July 7, 2021 The Best Day Trips from Montréal, Toronto, and Calgary
After a year of staycations, lockdowns, and travel restrictions, Canadians are eager to get out and explore. While most provinces are easing COVID-19 restrictions, many of us still prefer to err on the side of caution and vacation close to home. Enter the day trip! To help you plan the perfect day trip, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations from Montréal, Toronto, or Calgary. So, get your road trip playlist ready, grab some snacks, and don’t forget to call “shot gun!”
Day Trips from Montreal, Quebec
1. Ottawa, Ontario
Distance: just under 200 km
A visit to the National Capital Region is a must for Canadians and tourists alike. Ottawa offers a variety of historical and cultural attractions and a chance to learn and discover more about our nation. But Ottawa isn’t all history and politics. While the city has some of the country’s best museums it also offers great dining and entertainment, outdoor activities, festivals, and more. For example, you can take a guided tour of Parliament. Or walk around the ByWard market and discover some great shops and restaurants. Or immerse yourself in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, the Science and Technology Museum, or the Canadian War Museum, to name a few. If you prefer the great outdoors, take a cruise down the world-famous Rideau Canal. Or explore the city’s charming neighbourhoods on foot, take a break at one of the many patios and sample some delicious craft beers. Just remember to leave room for a beaver tail! For more information, including COVID-19 restrictions, please visit the Ottawa Tourism website.
2. Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville
Distance: about 20 km
The Parc National des Îles-de-Boucherville is part of Sépaq, Quebec’s provincial park network. Just a stone’s throw from downtown Montréal, the park is made up of five islands, and sits right in the middle of the majestic Saint-Lawrence River. Visitors can enjoy lush green spaces, a variety of water sports and activities, picnic areas, wildlife, camp sites, and more. In addition, you can explore the various channels aboard a canoe, kayak, pedal boat, or stand-up paddle board. Or try your luck fishing for a variety of native species. The 21-kilometre multipurpose trail, and the 15 kilometres of rustic trails, guide visitors to some of the park’s most charming sites. This is the perfect day trip for Montrealers wanting to escape the city. Don’t forget to buy your daily access pass beforehand on the Sépaq website.
Distance: about 135 km
Believe the hype, Mont-Tremblant is worth the visit. One of the most popular destinations in the gorgeous Laurentians, the town of Mont-Tremblant really does have it all. In the last few decades, it has truly become an international destination and with good reason. The ski resort and surrounding area boast spas, five-star dining and lodging, and a wide variety of boutiques and cafés. It also offers a host of year-round activities, festivals, shows and concerts, all set against gorgeous scenery. There is so much to see and do, you will literally have a hard time deciding where to start. To discover everything the area has to offer, visit the Mont-Tremblant website.
4. Parc National d’Oka
Distance: 58 km
Another great Sépaq park located just a short drive from Montréal, Oka is a family favourite. The beach with its scenic views of the Lac des Deux-Montagnes is the destination of choice for visitors. It offers seven kilometres of sandy shores the kids will love and is great for a refreshing swim! Moreover, the park also sits at the foot of ancestral hills and has a rich historical and natural heritage. Other activities include camping, hiking, biking, water sports, and nature activities. Once again, remember to purchase your daily access pass before you go.
5. The Laurentians
Distance: varies depending on destination
The Laurentians offers 22,000 kilometres of lush pine and maple forests, quaint villages, rolling hills, pristine lakes, and scenic views that will capture your heart. A day trip to the Laurentians is an opportunity to explore truly Canadian landscapes. To get lost in the majestic beauty of the surroundings. To just kick back and relax. Spas, lakes, streams, gourmet dining, trails, and adventures await! There is so much to see and discover, you can come back countless times and never do the same thing twice. Popular destinations include Mont-Tremblant, Saint-Adèle, Saint-Sauveur, and Estérel just to name a few.
Day Trips from Toronto, Ontario
Distance: 219 km
When you need to escape the heat of the concrete jungle, a refreshing day at the beach is just what the doctor ordered! Luckily, Sandbanks Provincial Park is perfect for a day trip from the GTA. As its name suggests, the park boasts three expansive sandy beaches that some say are among the best in Canada. Families will particularly like Outlet Beach’s shallow waters and gentle drop off. Additionally, this popular destination has the world’s largest bay mouth barrier dune formation. And for birdwatchers, the park is a bird migration hotspot in the spring and fall. Furthermore, the park is a great gateway to explore Prince Edward County, well known for its bicycle touring, wineries, food, and antiques. Visit the Ontario Parks website for day use permits and for the latest park information, including COVID-19 restrictions.
2. Eramosa Karst Conservation Area
Distance: 85 km
Photo: ©Hamilton Conservation Authority. All rights reserved.
Nature lovers rejoice, the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area offers the perfect nature adventure day trip. Wondering what a karst is? Well, karsts are geological formations caused by dissolving rocks found in limestone formations like the Niagara Escarpment. The Eramosa Conservation Area boasts 16 different karst features, making it truly unique in the province. At the Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, you can walk seven kilometres of trails, boardwalks, and bridges. They will lead you through escarpment forests, meadows, and these one-of-a-kind geological formations. Explore the underground caves and streams and discover a true natural gem right in your own backyard. Perfect for hiking, nature appreciation, and educational activities.
Distance: 102 km
Located about 100 kilometres from Toronto, Caledon is a beautiful town in the Peel Region. While it’s one of the GTA’s largest in area, it remains predominantly rural and has a low population density. But what makes the town stand out is its unspoiled natural beauty and spectacular landscapes. At the convergence of the Niagara Escarpment and the Oak Ridge Moraine, Caledon’s topography is truly unique. In addition to soaking up the distinct scenery, visitors can also enjoy the 35-kilometre Caledon Trailway on bike, foot, or horseback. Or they can hit the links at the one of the area’s many popular golf courses.
4. Cobourg Beach
Distance: 120 km
Another great beach on Lake Ontario, Cobourg Beach is a short drive from Toronto. Located next to Victoria Park, the beach boasts sandy shores, warm waters, a canteen, picnic area, playground, and splash pad. It is no wonder why this little slice of paradise is a favourite with Torontonians and locals alike.
Important information: Due to municipal COVID-19 restrictions, the beach is only open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. It is currently closed on weekends and holidays. For more information, visit their website.
5. Niagara Falls
Distance: 121 km
Every year, millions of people flock to Niagara Falls to soak up the sheer size and power of the falls. Made up of three huge waterfalls, Niagara’s tallest falls, the Horseshoe Falls, sit entirely on the Canadian side. Whether you’re admiring them from the observation decks, aboard the Maiden of the Mist boat or on a helicopter tour, these 57-metre high falls are sure to leave you breathless. But in addition to this natural wonder, the community of Niagara Falls offers visitors a host of things to see and do. Casinos, shows, concerts, adventures, even winery tours have made Niagara Falls a must-visit destination.
Day Trips from Calgary, Alberta
1. Bighorns Falls
Distance: 200 km
For an outdoor adventure, head out on the Cowboy Trail to Bighorn Falls at the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch. Bighorn Falls are a beautiful gorge surrounded by scenic prairie landscapes offering breathtaking mountain views. The short hike to the 60-metre high falls can be done from the Ya Ha Tinda Ranch. Ya Ha Tinda is a working horse ranch that is privately owned and managed by Parks Canada. Visitors are welcome and the ranch also has a campground. The ranch covers close to 4,000 hectares on the north bank of the Red Deer River and includes grassland and mixed forests. It is also home to various species of wildlife including wolves, grizzly bears, cougars, elks, and bighorn sheep. The hike to Bighorn Falls is definitely worth the effort as the views and natural beauty are truly awe-inspiring. This is one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets!
Distance: 100 km
Nestled in the heart of the Rockies along the Bow River, Canmore and the Kananaskis Valley are a truly amazing outdoor playground. Just a one-hour drive west of Calgary, the area offers visitors wide open spaces, breathtaking scenery, vibrant arts and culture, world-renowned mountain sports, and great dining and nightlife. Summer activities include hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and many more. From blazing your own trails on foot or bike to admiring the majestic viewpoints to sipping fine craft beers and soaking in the surroundings, Canmore is truly a must visit!
Distance: 135 km
Drumheller, also known as the Dinosaur Capital of World, has enough to wow visitors of all ages. Here, you can climb up the world’s largest dinosaur and learn all about these amazing creatures. Unique fossils and a variety of exhibitions and activities teach visitors all about these incredible reptiles that once roamed the area. Additionally, the Alberta Bandlands provide the perfect backdrop to your dinosaur discovery, setting the scene and taking you back millions of years.
4. Sylvan Lake
Distance: 170 km
Sylvan Lake, with its picturesque scenery and shallow shoreline, is one of Alberta’s top paddling destination. For a truly Zen moment, head out early morning when the water is still and the beach hasn’t filled up yet. You’ll love the peace and quiet, the only other sounds the birds chirping and other paddles hitting the water. But Sylvan Lake is also a vibrant and charming lakeside community that has lots to offer. If you want to relax, you can soak up the sand and sun at the beautiful town beach. Or explore the welcoming boutiques and cafés. And golf enthusiasts can tee off at one of the many surrounding golf courses. Sylvan Lake really has something for everyone.
5. Crowsnest Pass
Distance: 240 km
Crowsnest Pass is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. The area boasts 1,500 kilometres of maintained quad (and snowmobile) trails. In addition, it also offers an extensive network of mountain biking and hiking trails. And for nature lovers, Crowsnest Pass is renowned for birdwatching. Other activities include fishing and a challenging yet beautiful golf course.
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on travel plans, day trips are a great solution to escape the city. In just a few hours, you can be relaxing on the beach with your favourite book. Or discovering a new town and sampling their local cuisine. Or travelling through kilometres of pristine natural beauty on foot or two wheels. Now is the perfect time to get out and explore your own backyard. Canada has so much to offer and you don’t need to travel far to discover some of your province’s best-kept secrets. But sitting in a car for a long period of time isn’t always a picnic. Here are a few tips to make your road trip a little smoother and healthier:
- Pack healthy snacks and food: to avoid getting “hangry” and falling prey to greasy roadside junk food, make sure you have healthy snacks at the ready. Pack a small cooler with travel-friendly foods such as sandwiches, yogurt, carrot sticks, or sliced fruit.
- Pull over and exercise: every time you stop for gas or to use the restroom, walk around a bit to get the blood flowing. You can even do a few jumping jacks, or other short cardio bursts to get your heart rate up.
- Hydrate: pack plenty of fresh water or other healthy drinks and remember to hydrate frequently. It’s important to drink often to stay alert.
And, if after a long car ride, you experience back pain, grab your Magic Bag to help soothe aches and pains. Magic Bag’s hot cold compresses are a soothing and natural way to relieve lower and upper back pain as well as sciatica pain.