23 Day Trips from Toronto: Best Places to Visit in Southern Ontario

best road trips from toronto

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is bustling and full of activities to keep you busy. As a born and bred Torontonian, it can get hectic as much as we love our place as the official/unofficial centre of Canada’s universe. We sometimes must escape from high tourism and construction (our unofficial 5th season).

Located in Southern Ontario, it’s perfectly situated to explore the region, with plenty of fantastic weekend getaways and day trips from Toronto. Admittedly, most of our itineraries use Toronto as the starting point, hence the CN Tower in our logo.

When you feel like you need a break from city life to breathe fresh air, get your body moving or explore nearby history and culture, you can visit incredible places around Toronto. Within a couple of hours, you can paddle across spectacular lakes and rivers, get ‘lost’ among wildlife on hiking trails, eat sweets at quaint cafes or sip vino at the top wineries in the province. 

If you haven’t got a weekend to camp in Huntsville or discover Kingston, We’ve compiled a list of the best road trips from Toronto for a weekend getaway so that you can explore Ontario one weekend at a time. 

Renting a car is an option if you don’t have a car or have friends with cars. With so many car rental options in Toronto, finding one that fits your needs shouldn’t be hard.

Last Updated: June 27, 2023

The Best Day Trips From Toronto

Before we get started, you should know that a day trip at Road Trip Ontario is considered a journey requiring no more than two hours from Toronto. With a maximum of four hours of total driving, visitors should be able to make the most of their destination – whether a big city or a small town. Bigger cities can double as a weekend getaway.

We should also note that travel time varies based on location, and if you are leaving from Toronto, we can guarantee that most of your time will be spent in traffic trying to escape the city. However, once you hit the open road, you’ll be happy.

1. Niagara Falls 

Distance from Toronto: 128km
Time: 1hr 45min

A list of day trips in Ontario would not be complete without the world-renowned, bucket-list destination of Niagara Falls. Yes, it is a tourist hotspot, but it’s a must-see destination if you’ve never witnessed the mighty falls. 

You can choose from many incredible ways to experience the magical falls. Perhaps take a boat tour to see the falls from the water or explore the tunnels behind the falls, listening to the roar behind the water curtain. For a birds-eye view over the extraordinary area, take a trip up the Skylon Tower. 

It’s truly an awe-inspiring moment to witness the force of the tumbling waters and a lot of fun for children and adults alike. Love it or hate it, it’s one of the world’s top natural attractions, and it’s an easy day trip from Toronto.

Are you looking for a winter getaway? You can plan a day trip to Niagara Falls from Toronto any time of year. There is something truly magical about seeing the falls surrounded by ice and snow. Plus, you can check out the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights or the Niagara Ice Wine Festival.

view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls | day trips in southern ontario - niagara

2. Niagara-on-the-lake

Distance from Toronto: 129km
Time: 1hr 22min

This quaint, picturesque little tourist town is usually visited in conjunction with Niagara Falls or as an individual trip to discover the 30 different wineries. You can join a tour of the best wineries, or pick some individual farms that appeal to you. 

The town has cute tourist features such as horse-drawn carriages and souvenir shops. But it’s beautiful and charming in its own right, and the wine is worth the journey alone.


3. Brantford 

Distance from Toronto: 103km
Time: 1hr 4mins

As the birthplace of the phone, and hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky, Brantford is a city full of history and adventure. Tour Alexander Graham Bell’s home or explore the Canadian Military Heritage Museum.

An Artisans’ village offers a unique shopping experience, and the vibrant farmers’ market provides fresh local produce. Nature enthusiasts can head to Brant Conservation Area for some outdoor fun.

Brantford is the perfect destination for all, from historical sites to open-air activities.

small white church surrounded by a cemetery | brantford canada points of interest

4. Paris

Distance from Toronto: 111km 
Time: 1hr 20mins

No, don’t jump on a plane to France. Instead, visit the holder of the accolade ‘Ontario’s prettiest town’ down the road from Toronto. Situated on the Grand River, this is an excellent day trip in Southern Ontario for alternative markets and for foodies to feast on world-class menu options in this small food capital. 

You can raft down the majestic river, visit the historic Penman’s Dam or search for epic viewpoints along the 100km of hiking trails in the area. Don’t miss out on the cheese shops, bakeries and open-air cafes while you’re there.

railway bridge over a dam in the fall | day trips from toronto
Photo by Haiming Xiao

5. Royal Botanical Gardens

Distance from Toronto: 64km
Time: 45min 

A super quick drive from Toronto, near Hamilton, is a stunning oasis and the most extensive botanical garden in Canada, covering 2,400 acres. The gardens are a fantastic and scenic destination for a day trip in Southern Ontario. 

There are over 2,400 plant species in the gardens and 27km of nature trails for you to explore. You can check out the historical outdoor plant collections, the indoor Mediterranean Garden and the at-risk species. The Royal Botanical Gardens also hosts plenty of events, workshops and courses.

long pond surrounded by brick | things to do in burlington ontario

6. Burlington

Distance from Toronto: 64km
Time: 45min 

The Royal Botanical Gardens is located in Burlington, an awesome city in its own right, between Toronto and Niagara Falls in Halton Region.

The culturally lively metropolitan, located on the northern beaches of Lake Ontario, is an easy day excursion from bustling Toronto. The Canadian city has abundant family-friendly activities, quaint alleyways, trendy boutiques, and gastronomic delights. 

So finding Fun Things to Do in Burlington Ontario (A Day Trip from Toronto) should be no problem.

stores on a burlington street | burlington things to do

7. Oakville

Distance from Toronto: 38km
Time: 30min 

Oakville, located in Halton Region and Burlington’s neighbour, is only a 30-minute drive from the city of Toronto. Even though it has been acknowledged as one of the best places to live in Canada, the small town of Oakville is often overlooked as a top tourist destination. But it is well worth exploring, offering a variety of activities such as exploring its vibrant arts scene, shopping, dining, entertainment, festivals, and taking in its beautiful landscapes.

The town has a feeling of a small-town charm that makes it easy to wander around for hours while discovering something new. Furthermore, it has a special connection to African Americans who escaped slavery during the Civil War and chose Oakville as their home.

city street during winter | oakville points of interest

8. Milton

Distance from Toronto: 55km
Time: 40min 

Also located in Halton Region, and, unfortunately not, the first place that comes to mind as a day trip from Toronto is Milton. There are various things for people to enjoy, from beautiful nature hikes to skiing at the local slopes. You can also make a day out of a picnic or attend any festivals and museums Milton offers throughout the year.

butterfly sculpture in a forest | Things To Do In Milton, Ontario

9. Andrews Scenic Acres

Distance from Toronto: 59km
Time: 42min 

If you haven’t had the chance to visit Andrews Scenic Acres Farm in Milton, now is a perfect time!

Established by the Andrews family in 1980, this farm was originally only meant to be a berry-picking destination, but today, it’s much more. On-site, you’ll find a tasting room, retail shop, vineyard, gardens, apple orchard and cidery.

In addition to the scenic views, it’s a great spot for visitors of all ages to learn about and pick your fruits and vegetables, climb hay stacks, go for tractor rides, hide in cornfield mazes and grab awesome Instagram pics in sunflower fields.

sunflowers | andrews scenic farm

10. Rattlesnake Point

Distance from Toronto: 64km

This is a fantastic place to go near Toronto on a spontaneous day trip. For those weekend mornings, you wake up with no plan and a craving for adventure. It’s only a 45-minute drive from the city to the conservation area, offering awesome rock climbing spots (suitable for beginners, too) and 13 hiking trails. 

You’ll find five lookout points dotted around the conservation area with such phenomenal views over the Niagara Escarpment that you’ll find it hard to believe that you’re so close to the city. The region is teeming with diverse plant and animal life and vast green meadows that make for a perfect picnic spot. 

forest area in late fall | places to visit near me

11. Waterloo

Distance from Toronto: 113km
Time: 1hr 10min 

Waterloo, in Waterloo Region, primarily a University town, is often lumped in with the neighbouring city of Kitchener, earning the duo the nickname of the Twin Cities. Catering to those interested in everything from the past and nature to museums to attending theatrical performances, there are tons of exciting and dynamic things to do in Waterloo.

red covered bridge

12. Kitchener

Distance from Toronto: 108km
Time: 1hr 15min 

Kitchener is a great destination for a day trip from Toronto, just 75 minutes away. With its unique blend of activities, small-town charm, and proximity to Waterloo, Kitchener provides the perfect mix of fun and relaxation for the whole family. From exploring the great outdoors and visiting galleries and museums to the stellar dining experiences and brewery options. Kitchener has something for everyone.

historic white home with multicoloured fence | downtown kitchener

13. St. Jacob’s

Distance from Toronto: 121km
Time: 1hr 20min 

Located in the township of Woolwich, In Waterloo Region, just outside the City of Waterloo, St. Jacobs Village is small but packed with things to see and do. It’s a quaint little village that offers a unique old-world charm centred around its incredible Mennonite history and products, which can be found at the incredible St.Jacob’s Farmers’ Market –– a destination in its own right! (Be sure to check their hours of operation before heading out)

If you’re looking for an excursion with a little bit of history, St. Jacobs Village is the perfect destination!

red rustic building surrounded by people | st jacobs county

14. Cambridge

Distance from Toronto: 97km
Time: 1hr 13min 

Also located in Waterloo Region, Cambridge is yet another perfect day trip from Toronto, which offers a variety of historical attractions, outdoor activities, and gorgeous natural spots.

Cambridge is part of the Municipality of Waterloo, divided into the three neighbourhoods of Galt, Hespeler, and Preston. It is situated at the meeting point of the Speed and Grand rivers, which catalyzed the development of the local milling, manufacturing, and brewing markets.

The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is a must-visit spot in Cambridge!

black and yellow butterfly on a purple flower | what to do in cambridge ontario

15. Woodstock

Distance from Toronto: 142km
Time: 1hr 33min 

In the county of Oxford is the city of Woodstock! Here, you can experience a unique culture that pays tribute to its history as the Dairy Capital of the province, marked by events such as the Dairy Capital Stampede, Cowapolooza and Cheese Fest.

We recommend visiting the One-of-a-kind-Antique Mall for three floors of antique hunting, getting cheese from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, picking your fruits and veggies from Thames River Melons, and exploring the Woodstock Museum National Historic site and Upper Thames Brewing Company.

container of cheese curds on a wooden table with a cow sculpture behind it | things to do in woodstock ontario

16. Stratford

Distance from Toronto: 149km
Time: 1hr 49min 

Every time we visit a new city or town in Ontario, we become more and more enamoured with it. One such destination is the beautiful and vibrant city of Stratford.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or a nature lover, there is something for everyone in Stratford. The streets are filled with quaint shops and markets, and three surround Stratford City Hall like a triangle. Art festivals, galleries, and museums abound here, allowing you to immerse yourself in the culture and creativity of the city.

Nature lovers will be just as happy with all the outdoor exploration opportunities near the Avon River.

17. Elora

Distance from Toronto: 115km
Time: 1hr 28mins

Escape from the big city to the quaint village of Elora, in Wellington County, for one of the best Toronto day trips. Sitting on the Grand River banks, it will feel like you’ve landed in rural Italy rather than Southern Ontario. 

It makes for a fantastic one-day trip from Toronto for foodies, shopaholics, thrill-seekers, nature lovers…pretty much everyone! In the summer, you can dive into the Elora Quarry swimming hole, tube down the gorgeous river and enjoy various other extreme activities. Get some fresh air in the winter on the hiking trails or the zip-line.

For those wanting to take it easy, you’ll love all the charming local shops and art galleries. And for foodies, you can spend the entire day eating your way through fine dining restaurants and quirky cafes.

crowded downtown street in a small Ontario town | ontario day trips

18. Fergus

Distance from Toronto: 107km
Time: 1hr 23mins

Also in Wellington County and next door to Elora is Fergus, a scenic heritage community home to beautiful parks and tons of greenery. The scenic town is brimming with fun and leisurely things to do.

Stone buildings, quaint eateries, pretty boutiques, and unique galleries make up the residential community of Fergus. Many people visit the town to attend the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games in August every year. 

stone pathway surrounded by raised stone gardens | downtown fergus

19. Barrie

Distance from Toronto: 98km
Time: 1hr 18mins

Situated on the shores of Lake Simcoe, Barrie is a city that sits on the snow belt, making it a great stop after a day of skiing and snowboarding, with all the popular ski resorts in the area; Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Valley, Hockey Valley Resort, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone.

With many shops and boutiques, one can explore the local cuisine through the various cafes and restaurants. After hitting the slopes, Barrie is the perfect destination for lunch, dinner and shopping.

rainbow cross walk with city buildings in the distance | things to do in barrie

20. Blue Mountain Village 

Distance from Toronto: 159km 
Time: 2hr 13mins

Regardless of the season, Blue Mountain Resort makes an incredible day trip from Toronto packed with exciting adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a popular skiing and winter destination, and people flock to the stunning area to enjoy various winter activities, from skiing to skating and even dog sledding!

The warmer months are just as exciting when the mountainsides turn golden in the fall, bursting with wildflowers in the spring and basking in the sunshine in summer. You can explore the many beautiful hiking trails or jump on a mountain bike for some off-road adventure. 

After an exciting day in the mountains, explore the pedestrian-only village that’s packed with boutiques and eateries.

bird's eye view of a small town with lots of trees and a lake in the distance | day trips from toronto

21. Collingwood

Distance from Toronto: 171km 
Time: 2hr 7mins

If you want to make the most of your ski trip to Blue Mountain, consider taking a little detour to Collingwood. This charming city is full of unique indoor and outdoor activities that will make your /day trip/weekend getaway extra special.

From taking a scenic hike to exploring a museum, there is something for everyone. Foodies will also enjoy the restaurants featuring delicious cuisine, while culture fans will find plenty of art galleries, festivals and other events to attend.

large red brick building with a clock tower | things to do in collingwood

22. Wasaga Beach 

Distance from Toronto: 148km 
Time: 1hr 52mins

It doesn’t get much better than this for an epic beach day trip in Ontario. It may not be the seaside, but it is the longest freshwater beach in the world, with 14 km of beach on Ontario’s Georgian Bay. In only two hours, you’ll find yourself relaxing on the shores feeling like you’ve escaped to a tropical island. 

In summer, the waterfront is a hive of activities, with plenty of stores, restaurants and bars to feast and shop to your heart’s content after a day in the water. 

When the weather gets chillier, Wasaga Beach is still an epic day trip. You can go for scenic walks, hit the cross-country ski trails in the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, and dip in the icy waters if you’re brave enough!

picture of a beach area with trees | day trip from toronto
Image by Gerald Friedrich

23. Port Perry

Distance from Toronto: 82km
Time: 1hr 11mins

This is one of the best day trips from Toronto because you can be ice fishing and knocking back beers in less than an hour. Part of the ‘cottage country’ region and boasting Lake Scugog’s fantastic ice fishing spot, if you’re not sitting in a hut in the middle of the frozen lake, there are plenty of other things to do in Port Perry. 

Downtown is heart-achingly pretty, with a treasure trove of artisanal shops, quaint bakeries and lively eateries. Stroll along the walking trail in Palmer Park and have a picnic with all the goodies you found in town. Rummage for antiques and collectables at Caviar and Cobwebs or sample local brews at the Old Flame Brewery. 

Be sure to bring an appetite for all the tasty treats and a fishing license to try ice fishing.

ice fishing hut on the lake surrounded by ice and snow | day trips from toronto

Which of These Best Toronto Day Trips Are You Excited For?

There’s something for everyone to enjoy on these day trips from Toronto. If you want to get your blood pumping, you have many adventure activities on your doorstep. If you need a ‘beach’ break, you’ll find sandy shores and crystal clear waters a short drive away. 

And if you want to explore the region, all you need to do is choose one of these incredible places to visit outside of Toronto. 

Which one of these Ontario day trip ideas will be your next excursion?

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