Staycations are the theme of Summer 2020 and I have gathered 9 of the best weekend trips to take from Toronto this summer – read on!
1. Prince Edward County (PEC). I love PEC, it’s such a beautiful area of Ontario. It’s the perfect summer getaway from the city. Only a 2 hours drive east of Toronto, you feel like you’ve left the city far behind you! PEC is beautiful, full of cute cafes, delicious restaurants, amazing wineries and of course the sandbanks provincial park. If you go to Sandbanks Provincial park there is some fabulous beaches and great sand dunes and you will soon forget you’re still in Ontario. The wineries are fantastic, there are some big commercial wineries, but also so many small boutique wineries, so if you’re going there, a wine tour is a must! I’ve done a wine tour through a tour company where they drive you around to wineries, and last year, on our girls trip, we rented bikes and cycled to some wineries along Closson Road, which was so much fun! There’s plenty of accommodation options too, the first time we went, myself and Phil stayed at Isaiah Tubbs resort, which was really nice and is right on the lake so has fantastic views. I’ve been to PEC about 5 times now, and I’ve done a whole blog post which goes more in depth into how to spend three days there; what to do, what to see and where to eat! Check it out here.
2. Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most people have visited Niagara Falls and will have stayed in one of the hotels or casinos there, but Niagara-on-the-Lake is just the cutest little town. Sure you have to go to see the Falls, but once you’ve spent your time at the Falls and on the wacky Clifton Hill, stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s only a 20 minute drive from The Falls and it’s simply gorgeous. The town is so quaint and absolutely picture perfect. It’s great for an evening summer stroll and you can also take a horse and carriage ride if you’re feeling romantic. We’ve eaten in Corks Restaurant and Winebar, and I love it there. They have a nice patio overlooking the main street and the food is always good. We usually stay in a B&B there which is just gorgeous. It’s called Kia Ora B&B and is run by a really nice English lady who serve you the BEST homemade breakfast in the morning. The rooms are gorgeous, the atmosphere welcoming and it’s right in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, just minutes walk from main street. If you want a hotel rather than a B&B, then I can’t recommend the Old Stone Inn Boutique Hotel. It is absolutely beautiful and is open for business now.It’s located in Niagara Falls, but that’s only a short car ride to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I did a review of the hotel here. I have an in-depth blog post for the Ultimate Girls Weekend in Niagara here which you can check out for ideas on what to do and where to eat! Of course Niagara-on-the-Lake is also home to all of the fabulous wineries so be sure to visit them on your trip!
3. Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are a group of over 1,800 islands on the Lawrence River, straddling the border between Canada and the U.S. We stayed in Gananoque, which is a small town, and from there you can do a boat trip around the islands. If you’ll be doing a boat tour that stops on some of the islands, make sure to bring your passport in case you will be going to any of the islands that are in the U.S. The views of the islands is just stunning from the top of the Thousand Islands Tower. There’s also a random big casino just outside Gananoque, which is pretty strange but fun! There’s plenty of summer activities to do there including hiking, kayaking and boating.
4. Blue Mountain – Collingwood. We have actually only done a day trip here but it’s definitely a great weekend trip from Toronto, in winter or summer. In winter you have skiing and snowboarding and in summer you have hiking and summer sports and activities. There is a fantastic spa there called the Scandinave Spa, and it’s simply wonderful. You can go there in winter or summer. It has lots of outdoor water therapy pools, which are all different temperatures and of course, you can have your massage, facials, body scrubs etc there too. I have to say there is nothing more relaxing that sitting on one of the hot outdoor pools during winter and being surrounded by snow. Collingwood itself also has lots of cute little restaurants and bars as well.
5. Buffalo. Buffalo is only about an hour and a half away from Toronto by car, but it gets a bad rap. You’ll often hear people saying that there isn’t much to do there other than shopping, but the city has undergone a big transformation in recent years and they’ve invested a lot of money into it. We did a weekend there last summer and we were actullay pleasantly surprised. You can read my full itinerary for Buffalo here. When researching our trip there, it appears there is lots to do there, from art museums, great architecture, Old Fort Niagara and some great boutique hotels to stay in if you’re feeling a little fancy. They seem to have some good bars and restaurants and you can do the “Buffalo Wing Trail” while there, which is a drive you can do to stop at 12 wing places – yes please!
Note: The border is currently closed between Canada and the US for non-essential travel so this trip will have to wait.
6. Pelee Island. I haven’t been here yet. It’s on my list to do a staycation there later this summer. Pelee Island is the southernmost populated part of Canada. The island is connected to Canada and the US by ferry service (although people from the US cannot travel there at the moment due to Covid-19). The island itself looks beautiful and one of my favourite wines hails from a winery located there – Lola, which is a sparkling rosé made by Pelee Island Winery. The island is the perfect getaway stay cation for total relaxation and some unplugged time. Once we go ourselves, I will do a blog post about it.
So get exploring, leave the city behind and check out one of these areas during the summer! Enjoy!
7. London, Ontario. We went to London for a night recently, however, unfortunately the weather was abysmal while we were there, so all we really did was eat and drink (nothing wrong with that though!). When the weather is better, Victoria Park is supposed to be a great hang out spot and in normal times, it would be hosting numerous events during the summer. There are also some breweries in London, so if you like beer, then organize a brewery tour while you are there. Labatt has it’s headquarters in London and you can do tours there. There are also some smaller breweries in London like Anderson Craft Ales, Toboggan Brewing Company and Storm Stayed Brewing Company.
About 40km outside London, you have Port Stanley, and that’s a great place to spend some quality time at the beach! There are two large sandy beaches there and the village is home to numerous cute stores. If you’re staying in London, I highly recommend Hotel Metro. It’s a fantastic hidden gem right by Covent Garden Market. Our room was gorgeous and we loved the hotel. You can check out my full review of the hotel here.
8. Georgina. I just spent a long weekend there at Briars Resort. Georgina is just a one hour drive from Toronto and it offers a number of year round activities for those wanting to get out and explore. The town is lakeside living at it’s best and is scattered with sandy beaches. The Briars is opened all year round, and we absolutely loved it. You can read my review review of the resort here. Another accommodation option is Ramada Resort and Spa at Jackson’s Point. This is a lower cost option than The Briars, but still a great option if you want gorgeous lake views.
9. Thousand Islands/ Gananoque
This is a must do trip as the scenery is absolutely beautiful and not to be missed. Gananoque is about a 2 and a half hour drive outside Toronto. The two itself is quite small, with a population of about 5,000 people. Visit Confederation Park for some walking, and then if you walked up a thirst, you can visit Gan Brewing Company. While you’re in Gananoque, you have to visit Thousand Islands. The Thousand Islands are a group of over 1800 islands in the St. Lawrence River, straddling the border of the US and Canada. There are many boat tours you can do which will give you fabulous views. If you’re taking a boat tour that allows you off the boat and onto some of the islands, make sure to have your passport with you, as some of the islands are in US territory. The most famous island is Boldt Island, or Heart Island. There is a stunning castle on the island and the love story behind it is beautiful, yet tragic. There is also a viewing tower, and you can take an elevator to the top. I highly recommend this for the stunning views you will get up there. Looking out over all the islands dotted around the river was pretty spectacular. Randomly, there is a Casino there too, so if you’re feeling lucky, you can head there!
Note: There is still a global pandemic ongoing, please exercise caution when you travel and make sure you do it safely.