: 560 km (6 hours)
After a day of driving, check into a Thunder Bay hotel and get some rest. Before you do that though grab a drink at the Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. Speaking of huge slumbering beings, wake up in the morning and go straight for Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Stellar views of Lake Superior and 80 km of hiking trails are a pretty fantastic way to kick off your day. Other things to do before you hit the road again include collecting your own amethyst at the Amethyst Mine Panorama, snapping pictures of the greenery at the Thunder Bay Conservatory, and restocking your snack cooler with sustainable food from Belluz Farms. One final stop before you head out of town: Kakabeka Falls, where the viewing decks provide close-up views of the rushing water.
Next Leg: 705 km (7 h 35 min)
Sault Ste. Marie
With a name like Sudbury, you know you’ve made it to southern Ontario (your knowledge of French never fails you). Why is this such a good place for a pit stop? The views at the A.Y. Jackson Lookout, for one. Watch the High Falls barrel 55 metres toward the Sudbury Basin and follow the scenic trail through local landscape. Be sure to check out the Famous Big Nickel before you get back on the highway. ‘Cause why not?
Next Leg: 315km (3 h 30 m)
With a name like Sudbury, you know you’ve made it to southern Ontario (your knowledge of French never fails you). Why is this such a good place for a pit stop? The views at the A.Y. Jackson Lookout, for one. Watch the High Falls barrel 55 metres toward the Sudbury Basin and follow the scenic trail through local landscape. Refuel at the local co-op, Eat Local Sudbury, where you can pick up loads of locally sourced goodies. Snacks, candles, and even natural sweeteners are all up for sale. Spend a few hours at Science North and see the Famous Big Nickel before you get back on the highway. ‘Cause why not?
Next Leg: 414 km (4 h)
You made it to T-Dot! Toronto looks a bit different this summer and people are keeping their distance, but attractions are all slowly beginning to re-open with new visitation procedures in place, including the CN Tower. The CN Tower is the tallest free-standing tower in the Western Hemisphere. From the top, you can drop water balloons…erm, just kidding, but you can scout out all the places you want to visit (but just be sure to confirm ahead of time what may be open). The first stop when you’re back on solid ground? Consider walking around the many neighbourhoods of Toronto including the Distillery District, the iconic St. Lawrence Market, or beloved Kensington Market.
Next Leg: 69 km (1h 20 min)
Sorry, theatre lovers, your next stop isn’t the latest Broadway sensation. But don’t worry, this Hamilton is chock-full of history, too. Once you pull up in front of the Original Tim Hortons, your Canada-loving heart will sing so loud it deserves a Tony award. Grab an iced coffee and a doughy confection at the site where it all began, then get ready for a…hike! Yes, Hamilton is close to so many outdoor trails, so take this opportunity to make the most of the summer weather.
Next Leg: 210 km (2 h 30 m)
Next stop, Kawartha Lakes! Where the livin’ is easy, even when it’s not summertime. Relax on your very own houseboat rental, and then soak up the tranquility at Bobcaygeon Beach Park. This area of Ontario cottage country will really make you feel as though you’re out of the city and can have that down time. Grab a book or take a dip in one of the many lakes in the Kawartha’s – it’s truly a great spot to spend summer in Canada.
Next Leg: 280 km (3h 30 m)
Take a break in Merrickville, which bills itself as the “Jewel of the Rideau.” Not only can you check out the Rideau Canal, which is a UNSESCO World Heritage Site, but you can support local artists. And there are a lot of them. Glass blowers, painters, potters, and other creative spirits give you plenty of reasons to reignite your own creative flame. If you like your artisan crafts to be edible, stock up on some award-winning mustard from Mrs. McGarrigle’s or some perfectly cut taters from Bob’s Fresh Cut Fries. Grab a new bag from Rowland Leather to store your new goodies, and you’re off toward your last Ontario pit stop.
Next Leg: 78 km (55min)
All the best road trips in Ontario include a stop in Ottawa. You’ll find a flowing river instead of liquid dreams in this O-Town, but no one is stopping you from breaking out in your favourite boy band song. You’ll want to spend a few days here, so go ahead and unpack your bag – there are lots of hotels to choose from in the capital. Once you’re settled in, it’s off to explore the ByWard Market and grab a bite at Zak’s Diner. While you’re in Ottawa, a stop at Parliament Hill is a must, to get your dose of Canadian history and politics. Down by the river, Ottawa Rock Art combines nature and creativity, so bring your camera and get ready to make some plans for your rock garden back home.
You just made it 2,631 km and had one of the most activity-filled road trips in Ontario! Take a load off and savour some gelato from the Stella Luna Gelato Café. Whether you do the whole trip around the province, or just one leg or destination, there is so much to see and explore in Ontario this summer, in a safe way.
Want more road trip ideas? Check our other guides for stops across Canada!