Road trips from Buffalo: Northern wonders or art and cultural getaways
Cross the border from Buffalo into Ontario, Canada for urban adventure or natural wonders.
Tour scenic small towns with fall colour as a backdrop or chart a course to Ontario’s largest, liveliest and trendiest cities. Travel north across the border to witness the ecologically unique marine and landscapes that Georgian Bay and Bruce Peninsula is famous for, or see what’s happening in Toronto, Canada’s largest city and Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.
Choose your trip:
- Northern Wonders Getaway Itinerary: Buffalo to Headwaters, Blue Mountains and Tobermory
- Art & Cultural Tour Getaway Itinerary: Buffalo to Toronto and Ottawa
Find more road trip itineraries in Ontario, Canada
Travellers to Canada must present a valid passport or NEXUS card. Find out what else you’ll need to know to cross the border into Canada.
Northern Wonders Getaway
Explore scenic natural wonders of Headwaters and Georgian Bay, visit charming towns and villages, including Blue Mountain, Ontario’s favourite all-season playground and experience the hospitality and unique activities offered at Ontario’s country resorts and inns.
Day 1 - 2: Buffalo to Headwaters
Nature takes center stage in Ontario’s Headwaters regions with rolling hills, lush forest and pastoral countryside, perfect for hiking, cycling and golfing. The area is also home to luxury resorts delivering the ultimate country hospitality.
- Route Option # 1 (toll required)
Follow the I-190 north to exit 9 for the Peace Bridge Border Crossing to Fort Erie, continue onto Queen Elizabeth Way, after you pass Hamilton, merge onto the 407 (toll) Highway heading northeast, exit onto Highway 410 north, continue on Highway 10/Huronia Street north into Headwaters region.
Approx. distance & travel time: 185 kilometres (115 miles), 2 hours
- Route Option #2
Follow the I-190 north across Grand Islands to Niagara Falls, exit onto Niagara Scenic Parkway west, turn left onto Rainbow Boulevard, turn left onto Main Street and cross the Rainbow International Bridge into Niagara Falls, Canada, continue along 420 to Queen Elizabeth Way/ON-403 east, exit onto Guelph Line/Highway 1 north, turn right onto Wellington Road 124.
Approx. distance & travel time: 210 kilometres (130 miles), 3 hours
Where to Stay in Headwaters
- Hockley Valley Resort is a contemporary, year-round country resort with modern rooms and suites, an 18-hole championship golf course, an on-site spa, three restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, an organic garden and a winery next door.
Location: 793522 Mono 3rd Line, Mono
- A newcomer to the Caledon area, Mount Alverno Luxury Resorts defines rustic elegance with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside from spacious, luxurious suites, a pond terrace and a fine dining restaurant.
Location: 20706 Heart Lake Road, Caledon Village
- For a blissful dose of spa pampering, Millcroft Inn & Spa features hot spring pools and state-of-the-art spa facilities and services in a country setting.
Location: 55 John Street, Alton
Things to Do in Headwaters
- Rolling pastoral hills and forest landscapes make this area ideal for hiking, especially in the falls. The famous Bruce Trail snakes through Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, providing numerous trails to lookouts and scenic vistas and through a valley canyon. Fall weekends are busy, visit on a weekend and book your parking in advance.
Location: 795086 3rd Line EHS, Shelburne
- Located along the West Credit River, the pathways and trails at Belfountain Conservation Area lead to picturesque ponds, a waterfall and a suspension bridge. Parking is limited, book a two-hour slot in advance.
Location: 10 Credit Park Street, Belfountain
- Get your heart pumping at the Zip Line and Aerial Game Park in Heart Lake Conservation Area. Fly across Heart Lake on twin 1,000-foot ziplines and view the forest canopy from above on a tree-top trekking course (there’s even a sunset canopy walk). Book your climb in advance.
Location: 10818 Heart Lake Road, Brampton
- The Cheltenham Badlands is a unique geological site of what looks like waves of rust and red-colored rock due to exposed and eroded shale. There’s a great viewing boardwalk and platform. Paid parking is available by reservation only.
Location: west of Caledon, on the southeast side of Olde Base Line Road
- Play one of three outstanding professional golf courses at TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley.
Location: 18821 Main Street, Caledon
Local Art & Culture
- The Alton Mills Art Centre is an eclectic mix of heritage museum, art gallery, in-house artist studios and workshop space housed in a reclaimed industrial stone mill in the village of Alton (parking is via Amelia Street).
Location: 1402 Queen Street, Alton
Where to Eat & Drink in Headwaters
- Stop in at the Terra Cotta Country Store for fresh baked goodies, coffee, tea, ice cream and frozen yogurt.
Location: 119 King Street, Terra Cotta
- Try the artisanal hard, sweet or sparkling cider along with a fresh, seasonal menu and wood-fired pizza in the ‘cider garden’ at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery.
Location: 1137 Boston Mills Road, Caledon
- Adamo Estates Winery is a small batch boutique winery next door to Hockey Valley Resort that offers tours and tastings, a farm-to-table menu on select days and a Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: 793366 3rd Line EHS, Orangeville
- Steller views complement the elevated French-inspired menu and specialty cocktails at The Vista Restaurant by Chef Denis Jaricot. Patio and lounge hours are 11 a.m.–4 p.m., dinner is 4–10 p.m.
Location: 20706 Heart Lake Road, Caledon
Day 3 - 4: Headwaters to Blue Mountains
Home to Ontario’s bustling ski resort village, Blue Mountains is a year-round, natural playground located between the Niagara Escarpment and the southern shoreline of Georgian Bay.
Take Highway 10 north, turn left on Highway 89, head north on Dufferin Road 124/Grey Road 31/Simcoe Road 95, head east on Highway 91, north on Concession 10 North/Nottawasaga Road/32, west on Sixth Street, north on 19 to Blue Mountains.
Approx. distance & travel time: 80 kilometres, (115 miles), 1 hour and 15 minutes
Where to Stay in Blue Mountains
- Comfortable, modern rooms and suites feature fireplaces and kitchenettes at The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain. You’ll also love the heated pool, shopping, entertainment and food in Blue Mountain Village, a pedestrian-only community.
Location: 220 Gord Canning Drive, The Blue Mountains
- A cozy cottage ambiance and extra conveniences like laundry facilities, soaker tubs and in-suite kitchen, living and dining areas make Embarc Blue Mountain feel like a home away from home.
Location: 277 Jozo Weider Boulevard, The Blue Mountains
- With spacious rooms, hot tubs and a year-round heated outdoor swimming pool, Mosaic Boutique Suites by Blue Mountain Resort is a great option.
Location: 190 Jozo Weider Boulevard, The Blue Mountains
- Whimsical and fun, Penny’s Motel and Après Snack Bar is a reinvented boutique motel that features all the modern luxuries and services, plus a few nostalgic nods to the era of the classic roadside motel.
Location: 141 King Street East, Thornbury
Things to Do in Blue Mountains
- Explore caves, crevasses, old growth forest and winding nature trails, and take in a spectacular view from Southern Ontario’s longest suspension bridge at Scenic Caves Nature Adventures.
Location: 260 Scenic Caves Road, The Blue Mountains
- Cycle the Georgian Trail, a 34-kilometre, dedicated bike trail along Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Meaford, or explore the scenic back roads and routes of Grey County countryside. Blue Mountain Bike Rentals will outfit you with bike rental and gear (including backpack or saddle bags) for touring and for mountain biking in Blue Mountain.
Location: 190 Gord Canning Drive, The Blue Mountains
- Georgian Bay tributaries and the Niagara Escarpment topography has resulted in several waterfalls throughout Grey County. Visit one or all on a waterfall tour.
- Take in the magic of fall colour on a hike along a portion of The Bruce Trail at Duncan Escarpment Provincial Park, park of the Niagara Biosphere Reserve. Free, but very limited parking available.
Location: The Blue Mountains
- Book a guided paddling, hiking or foraging excursion with Free Spirit Tours.
Location: based in Collingwood
Arts & Entertainment
- Blue Mountain Village hosts live music and other events throughout the year. Check to see what’s on during your stay.
Location: 156 Jozo Weider Boulevard, The Blue Mountains
- Tour one of Ontario’s artsiest villages. Clarksburg or ‘Artsburg’ is home to several studios, galleries and outdoor murals.
Location: Grey Road 13, south of Thornbury
Spa & Wellness
- Experience ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation in the outdoor hydrotherapy pools, saunas and peaceful forest paths at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.
Location: 152 Grey County Road 21, The Blue Mountains
Where to Eat & Drink in Blue Mountains
- Dining options and restaurants in Blue Mountain Village cover morning coffee to late night eats and every craving in between.
Location: 156 Jozo Weider Boulevard, The Blue Mountains
- Start your day at the Thornbury Bakery Café with a full breakfast or a made-from-scratch Chelsea bun, cinnamon roll or butter tart.
Location: 12 Bruce Street South, Thornbury
- The intimate space, eclectic décor and locally sourced menu add to the cozy vibe at The Bruce Wine Bar. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Location: 8 Bruce Street, Thornbury
- Recharge at The Mill Café, overlooking the dam on the Beaver River. You may even see salmon jumping up the operating fish ladder in the dam.
Location: 12 Bridge Street, Thornbury
- Pair a hearty meal with a craft brew at Northwinds Brewhouse & Kitchen in downtown Collingwood.
Location: 499 First Street, Collingwood
- The temperate microclimate of Southern Georgian Bay makes it one of Ontario’s most productive apple-growing regions. You’ll see scores of scenic orchards and find great apple-picking farms, bakeries selling homemade apple pies and cideries offering a chance to taste fresh apple cider. Follow the Apple Pie Trail and savor delicious culinary apple-inspired treats and experiences.
Day 5 - 6: Blue Mountains to Tobermory
Experience water-based adventure, stunning scenery and mouth-watering fish and chips at the tip of the famous Bruce Peninsula in Tobermory.
Follow Grey County Road 19 north, head west on ON 26, continue on ON 26 west to ON 6 North in Owen Sound, follow ON 6 North to Highway 6 north to Tobermory.
Approx. distance & travel time: 165 kilometres (100 miles), 2 hours & 15 minutes.
Lion’s Head, located almost exactly between Owen Sound and Tobermory just east of Highway 6 on Bruce Road 9.
- Break up your drive with a stop in the pretty port village of Lion’s Head, visit the historic lighthouse, explore Greig’s Caves and enjoy a snack at Rachel’s Restaurant.
Where to Stay in Tobermory
- Take in sublime views of Fathom Five Marine Park in a peaceful (adults only) and private setting at the Stone Cove Luxury Waterfront B&B near the historic Big Tub Lighthouse.
Location: 181 Big Tub Road, Tobermory
- Stay in one of the comfortable rooms or cottages at the historic Tobermory Princess Hotel overlooking Little Tub Harbour in the centre of town.
Location: 34 Bay Street, Tobermory
- Book one of ten yurts (elevated, round, tent-like structures) located along the shoreline of Cyprus Lake in Bruce Peninsula National Park. Each yurt is fitted with furniture, a propane BBQ for cooking, a woodstove for cozy nights and skylight dome above for stargazing.
Location: 469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory
Things to Do in Tobermory
- Witness the natural beauty of Georgian Bay, cliffs, caves and unique rock formations like Flowerpot Island, heritage lighthouses and intriguing shipwrecks in Fathom Five Marine Park on a glass-bottom boat tour with Bruce Anchor Cruises or Blue Heron Cruises. You can even customize a private tour with Tobermory Wave Adventures.
Bruce Anchor Cruises, 61 Front Street, Tobermory
Blue Heron Cruises, 24 Carlton Street, Tobermory
Tobermory Wave Adventures, Dock 4, Little Tug Harbour, Bay Street, Tobermory
- If you want to get a little more active, rent kayaks from On the Water Kayaks for a sightseeing paddle. Big Tub Harbour Resort also provides watersport rentals, including canoes and stand up paddleboards.
On the Water at 53 Bay Street, Tobermory
Big Tub Harbour Resort at 236 Big Tub Road, Tobermory
- Without the summer crowds, fall is the perfect season to visit Bruce Peninsula National Park, one of Canada’s most beautiful and popular parks. The bay water is a surreal aquamarine colour, and the rocky shoreline features limestone cliffs dotted with scenic coves (most famously The Grotto), beaches, sand dunes, boardwalks and the extensive trails lead through ancient cedar forests and woodlands. Parking reservations may be required, daily adult admission and parking fees apply.
Location: 469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory
Where to Eat & Drink in Tobermory
- You’ll want to linger on the waterfront patio at Coconut Joe’s Harbour Bar & Grill to savour your choice from their island-inspired menu and to catch the sunset.
Location: 53 Bay Street, Tobermory
- For all-you-can-eat fish and chips, Shipwreck Lee’s has two locations in Tobermory to serve you or try the Fish and Chip Place overlooking the harbour.
Shipwreck Lee’s, 2 Bay Street & 3 Eliza Street, Tobermory
The Fish and Chip Place, 24 Bay Street, Tobermory
- Visit the TACOMORY food truck for authentic Mexican tacos, nachos and burrito bowls.
Location: 7379 ON-6, Tobermory
- Raise a glass or two at the Tobermory Brewing Co. & Grill, a rustic brewpub.
Location: 28 Bay Street, Tobermory
Day 7: Extend Your Trip
Add some island time or beach time to your trip.
Manitoulin Island: board the MS Chi-Cheemaun and continue on to explore the largest freshwater island in the world.
Sauble Beach: visit this gorgeous stretch of Lake Huron shoreline and soak up all the ‘beach town vibes’ at The June Motel.
Art & Cultural Getaway Tour
From renowned art galleries to graffiti culture, haute couture to vintage shopping and fine dining to market food stalls, discover the best of two of Ontario’s trendiest cities, Toronto and Ottawa.
Day 1 - 3: Buffalo to Toronto
Canada’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Toronto is a multi-cultural mosaic of art, heritage, cuisine and entertainment.
- Route Option #1
Follow the I-190 north to exit 9 for the Peace Bridge Border Crossing to Fort Erie, continue onto Queen Elizabeth Way east to the Gardiner Expressway East, exit for Bay Street via Harbour Street, follow Bay Street north into downtown Toronto.
Approx. distance & travel time: 160 kilometres (100 miles), 2 hours
- Route Option #2
Follow the I-190 north across Grand Islands to Niagara Falls, exit onto Niagara Scenic Parkway west, turn left onto Rainbow Boulevard, turn left onto Main Street and cross the Rainbow International Bridge into Niagara Falls, Canada, continue along ON-420 to Queen Elizabeth Way/ON-403 east, continue to the Gardiner Expressway East, exit for Bay Street via Harbour Street, follow Bay Street north into downtown Toronto.
Approx. distance & travel time: 160 kilometres (105 miles), 2 hours & 15 minutes
Where to Stay in Toronto
- 1 Hotel Toronto strikes the perfect balance between urban and cottage chic with reclaimed and upcycled materials, natural design elements plus high-end perks like a rooftop pool.
Location: 550 Wellington Street West, Toronto
- A mix of hotel and residences, Bisha Hotel is an upscale property featuring suites designed by artist Lenny Kravitz.
Location: 80 Blue Jays Way, Toronto
- The Drake Hotel is an intimate, art-inspired boutique hotel that’s also a hub for culture, art, music, food and drink.
Location: 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto
- With its stylish décor, top-notch service and signature cocktails, you won’t want to leave the Shangri-La Toronto, especially if you treat yourself to a visit at the Miraj Hamman Spa.
Location: 188 University Avenue, Toronto
Things to Do in Toronto
Art & Culture
- Explore provocative and powerful exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), one of the largest art collections in North America as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
AGO, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto
MOCA, 158 Sterling Road, #100, Toronto
- Attend a screening, special event or simply celebrity star gaze during the 47th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2022: September 8–18), one of the largest and most influential annual events for International and Canadian cinema.
- Check out Graffiti Alley. Street murals and graffiti art that was once prohibited is now celebrated along a three-block stretch of Rush Lane alleyways in Toronto’s downtown fashion district, dubbed ‘Graffiti Alley’.
Location: Rush Lane, Toronto (South of Queen Street West, between Augusta Avenue and Spadina Avenue)
- One of Toronto’s more unusual attractions, the Bata Shoe Museum explores the history of shoes with a unique collection of more than 13,000 exhibits spanning 4,500 years.
Location: 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto
- Showcasing the range and significance of Islamic arts, the Aga Khan Museum and gardens is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s about a 15-minute drive north of downtown, parking is available.
Location: 77 Wynford Drive, Toronto
Sightseeing & Shopping
- Cruise the Toronto harbourfront in style on a Toronto Harbour Sights & Sips Cocktail Cruise. Available on Fridays throughout September, leaving from Southeast Dock Wall at Queen’s Quay Terminal, tickets are $20 and include the 90 minute cruise, wine, beer and cocktails.
Location: 207 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto
- Take in the sights of the city from above on a helicopter tour with Toronto Heli Rides. Tours are $140 each plus tax.
Location: Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Hangar 1, 2 Eireann Quay, Toronto
- From high fashion to vintage markets, there’s a shopping experience for just about every whim and fancy. Chart your shopping course with the Toronto Neighborhood Shopping Guide.
Where to Eat & Drink in Toronto
- Fall 2022 marks the first edition of the esteemed MICHELIN Guide rating Toronto’s top restaurants―be the first to dine at Toronto’s MICHELIN picks.
- Toronto’s Distillery District is a pedestrian-only entertainment neighborhood that’s home to a cluster of bars, cafés, restaurants, bakeries, brewpubs and a chocolate-maker. There’s also a distillery, so up your cocktail game while enjoying a tour and tasting at Spirit of York Distillery.
Location: extends from Parliament Street to Cherry Street, just south of Front Street East, Toronto
- Once a bohemian hub, Yorkville is now known for its high-end retail shopping and some of Toronto’s finest eateries and restaurants, such as Sassafraz, Buca Osteria & Bar, Café Boulud and Alobar.
Location: east of Avenue Road and north of Bloor Street East, Toronto
- The St. Lawrence Market takes place in a large, historic brick building that bustles with organic groceries, bakeries, cheese and olive vendors, restaurants and food stalls.
Location: 93 Front Street East, Toronto
- One of the city’s most eclectic, colorful and fiercely local neighborhoods, Kensington Market is a mix of boho, vintage shops, fresh vegetable stalls, cheese and spice shops, bakeries, trendy bars and an array of fusion restaurants tucked into the historic Victorian architecture. You’ll find everything from Jamaican patties to empanadas.
Location: bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street and College Street, Toronto
Day 4 - 6: Toronto to Ottawa
From the Parliament Buildings, national museums and galleries to the historic Rideau Canal, explore all that Canada’s capital has to offer in Ottawa.
Follow the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) north from downtown, exit onto the ON-401 Express East, continue on the 401 east, exit onto Highway 416/Veterans Memorial Highway north, head east on Highway 417/Queensway/Trans-Canada Highway, exit onto 83 north/Kent Street into downtown Ottawa
Approx. distance & travel time: 400 kilometres (250 miles), 4 hours & 45 minutes
Where to Stay in Ottawa
- Stylish and sleek, ARC The Hotel features local art and is within walking distance of most attractions.
Location: 140 Slater Street, Ottawa
- Fairmont Château Laurier is a five-star historic hotel perched on the Rideau Canal with the finest touches and comforts.
Location: 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa
- Located in the ByWard Market district, the sweeping cityscape from the rooftop Copper Spirits and Sights cocktail bar at the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market is one of the best views of the city.
Location: 325 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa
Things to Do in Ottawa
- Take a free, guided tour of Parliament Hill, the seat of Canada’s federal government which is housed in striking Gothic revival style historic buildings.
Location: Wellington Street, Ottawa
- Visit Rideau Hall, the residence of Canada’s Governor General, and witness the famous Tent Room and magnificent gardens.
Location: 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Arts & Culture
- Seven of Canada’s nine national museums reside in Ottawa, so you can learn a lot about the nation in its capital:
The National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Drive, Ottawa
Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier Street, Gatineau (technically on the Quebec side, but worth a visit)
Canada Science and Technology Museum, 1867 St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa
Canada Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa
Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, 901 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa
Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod Street, Ottawa
Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Ottawa
- Experience African culture, crafts, music, art and food at Afrofestival Ottawa, an event that celebrates the heritage of African Canadians in Mooney’s Bay Park, September 10-11, 2022.
Location: Mooney’s Bay Park and Beach, 2960 Riverside Drive, Ottawa
- Do the Glebe Art Crawl, a virtually-guided tour of murals, installations, galleries and more in the Glebe neighborhood.
Shopping & Entertainment
- The Ottawa Shopping Guide will help you hunt down the best bargains and treasures in Canada’s capital, from the Rideau Shopping Centre to trendy retail neighbourhoods like Hintonburg and Wellington West.
- Book a combo sightseeing boat cruise and bicycle tour with Ottawa Boat Cruise and Escape Bicycle Tours. For $90.95 plus tax each, you’ll have the opportunity to travel along Ottawa’s famous waterways, the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal and then explore the city by bike.
Location: 1 Elgin Street, Ottawa
Where to Eat & Drink in Ottawa
- From early morning coffee to late night cocktails, the ByWard Market is always bustling with activity. Spanning several city blocks, it’s home to cafés, bakeries, boutiques, restaurants, lively pubs and cocktail bars as well as unique shopping opportunities. Don’t miss the Maple Bacon Beaver Bites and BeaverTails, or pause for a refined tea break at Joy on Sussex, and if you’re looking for an upscale lounge, check out The Albion Rooms.
Location: spans George Street, York Street, ByWard Street and William Street, Ottawa
- Book a table at Wilfrid’s Restaurant for a relaxed weekend brunch overlooking the Rideau Locks and Parliament buildings. The regional menu changes from week to week.
Location: 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa
- Dining at Atelier is a bucket list experience for foodies. The unique 44-course tasting menu and wine pairing lasts approximately four hours and is a wild ride for your taste buds.
Location: 540 Rochester Street, Ottawa
- Another contemporary Canadian dining experience that’s garnered a lot of buzz is Riviera. Located in a former bank, the ambience is on point and their everchanging menu is consistently delicious.
Location: 62 Sparks Street, Ottawa
- Explore Ottawa’s culinary landscape with a local. C’est Bon Cooking and Ottawa Tasting Tours offer a variety of guided sweet and savoury gourmet food and drink tours, while Brew Donkey Tours leads curated ‘adult field trips’ to some of Ottawa’s best craft breweries.
Day 7: Extend Your Trip
Experience more urban adventure on your way home.
Kingston: Enjoy museums, unique historic sites, shopping, dining, live music and great craft beer in what was Canada’s original capital.
Enjoy your visit!
Remember, this is only a sampling of the many hotels and attractions available. Find more road trip itineraries in Ontario, Canada.
Last updated: February 10, 2023