It’s shocking, but many Torontonians don’t realize what’s nearby…
You know how it is sometimes – visitors can sometimes know more about places to see than residents!
Do you live in Toronto, love road trips, but can’t afford your long, expensive dream road trip yet? Need ideas of where to go this summer?
Of course everyone in Toronto has likely been to Niagara Falls, but Jim has put together a nice collection of perhaps lesser-known nearby destinations that can be done in a day trip or over a weekend – something for everyone – families, or hikers, or nature lovers (caves, waterfalls, birds, etc.) One warning though not mentioned by the article – you may be disappointed with some of the waterfalls in the summer or fall, and see first which cave locations are open before planning a trip.
By: Jim Bamboulis
After a very long and cold winter (in Toronto, anyway), warmer weather is finally here to stay. And although many people love to travel anywhere, no matter the weather, for many, summer is the season to take a trip or two. That includes road-tripping.
And who doesn’t love a good road trip? Unless you’re crossing international borders, there are no security delays or hassles, no extra fees (other than gas) and no need to worry about whether your carry-on baggage meets weight and size requirements either. Solo or with some friends, road tripping is liberating. All you really need is some food, music (including that Milli Vanilli CD from ’91 you have buried somewhere), an adventurous spirit to meet new and interesting people, eat in some cool diners along the way and maybe even re-discover the country that you call home.
In Southern Ontario, there’s no shortage of great road trips. There’s so much to see and do, the list is endless. If you’re visiting Toronto and surrounding area for the first time, then doing a day trip to Niagara Falls and the wineries along the way is must do. But if you’ve been there, done that and want to experience something new, then these 5 ideas below will inspire you to get out there and discover parts of Canada you may not have known existed. Here we go!
5. Hamilton – The City of Waterfalls
…Located about 1 hour southwest of Toronto, Hamilton doesn’t look pretty from the highway. But if you judge Hamilton based on what you see from the highway then you’re not looking deep enough. Go beyond, be amazed.
Of course, locals know it all too well but if you didn’t know that Hamilton is The City of Waterfalls, well now you do. Hamilton is proudly home to over 100 waterfalls identified by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, found along the Bruce Trail and the incredible natural wonder that is the Niagara Escarpment. Be ready to also hike to the falls….
Someone has taken the time to make a 10 minute video on all the waterfalls near Hamilton.
4. Point Pelee National Park
This is a place that must be visited. Located about 4 hours southwest of Toronto, Point Pelee’s big draw is the fact that it’s the southernmost tip of mainland Canada (map). A compact little park that gives you the chance to canoe, hike the easy trails or lay down a towel and soak in the sun on the beach. If you’re a bird lover, Point Pelee is one of the main go-to places anywhere in North America for bird watching. There’s even an annual bird festival that takes place here.
…Leamington lies on the 42nd Parallel, the same latitude as Chicago, Rome and Northern California. Here are some sights from this beautiful oasis.
3. Flowerpot Island and Bruce Peninsula National Park
Flowerpot Island is one of those places that when you see pictures of it, you kinda don’t believe that it exists, especially so close to Toronto. Granted, it’s still a 4 hour drive northwest of the city (map) but the drive is well worth it. In fact, this part of Ontario is quickly becoming one of the most popular summer weekend getaways for city people. For the past few summers, tour buses (and loads of money for the local economy) have been pouring in as word has gotten out about the beauty of this part of Ontario.
Flowerpot Island is part of Fathom Five National Marine Park, the first national marine park in Canada. This park has 45 square miles of clear water and an archipelago of 19 islands. ….
Meanwhile, Bruce Peninsula National Park (map) is just south of the Marine Park. A sprawling park, it’s loaded with hiking trails and offers an incredible terrain, beautiful landscapes and crystal clear turquoise water. … if you have a limited amount of time, I suggest you hit the Cyprus Lake Grotto. It’s a comfortable 15-25 minute hike to one of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve seen in Ontario. If you’re brave enough to handle the cold water or adventurous enough to scope out the caves, do it. Otherwise, bring a camera and some sunscreen and enjoy the blue.
Sure, in the winter, you drive the 2 hours north of the city (map), hit up the ski resorts in the Collingwood area to ski, snowboard and even snowshoe. But there are plenty of activities to enjoy when the weather is warmer, including zip lining, hiking and walking across the longest suspension bridge in Southern Ontario.
420 feet long and on a clear day, you can see as far as 10,000 sq. km’s
From the heights of the bridge to the depths of the earth, the Scenic Caves take you down. Deep down. There are a bunch of caves to explore that take you down as much much 70 feet….
There you have it. 5 incredible road trips to choose from this summer. No excuses. If you want to get away and don’t want to spend an intense amount of money, hit the road and enjoy the sights and sounds in your own backyard.