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scenic drives in Ontario

Kirkcaldy, United...
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scenic drives in Ontario

My wife and I will be visiting Ontario in June 2012 for 14 nights and would like some help with our itinary.

We have booked a hotel in Toronto for the first 3 nights and would like to visit Niagra falls, Montreal, Ottowa and possibly Quebec City if it is not too far to drive.

I have also heard the 1000 island region is worth a visit as well.

Any help would be appreciated.

We fly out of Toronto to go home so we want to be near there on our last day.

Thanks in advance

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West Grey, Ontario
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1. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Hi grumpystickboy;

A bit of a geography lesson to assist you with your planning...

- Niagara Falls is approx. 80 miles / 130 km southwest of Toronto.

- Gananoque (pronounced GAN-AN-OCK-WAY), the "Gateway to the Thousand Islands", is approx. 180 miles / 290 km east of Toronto.

- Ottawa is approx. 281 miles / 452 km east of Toronto.

- Montreal is approx. 340 miles / 545 km east of Toronto.

- Quebec City is approx. 500 miles / 800 km east of Toronto.

FYI...neither Montreal or Quebec City are located within the Province of Ontario.

You could spend an entire week in Toronto and still have plenty to see and do.

Quebec City should be a 3-5 day stay, Montreal 2-3 days and Ottawa 2 days. The 1000 Islands & Niagara Falls require a minimum of 24 hours, each.

I hope that helps get you started.

Best Regards

gxp
Niagara
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2. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

For scenic drives, I would suggest you visit Niagara Falls at the start or end of your trip. The best scenery is found in northern Ontario where the glaciers have scoured the land and left it rocky and with a lot of lakesbetween rocky outcroppings.

Southern Ontario tends to be rolling farmland with some exceptions like the Niagara Escarpment (creates Niagara Falls) which runs up to Tobermory.

Generally head north from Toronto to Parry Sound for scenic Georgian Bay. Then across Muskoka to Huntsville and then Algonquin Park, a large nature preserve. You may even see deer, bear, and moose. Continue on to Ottawa. Then back to Toronto through Peterborough.

I'll admit I haven't spent a lot of time in the 1000 Islands but driven through often. Not too much to see as a drive, would need to get off of the roads and take a cruise among the islands.

If you want to get more ambitious, you could go up to the north shore of Lake Superior between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa.

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Montreal is only another 1.5 hours from Ottawa. Just don't make the trip during rush hour and you should be ok. It would be a shame to drive all the way to Ottawa and not get to see Montreal since it is so close. QC is farther. I don't know if you'll still want to do it if you take the route proposed above thru northern Ontario. See Old Montreal and the view from Mont Royal... The viewing spot is great for romantic "dates".

On your way back, take a cruise thru thousand islands. There is interesting rock formations enroute Ottawa - Toronto too.

Good luck! :-)

Kingston, ON
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4. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Don't miss Kingston when travelling between Montreal and Toronto. It is the first capital of the national and has lots of things to do there. Take your 1000 islands cruise from the downtown and start your next day with a visit to Fort Henry. Wed. nights in July and Aug. there is an amazing Sunset Ceremony at Fort Henry - it will put chills down your spine.

Kingston, Canada
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5. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Since your question is about scenic drives, I too suggest you try to include the route suggested by gxp from Toronto to Ottawa. It really is beautiful. From Ottawa I'd suggest heading on to Montreal. Quebec City is unique and well worth a visit too if you can fit it in of course.

If you decide to visit the 1000 Islands region for a boat tour the rule of thought here on TA is generally that the tours are better out of Gananoque. If you are really pressed for time and want to see Kingston (which is a beautiful smaller city) they you could take the tour from here, but they don't include some of the spectacular scenery you'll see from the tours that start further east.

ktown

Burlington, Canada
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6. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

When you're visiting Niagara Falls, and if you're looking for a scenic drive, I would definately take the Q.E.W. (it's a highway short for Queen Elizabeth Way) to highway 420 and to the Falls on the way there. This part of the drive is not very scenic.

On the way back however, take River Road from the Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake, located about 30 minutes away. The lovely drive takes you along the Niagara River all the way there. It's very pretty. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a lovely historic town with plenty to see and do. I'd have lunch or dinner there instead of in Niagara Falls.

Then for the last leg of your drive take Highway 55 towards St. Catharines (it's a small county road that meanders past vineyards and nice scenery). That portion of the drive will be about 40 minutes until Hwy 55 meets up with the QEW and to Toronto. Have a look at a map and you'll see the route. Quite nice.

Toronto, Ontario...
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7. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

OK, let me start with obvious. 1000 islands, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City must be part of one trip from Toronto. Just look at the map to understand why. As far as trip length goes, I'd say that 2 full days per city is a bare minimum for Quebec City and Montreal, and one full day for Ottawa, with driving time on top of that. I'm talking about "scratch the surface" trips, only visiting the must-see places in each city. If I were you, I'd go like this:

Day 1 - Toronto to 1000 islands, take 2-3 hour tour, continue on to Ottawa. You should be there by dinnertime, if you leave after breakfast. Check tour schedules in advance, otherwise you risk waiting for a boat.

Day 2 - Parliament Hill and surroundings, some museums (depends on what strikes your fancy), maybe Ottawa River boat tour. Leave for Montreal after dinner. You'l drive in the dark, but the landscape is boring anyway (whole Toronto to Montreal leg is boring, with few exceptions).

Day 3-4 - Montreal. I'd leave after dinner on the second day and be rewarded by great view of Quebec City lights from the bridge connecting Autoroute 20 with Nothern shore of St. Lawrence, but you might want to start in the morning of Day 5. The drive is about 3 hours and not too scenic. Besides, you'll see it all again on your way back to Toronto.

Days 5-6 - Quebec City and surrounding area.

Day 7 - driving back to Toronto. About 8 hours of drive mostly through flatland.

Speaking about scenic drives from Toronto, trip to Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake had been mentioned. I'd add a trip from Toronto to Guelph (nice views of Niagara Escarpment) to Orangeville to Highway 400 (good views of Oak Ridge Morraine) and back to Toronto. For northern scenery I'd say that Haliburton Highlands are closest to Toronto (about 2 hours of leisurely drive), although, if you're really into this sort of things, add a day to your Montreal stay and make a beeline to Mont Tremblant.

SE Ontario
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8. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Many people feel that the drive from Toronto to Montreal (or reverse) is flat and boring, and indeed if you stick to the main highway (401) it can be. The 401 is a major highway, built for direct convenience and speed. However, if you come south off that highway, and follow the smaller two-lane Hwy#2 (or the Old Kings Highway as it is sometimes known), you will find a multitude of scenic sights - historic towns and comunities, rolling hills, farmland and orchards, views of the St.Lawrence Seaway and Lake Ontario. A short detour takes you onto Prince Edward County with its vineyards. North of 401 in the Northumberland County area are the majestic Northumberland Hills, the eastern part of the Oak Ridge Moraine noted above. I'd encourage you to get off the major highways and travel a bit on the smaller roads - that's where you will find the heartlands of the eastern part of the province.

Kirkcaldy, United...
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9. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

Thanks again for your suggestions.

I like the idea of travelling on roads like Hwy#2 and visiting the sites along the way.Also we are going for 2 weeks so we are in no hurry to get from A to B, so we can pull over and spend some time in these small towns etc.

cheers

West Grey, Ontario
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10. Re: scenic drives in Ontario

You're Welcome !