Home to an iconic art scene, an incredible melting pot of cultures, and some of North America’s best food, it’s no wonder visitors flock to Toronto in droves. From its vibrant patchwork of ethnic neighbourhoods, plethora of world-class museums, and top-notch shopping, it’s easy to see why it’s often coined as Canada’s best city.
Whether you’re there for a weekend or enjoying the city for longer, there’s always something on – especially when it comes to art. It’s no secret Toronto is home to some of the world’s best art galleries. The Gallery of Ontario is recognised as one of the most distinguished art museums in the world with over 9,000 unique works of art; and The Royal Ontario Museum holds the title for Canada’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art, culture, and nature from around the globe.
Not an art buff? The food will definitely win you over. Whether you’re craving some fiery kimchi and bibimbap, looking for a taste of Mumbai, are after a big comforting bowl of pozole, or hankering for some classic poutine, Toronto’s thriving food scene has you covered.
Thanks to Toronto’s convenient location, it’s a great jumping-off point for exploring the region by car. Whether you’re looking to indulge in some wine country, experience some of Canada’s famous scenery, or hop the border into the US, there are plenty of options for every type of traveller.
Navigating Toronto’s often busy roads can be intimidating, but be aware of any differences to what you’re used to and you’ll be just fine. Here’s some important tips for driving in Toronto.
1. Try to avoid driving during rush hour! Traffic will usually be quite heavy from 7am-9am, and then again from 6pm-7.30pm.
2. Toronto parking is mainly pay and display; some spots are cash only.
3. Be conscious of streetcars, and note that it is illegal to pass a stopped streetcar.
4. Turning left is prohibited during rush hour in many downtown streets.
Scattered on the shores of the Georgian Bay, you’ll find Ontario’s largest mountain village resort: Blue Mountain. This popular ski destination is not only one of the nation’s most visited; it’s also loaded with charm and perfect to visit year-round. There are ample attractions to make your trip special whether you want to spend the day kayaking, hiking or jet skiing. Even better? This gorgeous mountain village resort is just 2 hours from Toronto.
We can’t tell you about the best road trips from Toronto and leave out one of North America’s most iconic destinations. Niagara Falls is one of the world’s most famous waterfalls and easily the most popular road trip destination from Toronto. Straddling the border between the US and Canada, three giant waterfalls form Niagara – Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. You can reach the spectacular natural wonder in just under two hours from Toronto with stunning scenery every mile of the way.
If you’re looking to truly experience Canada’s spectacular scenery, hit the road for Algonquin Provincial Park. This massive park sits north-east of Muskoka and comes complete with thousands of lakes – yes, plural, there are over 2,400 of them. In addition to crystal clear lakes, the area is loaded with beautiful islands, mountains and dense forests. The best way to explore the park is by canoe, where you can take in the surroundings’ true natural beauty. Driving time is around three and a half hours from Toronto.
Head east along Lake Ontario’s north shore, and you’ll hit Prince Edward County aka the land of Canadian vineyards and picturesque towns. Home to over 35 winemakers, each with their own niche, this destination is a wine lover’s dream. Be sure to also carve out time to stop at Fort Henry in Kingston, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’ll transport you right back to the 1800s. For drive time, you’re looking at about four and a half hours from Toronto, so it’s best to plan at least an overnight stay.
Bruce Peninsula National Park is the perfect place to explore Canada’s remarkable nautical charm. With its postcard-worthy lighthouses and sweeping coastal views, it’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. The sprawling park is also home to a huge host of wildlife from black bears and coyotes to chipmunks and porcupines. The real highlight, however, is the countless woodland trails. To reach Bruce Peninsula from Toronto, you should plan for 3 hours and 40 minutes of driving time, one way.
Kawartha Lakes is a great option if you’re looking to go from bustling capital to serene countryside quickly. At just under two hours, you can be there before lunch and have all day to explore the scenic area and local historic sites. There are plenty of unique spots to visit, such as the Kawartha Settlers Village and the Horseless Carriage Museum. As the name suggests, there are plenty of lake activities as well, such as kayaking and fishing.
Coming in at over 1,000 square miles, Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world. It’s also sandwiched between Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay, so the views aren’t half bad either. The island is so big in fact, that it has four rivers and over 100 lakes, some of which even have their own islands. You could say it’s the matryoshka doll of freshwater islands. The drive from Manitoulin Island to Toronto is about six and a half hours one way so you’ll definitely want to get an early start and plan to stay overnight.