We've rounded up our top picks within a few hours drive
Take a day (or more) away to play
Now that travel is again a ‘thing,’ it’s easy to forget how many tourists come from around the world to enjoy what Ontario has to offer. It’s tempting to look abroad for new experiences but staying closer to home can be enriching culturally and financially since there’s no costly or onerous flight.
Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing to start planning your spring and summer road trips.
Curious about Canada’s oldest penitentiary? You can visit now and spend as little as 45 minutes exploring on the Express Tour, if you’re in a hurry, or two and a half hours on the Extended Tour, if you’re really fascinated by the history of this institution.
Having housed some of the nation’s worst ‘baddies,’ you’ll see where they lived and worked from the 1830s. There is also a Film Tour and an Architectural Tour, both last one and a half hours. Tours must be booked in advance online and fill up fast, so planning is a good idea if you want to ‘break out’ of Kingston Pen.
The Kingston Penitentiary. Photo: Jordan Milani.
Get up close and personal with the mighty Niagara River at Niagara Park’s The Tunnel. You’ll descend in a glass elevator and follow the path of a water outlet from the former Power Station to its mouth. When you emerge, you’ll be at the river’s water level across from the Falls. Time it right and a rainbow will greet you. Before or after your trip down The Tunnel, take some time to tour the Niagara Parks Power Station.
When you’re in Niagara, take in some colour at an oldie but goody: the Floral Showhouse. It will be festooned with petal power from May 3 to September 10 and the surrounding grounds bloom all summer long.
A beautiful drive along Lake Erie’s coast is reason enough to head southwest but complement that with a wine tour of epic proportions and you’ve got a reason to go for a day, but you’ll want to stay for the weekend. EPIC stands for Essex Pelee Island Coast and this wine region is a must-see for enophiles, as well as casual sippers.
Why not let someone else do the driving so you can sample at several of the excellent local wineries, with Grape Vine Tours? Many offer tasty food to go along with the sips.
ROMANCING THE ROAD
Elora has earned a reputation as ‘the’ place for a romantic getaway. Stay at the lovely Ayrshire House; try your hand at glass blowing; do some taste testing at the local distillery; sample high tea at the Wild Tart and finish up in luxury at the AFYA Haus Spa. The best part is that neither of you has to do a thing because 21 Tours and Events Co. makes all the arrangements.
IT'S BIKE TIME
From buggy path to railroad line and now a multi-use path, the G2G (Goderich To Guelph) Trail is a 132- kilometre stretch of gravelled pathway. It winds through verdant agricultural land and forested areas. It is mostly level with some slight grades and hills. You can hop off the trail and get lunch at local favourites, like Cowbell Brewery, or there are plenty of green spaces and parks to enjoy a picnic.
Bike 25 kilometres from Niagara Falls to Niagara-on-the-Lake on a paved pathway. You’ll wheel by historic sites and cycle through lush wine country, so if you want to stop and sip or sit and gaze, opportunities abound. • www.alltrails.com From bike to beach: this is the perfect hot day escape. Ride Pinery Provincial Park’s 13-kilometre loop trail through its forests and meadows to work up a sweat. Then head to one of this iconic park’s stretches of sand to enjoy a cool swim and picnic.
PUT THE WIN IN WINDSOR
In the words of Dirty Harry, “Are you feeling lucky?” Answer is “yes” because casinos are open again and Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino is ready to play. There’s usually a major entertainer doing a show in the auditorium (The Colosseum) and, nearby, The Keg has great views of the Detroit River to enjoy with a delicious steak.
This area has a rich history of supply and demand, and you can learn all about how it met that demand during Prohibition at the J.P. Wiser Distillery Experience. You’ll also be able to taste some of their spirits during the tour.
GROUP GETAWAY FOR A DAY
Sometimes you just need to escape with a group of your besties and have a day of carefree fun. Start by getting picked up to head to the coast of Lake Huron, stopping at three wineries, three breweries, three cideries or one of each.
You will sip and savour lunch, learn about these libation producers and their scrumptious creations, then be entertained with games or live music. All driving and details are handled by 21 Tours and Events Co.
Ride along with sommelier Ian Nicholls to tour some of Prince Edward County’s notable wineries. Visit four vineyards to sip and sample 16 to 20 wines, while learning about their terroir. Lunch is included in this immersive full-day experience for four to six people.
Capture a special memory for one of life’s milestones by starting with a toast of one of Cornerstone Winery’s sparkling libations. Then a helicopter picks you up and flies you over Lake Huron, landing at Eddington’s of Exeter for a celebratory dinner designed by Chef James Eddington to your tastes. After, you’ll be driven to the beach for a sunset photoshoot to commemorate the special occasion.