With warmer weather on the horizon, you may be looking for something fun and relaxing to do with your family. Given the current restrictions caused by COVID-19, finding family-friendly activities can be difficult. One of the easiest ways to spend time outside of the house is by going on a scenic road trip. Ontario is filled with a variety of beautiful locations accessible by car, so isure has compiled this comprehensive list of the best scenic drives in Ontario that are perfect for family quality time any day.
1. Lake of Bays (Muskoka)
One of the best scenic drives in Ontario can be found approximately two hours north of Toronto in Muskoka. The Lake of Bays scenic drive follows 80 km around the Lake of Bays, passing through the towns of Baysville, Dorset, and Dwight Ontario. This scenic drive is breathtaking year-round but is especially impactful in the winter due to the snow and the frozen Lake of Bays. This scenic drive is situated around the Lake of Bays, which gives a 360-degree view of the entire lake and the surrounding landscapes. Although many of the restaurants and experiences around the lake are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, one classic stop that is still open is the Robinson’s General Store in Dorset, Ontario. Although Robinson’s will be closed on Family Day, it is open Saturday from 8 am-6 pm, and Sunday from 10 am-5 pm. This classic general store includes both a grocery store and a souvenir shop and is a great example of the simple way of life at the Lake of Bays. Masks are required to enter Robinson’s. More information can be found on their official website at Robinsons General Store
2. Algonquin Provincial Park
All year-round, Algonquin Provincial Park provides stunning landscapes and a fantastic escape. This scenic drive in Ontario is a great way to be exposed to nature and to also get some exercise. Although campgrounds and roofed accommodations are currently closed due to COVID-19, there are still plenty of hiking trails available to explore. The hiking trails vary in difficulty and length, so make sure to check out the Ontario Parks official website for more details, along with details about pricing for admission.
3. Ottawa River/Gatineau
There are a variety of scenic drives in Ontario that are outside of the GTA, and Ottawa is a location that should definitely be at the top of your list this Family Day. Gatineau Park is a quick drive from Ottawa’s downtown core, which allows you and your family to experience both an urban and rural scenic drive. Take time to explore the natural landscapes surrounding Ottawa by driving the Champlain Parkway, the Gatineau Parkway, or the Rockcliffe Parkway, just to name a few.
4. Downtown Toronto Skyline
Although this scenic drive in Ontario is not filled with as much natural beauty, taking the time to drive around downtown Toronto is a fantastic way to appreciate the city in a new way. We recommend taking Lake Shore Drive in order to get a full view of famous landmarks such as the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. Taking Lake Shore Drive also provides stunning views of Lake Ontario, and gives you and your family the option to park by the lake and go for a walk as well. If you and your family are interested in exploring beyond the downtown core, consider driving north on Yonge Street. If you continue driving north on Yonge Street for an additional 40 kilometers you will end up in Newmarket, allowing you and your family to experience both the urban and rural beauty of Toronto and areas of the GTA.
5. Niagara Falls/Niagara-on-the-lake
One of Ontario’s most impressive natural landscapes is Niagara Falls and what better time to take a scenic drive to visit it with your family than Family Day? Unfortunately, many of the usual attractions in Niagara are currently closed, but this is still a fantastic opportunity to visit the falls. Please remember to bring masks for you and your family and maintain social distancing when visiting the falls, especially if it is a busy day. If you and your family are interested in continuing your road trip, taking the Niagara Parkway will bring you to Niagara-on-the-lake in approximately 30 minutes. Although many of the attractions, shops, and restaurants will be closed or only available for curbside pickup, take a walk down Queen Street (the main road in Niagara-on-the-lake), and take in the historical architecture.
6. Bruce Trail Conservancy (Hamilton)
If you and your family are feeling adventurous this Family Day, or if you have older kids, hop in the car and take a drive to Hamilton, Ontario and visit the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Known as the “City of Waterfalls”, Hamilton and the Bruce Trail Conservancy has been called the Waterfall Capital of the World and includes more than 100 waterfalls. Due to the winter climate, many of these waterfalls will be frozen, but we would still highly recommend driving out to Hamilton to experience them.
7. Oxford County Cheese Trail
One of the most unique scenic drives in Ontario can be found in Oxford and is centered around 24 different local cheese and dairy vendors. This self-guided tour is a fun and interesting way to learn about the art of cheese-making and is also a great way to support local businesses. In order to ensure availability, we recommend calling Tourism Oxford at (519) 539 9800 Ext. 3359.
We hope that these scenic drives in Ontario will help make this Family Day one to remember!