Road Trips from Buffalo: Northern Wonders or Art & Cultural Getaways

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.

A woman standing by a man taking a photo of Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

Ottawa | Ottawa Tourism

Documentation Needed

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.

Badlands. Slopes of red clay
Cheltenham Badlands | Ontario Heritage Trust

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 Options

  • 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

 

Things to Do in Headwaters

Outdoor Adventure


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

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.

Route

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

 

Things to Do in Blue Mountains

Outdoor Adventure

Arts & Entertainment

Spa & Wellness

 

Where to Eat & Drink in Blue Mountains

 

 

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.
 

An aerial view of Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay | Destination Ontario

Route

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.


Detour

Lion’s Head, located almost exactly between Owen Sound and Tobermory just east of Highway 6 on Bruce Road 9.

Where to Stay in Tobermory


Things to Do in Tobermory

Outdoor Adventure


Where to Eat & Drink in 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.

Parliament Hill buildings glowing during a sunset.
Downtown Ottawa | Ottawa Tourism

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 Options

  • 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 

 

Things to Do in Toronto

Art & Culture

Sightseeing & Shopping

 

Where to Eat & Drink in 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.

Route

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 

 

Things to Do in Ottawa

Capital Attractions

Arts & Culture


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: September 29, 2022

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