8 Fairytale Villages Just Across The Border From Ontario That Are Worth A Road Trip

From island beach towns to Dutch villages.

A woman standing on a bridge. Right: A horse and buggy walking along a street.
Associate Editor

A woman standing on a bridge. Right: A horse and buggy walking along a street.

Ontario is home to so many stunning small towns and villages, but if you're craving something new, it might be worth taking a trip across the Canada-U.S. border to explore some of the small town gems in the United States.

Located just a road trip away from Ontario, these fairytale villages have historic streets, charming shops and more to enjoy. Some will whisk you away to Europe while others are perfect for a summer beach outing.

If you're feeling adventurous, take a trip to these small towns that are brimming with character and charm situated just across the border. Just don't forget your passport!

Village of Skaneateles, NY

Address: Skaneateles, NY

Why You Need To Go: Located under three hours from Ontario in Onondaga County, New York, this lakeside village boasts a vibrant downtown and clear blue waters.

It's been dubbed the "Jewel of the Finger Lakes region" and even received a shoutout from Oprah. It's brimming with 19th-century buildings, charming eateries, and more.

The Mirbeau Inn & Spa is the place to go if you're in need of some rest and rejuvenation, or you can enjoy a day of wine tastings or filling up on treats from the beloved Skaneateles Bakery.

Skaneateles website

Mackinac Island, MI

Address: Mackinac Island, MI

Why You Need To Go: You can escape to a dreamy island beach town not far from Ontario this summer. Mackinac Island is a "national treasure" that will sweep you back in time.

The town is "car-free" and horse-drawn buggies roll along the picturesque streets.

The downtown boasts Victorian-style buildings, quaint shops, and local restaurants where you can grab a bite. The island is known for its fudge, so you'll definitely want to indulge in some of this sweet treat while visiting.

The Grand Hotel will make you feel like you're in a Wes Anderson film and it's a dreamy place to stay during your vacation on the island. Other highlights include historic Fort Mackinac and Arch Rock, a unique limestone formation.

Mackinac Island can be accessed by ferry and it's just a short ride away from the border.

Mackinac Island website

Sackets Harbor, NY

Address: Sackets Harbor, NY

Why You Need To Go: Nestled on the Eastern shore of Lake Ontario, the Village of Sackets Harbour will whisk you into the pages of a story book.

The small town is located about an hour from Ontario and is known for its rich history and beautiful waterfront surroundings.

You can spend the day exploring the local shops, sipping drinks at Sackets Harbor Brewing Company and filling up on pizza at Good Fellos Restaurant.

The area has several museums and you can learn all about historic battles at the War of 1812 Museum and the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site.

Sackets Harbor website

Ellicottville, NY

Address: Ellicottville, NY

Why You Need To Go: This tiny village may be just one square mile but it's packed with charm and things to do. It's situated an hour and a half away from Niagara Falls, Ontario and makes for an idyllic road trip.

The best time to visit is during the winter months, as the town is known for its skiing and snowboarding opportunities. It's home to two popular ski resorts: Holiday Valley and HoliMont. Here, you'll find towering snowy hills and powdery trails for all your winter sports needs.

The 19th century downtown is lined with local shops and you won't find one chain store among them. The Ellicottville Brewing Company is the place to go for a drink after a day of browsing.

The area is surrounded by wineries and distilleries and hosts several festivals and events including a Summer Music Festival and Fall Festival which attract many visitors.

Ellicottville website

Frankenmuth, MI

Address: Frankenmuth, MI

Why You Need To Go: Did you know you can find a little piece of Germany just two hours from Ontario? The Bavarian-style town of Frankenmuth is a charming vacation spot and is known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria."

Brimming with German heritage, this picturesque town has world-famous chicken dinners, waterparks, and Christmas all-year-round.

If you're feeling festive you'll want to check out The Christmas Experience. It features "dancing lights, a singing Christmas tree, shiny ice rink, garland-adorned Bavarian architecture" and more. You can even visit Bronner's Christmas Store, which is the "world's largest Christmas store."

Zehnder's Splash Village is a popular spot to enjoy some time in the water and features a retractable roof and six-storey family raft ride.

Of course, you'll want to indulge in German fare while visiting, and you can hit up Frankenmuth Cheese Haus or SugarHigh Bakery for some treats.

Frankenmuth website

Saugatuck / Douglas

Address: Saugatuck / Douglas, MI

Why You Need To Go: Known for its award-winning beaches, scenic waterways and grassy dunes, Saugatuck/Douglas makes for a dreamy beach town escape.

The area is located just over three hours from Ontario and has been dubbed the "Art Coast of Michigan" due to the large amount of galleries, studios, public art installations, and more that can be found there.

Aside from the art scene, you'll want to spend a day lounging on the stunning white sands of Oval Beach which is home to beautiful rolling dunes.

The downtown area also boasts an array of local shops and eateries for all your browsing needs.

Saugatuck/Douglas website


Address: Cooperstown, NY

Why You Need To Go: Boasting "small-town charm" and "world-class attractions," Cooperstown is a beautiful destination to visit in New York State.

It's about three hours from Ontario and is known for its baseball heritage. You can take a trip to its National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and explore exhibits, interactive displays, and more.

If art is more your thing, you'll want to check out the Fenimore Art Museum, which features items like landscape paintings and folk art.

For those craving a nature escape, head to Glimmerglass State Park, which overlooks the shining Otsego Lake. It's home to a beach, trails, lush forests, and more.

Cooperstown website

Holland, MI

Address: Holland, MI

Why You Need To Go: Fancy a trip to the Netherlands without a plane ticket? Holland, Michigan is located on the shores of Lake Macatawa and is just a three hour drive from Ontario.

One of the highlights of the quaint town is the "Big Red" lighthouse in Holland State Park which towers above the waves.

Holland is home to several pristine beaches complete with breathtaking sunsets, rolling sand dunes, and soft sandy shores.

You won't want to miss the Windmill Island Gardens, which will make you feel like you're strolling through Europe. The area features the "only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States," as well as Friesian horses and a "Little Netherlands" maquette which reveals what life was like for Dutch settlers.

Nelis Dutch Village is a dreamy theme park and shopping experience where you can imagine you're in another land. The park has rides, tulips, animals, shops, and more.

Holland website

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Madeline Forsyth
Associate Editor
Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Travel Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Toronto, Ontario.