While there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Toronto, Ontario is packed full of scenic spots—many located just a short drive from the city. Niagara Falls is a popular choice (and well worth a visit) but it’s just one of many great attractions on offer across the province.

Whether you’re looking for a half-day trip or a weekend getaway, we suggest you load up your rental car with a picnic and your outdoor essentials and start exploring.

Short drive: St. Catharines (1 hour, 15 minutes from Toronto)

St Catherines

Commonly known as ‘The Garden City’ due to its abundance of greenery, St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region. Its short distance from Toronto makes it a great place to stop on your car hire holiday.

Despite being overlooked by travellers on their way to Niagara Falls, St. Catharines is well worth a visit for The Bruce Trail alone. Canada’s longest trail—and a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who can walk, jog or cycle its length. Other popular spots in the area include Port Dalhousie, home to St. Catharines’ most popular beach, and a variety of wineries, like the Henry of Pelham.

Short drive: Kawartha Lakes (1 hour, 45 minutes from Toronto)

Kawartha Lake

A great place to visit if you’re looking to explore a typical historic Ontario town, why not take a short road trip to Kawartha Lakes? Among the most unique spots to visit are the Horseless Carriage Museum, Kawartha Settlers Village, and the Academy Theatre.

It’s also home to the Balsam Lake Provincial Park, which offers a selection of outdoor activities like fishing, boating and skiing if you visit during the winter months. There are plenty of places to camp if you fancy extending hiring a car for a few days.

Medium drive: Blue Mountain (2 hours from Toronto)

Blue Mountain

Located on the shores of the Georgian Bay, Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest mountain village resort, spanning across the incredible Niagara Escarpment. It’s a popular ski destination in the winter months—the third busiest in Canada—attracting skiers and snowboarders with its impressive 43 trails.

During summer, visitors can take advantage of its ample attractions, from kayaking and caving to hiking and jet skiing. There’s something here for all the family to enjoy.

Medium drive: Muskoka/Lake Rosseau (2 hours from Toronto)

Muskoka

This picturesque region is a 200km drive north of Toronto. Once you see the world’s largest Muskoka chair, you’ll know you’ve arrived in ‘cottage country’—a place of relaxation beyond the urban jungle.

Muskoka is best-loved for its lakes (including Lake Rosseau), beaches, and rolling green countryside, making it a great choice for a short escape from the city. When you’re not enjoying the beautiful outdoors, quirky shops, museums, and great restaurants await you.

Long drive: Algonquin Park (3 hours from Toronto)

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Park, the oldest provincial park in Canada, spans across 7,700 square kilometres of Ontario. Park up your rental car and access the park’s many remote locations, only accessible by canoe or kayak.

Its tranquillity makes it a favoured spot among visitors, who often journey here for a weekend of camping. There are also trails for camping, lakes for fishing, and plenty of opportunities for moose viewing (you’re most likely to see some along Highway 60 as you enter the park!)

Long drive: Bruce Peninsula National Park (3 hours, 45 minutes hours from Toronto)

Bruce Peninsula

Between Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay lies the Bruce Peninsula National Park, an outdoor paradise home to everything, from ancient cedar trees and rare reptiles to some of Canada’s most magnificent black bears.

It’s also part of the Niagara Escarpment, featuring a range of diverse scenery like rugged limestone cliffs and the beautiful blue Lake Huron.

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