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Woody needs help!

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Fife, United Kingdom
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Woody needs help!

We (2 adults, late 50s) are hoping to visit friends in August in north N.Y. state and plan then to drive back over the border to visit the traingle from Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal then west to Sudbury and back down to Toronto before flying home. I have organised accommodation for the U.S.A. 4 night stop and priced car hire and flights for the two weeks. We have about 9 days and really don't have a clue what to see and do in the area outside the cities. Any suggestions for 2-3 night stops in rural/small town areas in B & Bs? We like the great outdoors, walking, sightseeing, peace and quiet. If this is not a great area to visit can you suggest another area where we can base ourselves which will not give us too much driving during the holiday. Sorry to be so vague and to be so totally unprepared with my research (that aspect always annoys me when people ask me for advice!!) but what started off as a simple 2 week holiday is turning into an planning nightmare mainly because apart from visiting friends I know little about the area in general. I am trying to keep the whole budget to £3000 and flights are expensive in August so I have discovered

Please help!

Woody

:-)))

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1. Re: Woody needs help!

RescueTeam I have just read your reply to WAAussie dream posted on 26th January so you don't need to repeat it. It was very helpful to me too

Thanks

W x

Ottawa, Canada
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2. Re: Woody needs help!

Hi WoodyBark,

Welcome to the TORONTO TRAVEL FORUM (and to Canada as well).

This is a major tourism corridor, so you’ll find a TON of posts about it here on TripAdvisor. And great Local Advisors & DEs here in the various CANADA TRAVEL FORUMS willing to help you with your plans.

Nine Days is a good amount of time… but certainly not enough to see it all… we typically tell Travellers they’ll need 2 to 3 weeks for this geographical region of Canada… so you’ll find that in the long run… something has to give.

That said, I’ll go over the basics with you… and you’ll ultimately have to decide where you can get to (and not get to) on this trip.

Yesterday, I did a similar post for another Traveller, so I’ll cut & paste that info here…

== snip ==

Good advice here from my colleagues… let me add some more.

I notice this is your FIRST Post in any of the CANADA TRAVEL FORUMS, but it does look like you’ve done some research in regards to possible stops along your car trip route (ie Kingston).

You haven’t stated how long you have for this journey, so let me just add in some suggested MINIMUM timeframes and bit of info as to distances (You might want to pull up a copy of an On-Line Mapping Program to follow along… I like GOOGLE MAPS).

The most efficient use of your time (and the car rental) will be to make a circle route picking up the car and dropping it off at the same Car Rental Agent.

* Niagara Falls is aprox 120 Kms SOUTH of Toronto (so about a 1-1/2 to 2 Hour Drive from Downtown to Downtown)… you’ll want to spend at least an OVERNIGHT in the area… so as to take in all that The Falls have to offer Day & Night… Niagara Nightlife – Nightly Illuminations – Weekly Fireworks.

* Historic Niagara-on-the-Lake is aprox 25 Kms NORTH of Niagara Falls (about a 30 Minute Drive along the scenic Niagara River Parkway)… and is part of the even broader Niagara Region (the Niagara Peninsula that lies between the two Great Lakes of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario)… you’ll want to spend a MINIMUM of a couple of hours in the area… Historic War of 1812 Sites – Underground Railway Sites – Ontario’s Premier Wine Country – a centre for the Arts (Shaw Festival – Music Venues) – the Welland Canal & the engineering marvel that is the Giant Staircase Locks. You can do the Niagara Region enroute to or from Toronto & Niagara Falls… or spend an overnight in the area (some gorgeous Boutique Hotels, Country Inns, and B&Bs in NOTL and thru-out Wine Country)

* Kingston & the 1000 Islands – is aprox a 3 Hour Drive from Toronto via Hwy 401. You’ll want to allow yourself a FULL DAY (typically an Afternoon – Evening – and next Morning) for this area. Discovering the charms of one area and then the other… staying in whichever location meets your interests (ie like Summer Theatre or a Casino then overnight in Gananoque – the Gateway to the 1000 Islands, and aprox 30 Kms… 30 Minutes EAST of Kingston).

* Montreal is aprox a 3 Hour Drive from Kingston via Hwy 401. Be sure and do the drive along the 1000 Islands Parkway between Gananoque and Brockville as part of this route. You’ll want to spend a MINIMUM of TWO DAYS in Montreal.

* Quebec City is aprox a 3 Hour Drive from Montreal via Autoroute 20. Or alternatively you could take Autoroute 10 thru the Eastern Townships towards Sherbrooke… then take Autoroute 50 to Autoroute 20 on to Quebec City. You’ll want to spend a MINIMUM of THREE DAYS in Quebec City. As the “birthplace” of North America there is much to see and do there. If you have an extra day, you can also explore some of the Lower St Lawrence beyond the city (Ile d’Orleans – Montmortency Falls – Ste Anne de Beaupre)

* Ottawa is aprox 5 Hours from Quebec City via a cross-country Northshore Route (north side of both the St Lawrence River & Ottawa Rivers… Autoroutes 40 – 640 – 15 – 50 to the Quebec / Ontario Border). From there you can cross into Ontario via the Long Sault Bridge at Hawkesbury and take Hwy 17 / 174 West into Ottawa…. OR continue on the Quebec side of the river and take Hwy 148 / Autoroute 50 (at Masson-Angers) onto Gatineau-Hull.

The advantage to the cross-country route from Quebec City is two fold… first you won’t have to contend with the traffic that funnels thru Montreal (it is an island… and there are only so many access points… and as Canada’s second largest city… it does have a lot of traffic). And most importantly travelling cross country will give you the advantage of seeing a whole different view of the country vs the journey you took to get to Quebec City thru the Lower St Lawrence Lowlands. Going the northern route and you’ll get to see the Quebec Foothills Region… and a look to The Laurentians.

Between Quebec City and Trois Rivieres you’ll find some of the Oldest Villages in all of Canada along the St Lawrence shoreline. The villages along the Chemin du Roy, are certainly worth a look… get off the Autoroute 40, and explore a bit of Hwy 138, you can certainly get back on the Autoroute at any point as it parallels nearby.

Autoroute 50 will take you thru the most northern point of the Lower St Lawrence Lowlands… and on to Hwy 148 that skirts alongside the Canadian Shield and the Quebec Foothills. Autoroute 50 is under construction, and currently terminates at the town of Grenville (you’ll see the signage to take the Bridge across the River to Hawkesbury, Ontario) BUT if you continue along Hwy 148 Westbound for another 30 Minutes you’ll come to the town of Montebello. Montebello is the home to the largest wooden structure in the world (Chateau Montebello… a Fairmont Hotel & Resort). At this point in time, you’ll have travelled aprox 3-1/2 Hours from Quebec City… Montebello makes a good stopping point (if you choose) as it has this incredible Hotel, interesting history (Manoir Papineau a Parks Canada Historic Site) and the nearby Parc Omega (a Canadian Wildlife Park… that features many large mammals such as Black Bears – Bison – Moose – Caribou – Elk – Deer – Wolves – Coyotes – Foxes – Cougars – Lynx – and Bobcat).

If you decide to continue west onto the twin cities of Gatineau-Hull and Ottawa, you’ll be looking at another 1 to 1-1/2 Hours.

You’ll want to plan on a MINIMUM of TWO FULL DAYS for Ottawa and the National Capital Region… looking for a unique spot with a revealing perspective to the Geography of the area… take a drive to Gatineau Park and the Champlain Lookout… here you’ll be high enough to actually see much of the St Lawrence Plain (the flat prehistoric seabed that is dominant in the geography of Ontario & Quebec).

* The 1000 Islands & Kingston lie aprox 1-1/2 and 2 Hours respectively from Ottawa. You can change up the trip a bit by driving thru the countryside that surrounds the Rideau Canal & Lakes Waterway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). So could turn a couple of hours into half a day or so discovering exploring the Historic Canal & Lock System, as well as some pretty country towns.

* From Kingston to Toronto (Downtown) is aprox 3 Hours (to the Toronto Intl Airport ~ Pearson… add another hour). If you drive the “scenic” route thru Prince Edward County / Quinte Isle more time will be needed. PE County has much to offer and is indeed a good spot for an OVERNIGHT if you have extra time.

You can find more info about all these Destinations on their TRAVEL PAGES and respective TRAVEL FORUMS here on TA… NIAGARA FALLS – NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – KINGSTON – GANANOQUE (1000 Islands) – MONTREAL – QUEBEC CITY – MONTEBELLO (Quebec Foothills) – GATINEAU (Gatineau Hills & Gatineau Park) - OTTAWA (Canada’s Capital City Region as well as the Rideau Canal & Waterway) – PICTON (PE County) – BELLEVILLE (Quinte Isle) – TORONTO

== end ==

Woody, adding Sudbury into the mix (I assume you have family there or a definitive reason for adding it), means at some point you’ll have to turn northward… either at Ottawa (Hwy 17 – The Trans-Canada Hwy) which will take you up to North Bay and over to Sudbury… or back in Toronto and North on Hwy 400. Ottawa to Sudbury will run about 6-1/2 Hours Driving Time – Toronto to Sudbury about 5 Hours.

A lot is going to depend on where you are picking up and dropping off the car rental (and also where you are flying in and out of). Drop Fees (returning a car NOT to its point of origin) is VERY EXPEN$IVE here in Canada. So making a circle route is the most cost effective.

I take it from your post and interests that you a bit of an outdoorsy type… so you’ll enjoy the great scenery that Canada has to offer.

I often tell Travellers that although our cities are really nice… the true Destinations in Canada is the “journey” between our cities. Based on your interests (remember I said I wrote the above for another Traveller) I think you’d be most pleased with looking at Niagara Falls – the Niagara Region – Kingston & the 1000 Islands – and Ottawa (Canada’s Capital City)… then perhaps heading off towards Algonquin Park (Ontario’s Premier Provincial Park) and north to Sudbury. You could take a more scenic route from Toronto to Kingston by adding in PE County & Quinte Isle (vs just the 401 Expressway).

There certainly is a wide assortment of both city & country spots where you can find accommodations… we can work more on that once we have an idea of what in the region interests you.

This should get you started… BTW, Wikipedia is a GREAT SOURCE of info on Canada… just about every place and thing imaginable here is listed on it… evidently Wikipedia’s largest contributors worldwide are Canadians… (lol, sounds a bit like TA).

I alone have written MUCH on Quebec and Ontario here on TA… so if you come back with more of an idea of what you want to concentrate on… By then I can dig-up some past posts that might be more appropriate to your needs, or design something specific for you.

Hope this is helpful,

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 01 February 2011, 21:01
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3. Re: Woody needs help!

Hi Wine-4-2

This is exactly the info I was needing and I am a bit ashamed to say that as I didn't know much about the area I felt overwhelmed with the amount of research I should have done before asking any questions. However you have kindly NOT told me off for being lazy so I appreciate that and all the information given which is lots to go along with and start looking at in greater detail.

We will be flying into and out of Toronto and ditto with car pick up and drop off. Sudbury is of no great significance to us other than looking on a map and noticing we could create a circular route by including it from Toronto to Ottowa and then Sudbury. However if its not worth the effort I am happy to leave it out! Yes we love the outdoors and have loads of beautiful scenery here in Speyside, Scotland so the thought of too many days in a city seeing the sights is a wee bit daunting. I would like to think we could see a tiny corner of beautiful Canada with time to take in the scenery and nature of the place.

Thanks for your input. Now you have given me some ideas of what might interest us I will take a closer look

Many thanks and if you ever come to my part of the world let me know and I will return the favour

Regards

Woody x

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4. Re: Woody needs help!

Hi WoodyBark,

You are very welcome... glad to help.

As I said just a "thumbnail" here... with the time you have at hand you'll probably be looking at a smaller circle... (check out the timeframes I give as MINIMUMS for each Destination). And remember that the journey between spots is just as interesting as being there.

Honestly, the scenery is so great that one could (and I have) spent a week's time in just one of Ontairo's areas... be that Toronto (Canada's largest city) - Camping in Algonquin Park - Touring Niagara & Wine Country - or taking in the beauty of the 1000 Islands, Kingston and the Rideau Lakes... and of course Ottawa too has a ton to offer any visitor.

So it'll be a tough call... lol, guessing you'll end up like so many other Travellers to Canada... and be planning a return visit long before this upcoming one is said & done.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

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5. Re: Woody needs help!

Hi, Woody:

Unless you have a must-do visit to Sudbury, i.e. family beckons...I would suggest that if it is an option to drop it, you do so. And in light of your comment about driving, I would also suggest that if you MUST go there (really must you?) that you fly. It is a long and not exciting drive to go up there, it's in northern Ontario which, while charming in a barren kinda way (sort of like peat bogs), is nothing to write home about!

Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal are probably 3 of Canada's MOST urban centres, so if you're doing them just because, you may wish to drop one. That's just a lot of cities to see. Each of us has something to recommend it, but if you really prefer great outdoors, walking and peace and quiet, this may be a tad overwhelming. Not to mention expensive. And if you only have 9 days, trying to pack all 3 of them in is just going to make you feel rushed and that you missed a lot rather than saw a lot. Personally, I'd choose ONE of those three, do maybe 3-4 days there, and then take the remaining time to visit some of the smaller more picturesque areas.

If you stick to small town Ontario, the cities in between those major centres, you may pick up more of the charm of our province, and get a better sense of the size and "personalities" of each place.

If you head east toward Ottawa, at that time of year you will be passing through a gorgeous area of the province. Prince Edward County, with Picton and Presquile Provincial Park and Sandbanks Provincial Park, a few wee winerys down there, just lovely. You could look at this website for a broader picture of the area: http://prince-edward-county.com/. There's the Claramount Inn and Spa which is especially lovely, although that's a bit of a treat for a couple of nights.

Just east again, on the road toward Ottawa from Toronto, you'll run into Gananoque and Kingston. If you use the search feature on this forum, you'll see lots of posts by both Rescue Team and Wine 4-2 about that area, so I won't repeat it.

Good luck with your trip, don't hesitate to come back when you've narrowed down your trip a bit more.

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6. Re: Woody needs help!

Thanks both - thats a great help. We will drop Sudbury because it was just part of a return journey "loop". Looks like we will maybe do one city as suggested, try not to cram in too much to such a short time and enjoy the ambience and feel of a smaller area. I WILL (promise!) read info already posted about the areas which interest us most. I suggest as you do, when people are visiting Scotland, that they don't try to do to much in their holiday otherwise they will not appreciate it the same, and when you consider how tiny Scotland is compared to Canada I will take my own advice, and yours, and cut down on the area we cover and focus on what would interest us. That way it will be more relaxing. Niagara and the Wine country, 1000 Islands and Kingston and Rideau sound right up our street. Last question for now...Ottawa or Montreal or do you think we don't have time for either and just make our city visit Toronto?

Thanks

Woody x

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7. Re: Woody needs help!

Now you're getting it, Woody! Funny enough, when you get here, you will see some eerie similarities to Scotland. Canada has a long history of hosting Scottish settlers. When I was in Scotland a few years ago, I was amazed at the similarities in terrain (although that is more noticeable in Nova Scotia, which in French translates to New Scotland!). The Isle of Skye was so much like areas of our country, it almost made me homesick. Unlike Europe, the distances here are quite large; it's a big country with lots of open space, but sometimes driving for 3 hours only gets you across Toronto (rush hour!), vs getting you into another country LOL.

So...Ottawa or Montreal. Ottawa is Canada's capital. So that means that (a) there is huge tourism there, (b) some of our best national museums (National Gallery & Museum of Civilization are tops), (c) Parliament. It is not a big city, but it is quite approachable. The Rideau canal is more charming in winter because it freezes quite easily and so it is transformed into a ribbon of skating rink!

Montreal is an entirely different experience, in that it is the French capital of Canada, more urban than Quebec City (as in big city urban, vs QC's "quaintness"). There is a decidely European feel to Montreal that you simply don't get elsewhere in this country, so the choice between those cities must rest with you and your personal preferences. It is just that bit farther away, so you will lose a bit to the travel time. Having said that, however, based on my experience with Scots, I think you might find the potential language issues a little frustrating. 90% of the province of Quebec speaks English...but sometimes you run into an area that only speaks in French, and it is Quebecois French dialect, which, like Scotland vs Toronto English, is a very different sound.

Here's how I could see your route shaping up: coming up from the US, you take 2 days to explore the Niagara region, 1 for the actual Niagara Falls experience (the Cdn side is better than US, because this is where you get the Maid of the Mist boat that goes up to the falls, and the ability to go in the tunnel behind the falls, etc.). There is also the Butterfly Conservatory, and the gorgeous Niagara parklands. 15 mintues away from the falls is the wee city of Niagara on the Lake, which you might prefer to stay in rather than overnighting in the Falls area itself (hotels won't be hugely cheaper, it being high season at that time, but it is just a little less hustle & bustle, try this for hotel issues: http://www.niagaraonthelake.com/showhotelsandinns/jpage/1/p/hi/content.do). Alternatively, you could actually stay in St. Catharines, which is more toward the Wine Region in Niagara, about another 25 minutes drive through very beautiful scenic Niagara region. Day 2 could be your wine exploration. Then about 1.5 hours to drive to Toronto, where you might want to spend 2-3 days. I'll let all the links at the left be your Toronto must-see guides.

So now, you're up to 4-5 days, with 4-5 left. Head east toward Prince Edward County, it's maybe 2.5 hours drive, consider staying the charming Picton area for 1 night, and just see what you wish by day. Heading east again, about 1.5 hous drive, take in Kingston/Gananoque/1000 Islands by day, stay over 1 night (it will be cheaper than staying in Ottawa, and more leisurely), with the aim of landing in Ottawa next day. Finish your trip in Ottawa with a couple of days there, see if you can drop the car off in Ottawa and fly home from there, instead of flying home from Toronto. Alternatively, you could pick up a quick commuter 1 hour flight from Ottawa to Toronto, see Porter Airlines, or WestJet or Air Canada, there are flights practically hourly, and it's only a 1 hour flight. If you really must drive back to Toronto, you can do it along our very speedy Highway 401, it will be about a 5 hour drive straight through. (Posted speed 100 kph, flow of traffic is usually 120 kph, if you go above that you can get some serious fines if caught by police radar.)

I think that gets you "holiday" vs rush rush rush, and you get a nice mix of urban centres with scenic small(er) town Ontario. You're in our prime tourist season, so it's all going to be high season rates, but do your research and come back to us with particulars, maybe we can help you with specifics about hotels, etc.

Sounds like a beautiful holiday coming up, hope you enjoy!

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8. Re: Woody needs help!

Once again thank you Flyinmom - BTW - you are up early!! You have made me really lazy now because your itinerary sounds just about perfect! I will discuss it with Mr. W and see what he thinks. It may be that we have already visited Niagara Falls from the U.S. side (sorry!) as we have 4 nights in East Aurora & maybe 2 days to fill with something. I visited the Falls about 20+ years ago (sorry U.S. side again!) but I insist Mr W. sees them if we are journeying all the way to Canada anyway. I think he will love the sound of the wine region - we both enjoy a glass or several - and I realise its high season but the event we are attending only happens once in a person's lifetime and its August unfortunately!! Off I go now to have a look at all this wonderful information which will take a few days to get through.

Cheers!

Woody x

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9. Re: Woody needs help!

If it were me I would suggest Toronto and Quebec City...nothing else wrong with other suggestions though-Ottawa and Montreal are interesting too!

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10. Re: Woody needs help!

Hi WoodyBark,

I gotta say that my esteemed colleague FLYINMOM has truly put her “heart” into this (Reply # 7)… this is an Itinerary that I LOVE LOVE LOVE… lol, here I was holding back a bit thinking that you might want to do more research / see other areas (Algonquin Park – Northern Ontario and such, based on your original listing of Sudbury).

The only thing I’d change would be a meander thru the Rideau Canal & Lakes area on your way to Ottawa

(Sorry FLYINMOM, I totally disagree with your comment that the Rideau is only worth a gander when frozen… ya need to check it out in the summertime… Lake Country and the many locks between Kingston & Ottawa are truly stunning… and gorgeous Ontario small towns like Westport, Perth, Smith’s Falls & Merrickville).

WOODYBARK, I’ll pull my weight on this, and write you up a great driving route (Toronto thru to Ottawa and back if need be). The area between Kingston to Ottawa in particular has historically been settled by many Scots (and many say there is a similarity in the rolling countrysides, bogs and scruff vegetation that we have that made them feel right at home).

Rest of the Itinerary is SUPER… Think you’ll have a marvellous time seeing a lot of our great scenic countryside.

As for Niagara Falls… sorry but the US side is NOTHING like the Canadian side… you’ll certainly see that when you finally get to this side of the Border (example… the Niagara Parkway is stunning... Winston Churchill on his visit in 1943 comment “it is the prettiest Sunday Drive in the WHOLE world”… and that pretty much stands today).

So if you do get to The Falls with your friends… just means you’ll have more time for the Canadian part of your journey (that is a good thing)… If you get an extra day that you don’t need for Niagara Falls, then you can use it to drive back to Toronto at a leisurely pace (we can recommend a different routing) or ADD it on to your Ottawa Itinerary (could use it to get over to West Quebec, Gatineau Park and Montebello that I spoke of) but as FLYINMOM said that will depend on being able to get a flight out of Ottawa, and a good rate for dropping the car outside of Toronto.

As I said earlier… this is really just a thumbnail at this point… we can write up a ton of details (Website references etc) for your reading pleasure if this sounds like the way you want to go. Just let us know.

Looking forward to hearing back from you and Mr W.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 02 February 2011, 17:05