Ontario is one of the best provinces to explore because it offers something for every adventurer, no matter what day of the week it is. But when Sunday afternoon rolls around and you’re looking to relax before the rush of the week ahead hits you, there’s nothing better than rolling the windows down for a cruise on some of the province’s best scenic routes all found within a two-hour drive from Toronto.
Filled with a mix of natural wonders and charming towns, with the added excitement of world-class wineries and restaurants, the Niagara Region is the perfect place to relax. Anywhere you travel within the region you’ll be greeted by beauty, but the Tourism Partnership of Niagara has made it even simpler for you with these easy-to-follow routes that are sure to take your breath away.
Our only suggestion, slow down, turn the radio up and enjoy the ride!
In 1943, Sir Winston Churchill described it as “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”, so it’s only fitting to start the list with this stretch of natural magnificence. Aligned with the Niagara River as it connects Niagara-on-the-Lake in the North to Fort Erie in the South, while on this drive you’ll find yourself wanting to slow down and take in the views. Interested in making a few pitstops along the way? Then this 55 km route is perfect for you as it is lined with some of the regions most noteworthy attractions. Whether you choose to see Brock’s Monument at Queenston Heights Park, the Niagara Floral Clock, Butterfly Conservatory, Whirlpool Rapids or the Willoughby Historical Museum, this drive is nothing short of exciting. The highlight of this road trip is the stunning up-close views of the renowned Horseshoe Falls, a sight you’ll have to see to believe.
Looking for a lesson in geology? Take a cruise anywhere within the Twenty Valley to St. Catharines region. This route illustrates the beauty of where the Niagara Escarpment carved its place alongside Lake Ontario’s glistening coastline through millions of years of erosion. One of the best ways to get a true sense of this region is through the fruits of its labour. Have your designated driver enjoy the fresh and local fare while you sip the region’s greatest export, wine. Wineries like Fielding Estate Winery and Hidden Bench Winery in Beamsville, Stoney Ridge Estate, or Flat Rock Cellars can all be found along this route. If a more active adventure is what you seek then this is also the route for you! Along the way make a stop at Short Hills Provincial Park, where you’ll be greeted by 735-hectares of the natural environment. This park, located in the centre of the Niagara Peninsula offers hiking, fishing, bird watching, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and mountain biking on authorized trails.
Located in quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake, this drive boasts pretty views and landscapes filled with green grass. While on this drive you may want to make an afternoon stop for brunch as Niagara Stone Road is famous for its long list of wineries located on and around it. Depending on the season you can expect to find acres of lush green grass and beautiful blossoms along this route. Remember to roll down the windows and turn up the tunes while you take in that fresh Niagara air.
Crossing the northern tip of Lake Erie, this route connecting the lakeside city of Port Colborne to the Historic Fort Erie is the perfect drive to fill your afternoon. Looking to cruise with friends, family or a significant other? Pack yourselves a picnic as this route offers explorers plenty of stop-off points to enjoy a shoreside lunch. Travelling west to east, you’ll start your journey in Port Colborne where you’ll find nothing short of fun things to do. History buffs can learn about the local architectural history of the region and surrounding communities on a self-guided walking tour of 33 homes, sites and properties all located in and around the Downtown Business District and Welland Canal. Looking to embark on a modern-day treasure hunt? Head for the antique trail where you’ll find more than 30 outlet stores selling unique collectables and treasures from years past. Once you’re back on the road you’ll arrive in the Fort Erie where you can spend the rest of your Sunday browsing through their weekly Farmers market hosted at the Fort Erie Racetrack, where visitors can shop through vendors selling fresh farm products, signs and paintings, chocolates and cookies, jewellery and more!
If you’re looking for picturesque lakeshore views and breathtaking landscapes, this 22 km route is a must-experience! Heading west to east, start in the beautiful Port Dalhousie Harbour, where you can take full advantage of the 1,500-feet stretch of white sandy beaches at the historic Lakeside Park. Remember to pack a lunch, Lakeside Park is also an excellent site for picnics, with a picnic pavilion, concessions, playground equipment and beach volleyball courts available to all. Here you can also take a ride on an antique carousel carved in 1905. Seemingly frozen in time, the Lakeside Park Carousel still only costs 5 cents a ride. Be sure to also flock to the lighthouse located at the end of the marina pier. Here you can catch a panoramic view of the Toronto skyline, and those heading in and out from ports around the world. Finish off your day with dinner at one of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s many top-quality restaurants lining the towns charming streets. Known as the “Culinary Capital of Canada”, NOTL serves visitors anything from upscale cuisine and fine dining experiences to family-friendly and pub-style favourites.
How does ‘unrivaled intensity of ‘Taste’ Sound? You’ll find it in Niagara’s fruit belt Words by Tracy Wan, a freelance writer from Toronto. Article content was