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  1. Default Advice on Toronto/Thousand Islands and beyond...7 day trip!

    Our family is planning to visit Canada for 1 week this July and are trying to decide how to plan the trip. We think we'll fly in and out of Buffalo so we can rent a car and do a road trip to maximize our time vs road tripping all the way from our home base of Chicago. Plan to see Niagra Falls and visit Toronto. Thousand Lakes looks lovely and would be interested in advice on stops along the way and things to see and do. We love to kayak, river raft, hike, etc. One big question is whether we have time to stop in Ottawa or Montreal or both? I think driving times are reasonable but do we really have time to see all those cities and have a relaxing road trip too? Also, when we head back to Buffalo, should we go through the NY side? We have 2 teen girls who have never been to Canada before, ages 13 and 15. I've been reading posts on seeing quite a bit in 7 days but I know our family wants to feel "unprogrammed" and not like we're going from one site to the next. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Thousand Islands area is truly magical!

    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    I'm just heading out the door to go home for the night, but I wanted to say howdy before I went.

    I'm sure someone will by soon to respond to your query.

    It's been a while for me -- but the Thousand Islands area is truly magical!

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-10-2013 at 08:22 AM. Reason: too tired to remember name

  3. #3

    Default

    Hi,

    By Thousand Lakes, I assume you are referring to Thousand Islands. If so, one can take a boat tour of the river from many of the towns east and west of Kingston. I found that ones from 'Gananoque, ON, Canada' are better than others. The reason I liked the one from Gananoque better was because it goes by much closer to the Boltd Castle. If you don't plan on taking the tour of the castle, this would get you a closer look.

    If you are into city at all, than Ottawa is the place to be. It's not a big city by any means. There are many museums and sites which can be done in two-three days. Some big highlights to take in would be:

    Tour of Parliament Hill You can get a free tour.
    The Museum of Civilization They also have IMax theater
    ByWard Market Don't forget to try Obama Cookie

    The above are so close to each other and can be done in a very leaisure way in 1.5 days. At Parliment Hill, in the evening, they have laser show every night. Also, if you happen to be going in July, 1st of July is Canadain independence day and Parliment Hill would have some special fireworks in the evening and full day of events at the Hill.

    As you can see, I am biased towards Ottawa, as it is one of my favorite places to visit.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Two things come to mind with your plans:

    When renting a car, make sure that the company is okay with taking it into Canada.

    Also, do you have passports? These days, one needs them to return to the States when the Canadian portion of your trip is over.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Oakville, ON, Canada
    Posts
    28

    Default

    In seven days, I think your itinerary is a bit full if you want to visit Niagara Falls, Toronto, Thousand Islands, Ottawa and Montreal. Suggested itinerary:
    Day 1: You could fly into Buffalo, as you suggest, and drive to Niagara Falls (30 minutes) see the Falls and area and stay over night.
    Day 2: Leaving the next morning, the drive to Toronto is 60-90 minutes depending on traffic. Spend two nights in Toronto.
    Day 4: Drive to the Thousand Islands area (3-4 hours depending on traffic) and take a cruise in the afternoon and stay over night in the area. You could possibly push on to Ottawa or Montreal but it would be a rush/long day in my opinion.
    Day 5: You could then head to Ottawa OR Montreal - not both (about 3 or 4 hours) and spend two nights.
    Day 7: Drive back to Buffalo (via Canada or NY - good part of a day either way - 7+ hours or so).
    One big question is whether we have time to stop in Ottawa or Montreal or both? I think driving times are reasonable but do we really have time to see all those cities and have a relaxing road trip too?
    As you can see, you will have little time in each place to actually see and enjoy things. I think you need to extend your trip a few days if possible or drop Ottawa/Montreal and spend more time in the other locations to achieve your goal of a relaxing road trip.

  6. Default

    Thank you so much for the advice! I thought we were pushing it with 7 day trip and really appreciate you laying out the itinerary. We will cut out Ottawa or Montreal (maybe both).

  7. Default

    Great advice. We all have passports and will definitely make sure we can take car in and out of Canada...thanks.

  8. Default

    Yes, I was referring to Thousand Islands. Besides the boat tour which includes Boldt Castle, would you recommend any other villages or sites in the area? We like kayaks, hiking, river rafting. Would you recommend taking a tour of the Castle? It looks beautiful online! Thanks.

    We are definitely going to Toronto, so we'll be in a city, but I like that Ottawa is the capital with Parliament to visit, so if time, we'll keep that on our itinerary.

    Any good recommendations for Toronto?

    Thanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default More reading for you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephkklein View Post
    Any good recommendations for Toronto?
    I haven't been in Toronto in 10+ years (yikes) but I really like tall buildings and the CN Tower certainly fits that bill.

    A quick overview of tourist places

    Since you are starting in Buffalo -- I thought you might find this index of key trips good for reading...

    This might be a bit out of your way -- but historic airplanes can be interesting.

    I'll do some more looking -- One of our long-term contributors lives in Toronto -- I'll see what he recommends (I've not heard from him in a couple of years -- it might take a while).

    Mark

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Oakville, ON, Canada
    Posts
    28

    Default

    We like kayaks, hiking, river rafting.
    I am from the Toronto area. If you enjoy hiking and nature, the Bruce Trail runs through our area along the Niagara Escarpment which you will be passing driving from Niagara Falls to Toronto. It is a great area for hikes and there are many waterfalls in the Hamilton area along the trail. While in Toronto, you can rent canoes or kayaks and paddle across Lake Ontario to Centre Island (or take a 15 minute ferry ride if you prefer). The island is car free and has walking paths and is a great break from the big city. Ashbridge's Bay is in the east end of Toronto and has a sandy beach and boardwalk to stroll along. Bike rentals are also available. In Toronto, the CN Tower is a big attraction. You can even get tethered and walk around the outside of the top of the tower if you have the stomach for that and about $175. I recommend visiting Kensington Market/Chinatown area, the St. Lawrence Market, the Distillery District (the site of an old Distillery with cobblestone walks that now houses artistic shops, a few restaurants and a brew pub) and Yorkville. There is also the Hockey Hall of Fame (you can get your photo taken with the Stanley Cup), Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum to choose from.
    In the Ottawa area, there are white water rafting tours that are quite popular along with the traditional things that jacksonjohn83 mentioned.
    Besides the boat tour which includes Boldt Castle, would you recommend any other villages or sites in the area?
    Nearby the 1000 Islands is Kingston, Ontario a nice small town on Lake Ontario with many restaurants and shops. Fort Henry is also located there.
    This might be a bit out of your way -- but historic airplanes can be interesting.
    If you do like airplanes a much closer place is the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton (Mount Hope). Mark`s suggestion is a very long drive from Toronto.

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