Small towns in Ontario are ideal for an epic road trip. After all, this province has over a million square kilometres of provincial parks, lakes, cities and towns to explore.
Beyond the sprawling urbanscape of Toronto, you’ll find charming small towns with a more laid-back pace of living, which have everything from beautiful hiking trails to historic buildings, one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants.
Here are some small towns in Ontario to consider for your next road trip.
Located under 2 hours from Toronto, Elora is the perfect road trip destination with its blend of small-town charm and outdoor adventure. The town was once called “Ontario’s most beautiful village” by one of the Group of Seven painters A.J. Casson, and it isn’t hard to see why it earned that title.
The Elora Gorge is a year-round destination for thrill-seekers, with ziplining and river tubing in the summer, and ice climbing and snowshoeing in the winter. Get pampered at the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa, dine and shop in town, or visit the historic Wellington County Museum and Archives.
The small town of Picton in Prince Edward County is a great road trip choice for food and wine lovers, as well as those who love the outdoors. A 2.5 hour drive from Toronto will bring you to the largest town in PEC, with its architecturally-significant buildings, quirky vibe and shops on Main Street.
Take a wine tour of the nearby wineries, who specialize in producing Burgundian wines. Catch a film or a live performance at the Regent Theatre, indulge in a locally-sourced meal, or stroll along the white sand beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Paris was named as one of the prettiest small towns in Canada, with European inspiration everywhere you turn. From the cobblestone homes on the edge of the Grand River to intimate cafes and trendy shops, this town is a great road trip destination just 1.5 hours from Toronto.
See the lights after dark at the historic Penman’s Dam, or walk along The Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail, which stretches for 18 km with beautiful views of the Grand River. Pop into Wincey Mills on a weekend to shop local businesses, learn about the origins of the telephone, and be sure to save your appetite for one of the many restaurants and cafes in town.
If you love rom-coms, Almonte is the perfect road trip getaway for you. Located just outside Ottawa, Almonte has been the go-to filming destination for tons of Hallmark films.
Visit the stunning architecture of Almonte Old Town Hall, which sits next to the Mississippi River. Shop and dine in town on Mill Street, and check out the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, a unique historical space that explores the history of the woollen industry in the Mississippi Valley.
Thornbury near Collingwood is a hidden gem on Georgian Bay’s coastline. Just 10 minutes northwest of Blue Mountain, the small town is home to wineries, hiking trails, and countless winter activities.
Grab a coffee and bite to eat on Main Street, which is lined with boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants, and cafes. Go for a hike on the beautiful Georgian Trail, or follow the Apple Pie Trail for delicious apple-themed pitstops to sample everything from freshly-baked apple pies to crisp ciders.