Top Ten Road Trips to Escape the City this Fall

By Miriam Porter Wheels.ca

Sep 4, 2015 7 min. read

Article was updated 8 years ago

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Road trips are great, but guess what’s even better? A road trip with an exciting destination to look forward to this Fall! The summer and early fall are a great time to pack up the car and spend the day exploring new places and attractions. These ten road trips are some of my personal favourites or destinations that my family and friends have traveled to. For complete driving directions please do additional research or ask your friendly GPS to help you out. Many of these trips have multiple ways to drive there, so choose what route is best for you. Each trip is packed with adventures around every corner.

1. Prince Edward County:

I hear from friends this is the “IT” place to be - and it’s only two hours from Toronto in South Eastern Ontario. There are five entry points to the County. Take exit 522 for Wooler Road / Country Road 40 toward Trenton. Many families I know have taken their kids to the Sandbanks Provincial Park and absolutely loved it. There are three sandy beaches, sandbars, and coastal sand dunes. Definitely bring a pail and shovel! You can also hike along the trails, swim in the shallow water, go boating, biking and even camp for the night! If you have time check out their theatre scene, museums, studios, galleries, or go shopping for antiques or the latest trends! And if it’s an adult only journey, you will have your choice of 40 awesome wineries to choose from. (Have a designated driver!)

2. Niagara Falls: 

Tried, tested and true, my son and I have been traveling to Niagara Falls annually and are never disappointed.From Toronto it’s about a 90-minute drive. Take the Queen Elizabeth Way and follow signs for Niagara/East Hamilton/Fort Erie.

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We love the excitement of Clifton Hill such as mini golfing with dinosaurs, the massive SkyWheel with spectacular views, the little souvenir shops and the crazy wax museums and haunted houses! You will have no shortage of hotels, restaurants or activities to choose from. We also love riding the Maid of the Mist in our rain gear. Definitely bring your camera!

3. St. Jacob’s County 

Located in the Waterloo Region it’s about a 90-minute drive from Toronto, on Highway 401, Exit # 278 Highway 8 Kitchener.

St. Jacob’s County is home to Canada’s largest Farmers Market that is open year round, where you can pick up fresh pastries, bread, fruit, veggies, flowers and maple syrup (How Canadian!). You can also browse through original artwork, jewelry, and various craft vendors. St. Jacob’s is a great place to spend the weekend and you can choose from hotels, bed and breakfasts or camping!

4. Barrie: 

Multiple friends of mine with kids drive to Barrie to enjoy the water, beaches, and parks in warmer months. Barrie is located in Central Ontario on the Western Shore of Lake Simcoe. We love going to Barrie because it’s not too far yet it has a totally different vibe than Toronto. There are several ways to drive to Barrie; one route is the 400 North and takes just over an hour. If you get hungry and didn’t pack a picnic lunch, check out the delicious Boon Burger—Canada’s first all vegan burger restaurant—located at 112 Dunlop Street East.

5. Bradford: Wishing Well Sanctuary 

Why go to Bradford you ask? For the 66 rescued farm animals of course! The Wishing Well Sanctuary is our favourite way to spend the day. We love hugging the sheep and goats, patting the pigs and feeding the cows. It is also a center for humane education, healing and personal growth through seminars and workshops, all which share the goal of promoting emotional well being and peace. It’s a private residence so you can’t just drop in; there are specific visitor days. Sanctuary tours are held on the last Saturday of every month and the second Sunday of each month from March through November. It’s about an hour drive from Toronto on Highway 400; Wishing Well is located at 2710 10th Line on the North Side – look for the Wishing Well Sign!

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

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6. Vineland:

Vineland is a community within the Niagara Region and the Town of Lincoln and just over an hour drive from Toronto. Take the QEW/403 towards Hamilton and then Beamsville will get you there. Vineland is known for the wineries, vineyards, orchards and restaurants that feature local produce. If you want to check out Vineland Estates Winery this may be one of those road trips without the kids. The winery is open all year round and there are tours of the vineyard, wine tastings, seminars, historic sites, restaurants, stone houses and stunning views. It’s beautiful to go in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.

7. Muskoka: 

Muskoka is known for it’s adventurous yet relaxing cottage life. From Toronto, take the highway 401 East to highway 400 north towards Barrie and Orillia, and it’s about a two-hour drive. Once you are there if you want to enjoy scenic drives there are specific driving tours such as Muskoka’s rugged coast or Muskoka’s heart. Or if you have reached your final destination take your pick of things to do; there are beaches, boat cruises, waterfalls, golfing, biking, entertainment and museums. If it’s a special celebration and money is no object, you can splurge and go to the spa – there are plenty to choose from. There are also enough restaurants to guarantee you will find something that suits your palate! Many people choose to stay overnight at family friendly lodges, bed and breakfasts, cottage resorts or hotels.

8. Collingwood: 

There are multiple ways to drive North to Collingwood, such as highway 400 towards Wasaga Beach or Airport Road North. Choose your route depending on the time of year you are traveling and if you prefer scenery or the highway. Collingwood is home to some great parks, an arts and culture scene, museums, relaxing waterfront, a conservation area; and the Collingwood Scenic Caves Nature Preserve that is great for visitors of all ages and known as one of Canada’s great natural wonders. There is also an amazing hiking trail that features a 126 meter suspension bridge (420ft) that you can walk across that hangs 25 meters (82 ft) above the valley floor and overlooks Georgian Bay area.  A friend suggested checking out the Elvis Festival that runs for a few days each summer – something to look forward to in 2016!

9. Point Pelee National Park:

This national park is located in Essex County in Southwestern Ontario. The driving directions are complex so please refer to the “How To Get There” section of the website. My adventurous parents took a road trip to Point Pelee this summer and because it’s about a four-hour drive, they decided to stay for several days in nearby Leamington. In Point Pelee you can go hiking, walk along the boardwalk, bird watch, rent bikes or canoes, swim and enjoy a picnic on the beach.

Errol Porter/ Photographer

Point Pelee is the southernmost point of main land in Canada and you can ride a shuttle to the very tip. It’s a destination my father (Errol Porter) has always wanted to visit and he took these photos of the boardwalk going through the marsh and the rocks which are a few kilometres south at the farthest point.

Errol Porter/ Photographer

10. Brampton / Tree Top Trekking

The most recent road trip we took was to Tree Top Trekking in Brampton (reservations are required). It’s about an hour drive from Toronto. Located at Heart Lake Conservation Area, drive along highway 401 and exit at Sandlewood Road. Follow the signs to Heart Lake Road and turn north on Heart Lake Road to # 10818. If you love eco-adventures as much as we do, this is the place to be (Kids must be 9 years old so this was the first year my son was old enough to go). You can easily spend the day exploring the forest doing climbing challenges, log bridges, obstacles and zip lining. We packed a lunch and spent the afternoon there. Our favourite part was the zip line over Hear Lake—absolutely breathtaking—and  you will feel like a flying bird!

Miriam Porter/ Photographer

These are some of our favourite trips for an escape out of the city. Where are you going this weekend?

Miriam Porter/ Photographer
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