Canada 150 road trip ideas: a guide to visiting Ontario’s national parks

By June 23, 2017Uncategorised

Canada 150 road trip ideas: a guide to visiting Ontario’s national parks

If you haven’t heard already, Parks Canada is celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary with a free Discovery Pass, giving us an unlimited opportunity to enjoy the country’s national parks, marine conversations and historic sites—an opportunity that begs for a road trip!

These are the six parks that are free to access in Ontario:

  1. Thousand Islands National Park
  2. Pukaskwa National Park
  3. Point Pelee National Park
  4. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
  5. Bruce Peninsula National Park
  6. Rouge National Urban Park (this one is basically in the GTA, so it’s not a GTA roadtrip park, technically).

This is our cheat sheet for the road trip to one (or all!) of these sites this summer!

Before You Go

Since it’s going to be a road trip, you’ll first need to get one thing sorted out: make sure the vehicle you intend to use is in tip top shape. Here’s a short list of things to look out for:

  • Wipers are in working condition
  • Oil level
  • Fluids are topped up (windshield washer and engine coolant)
  • Tires are free from damage (no bulges on the sidewall or nails in the tread)

RepairMatch Tip! Learn about the difference between conventional and synthetic oil changes. A synthetic oil change may be appropriate for a longer trip!

Things people forget to pack

Outdoor gear and clothes are probably the first things we think of when packing for a roadtrip. But there are some essentials that will help us prepare for the just-in-case. Don’t forget to pack these too:

  • First-aid kit
  • Blanket(s)
  • Flashlight
  • Snacks and water for the car

RELATED: How to not go broke thanks to taking a road trip ]


Ready for the road trip

Courtesy of

Which park is for you? We’ve boiled down all the essentials for the five, road-trippable free access national parks in Ontario so you don’t have to.

National Park Distance from the GTA Key Attraction Where to Stop Along the Way
Thousand Islands National Park 317.5km (3 hour and 45 minute drive) Picturesque granite islands Bay of Quinte/Prince Edwards County and soak in the lesser-known wine region of Ontario
Pukaskwa National Park 1,104km (12 hour drive) 135 kilometres of Lake Superior coastline Bruce Mines and tour the Simpson Mine Shaft (where the first hard-rock copper was produced in 1847)
Point Pelee National Park 354km (4 hour and 45 minute drive) The southernmost point of the Canadian mainland and a birdwatcher’s paradise Stop at Colasanti’s Tropical Garden in Kingsville for exotic flowers and rides, games, and petting zoo for the kids
Georgian Bay Islands National Park 178km (2 hour and 30 minute drive) The world’s largest freshwater archipelago Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons in Midland; a reconstruction of the 1600s headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendant people.
Bruce Peninsula National Park 273km (4 hour drive) Dramatic cliffs, turquoise waters, large forests, and The Grotto. Divers Den in Tobermory provides a unique experience for all levels of diving, where guides are very knowledgable about all dive sites and shipwrecks in the area.

Keep entertained while on the road

road games

Whether it’s with friends or family, being huddled together in the confines of an automobile for hours is going to be a challenge. Here are four games you can play with the gang during the long drive:

While you were sleeping

When someone falls asleep, the rest of the passengers work together to create the most (un)believable story. When they wake up, they are told the story. If someone breaks character when telling the story, they lose a point and are silenced for the rest of the story. Those who successfully fool the sleeping passenger wins three points. The one with the most points at the end of the journey wins!

21 questions

This is a straightforward one. One person thinks of something while the others in the car ask questions. 21 questions max. The passenger who guesses correctly gets to start the next round. Make it more difficult by requiring only yes/no questions.

The singing chain game

For those of us who think we’ve got talent, this may be the game of choice. Someone sings a line from a song, and the next person must use the last word of the line to start their line. You’re out if you can’t do it! The key is sing a line that ends in an uncommon word (or if you’re playing cooperatively and going for a streak, do the opposite).

I spy

This one is for the kids (or the child within us!). Help time pass quickly by playing this guessing game. One person chooses an object that they see alongside the road and gives clues to what they see. The person who guesses right wins and gets to spy next!

We hope we’ve helped to match you with the knowledge and preparation needed to celebrate Canada’s 150 when you take it to the road this summer! Remember to give your vehicle a good glance-over, pack the little things most of forget to pack, and enjoy the trip!

RELATED: The Greatest Music Cities to Road Trip to from Toronto by INDIE88 ]

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