10 Day Trips From Toronto on One Tank of Gas
Need a break from the Big Smoke? These great escapes offer world-class hiking trails, historic hamlets and charming outdoor markets.
The Best Day Trips From Toronto
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr 40min.
Looking for the best day trips from Toronto? Hiking or cycling through the well, gorgeous Elora Gorge (Group of Seven painter A.J Casson didn’t call Elora “Ontario’s most beautiful village” for nothing) is practically a rite of passage for every nature lover. In warmer months you can go tubing down the Grand River (you have to book in advance) or if you’d rather engage in some less-twisty amphibious activities, you can go swimming in the former Elora limestone quarry surrounded by trees. In the winter, try things like snowshoeing or ice fishing, and when you’re in need of some sustenance after your adventures there are plenty of options in the surrounding town, including the restaurant in the newly renovated Elora Mill. Less shmancy but still delicious eats can be had at The Porch Light, and if you’ve got a craft/local beer nerd in the house, be sure to check out the Elora Brewing Company.
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr 30min.
This quaint village just north of Kitchener-Waterloo attracts lots of visitors thanks to its popular year-round market and the chance to spot local Mennonite farmers on horses and buggies trundling down the historical streets. After you’ve worked up a thirst shopping, head to The Village Biergarten to enjoy Mexican food and craft beers on their massive outdoor patio, then work it all off with a walk through the Health Valley Trail (keep an eye out for the Instagram-friendly #wiseoldoak).
Check out 10 historical landmarks every Canadian needs to visit.
Drive time from Toronto: 1-1.5 hrs.
The Hammer has come a long way over the last decade. While Hamilton has always been home to more than 100 waterfalls, great hiking (thank you, Niagara Escarpment) and the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area (with caves!), its dining, bar and retail scenes have kicked things up a notch or three of late. While James Street North and Locke Street get most of the attention, Ottawa Street has lots to offer day trippers, too. Grab a coffee or brunch at The Cannon, or a delicious fish-and-chips lunch at Hammerhead’s on Ottawa. Then, check out vintage and textile stores like Antique Avenue and Filter. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head over to James Street to grab next-level donuts at Grandad’s. (Bonus: You can visit all of your friends who have already fled Toronto for Hamilton!)
After you’ve explored Eramosa Karst, you’ll want to add these Canadian caves to your bucket list.
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr.
This cute little town between Guelph and the 401 is famous for its antique market, which runs from June until the end of October. More than a hundred dealers bring their wares every Sunday to this family-friendly outdoor market (there’s also the “Saturday Special” shows a couple times a year where dealers who don’t usually show in Aberfoyle make guest appearances). After filling up on vintage Canadiana, take your new retro spoons over to the Aberfoyle Mill for lunch.
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The Blue Mountains
Drive time from Toronto: 2hrs 30min.
Okay, this pushes the two-hour-drive limit a bit, but we just couldn’t leave out this famous skiing and mountain biking destination on the shores of Georgian Bay. There’s plenty to do at Blue Mountain Resort even if you’re not a snow bunny or cycling daredevil, including mini golf, treetop trekking and hiking. In the fall or spring check out Agora, a beautiful walk-through light installation, or dine at Summitview Pavilion, the resort’s mountaintop patio. Feeling lazy? Scandinave Spa (a five-minute drive from the ski village) offers a full range of treatments and its heated outdoor baths are open year-round. There’s a lovely sandy strip at Northwinds Beach where you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas and kayaks—even teeny tiny ones for kids—in season. After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Bent Taco in Collingwood for some legendary tacos and next-level cocktails.
On the drive, keep an eye out for Canada’s quirkiest roadside attractions.
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr 40min.
One of the most popular day trips from Toronto, the famously quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake is still going strong. The surrounding area is ground zero for ice wine, so if you’re a sucker for the sweet stuff, head to Inniskillin Winery for tastings and tours. Hockey fans and whisky lovers should check out Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery and take a spin on The Great One’s seasonal backyard skating rink. Foodies will want to book a table for dinner at Kitchen 76 at Two Sisters Vineyards and every true craft beer fan needs to make a pilgrimage to Silversmith Brewing Company, Ontario’s O.G. destination craft brewery.
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Drive time from Toronto: 2hrs.
If you want a taste of cottage country without the need for an overnight stay, this small town nestled on the southern shore of Lake Muskoka is a good bet. Stargazers flock to the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve (which was designated as the world’s fist permanent Dark Sky Reserve in 1999) to experience views of the night sky unsullied by city or cottage lights. (Check out more great stargazing spots across Canada.) In the winter Gravenhurst hosts a popular carnival, and in warmer weather it’s nearly mandatory to take a cruise (book in advance!) on the vintage Muskoka Steamships followed by a walk through the Tree Museum, an outdoor art gallery of site-specific installations. A craft beer at Sawdust City Brewing, however, has year-round appeal.
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr 10min.
Nature lovers can get their fix of All The Outdoor Things (Gardens! Wetlands! Meadows! Woodlands! Trails!) at the 400 acres that is the University of Guelph Arboretum. Take a break from all that foliage with a pint of craft beer at Fixed Gear Brewing Company or a truly filthy gin martini at Spring Mill Distillery. If you’re staying for dinner, hit La Reina, but if you simply need a sugar fix to power your drive back to Toronto, pop into Sweet Temptations Co. for gourmet cupcakes or Lady Glaze for fancy donuts.
Looking for more great eats? Follow Ontario’s Cheese Trail.
Drive time from Toronto: 50 min.
One of the best day trips from Toronto is actually still in the GTA—but Milton’s primo location along the Niagara Escarpment can make it feel like you’re further out than you really are. There are several conservation areas to choose from (it’s part of nature-rich Halton region) including the family-friendly Crawford Lake Conservation Area, which is home to a reproduction longhouse village where you can learn about the local Indigenous history. You can marvel at 1,000-year-old cedar trees or go cliff climbing at Rattlesnake Point or go paddle boarding, skiing and mountain biking at Kelso Conservation Area (above). Hot tip: Stop at Thai House in Campbellville on your drive back for amazing authentic Thai food.
Discover Balaclava—Ontario’s most famous ghost town.
Drive time from Toronto: 1hr 15min.
This four-season resort in Barrie has something for all day trippers—even if you don’t ski. Snow bunnies can dig into fat biking, skating, tubing and snow shoeing. Warmer-weather activities include golf, mountain biking, a wakeboard cable park, treetop trekking and “Yamaha Adventures” (ATVs and dirt bikes). Afterwards, pull up a seat on their now-50,000 square foot (no, really!) outdoor patio for dining, which extends nearly all the way to the the ski hill.
Looking for more great day trips from Toronto? Take a cruise down Ontario’s Butter Tart Trail.