Top Five Summer Road Trips

by Amy Orfanakos

Leave the passport and American dollars at home!

Sometimes you don’t need a big expensive trip to feel like you’ve gotten a great vacation. Some of the most beautiful places to visit might just be a few hours away and all it takes to get there is an overnight bag and a car.

Prince Edward County and Sandbanks Provincial Park

Referred to as Eastern Ontario’s vacation playground, located between Kingston and Trenton, PEC is a unique place that is both simple and sophisticated. Home to the world’s largest bay-mouth barrier dune formation, Sandbanks consists of three expansive sandy beaches that are perfect for families and those just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With amazing biking and walking trails, the area is a great launching point to explore Prince Edward County, which is known for its bicycle touring options, wineries, food and antiques. Tantalize your taste buds by taking a self-guided “taste tour” and experiencing artisan cheeses, freshly picked fruits , locally-grown meats paired with the county’s award-winning wines, ciders and craft beers. With some of the most breathtaking vistas in the province it is easy to find a place to sit back and enjoy lunch on a patio or winery while overlooking Lake Ontario.

Collingwood

Located at the southern point of Georgian Bay, Collingwood has long been a destination for both winter and summer activities and a hot spot for cottagers. But this is more than just a relaxing weekend retreat, with an active downtown core that serves as a hub for great events, inviting trails, unique shopping and amazing local restaurants it is easy to want to come back time and time again. Those really looking for something different can take advantage of Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. Offering opportunities to explore the areas natural caves, zip-lining and tree-top walking, it’ll be hard to remember that you are just two hours north of Toronto. It is also home to Southern Ontario’s longest suspension footbridge at 420-feet high. On clear days, the bridge offers visitors a 10,000 square km view of Georgian Bay and the surrounding countryside.

Pelee Island

Think of this as your island escape without having to go through customs. Located just above the Canadian-American border, it is easily accessible by car and ferry as well as personal boat or plane. As the largest island in Lake Erie and the southernmost populated point in Canada, the climate is milder than most parts of the county, making in the perfect setting for vineyards and winemaking. It is also an important migration route for birds and is known for its yearly pheasant hunt, with thousands of hunters from all over the world attending every fall.

Bruce Peninsula

With dramatic cliff formations and the picturesque turquoise waters of Georgian Bay, Bruce Peninsula is nothing short of magical. This place beckons hikers, explorers and swimmers alike. Located between Lake Huron to the west and Georgian Bay to the east, it isn’t so much about quantity but quality when it comes to enjoying the diverse waters. With gorgeous long stretches of warm sandy beaches to the rocky, chillier emerald waters of Georgian Bay, visitors can go from enjoying quiet shallows coves to exploring sea caves. Looking for a little more adventure? Home to Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada’s first National Marine Conservation is considered one of the top locations for scuba divers of all levels. While all the action seems to be at your feet, don’t forget to turn your attention to the sky: as one of the only places in Ontario that has a dark sky preserve (a space free of artificial light), you can pitch your tent and spend your evening counting the stars.

Wakefield

This little village is located right along the scenic Gatineau River in Quebec. Surrounded by the Gatineau hills, this is a busy place all year round with easy access to activities like horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, golf, canoeing, and kayaking. One of the more popular spots during the summer is the swimming area beneath the covered bridge spanning the Gatineau River. The best thing about Wakefield just might be its close proximity to Ottawa. Located just 20 minutes away from the downtown core, it’s the perfect destination for those looking for a quick weekend getaway while still be close to all the amenities that a big city has to offer.

Now that we’ve given you a few suggestions, it is time to get out of town and discover! As a CAA Member take advantage of our Road Trip Planning guides and find savings partners and CAA-approved lodgings. Don’t forget to download the CAA Mobile APP for your smartphone, where you can request road services online and have access to the cheapest Gas Prices near you.