8 Mini Road Trips to Add to Your Travel Wish List

by Emese Graham
sea to sky highway british columbia

As provinces begin to cautiously open up, Canada’s beautiful landscapes feel a little bit more within reach. Have you decided on the first place you’ll go to stretch your legs once it’s safe to do so?

We say, love where you live! Try adding a mini road trip to your post-covid19 travel wish list, featuring short scenic drives from Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary.

So, charge your phone, pack your snacks, and hit the road! These beautiful destinations are close enough to the city to zip there and back in a few hours, which makes them perfect for exploring from within your car.

Where are You Starting From?

Mini Road Trips from Toronto

Dundas

 

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Take the scenic route via Lakeshore Road, hop onto York Boulevard for a picturesque view of Cootes Paradise and Hamilton Bayfront, then mosey down Cootes drive to the cute town of Dundas, Ontario. Be sure to make a stop at Jax Sweet Shoppe for some curbside ice cream or a cookie dough brownie. Leave room for one last breathtaking view of the escarpment at the top of Sydenham road.

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Round Trip Time: 4 hours

Niagara-on-the-Lake

 

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Follow the curve of Lake Ontario until you pass Winona, then detour into Twenty Valley for a charming drive through long stretches of knotted vineyards. Then, catch the highway to Queenston Heights Park and the edge of the Niagara River (this route goes for scenery, not speed, if you haven’t noticed). Drive upstream for pretty views until you reach the quiet postcard town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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Round Trip Time: 6 hours

Stratford

 

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Who doesn’t love a nice country drive? Hop off the 401 at Kitchener, then count the cows and horses on the way to cozy Stratford. (By the way, although the 2020 theatre season is cancelled, you can still catch a Stratford production right now at home!) To make this mini road trip extra special, add a leg to Grand Bend to watch the waves roll around.

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Round Trip Time: 2.5 hours

Mini Road Trips from Vancouver

Whistler

 

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Perhaps an obvious choice, but it’s no less worth the trip. There’s plenty to see along the Sea to Sky Highway: Howe Sound to your left, and misty forests to your right. Customize your trip with detours to any number of deserving destinations, including Cypress Provincial Park, Squamish, and Garibaldi. In fact, even if you cut your trip short of Whistler, it’s a drive worth making.

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Round Trip Time: 2.5 hours

Harrison Hot Springs

 

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Over the bridges and through the woods, Highway 7’s scenic drive along the Fraser River is almost as relaxing as the famed hot springs. Seek some fresh air atop Whippoorwill Point, pose for photos in front of Harrison Lake, and keep your eyes peeled for the local sasq’ets.

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Round Trip Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Bowen Island

 

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We couldn’t overlook this popular Vancouver day trip! The short drive and ferry ride is a small commitment for a big payoff. You can explore the views of land and sea, go for a quiet hike, or stop to meditate by a pier. On Bowen, it’s all good.

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Round Trip Time: 2 hours

Mini Road Trips from Calgary

Rawson Lake

 

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Kananaskis Country is Calgarians’ best kept non-secret. While everyone’s eyes are glued to Banff, locals have their fill of camping, fishing, boating, and skiing much closer to home. But the jaw-dropping scenery also makes Kananaskis, and especially gems like Rawson Lake, a perfect mini road trip destination.

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Round Trip Time: 2.5 hours

Drumheller

 

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A pleasurable country road drive is the perfect start to this nerdy day trip to the Dinosaur Capital of the World. Once you arrive, quirky hoodoos, magical viewpoints, and otherworldly canyons will make you forget that you’re only an hour and a half out of town.

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Round Trip Time: 3 hours

 

Keep “home” at the top of your travel wish list! For tips on how to scratch your travel itch as Canada and the world re-opens, ask an Expert or stay tuned for more inspiration.

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