With summer well and truly here at last, perhaps you’ve been developing a yearning to explore what Canada has to offer beyond your doorstep. If you’re itching to give weigh to the travel bug, look no further! We’ve come up with some incredible and very unique road trip destinations perfect for Ottawa residents, including ever-popular and iconic favourites as well as hidden gems that simply should not be missed.
Nova Scotia, P.E.I, and Newfoundland
Literally. The whole area. Just pack and go already! From the jaw-dropping spectacle of the Cabot Trail to the otherworldly fantasies of Fogo Island, the Easternmost Canadian provinces collectively form a must-see area fit for every bucket list. Getting there is a breeze – especially if you have more than one person who can drive – as leaving Ottawa to stop in Quebec City and Amqui for a night each is all that separates you from the ultimate nautical adventure (there are other routes too). Regardless of whether you’re a history buff, an artist in need of a new source of inspiration, or someone hungry for the freshest seafood and the ultimate escape from modern life, visiting the Maritimes is something you’ll never forget. Expect many incredible memories and stories to bring home.
Port Hope, Ontario
You may think that, between Ottawa and Toronto, there’s not much of interest. If you look in the right places, however, you’ll soon discover a true hidden gem of a vacation destination. Port Hope is a sprawling old-world town situated just off Highway 401 between Brighton and Bowmanville. You’d be forgiven for not even knowing it existed, as it’s sleepily nestled in a verdant valley that opens to Lake Ontario in the South. Founded by Empire Loyalists many centuries ago, it’s one of Ontario’s oldest towns, complete with a main street lined with original specialty shops that have been lovingly preserved to keep Port Hope’s heritage alive and on full display. Home to some of the finest bed-and-breakfasts and hotels as well as some of the most succulent dining outside of a Michelin Star restaurant, the town is rich with one-of-a-kind experiences. The area has a “cut off from the world in a self-contained, friendly society” feel that makes everything from the flower-lined streets to the abundance of unique attractions so very impossible to not fall in love with. Time feels irrelevant here, with people going about and simply enjoying every day to the fullest. You’ll never be short of things to experience with everything from one of Canada’s oldest and biggest fall fairs to annual watercraft races down the Ganaraska River, incredible salmon fishing, and compelling performances at one of the only remaining atmospheric theatres in the world. With so much more to offer that we couldn’t possibly mention it all here, Port Hope is a charming and deeply nostalgic paradise beyond measure.
If you’re looking for the best wines, beautiful scenery, wonderful people and a unique experience, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a town you should seriously consider dropping your bags in and visiting for a while. Home to many famous wineries and vineyards, it’s situated at the Southern edge of Ontario where many people wouldn’t bother to explore, distracted by the glamour and romance of nearby Niagara Falls. If you happen to stop by, however, you’ll see what everyone else is missing out on – a colonial-style town that is charming and inviting in equal measure. Home to the famous Fort George, the Shaw Festival, and many splendid wineries (we just can’t mention them enough as they’re so excellent), it’s a town bursting with personality. It is home to the oldest surviving golf course in North America, as well as plenty of great shopping and lodging options.
Taking a ferry from Kingsville for a leisurely two-hour cruise brings you to the spectacular vistas and seemingly endless beaches of Pelee Island. The Southernmost populated point of land in Canada, this massive island is the largest in Lake Erie and world-famous as a stopover point for many different species of birds. Pelee Island is also renowned for its fantastic vineyards, bike-friendly layout and the Pelee Island Book House, the latter of which hosts writing retreats by Margaret Atwood, Graeme Simpson, and many other iconic Canadian literary figures every year. The island is a protected sanctuary that allows visitors to develop a deeper understanding of their connection with the elements and nature. Also, the sunsets there are simply never going to be beaten – don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting along the beach in the vivid orange glow, awash in the sound of the waves lapping amidst the cries of the gulls.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the many wonderful places to visit across Canada, from the Rockies and the majesty of the West coast all the way to the wilds of the North and the maritime splendour of the East. This summer, be sure to get out there and have a great new adventure!