Canada is a beautiful country, with many natural wonders to see, and friendly people to meet along the way! It is also the fusion of English and French speakers, with both enjoying the status of a national language. To truly get a taste of Canada, you’ll want to experience both cultures, and what better way to do that then with a road trip from Dorval to Toronto? Dorval is just outside the bustling and cosmopolitan city of Montreal, and it is an ideal place to start on a eastern Canadian road trip.
Although there’s a lot to do in Canada’s largest and second largest cities, there’s also a lot to see in between. We’ve made a list of some of the fun and exciting spots you should consider seeing the next time you’re up for a Canadian road trip, so let’s get started!
4101 Rue Sherbrooke E. | Montreal, QC | espacepourlavie.ca
Montreal enjoys a reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can spend more than a few days here just exploring the many different parks, monuments, restaurants, and shopping districts. Consider making a stop off at the botanical gardens before you leave this European-style city, and you won’t be disappointed.
Here you can explore over 22,000 plants and 10 greenhouses, not to mention the exquisitely landscaped grounds full of statues, trees, and ponds. The garden transforms itself each winter into a space for cross country skiing, so if you happen to make this trip in the winter, consider skiing through the gardens in a once in a lifetime opportunity! Visitors flock to this garden all year long, and love that you can also check out their Insectarium and Biodome while you visit as well.
3800 Chemin Queen Mary | Montreal, QC | saint-joseph.org
Another iconic place to visit while you’re in Montreal is the St. Joseph’s Oratory that was built on top of the hill to look out on all of Montreal. This church was the dream of a Holy Cross brother who finally saw ground broken for the basilica in 1904. Since then it has grown into a thriving parish, as well as a must-visit spot for those touring Montreal. The church’s architecture, sculptures, and other religious art is beautiful to admire, and admission is always free here. Former visitors love how peaceful the building and surrounding gardens are, and they highly recommend taking one of the paths that meander throughout the trees.
There are eight floors to visit while you’re here including a museum as well. If you can time it right, try to be on the mountain for a sunset with the view of the city below. It is a fantastic view and would make for an amazing picture!
13740 County Rd. 2 | South Dundas, ON | uppercanadavillage.com
As you start your trip outside of Quebec, the next place on your road trip should be the Upper Canada Village, which is a fantastic living history park. Here you can try your hand at milking cows, visit a flour mill, or even stop in for some delicious bites at their onsite restaurant. This park has plenty of historical buildings for you to explore, including a working bakery, a tinsmith shop, a cheese factory, and even a dressmaker! There are actors in period clothing located throughout the area who can help interpret what life was like in the early days of Ontario.
If you choose, you can even stay at the park overnight as well. Make sure to take a quick trip on the town train as well, which is a favorite among visitors. The village is also close to the Battle of Crysler Farm memorial. Here you can learn about this bloody battle that halted the invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.
380 Sussex Dr. | Ottawa, ON | gallery.ca
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, and not only is it home to one of the country’s most prestigious universities-- the University of Ottawa-- but it also has many worthwhile museums to explore. While you’re visiting Ottawa, you can also view the Rideau Canal system, which has been in continuous operation since the 1830s. Some of the locks are still hand operated, and it is quite a sight to see if you’re lucky enough. Another Ottawa must-visit is the National Gallery, which houses artwork from across the centuries. The building itself lends to the experience as well, as the lighting from the windows was specifically designed to enhance visitor’s experience and enjoyment of the art.
There are always traveling exhibits and something new to see at the museum, so you never know what gems you’ll just happen upon on your visit. Once you’re done exploring the exhibits, make sure to stop at nearby Parliament Hill for a bite to eat or to check out the high street shops.
280 Main St. | Gananoque, ON | ganboatline.com
If you’re looking for a completely new experience on your road trip, you’ll definitely want to stop in Gananoque and take a boat tour of the beautiful 1,000 islands area. You can choose from different lengths of tours, as well as where you’d like to visit. One of the most popular tours is the Boldt Castle tour, which takes you inside the historic home of Waldorf Astoria magnate, George C. Boldt. He wanted to design a Rhineland castle for his wife, however tragedy struck and she died suddenly in 1904. Mr. Boldt never returned and the castle was never completed.
Visitors can explore the castle as it is being restored, as well as walk the grounds of beautiful Heart Island. Other tours consist of visiting landmarks such as the International Bridge and the statue of St. Lawrence. Not only will you learn something new about this part of Canada, but you’ll also be treated to some amazing scenery as well!
1 Fort Henry Dr. | Kingston, ON | forthenry.com
The next stop on your journey to Toronto should be in historic Kingston, which at one time was the capital of Canada. Fort Henry was once a British fort that protected Point Frederick and the town of Kingston. During the 1930s, the fort was completed renovated and restored as a living history museum where visitors can explore 19th century military life, as well as watch the prestigious Fort Henry Guard perform.
As well as learning about the history of the fort at the museum, you can also learn to fire a rifle, watch the exciting garrison parade, see how children attended school in the Victorian era, or just relax and take in the views at the Battery Bistro. Don’t forget to stop off at the gift store as well for interesting souvenirs!
328 Presqu’ile Parkway | Brighton, ON | ontarioparks.com/park/presquile
After a long car ride, sometimes there’s nothing better than getting out of the car for a while to stretch your legs. What better place to do that than at this picturesque park? There are over 16 km of trails to explore through woodlands and shores with stunning views of Lake Ontario. Visitors like how the sand is soft, and perfect for walking or just hanging out for the day. If you’re into bird watching, this is the place to be in the spring and fall when migratory birds stop for rest, and to nest as well. You can also tour the marsh boardwalk, which offers access to 1 km of protected marshland along the shores of the lake.
If you visit in the spring or summer, you can also explore Ontario’s second oldest lighthouse, which is still in operation. The views from the lighthouse are just fantastic, so be sure to bring your camera. If you want to stop for a bite to eat nearby, consider dropping into the Whistling Duck for a wonderful meal right on the water.
2762 County Road 28 | Port Hope, ON | primitivedesignscanada.com
If you’re looking for something completely different, you’ll want to make a stop at Primitive Designs, which is just outside of Toronto. This store is known for importing all kinds of crafts and designs from countries around the world, including Nepal, Java, and Sumatra. Feel free to browse the wares, which can range from giant pop culture robots, to handcrafted wooden tables and chairs. They also have their larger sculptures and statues outside, and you can feel free to take pictures with them.
This is a fun store and patrons appreciate that the staff is helpful and friendly, and there are no restrictions on photos. Even if you don’t have room for the big items at this store, you can always pick up something small to remember your time here!
301 Front St. W | Toronto, ON | cntower.ca
Now that you’re in Toronto, you’re going to want to see a whole lot of things! The CN Tower should be on your list, if just to say you went to the top! The tower itself is 1,815 ft high and the view from the top is worth the entrance fee. One you get in, you can hang out in the lounge area and sip on a coffee or tea and just take in the views. There is also a restaurant at the top, and with the purchase of a prix fixe menu option, also gives you access to the Look Out Level with panoramic views of the city, as well as the Glass Floor Level, with a view 1,122 ft. straight down to the city below! If you are feeling particularly brave, the CN Tower also offers an Edgewalk, where you can go completely hands-free walk on the outside of the building. But if you don’t feel like spending the extra money, you can get fantastic views from the observation deck.
Although you most likely will run into other tourists while you’re at the CN Tower, it’s still a must-see experience that’s sure to be a fun time. Visitors also suggest checking the tower out during the day when the best views of the city-- including Niagara Falls-- are available.
1 Austin Terrace | Toronto, ON | casaloma.ca
This one of a kind castle in downtown Toronto was built by Sir Henry Pellatt in 1914. He had acquired a taste for fine art and architecture during his travels to Europe, and this mansion was the culmination of his dream of having a house on a hill. Today the castle is a popular place for tourists to visit, as well as for private events, and movie and television shoots. The castle is also surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, which are available to walk and admire.
If you’re feeling like a splurge, consider stopping in for a meal at the Blueblood Steakhouse, which displays the personal collection of artwork acquired by Sir Pellatt, as well as his vintage car collection.
The trip from Duval to Toronto has many amazing places to visit along the way, where you can really experience Canadian history as well as take in some amazing views. Where are your favorite places to visit along the road from Quebec to Ontario? Let us know in the comments!