Top 10 Road Trips in Central and Eastern Canada
This list of road trips range from day trips to extended drives of two weeks or longer.
1. Prince Edward Island
PEI can be driven in one day, but the flavours of its delicious lobster and potatoes can linger forever. Reach the island using the Confederation Bridge or take the ferry from Caribou, Nova Scotia. The North Shore coastline is some of the most dramatic in the country, and the interior of the island is comprised of expansive green fields made famous by the novel Anne of Green Gables. Northumberland Strait has the warmest waters in Canada.
2. The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island
Making a 298-kilometre loop, this road trip navigates the sheer cliffs and mountainous terrain of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Beginning in Port Hawkesbury, highlights include excellent seafood and small villages proud with Gaelic and Acadian heritage. Whale cruises leave regularly in summer and fall from the town of Chéticamp. In 2011, Cape Breton Island was named the third-best island to visit by Travel + Leisure magazine.
3. New Brunswick’s southern coast
Wrapping around the Bay of Fundy, the southern coast of New Brunswick has lighthouses, picturesque fishing villages and rock beaches. Ferries run from the town of Saint George to Grand Manan Island, where whales and puffins are common sights. Saint John is famous for its Reversing Falls, where the Saint John River actually changes direction during high tide. Numerous covered bridges can be found around Sussex, and the Fundy National Park lies south on Route 114. The famous Magnetic Hill, which gives motorists the illusion of rolling uphill, is found in Moncton, and Shediac provides a glimpse of New Brunswick’s eastern shore—and serves up excellent lobster.
Journeying along the Navigator’s Route on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, then moving on to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this road trip is studded with national parks. Just off of Rivière du Loup, the Île aux Lièvres offers hiking and camping, and the rare blue poppy blooms in the Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis from mid-June through mid-July. In Perce, the Perce Rock, a massive sheer block of stone with a stunning arch, awaits, along with the town of Gaspé and Forillon National Park.
5. Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Trail and Annapolis Valley
This foodie road trip includes the famous Peggy’s Cove, with its iconic lighthouse and red houses. See the Bay of Fundy and visit Annapolis Valley, where pick-your-own farms allow you to stretch your legs while tasting top-notch strawberries and more. There are boutique wineries in the area, too.
6. Newfoundland’s northern peninsula
With some of the most stunning natural scenery anywhere, this road trip runs between Port Aux Basques and Gros Morne National Park. It’s important to plan around the weather, which can be quite chilly even at the height of summer—due to the nearby icebergs. There are plenty of camping options.
7. Gateway to the Thousand Islands and Finger Lakes Wine Country
Combining car and boat travel, this road trip includes the town of Gananoque, Ontario, known as the Gateway to the Thousand Islands. Cruise companies, such as Gananoque Boat Line, take travellers to see the highlights of the islands, including Boldt Castle, wildlife areas and Millionaire’s Row, a series of opulent mansions. From Gananoque, take a 13.7-kilometre bridge into New York (don’t forget your passport). Tasting rooms stand among Amish farms near the Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka lakes.
This day trip leaves from the largest city in Canada and ends at one of the most famous sights in North America. Travellers can follow up their drive with a cruise on the Maid of The Mist or a helicopter tour over the falls.
9. Toronto to Lake Superior
This road trip is one of the few that ventures into Northern Ontario, and it makes for a great car-camping road trip. With its pristine forests, lakes and rivers, Killarney National Park provides excellent fishing, canoeing and more. Manitoulin Island is the largest fresh water island in the world, and the Little Current Swing Bridge connects it to the mainland. Continue along the shore of Lake Superior on Route 17 to really get into the middle of nowhere. This is a fantastic fall drive.
10. Ottawa to Algonquin Provincial Park
From Ottawa, Algonquin Provincial Park is a five-and-a-half-hour drive along the scenic Highway 17—part of the Trans-Canada Highway. With a logging museum, lots of campgrounds and hundreds of lakes and hiking trails, it is the most visited park in Canada.