Ontario is a wonderful part of Canada with green forests, and interesting cities and great National and Provincial Parks. While you should definitely spend a couple of days in Toronto, there are lots of great road trips from Toronto that will whisk you away from the big city to some of the most beautiful places this attractive province has to offer.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to spend some time at a lovely lake, admire the thundering Niagara Falls or take a city trip to Montreal or Ottawa, this post with the best short trips from Toronto by car has got you covered!
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Best road trips from Toronto
Great Toronto day trips and weekend getaways
In this article, you will find a list of road trip ideas from Toronto. These trips are all within driving distance from the city and can either be visited as day trips from Toronto or, for the trips a bit further afield, as (long) weekend getaways from Toronto.
This post has been created in collaboration with several other travel bloggers, who have kindly shared their expert advice about their favorite Toronto getaways by car.
Driving time and distances have been included for each of these getaways near Toronto and range between an easy 90 minutes trip to a 6 hours drive. You will need your own transportation to cover most of these destinations, though some can be done as a day tour from Toronto (such as this Niagara Falls day trip).
Day and weekend trips from Toronto: map
15 awesome Toronto road trips
1. Niagara Falls
Driving distance from Toronto: 1 hour 20 minutes (130km)
Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world and should be included on any list with driving trips from Toronto. It’s only a short drive from Toronto to Niagara Falls, and you can either make this a one day trip from Toronto or, if you have more time, stay a night or two.
The Niagara Falls are a great place to celebrate a special occasion (such as a honeymoon or wedding anniversary) but visiting the Niagara Falls with kids is a guaranteed success as well.
Some of the best Niagara Falls activities are:
- Zipline to the Falls: soar 67-meters high above the Niagara River Gorge, feel the spray of the Falls, and take in the stunning views at up to 110 km/h. Definitely one of the most spectacular and fun things to do at Niagara Falls! Click here to buy a skip-the-line ticket.
- Voyage to the Falls: this 20-minute boat tour takes you up close to the base of the Falls. A great activity by day as well as after sunset when you can admire the beautifully illuminated Falls. Click here to buy a skip-the-line ticket.
- The Niagara SkyWheel: this 50 meters tall Ferris wheel offers incredible views of the Falls and surrounding areas. Click here to buy a ticket.
2. Niagara on the Lake
Driving distance from Toronto: 1 hour 30 minutes (130km)
Emily from London City Calling: Niagara on the Lake is a small town located just 24km away from Niagara Falls so makes a great combined road trip from Toronto with #1 on this list. From the Falls, Niagara on the Lake is only a scenic 20-30 minute drive down the bank of the Niagara River.
The town itself is just about as different from the high rises, bright lights and big crowds of the falls area as you can get, with a quaint town center full of locally run shops and cafes, a few theatres which draw in locals from the surrounding areas and a harbor full of sailboats.
But the main reason to visit Niagara on the Lake has to be the region’s numerous beautiful vineyards and local wineries. Therefore, the best way to explore Niagara on the Lake is to book a hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn and Staybridge Suites are nice places to stay) or Airbnb in a central location where you can park your car, then give yourself a day or two to explore the town and wineries.
A good way of traveling between wineries without needing a designated driver is to hire bikes for a day. Many wineries offer wine tastings for free while others charge around $3, however, if you buy a bottle then the price of your tastings would be removed. Don’t forget to try the region’s signature ice wine!
3. Kawartha Lakes
Driving distance from Toronto: 1 hour 40 minutes (140km)
Oksana and Max from Drink Tea & Travel: when it comes to a Toronto road trip the Kawartha Lakes region is a great place to go. It’s an easy drive and you’ll pass by the scenic Lake Simcoe on your way.
The Kawartha Lake region is popular with cottagers and people who love spending their summers outdoors. It encompasses Balsam Lake Provincial Park and the Trent Severn-Waterway.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park has a plethora of hiking trails, camping opportunities and hosts a great number of activities. The 2.6-kilometer lookout trail is one of the most popular hiking tracks. You can also go swimming at the beach at Balsam Lake, rent a kayak or canoe from the park or go fishing.
Balsam Lake Provincial Park borders on the Trent Severn-Waterway. The waterway is a 386-kilometre-long canal route connecting Lake Ontario, Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay.
The region’s namesake ice cream is definitely a must while in the area. Kawartha ice cream was born in the region and a tasty treat which we highly recommend you indulge in.
Driving distance from Toronto: 1 hour 40 minutes (150km)
Sherri from Dogtrotting: most Toronto residents will have paid a visit to Stratford. Likely, they were clutching Stratford Festival Theatre tickets and looking forward to seeing a Canadian adaptation of a Shakespearean classic, recontextualized in a new time period.
Since 1953, when several entrepreneurial theatre-lovers pitched a tent along the walkable Avon River shores in the rural railway town, Stratford has been synonymous with festival!
Now, the four-theatre summer showcase is the city’s biggest draw (though being Justin Bieber’s hometown hasn’t hurt either). Roadtrippers should pack dressy walking shoes and head out hours, or a day, before curtain.
Highway 8, between Highway 401 and Stratford, will have you skirting St. Jacobs if a market stop is desirable. Otherwise, fill your fridge at The Best Little Pork Shoppe in Shakespeare along the way to Stratford.
Mainstreet Stratford (Ontario Street, actually) is boutique shopping bliss. Buy dishes at Bradshaws, chocolate at Rheo Thompson Candies, books at Fanfare Books Ltd., and coffee at the original Balzac’s Roasters.
Often overlooked are Festival Theatre Tours: Costume and Props Warehouse Tour, Backstage Tour and Garden Tour run separately before noon, June to September; The Costume Warehouse Tour at Douro Street runs mornings, June to November.
Overnighting in Stratford? You’ve got to stay at one of the B&B’s in town, such as the lovely A Garden Stroll Bed & Breakfast. British-influenced Stratford is the original stay-at-a-residential home capital in Ontario. High Tea is optional but definitely recommended!
Driving distance from Toronto: 1 hour 45 minutes (160km)
Christina from City Sea Country: Midland is a town at the Georgian bay and one of the best short road trips from Toronto. Before arriving at Midland you can stop at ‘Sainte-Marie among the Hurons‘.
Sainte-Marie is a Jesuit settlement that was founded in 1639 and was located in the Wendat area. The settlement was rebuilt on the original settlement place and the houses in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons are open to visitors to get an insight into life at that time. You can watch how cornbread is made, how they forged iron, and built canoes.
Besides exploring the village there is also a museum and you can watch a short film that explains more about the beginning of the colonization of Ontario.
When in Midland be sure to explore the murals throughout the town, which all show different historical scenes. The pier of the Midland Town Dock is home to the largest historical mural in North America, measuring 24 meters by 76 meters!
Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and hiking gear for the trip to Midland. Close to the town is the Awenda Provincial Park where many different trails are waiting to be explored.
The Wendat Trail around the Kettle Lake is 4 kilometers long and one of the most popular trails in the park. Besides the Wendat Trail, the Beach Trail and Beaver Pond Trail offer great views.
6. Grey County
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hours (170km)
Ayngelina from Bacon Is Magic: without a doubt, Grey County is one of the most underrated regions in Ontario. While it is almost the same distance from Toronto as Prince Edward County (#9) or Niagara (#1), it gets a fraction of the visitors. And that makes it one of the best road trips in Ontario!
Instead of being elbow to elbow with other Torontonians, you can explore Grey County while enjoying lots of space and fresh air.
Of course, there are lots of hiking, kayaking, and biking options in such a beautiful region. But many do not realize you can have fantastic food and drinks too.
One of the most interesting things to do is the self-guided Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County that features local beer wine and cider. There’s a great history here as the region is home to apple orchards and Owen Sound was the last city in Canada to end prohibition. You can pick up a pamphlet that takes you on a tour to all of these great places.
And if you choose to stay the night there are so many interesting options, whether it be on the estate of Coffin Ridge Winery, a treehouse complete with a slide in Durham, or a glamping yurt on the Niagara escarpment.
7. Blue Mountain
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hours (170km)
Margarita of Downshifting PRO: Blue Mountain is another one of the perfect weekend getaways near Toronto and a year-round destination.
It’s a wonderful place for winter sports like downhill skiing, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing. That being said, Blue Mountain also has wonderful summer and fall activities as there are hiking and mountain bike trails, golfing, and ample boating activities as well.
A stone’s throw from Georgian Bay, you can rent kayaks and SUPs or enjoy a sunset or dinner boat charter. When looking for some adventure, you can find some challenging low and high ropes courses. Or, if you are a fan of ziplining, you can find that here too!
For foodies and those interested in shopping, Blue Mountain village has plenty of boutiques and eateries for you to explore.
If you’d like a bit of an indulgence consider visiting the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain offering saunas and cold plunge pools, massage treatments and hammocks you can fall asleep in. Perfect for a romantic couples getaway near Toronto, as well as a weekend with your girlfriends or all by yourself.
Be sure to walk the Forest Bath Trail where you can take in all the sights, sounds, and smells of a boreal forest, it’s truly magical!
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hours (180km)
Manpreet from Hello Manpreet: a road trip to Lake Muskoka is a beautiful scenic experience, especially during spring and summer. Along the lake there are plenty of opportunities to join a boat tour. Alternatively, you can hire a boat and explore the lake yourself.
Please note that during the winter, tours and (most) hotels are usually closed due to the freezing weather conditions.
The fun begins before you arrive into Muskoka, as your journey will take you through Cookstown which is home to the lovely Tanger shopping outlets.
Situated south of the Lake Simcoe, these outlets are definitely worth stopping at as the shopping experience is significantly better than the more popular outlets in Toronto. As Cookstown is not as populated, these outlets are much quieter, yet stock all the same great discounted items. This is also a great place to stop for a bite to eat with options to suit every tastebud.
At Lake Muskoka itself, there are some great hotels, with views of the lake and activities for the whole family. Be sure to hire bikes (provided by some hotels) and set out on some easy to ride trails through the surrounding Provincial Parks along the lake.
A little money saving secret: towards the end of the summer season, hotels and resorts are significantly cheaper as their season comes to and end. You will need some light warm wear for the evenings, but the days are still bright and warm making this an excellent time for a road trip to Lake Muskoka!
9. Prince Edward County
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hour 20 minutes (210km)
Taima from Poor In A Private Plane: located on the shores of Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County makes for the perfect Toronto trip by car. While you could easily do this as Toronto one day trip there is so much to see and do in Prince Edward County that it deserves at least a long weekend.
Along the way make sure to stop at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. In the summer you can enjoy the beach, trails and the lighthouse.
The area in and around Prince Edward County is home to over 35 vineyards and wineries. Make sure to check out Trail Estate Winery and Traynor Family Vineyard.
If you’re visiting in winter, head to Three Dogs Winery where you can rent snowshoes and enjoy a trail that takes you around the vineyards, a great Canadian winter activity. Warm up over a warm cup of chili paired with some of their fabulous wines.
Those looking for a bite to eat after a day of wine tasting should head on over to Midtown Brewing Company where the food and beer are amazing. What’s more, there is a skating rink in the winter!
Finally, no trip to Prince Edward County is complete without checking out Sandbanks. This is the perfect spot to spend a lazy summer day overlooking Lake Ontario.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly spot to stay then check out the Country Inn & Suites located in Belleville, which is a short 20-minute drive away.
10. Ontario’s West Coast
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hour 30 minutes (220km)
Stephanie from The World As I See It: if you’re looking for a great Ontario road trip consider heading to Ontario’s west coast. It’s home to incredible beaches, amazing restaurants, great parks, and a wealth of things to do and see.
Ontario’s West Coast runs from Grand Bend up past Goderich and takes about 2.5 to 3 hours from Toronto, depending on where you’re located. The perfect itinerary would be two to four days so you can fully appreciate everything this area of Ontario has to offer.
A good place to stay and use as your base is Goderich, as there are plenty of accommodation options (such as the well-reviewed Dreamz Inn and this beautiful Airbnb guest suite), and there are a ton of things to do in Goderich.
Start your Ontario West Coast road trip in Grand Bend, the perfect beach town with stunning stretches of Blue Water certified beaches, ice cream shops, and patios overlooking the water.
Then head north along the Bluewater Highway to the charming small town of Bayfield. Spend the afternoon browsing the shops, check out their historic buildings, and catch the sunset in Pioneer Park.
Spend the next day exploring Goderich, considered one of Canada’s prettiest small towns. Check out the beaches, wander the downtown, and discover its wealth of history on a self-guided walking tour and visit to the old jail.
If you have more time, the area is full of charming small towns that are begging to be explored, like Blyth and Exeter. And for the outdoor enthusiasts, there are fantastic parks like Pinery Provincial Park and Point Farms Provincial Park.
Plan your next road trip to Ontario’s West Coast, there’s something for everyone which makes it one of the best trips from Toronto!
Driving distance from Toronto: 2 hour 40 minutes (260km)
Stuart from Go Eat Do: this great road trip to Kingston offers plenty of places to stop and look out onto Lake Ontario, including Darlington Provincial Park.
Pausing at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, near Brighton, means a chance to stroll on boardwalks over marshy ground and relax on the broad sandy beach.
Well over 300 bird species have been spotted in the park, the Nature Center provides more information about the area. Bring a pair of binoculars to maximize opportunities to spot birds. Also, be sure to bring sun cream and bug spray to keep those pesky mosquitos away.
Once in Kingston itself, there are plenty of things to see and do. The town is located at the endpoint of the historic Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built to transport materiel and troops in case the US Army would cross the Saint Lawrence River.
At Fort Henry National Historic Site reenactors don red coats to convey what army life was like in bygone times. Kingston is also the starting point of the Thousand Islands region.
If you’re into history, plan a visit to the Kingston Penitentiary. Tours of the former high-security premises provide insights into prison life. Kingston city center makes a pleasant place to explore and stock up on food and drink for a picnic by the Rideau Canal.
If you want to spend the night in Kingston, consider booking a room at the All Suites Whitney Manor, a stunning 200-year-old limestone mansion.
Driving distance from Toronto: 3 hours 40 minutes (370km)
Manpreet from Your Vegan Adventure: for those living in Toronto, when we think of road trips from Toronto to USA, very often Niagara comes to mind. However, for those looking for a more off-the-beaten-track destination, Windsor is a great city on the Detroit border that boasts several luxury hotels to pamper yourself.
The trip will take just under four hours by car and once you are out of the Toronto area, it’s very rare that you will experience any traffic jams along the way.
If you happen to be driving this route during the warmer months, we highly recommend adding a stop at Canoeing The Grand. This lovely quiet spot on the Grand River is really peaceful and located about 1 hour into your drive west. It won’t take much additional time to get here, as it’s just a 5-minute diversion off your route.
If you intend to cross the border, make sure to carry your passport as ID cards are not accepted. That being said, there is plenty to do in Windsor itself and the town has an upcoming food scene.
If you are planning to spend the night, the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel is a great place to stay due to its location on the Detroit River. Rooms have amazing views of the river and the USA side, with a lovely walk along the river at your doorstep.
Located east of the bridge is Great Western Park, a busy spot during warm afternoons for families and pet owners and a nice place to watch the sunset.
Driving distance from Toronto: 4 hours 20 minutes (450km)
Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is one of the best long weekend breaks from Toronto. There are amazing museums, fun festivals and downtown Ottawa offers plenty of sights that will keep you occupied for at least a day or two.
Take a tour around the government buildings on Parliament Hill, admire the sweeping views from the Peace Tower and cruise around the Rideau Canal.
Visit one (or more) of the many interesting museums, such as the Canadian Museum of History, the National Gallery of Canada, or the Canadian War Museum.
Foodies should head to ByWard Market where you can find lots of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as many cafes and restaurants serving up great dishes.
And it may surprise you, but you can actually go to the beach in Ottawa! Popular beaches include Mooney’s Bay, Britannia Beach, Westboro beach, and Petrie Island. All are great places to go for a swim during one of those long summer days.
If you are visiting Ottawa in winter, there is no better activity than ice skating on the Rideau Canal, the world’s largest naturally frozen ice rink that spans over 7.8km!
14. Manitoulin Island
Driving distance from Toronto: 6 hours (360km plus ferry) or 6 hours (570km)
Lindsay from I’ve Been Bit! Travel Blog: did you know that Ontario is home to the world’s largest freshwater island? Located approximately 6 hours from Toronto, Manitoulin Island is a bit of a trek but 100% worth the drive! Leave the big city behind as you enjoy a weekend or more with a wonderful Northern Ontario getaway.
First things first, there are so many things to do on Manitoulin Island that you’ll want to visit again and again! Enjoy an entire island of cottage country with a plethora of adorable tiny towns.
Nature lovers will enjoy top-notch paddling, waterfall chasing, and incredible hiking opportunities like the Cup and Saucer Trail. Artsy folks can visit a number of galleries and museums, including one of the top art galleries in the province, the Perivale Gallery.
For foodies, you can enjoy some of the best fish and chips around, Indigenous cuisine, and even have dinner in an old schoolhouse!
Whether you stay in Gore Bay, Little Current, Providence Bay, or any of the other adorable towns on Manitoulin Island, you’re guaranteed to have a memorable stay.
What are you waiting for? Hop on the Trans Canada Highway and keep an eye out for the turnoff in Espanola! Be warned though, you might never want to leave!
Driving distance from Toronto: 6 hours 30 minutes (586km) when following the itinerary below.
Melissa from Navigation Junkie: Toronto and Montreal are both iconic Canadian cities with plenty to draw in visitors. So what could be better than visiting these cities? Taking a road trip from one to the other!
A Toronto – Montreal road trip includes plenty of beaches, wine, unique shops, and sightseeing. I would recommend five days for the road trip to allow enough time to explore all the places mentioned below, and at least 2-3 days for visiting Montreal.
When you set out on this Toronto to Montreal road trip, the first stop along the way is Port Hope. Port Hope is about an hour and a half from Toronto. One of the main draws of the area is Primitive Designs, a unique shop with a selection of antiques and crafts from different cultures around the world.
You will know you are at the right place by the giant Transformers outside the store. After visiting the shop continue on to explore Port Hope, where you will find many quaint shops and restaurants.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park
After spending a couple of hours in the Port Hope area, make the 30-minute drive to Presqu’ile Provincial Park. At the park, you can enjoy swimming, hiking, a marsh, lighthouse, bird watching, and picnicking.
If you love being surrounded by nature, rent a campsite and spend the night here before continuing on with the road trip in the morning (be sure to bring your camping gear!).
Prince Edward County (#9)
In the morning, visit Prince Edward County for the Sandbanks Beaches and follow the wine trail.
Next continue on to Kingston, one of Canada’s most historic towns and original capital. Here you can take a Kingston Trolley Tour, visit the Kingston Penitentiary and explore the Fort Henry Historic site.
Gananoque and the Thousand Islands
The next day will take you to Gananoque and the Thousand Islands area. Take a scenic cruise on the St. Lawrence River and tour the iconic Boldt Castle.
Finally continue the next day to your final stop, the wonderful city of Montreal. Once you arrive, walk the streets of Old Montreal, visit the Olympic Stadium, hike Mount Royal, and take a ride on the Montreal Observation Wheel.
Base yourself in the lovely Hotel Chateau de l’Argoat, a great place to stay in Montreal with easy metro access and free private parking.
Day and weekend road trips from Toronto: in conclusion
I hope this post has given you lots of inspiration to venture beyond Toronto itself and explore the surrounding area. If you have any questions about one of these quick getaways from Toronto, leave a comment below or send me a message.
Check out my Canada page for more Canada travel inspiration!