PLACES TO VISIT ON AN EASTERN CANADA ROAD TRIP
Have you ever thought about road tripping East Canada? Then this post is for you – find out about the best places to visit doing an Eastern Canada road trip.
Driving in Canada is easy. Also, driving on your own gives you much more freedom than public transport, and you get to not only visit lovely destinations on your own schedule, but you can also see all the areas along the way. Of course, within each area, there are places you have to visit, so I include these here too, so you know what to be sure not to miss along the way!
Besides discussing the best places to see in east Canada, you can find some important travel information for a road trip.
Cassandra wrote this post
Travel Tips For a Road Trip in East Canada
Before talking about your East Canada road trip itinerary, here is some important information.
Safety as a Female
As always, when traveling out of your home country, be aware of your surroundings, don’t wander alone at night, and don’t leave your valuables out in plain sight.
Canada is quite safe and very friendly. Simply exercising common sense will keep you out of trouble.
How to Get Around East Canada
This is all about the road trip!
- So, your car will be your main transportation between points.
- You will most likely park the car and explore via foot, taxi, or bus within each area. This combination will give you one of the best trips in Canada.
- In Niagara Falls, the WEGO bus system is the easiest way to get around amongst the attractions.
- In most of the other cities getting around on foot is the easiest way if you stay central. Otherwise, taxis are quite easy to come by.
Things to Pack for Eastern Canada
This depends on the time of year you are traveling, but Canada doesn’t get very hot in general. In the summer, temperatures tend to average in the 70s and can be brisk at night. In the winter, driving in Canada can be challenging so, this is the perfect summer road trip.
- Packing a mixture of clothing that you layer and a sweater or light jacket for the evenings may be best. I get cold easily and found myself chilly after dark.
- You’ll also want earplugs to block out city noise, especially if you are not used to it.
- Tap water is safe to drink, so I like to bring a reusable water bottle to fill in water fountains.
- Here are tips on how to plan the perfect road trip.
Where to Stay in East Canada
Hotels in Canadian cities tend to be pricey for a good location and decent rooms. There is a hotel tip for each of the places during your East Canada road trip.
Best Time to Visit Eastern Canada For A Road Trip
Summer is definitely the best time to road trip Eastern Canada!
The winters can be quite harsh, so to enjoy the best of Canada (unless you are planning on heading north-west to the Yukon for a sighting of the Northern lights), you may want to avoid this time of year.
Also, snowstorms can make driving on the road trip quite treacherous. On another note, if you plan to visit just one of these spots during the winter and do not do much driving (or perhaps you are accustomed to snowy winters from your hometown), it can be quite lovely to see some Christmas markets and the Niagara Falls frozen.
However, late spring, summer, or early fall would be perfect for an Eastern Canada road trip.
- Canada can be a costly destination for many, especially within the cities and tourist hotspots.
- Budgeting your meals is necessary, and keeping snacks on you and a refillable water bottle helps save some money.
- I found the restaurants particularly overpriced in Niagara Falls, so come prepared.
- Bargaining is usually not an option here, so be prepared to pay the ticket price and spend wisely!
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Best Places to Visit on an East Canada Road Trip
How to get to Canada in the first place?
- START YOUR EAST CANADA ROAD TRIP FROM THE USA: If you plan to visit Canada from the US’s eastern side, you would drive north first and start with Niagara Falls, followed by Toronto and Kingston, and finish with Montreal.
- FLY INTO CANADA: If you are flying in from another country and getting a rental car in Canada, I suggest starting with Toronto, then following it with Kingston, Montreal, and then Niagara Falls so you can fly out from Toronto as well (which is only about 1 ½ hour from Niagara Falls).
Okay, here are the best places to see when road-tripping East Canada.
Niagara Falls – About 2 Days
An east Canada road trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world-famous Niagara Falls!
Niagara Falls are three waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge – spanning the border between the province of Ontario in Canada and the state of New York in the United States. So, you could see the falls from the US, but the best views are from the Canadian site.
The tallest waterfall is the Horseshoe Falls – 188 feet (57 meters) tall and 170 feet (52 meters) deep.
About 28 million liters of water travel down Niagara Falls every second! This makes it the world’s fastest-moving waterfall.
The Horn-Blower Cruise is a huge tourist attraction and for good reasons, it is a must-see at Niagara Falls. Once onboard, it is a lot of fun and you will get quite close to the actual waterfalls.
Seeing the falls up close is an amazing experience. You get to hear, see and feel the power behind them.
You will get wet, though! Be sure to wear non-slip sandals, and I recommend rolling up your pants or wearing shorts, so the bottom half of your legs (that stick out beyond the plastic poncho that you will get for free on board) don’t get soaked!
The best bet is to go in the early morning or late afternoon. Mid-day it is unbelievably crowded with long lines as it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada.
White Water Walk
The White Water Walk is a much more laid-back (and less crowded) stop where you have a different view of Niagara Falls. Take the elevator to get down 70 meters to reach the base of the Niagara Gorge. There is the impressive quarter-mile of boardwalk that runs along the shoreline of the Niagara River.
On this old-fashioned boardwalk weaving along the river’s edge allows you to walk right alongside the white-water rapids. There are several viewing platforms that allow you to get even closer to the breathtaking Whirlpool Rapids flowing by. These platforms provide some of the best photo opportunities in the entire park!
- ADMISSION FEE FOR ADULTS: 17 CAD + applicable tax (13% HST)
Whirlpool Aero Car
The Whirlpool Aero Car is a fun ride that transports passengers over a section of the Niagara River referred to as the Niagara Whirlpool.
It is one of Canada’s exciting places, and you get some amazing views of the area from above.
Personally, I am afraid of heights, so I had a little bit of panic getting started, but it was completely worth it! Also, it was another attraction that tends to have shorter lines worth considering when planning what to see in Eastern Canada.
The cable car will actually take you across the international border between Canada and the United States a total of four times due to the way the river elbows. No worries: There is no need to present your passport for this “border crossing”.
- ADMISSION FEE FOR ADULTS: 17 CAD + applicable tax (13% HST)
Queen Victoria Park
Queen Victoria Park is the main parkland located in Niagara Falls – the park is gorgeous and a nice spot to relax in after trekking about all day!
Sometimes there are small festivals held here too. Besides making a stop here during the day for the gorgeous views, it’s also amazing to go here at night because you can see the falls all lit up.
Also, you can watch fireworks here on Friday nights, so it’s definitely one to include on your east Canada road trip itinerary!
Niagara on the Lake, Town, and Wineries
If you want some time outside of the tourist hustle and bustle of Niagara Falls, head 20 minutes out to Niagara on the Lake. Located on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River, is known for its wineries and the summer Shaw Festival, a series of theatre productions.
This cute 19th-century town is surrounded by vineyards and filled with boutique shops and is one of the top places to visit in East Canada.
Definitely take some time to explore, even take a bike ride, or go on a wine tasting tour for some fun!
- *Note that in Niagara Falls, the easiest way to get around is via the WEGO bus that functions as a hop-on-hop-off. You can also get passes that include entry into all the main attractions.
Heading out to Niagara on the Lake (about 20 minutes outside of the tourist center) is best done via your car. If you are at Niagara Falls with your loved one, check out ideas on romantic things to do.
More Things to do at Niagara Falls
- Tip: If you fancy something extraordinary, then a helicopter ride would be the perfect activity!
Where to Stay at Niagara Falls
- Niagara Falls – Marriott on the Falls is a perfect accommodation that you should check out.
Toronto – About 2 Days
It is time to visit Toronto which is the capital of the province of Ontario and a major Canadian city located on Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. With almost 3 million inhabitants it is the second-biggest city in the country.
- It takes about 90 minutes to get from Niagra Falls to Toronto, so it actually is not much time you will spend in the car.
Le´s start your trip to Toronto with a visit to Casa Loma.
This is a gorgeous Gothic-style “castle” with gardens, right in central Toronto! Besides the architecture and gardens themselves, it has also been converted into a museum with preserved rooms to make you feel like you are stepping back in time.
Casa Loma was first built in 1914 by financier Sir Henry Pellatt. These days, over 650,000 visitors come to Casa Loma and the estate gardens. The castle itself, which is now a museum, is visited by over 350,000 annually. It has 98 rooms you can discover and learn more about the biggest building owned by private people back then.
- ADMISSION FEE FOR ADULTS: 30 CAD
- Open from Wednesdays to Sunday
Kensington is a charming bohemian neighborhood, and the market is filled with everything from boutique shops and cafes to specialty grocery marts.
You will find 255 shops and services, plus some cool historic buildings combined with modern architecture – this is Kensignton. Whether you are looking for a vintage dress, loose teas, or a day spent checking out art shows, you will find it here.
In August you can also catch the Jazz Festival!
Another must-see in Eastern Canada is the famous CN Tower. This was the world’s tallest tower all the way up until 2009! It is a 553-meter high communication and observation tower that is located in downtown Toronto.
In addition to visiting the lookout and getting some amazing views of the city, you can also eat at 360 Restaurant. This is a really great dinner plan if you are visiting Toronto, and it is beautiful to see the city from up there at night.
Lastly, if you are more daring and are looking for things to do in Canada to get your adrenaline pumping, you can try the “Edge Walk” where you get to walk the circumference of the tower from outside (of course strapped into a harness).
Filled with tons of Victorian-era industrial architecture, this is a really unique idea for visiting Canada. It’s a designated National Historic Site of Canada and features more than 40 heritage buildings!
Nowadays, you can hit these cobblestone streets for the Toronto Christmas Market in December or choose to explore indie hot spots, art shows, and specialty breweries during the rest of the year.
Things start to shut down around 8 PM, though, so it’s best to visit mid-day, and after a day of exploring markets and shops, grab some dinner and beers before heading back to your hotel.
One of the Canadian Islands to visit is this here: Also known as “The Island,” it is only a 13-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. While the island is small at only about 3 miles long, it is still one of the best places to see in Canada.
Renting a bicycle is an easy way to get around and explore the various beaches on the island. Spending the day on the island is a nice way to get outside the city and relax for a bit and if you’re there in the summer, enjoy the beach time and a swim!
- Toronto – Courtyard by Marriott is a great option – check out rates.
To visit more of the best places to visit in east Canada, make Kingston the third stop. Read on to find out more…
1000 Islands Cruise
This is a relaxing way to see the beautiful islands of the St. Lawrence River. Opt for the longer 3-hour cruise so you can really see as much as possible.
There are over 1,800 islands in the river, and it’s definitely one of the places to go in Canada that you must-see. If you like variety, these islands are one of the best places to see in eastern Canada. Some of the islands are private, some are small spots of nature dotted in the middle of the river, and some are home to mansions or even castles (such as Boldt castle).
If you’re craving some history and looking for some of the best travel sites in Canada, look no further than Fort Henry.
Built in the 1800s, Fort Henry is an interesting historical sight in Kingston. During most of the year, you can visit the site as a museum and explore the fort and see historical re-enactments. This can include shooting cannons, soldier parades, and more.
During October, it is transformed into “Fort Fright,” so if you like a fun scare, you may want to visit during this time.
Another place to add to your road trip (especially for history buffs) is Bellevue House.
Bellevue House is the historic home of Canada’s first prime minister and was built in the 1840s. It’s unique to Canada due to its Italian style architecture, and on top of that, it was also done in an asymmetrical design. It’s a beautiful and unique building in Kingston and has a perfectly preserved interior which is fun to explore.
The staff and guides also dress in period-correct outfits to complete the feel of stepping back in time.
This is Canada’s oldest prison! It was actually closed to the public for 180 years but is now available to tour, and it an exciting attraction. In addition to being the oldest Canadian prison, it is also one of the most notorious.
It may seem like an odd thing to do during your travel to Canada, but it is worth it, the history is pretty fascinating!
The Waterfront Pathway
Then it is time to check out the Waterfront Pathway.
The Waterfront Pathway is a lovely walking path connecting downtown to Emma Martin Park. It is a really nice activity to explore the pathway and all the different places along the way.
The pathway connects to several parks and various historic sites, including the Bellevue House and Kingston penitentiary.
If you have the time, seeing everything via the Waterway Path is a nice leisurely way to enjoy the path itself as well as all the stops along it. Bring a picnic to lunch at one of the parks during midday!
- Click here to find the best accommodation rates in Kingston.
- If you are looking for a great mid-range hotel, check out Downtown Kingston- Residence Inn Water’s Edge.
Then it is time to visit Montreal. Keep reading to find out why…
The Botanical Gardens here are amazing! They have several outdoor gardens as well as greenhouse gardens and multiple themed gardens.
Included are the Japanese Garden, a garden of indigenous Canadian plant life, and a poisonous plants garden. My personal favorite, though, is seeing their amazing plant sculptures.
Old Montreal is the oldest part of the city, with some parts dating back to when the area was known as “New France.”
Old Montreal is full of attractions. In addition to the famed Basilica, Capel and City Hall, there is also a great market (Bonsecours) and some gorgeous historical mansions.
It’s effortless to get around on foot, and in addition to the sights of Old Montreal itself, there are several museums and galleries here worth visiting too.
St Louis Square
St. Louis Square is a historic square surrounded by Victorian row homes. Visiting this area is like stepping back in time!
The homes are lovely, and it’s great for an afternoon stroll. It has a French feel, and if you go in the evening, you can sometimes catch some street performers making music in the center.
Notre Dame Basilica
Located in Old Montreal, this is a stunning piece of architecture.
It is done in the gothic revival style, and the interior is colorful and gorgeous. You can visit to explore (there is a small entry fee), or you can attend a mass or choir session to hear the talented singers.
In the evenings, they also do a cool light show called “And Then There was Light,” which is a different way to see the church and learn about its history.
Take a Food Tour
Of all the places to visit in Canada, Montreal is definitely known for its food! The city is a foodie’s paradise with tons of options, including their famed French restaurants. Take a food tour with a local guide to find the best-hidden spots and taste various options in one day- definitely worth it!
You can find various types of food tours on Viator.
*Note that if you have a chance to take a day trip up to Quebec City, voted “The Most European City in North America” and the only fortified city north of Mexico, definitely take the opportunity!
- Click here to find the best rates for accommodation in Montreal.
- If you are looking for a good mid-range hotel in Montreal, check out Montreal- Le Petit Hotel.
I hope you have gotten some great inspiration here for the best places to see on an east Canada road trip. There are so many beautiful places that it is hard to choose from, but with the tips mentioned above, you are perfectly prepared for your trip!
About the Author
Cassandra is a US-female travel addict who loves traveling the world and works as a tour operator. She is a freelance writer for Arzo Travels, where she shares her expertise and has a special love affair with Mexico.