We love to travel, and not the type of travel where you go somewhere and stay in one place. Nah, that’s boring, and we sometimes get antsy real fast. We love to road trip and take in EVERYTHING. So, when we booked yourself a trip to Ontario and Quebec, we knew we’d take it all in with an Ontario Roadtrip.
This Eastern Ontario Roadtrip is a small circle tour of the Eastern edge of Ontario. It became a roadtrip because we weren’t able to rent a one-way rental from Toronto. We figured, hey, let’s check out this province while we’ve got some time!
Roadtripping with kids is hard. The first road trip with 2 under 2 was a hot mess. It’s easy enough to take a breastfed baby on road trip, but toss in some toddler, and the road trip becomes a little different than pre-kid days of visiting historical sites, stopping for coffee. Now it’s driving while they sleep, running through drive-throughs, and visiting playgrounds.
Eastern Ontario Roadtrip Itinerary
To understand our trip, we did this because we had people to see and friends to visit. I have a close high school friend who lives in Toronto. Our stop to Kingston was inspired by a visit with a blogger buddy – Maman on the Trail. We end in Montreal because our trip takes us to Granby where my sister lives (the primary reason for this visit).
Day 1: Arrive in Ottawa.
Day 2: Ottawa
Day 3: Algonquin Park
Day 4: Niagara Falls
Day 5: Toronto
Day 6: Prince Edward County
Day 7: Kingston
Day 8: 1,000 Isles & Upper Canada Village (Montreal)
Day 9: Montreal
In a nutshell that was our trip. It was a little shorter than we anticipated, and we took a few detours where we didn’t expect, but for us, that’s the fun of a road trip. I’ll break down what we did where next.
Day 1 & 2 in Ottawa
We landed in Ottawa and headed straight for the grocery store. I ordered everything the day before using Loblaws click and collect and it was a match made in heaven. The kids were half passed out and hangry, and I was overwhelmed and exhausted after spending all day on a plane.
Hotel: Holiday Inn in Gatineau – because we’re cheap, and refuse to pay full prices to stay in downtown Ottawa on a weekday. It was only 10-15 minutes to the city, but a reasonable distance from the airport.
Evening: Parliament Hill
I’ve been here before with a baby and knew I didn’t care for the tour again. We stopped. We posed for a cheesy family photo, and enjoy the sunset at Parliament with a bag of pretzels and some hot sticky children (hello humidity). The crowds were minimal.
If you visit in the summer months, catch the light show.
Morning: Children’s Museum
I cried a little thinking we were spending our holiday at a children’s museum. But the parent of parenting and travelling is learning a new pace, and that involves play. The Children’s Museum did not disappoint and I freaking loved it. Just like the kids did. We spent all morning playing.
We hoped they were so tired we could check out the rest of the museum – The Canadian Museum of History, but this was not the case as we chased ambitious toddlers through the gallery’s stopping to catch every other informational sign.
… we then enjoyed a leisurely drive to our hiking destination. This let the kids have a nap. We stopped for ice coffees and chilled in the parking lot until they woke up. #travelmomlife
Afternoon: Nature Walk at Jack Pine Trail
Whoever decided to walk in the afternoon was crazy. It was hot, humid and blah. Regardless, our adventure at Jack Pine Trail (recommended by the local Hike it Baby group as a toddler worthy adventure – it was) was well recieved because this West Coast family was completely overwhelmed with the chipmunk experience. We couldn’t believe how close they got, how many there were, and honestly spent most of our time just taking it all in.
The kids had a second mini snooze.
Evening: Byward Market
Byward Market in the summer is a thousand times better than the winter. I love a good city experience, and Byward Market was fun. We watched street performers, ate cookies, had a beaver tail, and stopped in at a patio for drinks and dinner.
Day 3 – Alogonquin Park
I’ll preface this by saying, I had full intentions of staying in the Muskoka Region this night, but my husband decided we better get to Toronto and soak in Toronto ASAP. *insert eye roll*
We left Ottawa as soon as the kids woke up and we ate breakfast and drove. Because of the traffic situation at rush hour, we choose the route along the eastern side of the Ottawa River. We were flexible like this. Much of our trip was based off choosing one of two directions based on traffic, weather, and attitude.
Eganville for Coffee
This just happened to be the town with a coffee shop and kids ready to eat!
We stopped in at the Fifth Chute Coffee for drinks, gluten free bars, and cupcakes. Then put around to let the kids stretch, and grabbed lunch on the road at the neighbouring grocery store
There are hundreds of different options for hiking in Algonquin Park, but we had two toddlers, a few hours, and my bad feet. We opted for the lookout trail because as Mountain loving people, we enjoy a good look out. Let me know of other toddler-friendly hiking trails in Algonquin Provincial Park in the comments!
This lookout was amazing. This part of Ontario was breathtaking and wow-worthy. I thoroughly enjoyed taking it all in and was sad when we packed in to go. The trail was just right with the two kids. They didn’t hike much, but it’s short enough we were able to carry both kids in and out (2.1 km). Because we are hiking with toddlers, we probably took about 2 hours to do the loop.
The rest of our drive was sleeping children as we took in the park. We stopped at a chip truck in Gravenhurst and enjoyed hot French Fries at a local playground. I took this opportunity to book a Hotel in Toronto, and we were in Toronto before 9 pm.
Day 4 – Niagara Falls & More
Do you have to visit Niagara Falls at least once in your life? Probably.
Twice is probably overkill. I’ve been twice now. Meh.
First, we made a detour via St. Catherines to check in with a CANADIAN Cloth Diaper Manufacturer – Mother-ease. We met with Alex & Sam and checked out everything they had to offer.
Then, we made our way to the Falls. $20 for parking, we soaked in an hour of spray and toddlers playing in the drains, before scoping out the beloved race track my husband had his eyes on.
The kids were tired, and napped as we drove through Niagara-on-the-Lake (definitely a town you visit without kids), and then scoped out an ice cream shop (we stopped at Avondale Dairy Bar).
Because of traffic, bad sense of direction, and tension in the vehicle, we eventually made it back to the hotel for bedtime – but not after a poop explosion, and some serious mama tantrums.
Day 5 – Toronto
After vowing to never drive in the city again, we took the GO Train into Toronto from our hotel in Markham. This was relatively painless, enjoyable experience for a train-obsessed toddler.
We decided to leave the stroller at the hotel. This was a mistake. Carrying toddlers in the humidity of Toronto is not enjoyable for anyone. Bring the stroller. The people of Toronto use strollers, everything makes accommodations for strollers, strollers are life. It’s okay to bring the stroller.
CN Tower – Toronto Island – Dinner with Friend.
I would do an entire day at Toronto Island if I could go back and do it again. Downtown Toronto is kinda ugly, boring, and just miserable. Maybe it’s because we were fighting a miserable, hungry, hot 38lb toddler? We fed him a hot dog, things kinda turned around, but he wasn’t happy until we got on a boat to Toronto Island. The ferry is totally affordable, and I love looking at Toronto more than being in Toronto.
CN Tower with kids isn’t too bad. There were no lines to wait in, and the toddlers loved running around in circles at the top. They didn’t understand the viewpoint.
Day 4 – Prince Edward County
Peace out Toronto, it’s time to escape the hustle and bustle and just enjoy life again. We headed out of town – but not without stopping at Bowmanville for a play at the local playground.
Our life pretty much revolves around playing at playgrounds. Once we started playing at playgrounds, the kids became much more cooperative.
I wanted a beach day, and this beach day was perfect. A quick stop to pick up sand buckets and lunch at a grocery store, and we found ourselves at the beach in the early afternoon. The sand was perfect between my toes, and the afternoon sun was just right. I dreamed of reading a book, but we found ourselves playing in the sand with the kids. We stayed for 3-4 hours before booking a hotel in Kingston and heading to our next destination with sleeping babies.
Seriously. If the weather is nice, you need to stop. It’s a detour, but worth it. I wish the kids weren’t kids because then we would have stopped at one of the many wineries (but those things aren’t the same with kids).
Day 5 – Kingston
Would you believe me if I said it started to rain? After a gorgeous day at the beach, our time in Kingston was plagued with cold and rain.
We visited Fort Henry in the morning. Typically, we love to visit historical sites with kids, but this time it was a bust. Just Blah. #notagain.
Because of the rain, we bunkered down at the Pumphouse Steam Museum in Kingston. This museum isn’t anything special, but its the perfect escape for weary family travellers. Not only does it have a train room, but a science kids room full of all the activities you would ever need. We played lego’s, built ball drops, played with puzzles, and just played.
Playing is good for a kid soul.
We then went for a drive around Kingston while the kids napped. We found the suburbs, enjoyed an iced coffee, and scored a sweet parking spot downtown for dinner with Monica from Maman on the Trail.
Day 8 – Drive to Montreal
This was the part of the trip when we were just done. I was seriously regretting not booking an airBnB, but I also knew we were so close to my sister’s house. Our clothes were wet from the humidity (didn’t dry), and our souls were beginning to get weary. We would have loved to go on an adventure with Maman on the Trail in Kingston, but we just needed to get ‘home.’
That said, we took advantage of our child’s passion for boats, and opted for a one hour cruise of the 1,000 Islands. This was the highlight of my trip. Seriously. I didn’t know the St. Lawerence River was gorgeous. Sure, it was wet and rainy, but on the boat there were indoor spaces to stay dry, and the one hour adventure was just perfect with kids.
I loved seing Boldt Castle, and the expensive houses along the river.
Upper Canada Village – We only stopped because it was lunch time, because we had free passes from Fort Henry, and because I needed to get out. Much to our surprise, Upper Canada Village is a totally cool historic village.
I had no idea where or what this place was until we stopped. There’s a small railway (not like in Prince George) which goes pretty fast! And then an entire village to explore. We got rained out, but the kids had a blast meeting the baby pigs, and I enjoyed all the historical buildings. It’s a big site. Bring your stroller, maybe something with wheels since my Zoe Stroller was a beast to push in the mud.
Next stop: Montreal for dinner. We checked into our hotel, and then walked around until we found a place to eat. I booked us closer to downtown Montreal using a Hotwire Hot Deals.
Day 9 – Montreal
I’ve been to Montreal before, so trying to figure out what to do was up for a challenge. It was cold and raining again , so we sought some musuems and thinking of the kids we visited the Insecturium. It’s a cool place, but I don’t think our toddlers got it. Sure, there were other daycares there, but the museum lacks any interactive displays that would make it an enjoyable visit with the kids.
My husband prefered the botancial gardens.
We then drove around taking in the sights, and stopped for bagels, before heading up to Blainville to visit Omaiki Cloth Diapers. I’m a brand ambassador and wanted to meet these lovely ladies.
Then Granby. Final Destination to visit with my sister. We did a few trips from Granby and flew out of Montreal one week later.
You could make it a loop and drive back up to Ottawa.