Yes ... a Canadian road trip destination isn't always to Niagara Falls, despite what How I Met Your Mother says. Toronto weather has been gorgeous lately, despite the fact that temperatures jump from hot and sunny to crisp and cool. One thing is certain: this beautiful Canadian weather will not last.
For people like me who desperately want to soak up the seasonal change as much as possible, we've compiled a list of short and sweet road trips from Toronto that AREN'T to Niagara Falls. The best part about this road trip destination list is that they are all under three hours of driving-- it's not far at all! Who's up for a fall roadie?
It's time to pack up the car and plan a fun, sweet escape out of the city! Fall is probably the best time to plan a road trip, especially because nature and the outdoors are so visibly beautiful. This list ranges from historically grand castles, beautiful nature parks and exciting outdoor activities residing in unassuming small towns- there are many trip options to choose from!
Here are some short, sweet and easy to plan road trip destinations near Toronto:
Prince Edward County
Location: Prince Edward County, OntarioTime from Toronto: 2 hours 30 minutes
If you drive about two and a half hours east of Toronto, you’ll see nothing but beautiful vineyards, scenic beaches and rich countryside accompanied with vibrant fall foliage.
If you're looking to take on a small roadie this October, you can spend your weekend checking out the beautiful lake views and the gorgeous Sandbank Provincial Park. Make sure to complete your trip by eating your heart's desire at the delicious Taste Trail, which sells yummy artisanal cheeses and features adorable cafes, wineries, and local restaurants!
Location: Wasaga, OntarioTime from Toronto: 2 hours
What better way to spend the weekend than to rent out a cabin with your friends/fam for a day trip to Wasaga Beach? The month of October is probably one of the last of 2018 for you to make plans here and see the beautiful lake views. If you're feeling adventurous, you can check out the pretty views by the Scenic Caves. For their full event calendar for October 2018, check out their website calendar schedule!
Location: Hamilton, OntarioTime from Toronto: 50 minutes
Visit the Dundurn Castle in Hamilton and you can spend a gorgeous afternoon touring the grand, neoclassical mansion which was built in 1830. This architecturally-admired location is not only a great photo op spot, but it will make you feel like you're touring Europe. It certainly doesn't look like something out of Ontario. Dundurn Castle is not only a 40-room gigantic mansion, but it is also home to the beautiful Kitchen Garden and The Hamilton Military Museum close by.
Ziplining In The Town Of Elora
Location: Elora, OntarioTime from Toronto: 1 hour
Located on the edge of a shooting gorge and settled next to the Grand & Irvine River is Elora, a small and charming town that looks like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice. Although it's a small and quaint town, they offer very exciting outdoor activities that you can't find in downtown Toronto like ziplining, tree hopping (imagine how beautiful that would be with all the changing leaves), rock climbing, tubing, and scenic hot air balloon rides! If you decide to take a trip here, ziplining through colourful trees is a very popular tourist attraction, and for good reason! The foliage just seems to be extra bright here during the fall.
Barron Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park
Location: Huntsville, OntarioTime from Toronto: 2 hours 52 minutes
This Ontario provincial park is a 1.5km loop trail that leads along the northern edge of the 100 meters deep Barron Canyon. This loop trail will lead you to a very high point with an unfenced cliff which could be very dangerous, so you and your group should be extra cautious. At Algonquin Park, you can also visit High Falls, their infamous Water Slide as well as Barron Canyon. There is really no "correct way" to plan this trip because all areas of this park are equally beautiful. During the fall, Algonquin Park lights up with beautiful, bright-coloured leaves.
The water slide is located on the channel of the Barron River that flows from Stratton Lake into High Falls Lake, you can visit the slide by canoe, the Eastern Pines Hiking Trail from Achray or via the High Falls Trail from the Barron Canyon Road.
To reach High Falls Lake located on the channel of the Barron River that flows from Stratton Lake to High Falls Lake (it is about 100 metres downstream from the water slide), High Falls may be viewed from the top by approaching from the water slide, or from the bottom by approaching from High Falls Lake. Who says road trips to Toronto are just to Niagara Falls?
African Lion Safari
Location: Hamilton, OntarioTime from Toronto: 2 hours
This is the only animal park in Canada where you can get up close and personal with actual rhinos, giraffes, deer, lions, baboons, zebras, and super curious and playful monkeys. At this Canadian safari, they offer this unique experience called Wake Up The Wild, which is a morning trip where your group can drive off-road and feed giraffes by hand. It kind of reminds me of the Canadian version of Giraffe Manor. This is definitely more a fun and relaxed trip, compared to others where you'll need your hiking boots and swell bottle.
Location: Collingwood, OntarioTime from Toronto: 2 hours
Regardless of the season, there’s always lots to do in Blue Mountain! From zip lining and exciting downhill roller coasters to Scandinavian baths and delicious food, you’re bound to find something fun to do! Blue Mountain just screams autumn to me.
Their Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster lets you glide along a kilometre of the rollercoaster track and tour the entire Blue Mountain fall terrain. It's great because it's a simple and equipment free ride, and from the top, you'll be able to see all the gorgeous seasonal views! The fact you're the driver also adds to the excitement and lets you feel in control.
Location: Niagara, OntarioTime from Toronto: 50 minutes
Jordan Village is nestled in Niagara's popular wine country and it is a small community that looks like a scene from an old-school film. At Jordan Village, make sure you allocate some time to admire their cute and eclectic shopping boutiques, stunning historic sites, exciting festivities and nightlife, and swoon-worthy restaurants. It is also located right in the heart of Niagara, so getting tipsy at various wineries is a must.
The Devil’s Punchbowl
Location: Hamilton, OntarioTime from Toronto: 1 hour
If you are a hiker, you'll want to feast your eyes on the Devil's Punchbowl in Hamilton. At this spot, you'll discover two waterfalls at the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area, the larger of the two falls is an actual 33-meter waterfall.
The waterfall is covered with stacks of layered coloured stones, which makes for a pretty view. The hiking trail within the conservation also has a not-to-be-missed lookout point that gives a gorgeous view of the Hamilton Harbor. These layered stones really do remind me of a clay punchbowl.
Peller Estates Winery
Location: Niagara, OntarioTime from Toronto: 1 hour
The Peller Estates Winery is by the stunning town of Niagara-On-The-Lake and we all know wineries and vineyards are a thing of the fall season. If you're looking for a nearby travel destination with beautiful views, this is a totally do-able trip. The Peller Estates Winery tours are free and the wine tasting is totally affordable. Wine not? They also have a fabulous fine dining restaurant as well as a chilled ice wine bar that adds to the intrigue.
Belfountain Conservation Area
Location: Caledon, OntarioTime from Toronto: 1 hour
Located just a short drive outside of Toronto in Caledon, is the beautiful Belfountain Conservation Area. It is the perfect area to go exploring this fall. The drive leading up to this earthy spot is scenic and fun and once you're actually there, you'll notice their beautiful conservation area full with various historic sites, various hiking trails, and suspension bridge. You can walk across their magnificent suspension bridge situated above a flowing waterfall, as well as through lush forests and fun hiking trails.
In my opinion, the allure of these fall foliage destinations is due to their satisfying payoff by way of amazing lookout points. Ontario may not have the vast colours of blue oceans and snowy mountains that Canadian western provinces have, but we certainly have spectacular vantage points for leaf peeping. These are definitely some of the best views in Ontario!