Road trip! Since the invention of the car over a hundred years ago, there’s not been a more anticipated use for it than the traditional summer road trip. Never before were humans able to pack up just about anything they can fit into whatever they were driving , a two-seat convertible, a minivan or a full-sized motorhome, and head off in any direction for the weekend, a couple week’s holiday, or the entire summer.
It’s just about the best expression of the freedom that an automobile offers. And we’re very fortunate here in North America to have a great system of highways that lead to a virtually endless number of destinations, from famous places like Niagara falls and the Grand Canyon, to the not-so-famous –but-cool places, like Little Limestone Lake in northern Manitoba, which is the world’s largest example of a marl lake, whose waters actually change colour.
But while you can literally travel thousands of miles across Canada and North America, we thought we’d start a little closer to home and offer a few road trip destinations right here in Southern Ontario. In fact, these places can all be part of a longer road trip or most of them could be a day trip destination from Toronto too.
Eastern Shore of Lake Huron
OK, this isn’t a single destination, but we think it’s an important one. Those who live closer to the ocean often head for the seaside in the summer. Unfortunately, while you can definitely drive there, the seaside is a bit of a stretch for a road trip from Toronto. For our money, the eastern shores of Lake Huron are as close as we get to a seaside right here at home.
As one of the larger Great Lakes, Lake Huron offers the water-to-the-horizon vistas and even some of the larger waves that you don’t usually get in Lakes Erie and Ontario. And we included the entire eastern shore because it offers different destinations for different tastes, like the touristy summer hotspot that’s Sauble Beach, to the more laid back, less travelled beaches at Goderich, Ontario, where you can actually watch the sun set twice if you climb the local cliff fast enough.
Bon Echo Provincial Park
First, we are blessed with an amazing array of well-maintained provincial parks here in Ontario. One of the more interesting parks with a wide variety of features is Bon Echo near Cloyne, Ontario. First, for camping, you can choose everything from driving up and pitching your tent, to sites that are only reachable by canoe. Geographically, Bon Echo features Mazinaw Rock, a great example of the Canadian Shield that juts 100 metres out of the lake. Historically, Mazinaw Rock is the site of the only significant ancient native pictographs in southern Ontario. Finally, for activities, you can find top flight hiking trails up to 17 kms long, as well as some of the best rock climbing in Southern Ontario.
Huh? Hamilton? Steeltown? Yes, that Hamilton. Why would we recommend a trip to a city that’s just down the highway? Aside from being a nice place to visit, with major tourist attractions like Dundurn Castle and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, there are three things that make Hamilton a unique destination for any road trip.
First, with over 130 of them, Hamilton is known as the waterfall capital of the world – and they earned that status even without including the Mighty Niagara Falls just a half an hour away. Second, you’ll probably not have a more picturesque drive as close to Toronto than one through the Dundas Valley area. And third, Hamilton is the site of the very first Tim Hortons’ in the world and that’s as worthy a destination as any for drivers who regularly use their famous drive-thrus!
We are so fortunate to live in a place that’s so full of great road trip destinations. Wherever you decide to travel this summer, make sure your car is in good working order before you leave and remember to stay safe on the roads.