Ontario has amazing drives all four seasons and sometimes you can leave the car at home. Alternative means of transportation include the Park Bus, VIA Rail, a variety of water transportation along canals, through island archipelagos and across lakes Great and great, as well as cycling, horseback, and power hiking. Here are some top routes and means of getting there.
Provincial & National Parks
Camping trips to the iconic parks of Ontario, including Algonquin Provincial Park and Tobermory National Park, are now easily accessible to even the most urbane of Toronto’s carless downtowners and visitors thanks to the Park Bus, which drops passengers off at the parks outfitters so “all you need to bring is your toothbrush.” Park Bus also offers six Provincial Park day trips for a quick brush with nature. www.parkbus.ca
One of Canada’s most beautiful and memorable thoroughfares is the Niagara Parkway. Of course you can drive it, but increasingly people are cycling the scenic route between Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls. The GO Train schedules Bike Train cars throughout the summer as does VIA Rail or www.biketrain.ca. If you don’t have a bike, you can take either train to Niagara Falls and sign up for a variety of cycle tours. One stop consultation is at Niagara Cycling Tourism.
The Headwaters region just northwest of Toronto – a.k.a. Duffrin, Caledon, Erin and King Counties – is horse country with over 2,000 stables and 110 km of trails to explore with your equine friends winter, spring, summer or fall. While younger children may not be ready for trail rides, they may enjoy hay rides or a riding lesson. Check out http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/index/activity:equestrian and http://headwatershorsecountry.ca/ for more information.
Rivers and canals used to be Ontario’s highways until the advent of the car industry and its attendant road networks changed everything. Fortunately, we still have these aqueous routes, such as the UNESCO Heritage designated Rideau Canal from Kingston to Ottawa. You can travel it by houseboat, voyageur trade canoe or kayak; ride alongside it on a bicycle, in a car or on a horse; and in the winter when it freezes, you can skate along the Ottawa section. See www.rideauheritageroute.ca for more info.