Must Do Summer Road Trips From Toronto

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Another summer is upon us and that means another liberating, road tripping season is here. It’s time to discover new spots and re-discover your own backyard.

There’s no shortage of great road trip ideas around Toronto. There’s so much to see and do, the list is endless. I’ve put together a list of 10 trips that will inspire you to get out there and discover parts of Canada you may not have known existed. Here we go!

Belfountain Conservation Area

Located about an hour northwest of Toronto, Belfountain is a must experience. A small, cute hamlet, its charming shops and lovely coffee shops will make you forget all about the big city. Park the car, stroll through the centre, make your way to the beautiful conservation area and be amazed!

This land once belonged Charles Mack, inventor of the cushion-back rubber stamp. 

Mack developed his version of a mini Niagara Falls and Yellowstone Cave. He created a fountain topped with a bell honouring the town and added stone walls, footpaths and scenic lookouts.

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He also had a suspension bridge built downstream from the dam. Wedding photography is huge here as is photography in general. After all, what’s not to love? That bridge looks and feels like it’s straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.

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Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

There’s two reasons why I put Mono Cliffs near the top of this list. First of all, it’s only 45 minutes north of Belfountain (and thus only 2 hours north of Toronto). Secondly, it’s not just a summer destination but also a place you can fully enjoy into the fall. Located on the Bruce Trail, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is easily one of the most beautiful areas within driving distance of the city, has several biking and hiking trails along with gorgeous vista points.

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The beauty of this place isn’t just reserved for the summer. I visited in the fall and it was stellar. The trails are always well-marked and the park is ideal for the whole family. Whether you go at the start of the season or close to autumn, the experience will leave you breathless (not only because of those stairs).

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Port Dover – Canada’s Cape Cod

Located a couple of hours southwest of Toronto, Port Dover, has been described as Canada’s Cape Cod. It’s the only place I’ve seen in these parts with legit palm trees.It has something for everyone, including beach lovers, sunset lovers, hot dog lovers and even bikers. In fact, since 1981 bikers from all over have congregated to this small lake side town for good times every Friday the 13th.

Everyone from young couples to retirees come together to spend the day at the beach, walk the pier, rent a board and have a bite. Speaking of food, Port Dover has some pretty famous eats.

Photo courtesy Margaret Bourne, Suburban Tourist

Paris – Canada’s Cobblestone Capital

Located about 1 1/2 hours west of Toronto. Paris, is known as the cobblestone capital of Canada because of the number of aged cobblestone houses. A key example of this is historic Hamilton Place, a house built in the 1840s in the Greek Revival Style and constructed entirely of cobblestone.

It’s also considered to be one of, if not the prettiest small towns Canada. It has loads of charm, serenity, friendly people, restaurants, bakeries and of course a picturesque backdrop. And although Parisians here don’t separate their neighbourhoods by Arrondissements, you can make a case for Paris, Ontario having a left and right bank of the Grand River.

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Bayfield

Only about 2 1/2 hours west of Toronto, Bayfield sits on the shores of Lake Huron. It’s often overlooked by the bigger, glitzy coastal towns along Huron, like Sauble Beach and Grand Bend. No more! Not only is Bayfield beautiful, has its own share of blue flag beaches, it’s also got more room to lay down a towel and actually have some space between you and the next beach goer.

Don’t get me wrong, Sauble and Grand Bend are amazing places with so much to do and see. But if you want serenity and space, a place where you can feel time slow right down for you, then hit Bayfield. Great for young and old, couples, families or even solo. It’s between the two giants and in my opinion, better!

Look out into the lake you’ll see something sticking 12 feet up above the surface. It’s part of a vessel, the Lynda Hindman, which was hauled from Goderich to Bayfield about 30 years ago to use as a break wall and prevent further erosion of the beach. Apparently, the brigadier decided to leave it out there. That, and nasty storms over the past three decades have reportedly broken up the vessel. What remains sticking up is the stern. With the water level so low, it allows for it to be seen and climbed on. Swimmers often head out and stand on it.

But wait, there’s more. Bayfield also has a cute, charming and stroll-worthy downtown, complete with green space, inn’s, rustic restaurants and shops. But if you want to get beyond the surface, consider a walking tour. There’s plenty to choose from.

And finally, you can’t talk about Lake Huron and Bayfield without mentioning the sunsets. They’re epic and people set up camp early in the evening from high above Pioneer Park or along the water to take it all in.

Jim Bamboulis
Jim Bamboulis has held several posts over the past 12 years, including National Sportscaster, Food Host and Writer, Talk Show Host, Olympic Researcher and Travel Film-maker.

Born and raised in Toronto, Jim learned early on that the combination of travel and food meant ultimate living. Combining his insatiable creative spirit and desire to document his travels, Jim took his unshakable travel bug and set off to explore. Add the fact that Jim also grew up in a Greek household and he learned that not only does Mom always make the best meals, but as importantly learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the countless beautiful cultures and the integral role food plays in every corner of the World.

In August 2009, Jim founded Travel Mammal, a site that brings together his travels and experiences (both good and terrifying) with the hope that others are inspired to share their own. We are all storytellers, especially when it comes to travel and food. He urges everyone to be inspired, explore and love the world and the people that share it with us. Or in other words, Live to Travel and travel to live!
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