Cheap road trips starting from Toronto are easy with these
great itineraries. Check this road trip planning guide for tips on
weekend trips to Niagara, Stratford, London, Picton, Hamilton and more. Great for planning day trips too!
Here are some suggestions for things to do on a trip from Toronto.
I've listed lots of options, but don't attempt to do ALL of my suggestions unless you want to whip through everything very quickly.
I'd suggest that you select one or two. I listed several just to make sure there are things that will appeal to different interests: animal lovers, art and craft lovers, heritage and history buffs, foodies, wine lovers and shopaholics too!
Tour #1 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Niagara region in 2 days
Take the QEW then the Highway 403 to Fort Erie.
Tour Old Fort Erie, a War of 1812 site.
to Mather Arch Park near the Peace Bridge, the busiest of 4 bridges
that span this river. The others are: the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the
Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge. Look across the river
and you’ll see Buffalo, NY.
Get back on the scenic Niagara Parkway which skirts the Niagara River. Count how many cyclists you see along the bike path.
Visit some of the Niagara Falls attractions like the Hornblower Niagara Cruises (replacing the former Maid of the Mist), the IMAX Niagara Falls theatre, Skylon Tower and the area’s beautiful gardens.
Head north along the beautiful Niagara Parkway to Queenston, and stop in Queenston Heights, a beautiful park, or just stop at one of the lookouts and stroll for a bit along the bicycle path the skirts the Parkway.
you’re energetic, climb Brock’s Monument commemorating the War of 1812.
Bring your lunch and picnic in the park, or for a splurge, dine at the
scenic Queenston Heights restaurant.
Visit one or more of the interesting museums along the way:
Enter Niagara on the Lake. You won’t have time to see all the sites but you can pick one or two:
Shoppers love Niagara on the Lake. So watch the budget!
Need some free fun? Be sure to take a stroll in the park by the lake (great photo-op).
Have dinner at one of these budget-priced Niagara on the Lake Restaurants.
Love theatre? Catch an evening show at the Shaw Festival.
At night, drive back along Niagara Stone Road where you’ll see many shops selling Antiques, plus a few Niagara wineries. However, at this time, they will be closed, so you will have to save them for another trip. What a great excuse to return and explore more in depth!Hop on the QEW Highway back to Toronto.
Tour #2 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Lake Erie in 2 days
Drive to Port Dover Ontario, a cute little seaside beach town with gift and craft shops and the cozy Port Dover Harbour Museum. It’s also famous as the home of “Friday the 13th”, a popular motorcycle event.
in Port Rowan, another town along the shore of Lake Erie. If it’s
summer, even if you’re not in the mood for ice cream, it’s worth
stopping into the adorable “Twins Ice Cream Parlour” for the quirky
Stop at Long Point Beach. Stroll along the sand. Enjoy an inexpensive and tasty lunch at the restaurant at the beach.
Do you love folk art? The Winter Wheat gallery near Sparta is a must-see.
at the Sparta Tea Room for lunch (in tiny Sparta Ontario) and try to
count how many extraordinary tea pots line their walls. It’s around 300!
I don’t think I’ve seen so much variety in tea pots anywhere.
See a play in Port Stanley and/or take a vintage steam train to St Thomas.
the night in Port Stanley. The historic Kettle Creek Inn is smack in
the middle of town a few steps from the chunky little lift bridge and
marina. Or try one of the hotels or B and Bs.
Check out the shops in Port Stanley or visit one of the beaches (there are three in town).
to St Thomas and tour the massive old railway station and the railway
museum and learn why St Thomas is the Railway Capital of Canada.
On the way home in the afternoon, depending on which road you take, you could choose two different pits stops:
Evening: drive back to Toronto. Think about your next cheap road trips.
Tour #3 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Hamilton in 2 days
Skip the highway and all that commuter traffic and take the slower but scenic Lakeshore Road to downtown Burlington.
Visit the Burlington Art Centre, walk along the waterfront in Spencer Smith Park, check out some of the shops.
Take the scenic Lakeshore Road to the world-famous Royal Botanical Gardens.
Do you deserve a treat? Try lunch at the tea room in the Rock Garden. Hike some trails in Cootes Paradise.
Drive along the Lakeshore as far as possible into Hamilton. Have dinner at a Hamilton restaurant.
Stay the night in Hamilton.
Visit historic Dundurn Castle, one of several interesting Hamilton Museums.
the waterfront park at West Harbour of one of the waterfalls that spill
over the Niagara Escarpment. Or if you’re feeling artsy, check out the
Art Gallery of Hamilton, have dinner and take in some live Hamilton
entertainment: professional theatre, Opera Hamilton, Hamilton Symphony
Orchestra, or live music in a pub or club. Go antiquing on Ottawa Street Hamilton.
Drive back to Toronto via the QEW.
Tour #4 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Elora in 2 days
birds? Get on the 401 heading west. After an hour, look for the signs
for Campbellville. Nearby you’ll find the Mountsberg Conservation Area.
This is a bird and animal sanctuary. Sit in on some of the live bird
shows or just wander around visiting your rescued feathered and furry
friends. In addition to birds there are sheep, goats, bunnies, horses
Find your way to Guelph Line. Not far along, you’ll come to the gate for Halton County Radial Railway Museum, an outdoor museum featuring a large collection of vintage trains.
Wiggle your way down the rolling country roads to Elora,
a popular day tripping spot for lovers of antiques and nature. Make a
photo-op stop at Elora Gorge, or if you’re more energetic go inner
tubing down the river.
Stay the night in Elora.
out the art galleries, antique shops and home furnishing and gift
boutiques in Elora. Visit the antique mill (which is now an inn and
restaurant open to the public) and maybe have lunch there.
Before heading back to Toronto, stop in the town of Fergus and visit the Wellington County Museum just on the outskirts. This former poorhouse offers fascinating glimpses in a little-known past.
Grab something to eat before heading back to Toronto.
Tour #5 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo in 2 days
Take the 401 going west.
Cambridge is the first city on this route and it’s where you’ll find the African Lion Safari
and a big greenhouse full of free-flying butterflies at Wings of
Paradise. Note: if you pick the safari, you’ll probably need most of the
day, so you’ll have to save the rest of Day 1 activities for another
trip. The butterfly place is smaller and you can see it all in an hour.
back on the highway and drive into Kitchener downtown. At the Kitchener
Farmers market, pick up some goodies for a picnic or snacks to take
home. Choose one of these museums in the area:
Stay the night in Kitchener or maybe nearby St Jacobs.
St Jacobs today. This small but busy little town is famous as a
Mennonite centre and you can find all kinds of local crafts and
delicious home-made food here. Visit the market for take-home and eat-in
treats, Mennonite quilts, etc.
Fans of live theatre are
spoiled for choice here. See what’s playing at the St Jacobs &
Schoolhouse Theatre both in St Jacobs, or the Drayton Theatre in nearby
If you can love historic homes, scoot out to Baden and visit Castle Kilbride, a gorgeous century home once occupied by Scottish immigrants, that is over-the-top luxurious and an interesting contrast to the spare, simple designs of the local Mennonite tradition.
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Tour #6 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Stratford & London
This is one of my favourite cheap road trips. Take the 401 going west.
Stop in Kitchener and explore the Kitchener Farmers Market. Have early lunch at one of the booths, or pick up a picnic lunch to take to Stratford Ontario.
back on the highway and drive to Stratford. Explore its downtown with
its art galleries and boutiques. Picnic at the lovely riverside park,
and wander through the Shakespeare Gardens with its sculpture and plants
mentioned in the plays of the bard. See if there’s any live music
festivals happening. For dinner, try one of the popular restaurants in
Stay the night in Stratford. See a play tonight at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival or take in some music at a pub.
to London. Visit the downtown shopping district, then check out Museum
London and Eldon House to explore Canadian art and history. Or spend the
day in another time period at the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.
Catch Highway 401 going back to Toronto.
Tour #7 of Cheap Road Trips:
Toronto to Picton in Prince Edward County in 2 days
is quickly becoming one of the most popular cheap road trips in
Ontario. Take the 401 east to Port Hope. Look around this popular town
known for its heritage buildings and antique shops. Linger over lunch.
Back on the highway for another hour, then make your way to Picton Ontario,
the main town of Prince Edward County. Tour the main streets and plan
your next day’s adventures. Enjoy a great meal in this district know for
its foodie delights.
Stay overnight in Picton. See what’s going on at Regent Theatre or the other live entertainment venues in the area.
lazy? Spend the day at the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Or go
birding or get a spa treatment. Follow the arts trail and visit
artisans’ studios in the region. Sample some of the local wineries’
products, cheesemongers’ wares or bakers’ delights.
At the end of the day, tear yourself away and head back on the 401 to Toronto.
Tips for making your cheap road trips affordable:
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