You don’t need a big budget to seize spring with a weekend retreat. These seven locales are easily accessible by car and showcase the best of Ontario, so you and your family can get the most out of your weekend, your budget, and your vehicle.
Enjoy the pre-Stratford Festival downtime by strolling along the Avon River, beholding the buskers, and perusing the shops. Don’t miss the Theatre Store, Family & Company toy store, and The Magic Box, where you can get your tarot cards read if you dare. Stratford has accommodation options from Bed and Breakfasts to hotels, many of which offer family specials.
Take a drive along the Niagara Escarpment to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, where the landscape boasts majestic cliffs and turquoise water. Too cold to hike the Bruce Trail? Check out the old shipwrecks at Flowerpot Island, or hop on the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry, which transports passengers back and forth from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island.
For the most scenic route to Tobermory, take Highway 400 from Toronto to Highway 26 at Barrie, and take a pit stop at one of the charming towns en route.
Collingwood and Blue Mountain
Just 90 minutes north-west of Toronto, Blue Mountain offers a close-by opportunity to catch the last of the snowy season. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, visitors can take advantage of off-hill attractions like snowmobile and ariel helicopter tours and caving excursions.
For some downtime, drive 15 minutes east to Collingwood and explore the shops downtown and take a walk along the harbor.
A trip to Ottawa is an experience as educational as it is exciting. Stop by the Parliament buildings at 10 AM to watch the changing of the guards, then head to the Byward market for a tasting tour of Ottawa’s biggest and oldest public market, or explore over 30 exhibits at the Children’s Museum.
Canada’s capital isn’t without some wilderness. The National Capital Greenbelt in Ottawa has over 150 km of hiking trails that connect to the Trans Canada Trail, Rideau Trail, and Capital Pathway Network.
The atmosphere on Mont Tremblant and the pedestrian village gains even more joie de vivre between March 15 – April 6, when the city launches into spring skiing. The drive from Toronto is well worth the trip for families who seek to make the most of the last of winter.
Known as an “open air playground,” the city of Tremblant is home to the highest peak in the Laurentians, which includes 654 acres of skiable ground – and break-taking views.
A trip to Toronto offers many options for family fun. Set out on a cultural tour of the city by streetcar, including an adventure through the Ripley’s Aquarium, a hike up the 1,815.4 ft. CN tower, and a journey through world cultures at the ROM.
Top off a high-energy weekend with a screening at the TIFF Bell Light box – or check out the interactive, kid-friendly installations at the TIFF kids digiPlaySpace.
The Greater Niagara Circle
Winston Churchill once said the Niagara Parkway is “one of the prettiest Sunday afternoon drives in the world” – but don’t let that limit your experience to just the drive. There’s lots to do along the Greater Niagara Circle aside from gaze at the rolling farmlands and wineries.
Start with a visit to Historic Fort George and experience Fort-life circa the 19th century, witness the Falls and surrounding tourist area, or try your hand at Geocaching along the 140 km trail system.
A memorable weekend getaway starts with making sure your car is in peak condition. Read up on these car maintenance tips before setting out, and enjoy the sights in safety.