While stores like Staples are gearing up for September and making us miserable with their way-too-early back-to-school commercials, we’ve still got plenty of summer ahead of us and the open road waiting to be traversed. And nothing says summer like a road trip in a thoroughly air conditioned vehicle seeing the country you call home. Whether or not you’re located in the northeastern part of the North America, a road trip across the Canadian border offers convenience, nature hikes, river rafting, big city sightseeing and outdoor festivals.
Need some help planning? Our idea of the perfect eastern North America road trip will get the wheels turning. And the best part is, all of these stops are within five hours from each other.
Stop 1: Montreal
Montreal is a popular summer destination for road trippers looking for a city that has the perfect mix of European charm and vibrancy. Some people hit the road for Montreal just for their outdoor music festivals. This summer, Piknic Electronik will be playing upbeat electro and house music every Sunday and Osheaga will be back for a multi-day festival from July 29-31 with headliners like Lana Del Ray, Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Be sure to take some time to discover the history, gastronomy and culture of Montreal in between sets. The Old Port area offers scenic vistas along the water. Retail therapy at Simons on Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest offers an escape from the heat and souvenirs to take home. But for a more sophisticated respite, visit the The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Stop 2: Ottawa
This sometimes sleepy capital city is revived during the summer months as the streets fill with cyclists and pedestrians looking to explore the outdoors. Shop through the stalls at the Byward Market, Canada’s oldest and largest public market, and cool off with a local brew on the patio of Lowertown Brewery. Brush up on your Canadian and international art at the National Gallery of Canada or head across the river to Gatineau to the Canadian Museum of History. Take advantage of the weather outside the city at the scenic Meech Lake in Gatineau Park and explore the great Canadian outdoors via raft or kayak down the Ottawa River. The largest spa in North America, the Nordik Spa-Nature (only 20 minutes from downtown Ottawa in Chelsea, Quebec), will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the fall.
Stop 3: Toronto
As Ontario’s temperatures reach record highs over the summer months, Torontonians and visitors alike take to the outdoors. While you are bound to find the locals at Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park in the Queen West neighborhood or hiking through High Park, it is worth the ferry ride over to Toronto Island to sunbathe on the sand. The city reawakens in the summer to welcome a number of arts and cultural festivals and is home to some of the best outdoor cinema screenings like the Christie Pits Film Festival. Cool off at the Drake Sky Yard or with a crisp locally made craft beer at Bellwoods Brewery. For a break from the sun, take in the culture of Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum.
Stop 4: Syracuse
Over the last few years, the city of Syracuse has transformed from a manufacturing and industrial hub to its current form as a vibrant destination for arts and culture. While known all over the U.S. for their local university’s basketball team, Syracuse has recently been attracting more and more visitors who are vying for a taste of their experimental culinary scene. Origin of Dinosaur BBQ, and land of the Funk ‘n Waffles, Syracuse will impress your palette as you stroll through Armory Square downtown. Work off the waffles through Clark Reservation State Park or along the 2.6-mile Onondaga Creekwalk.
Stop 5: New England
Take in the summer weather on a historic Freedom Trail tour along Boston’s cobblestone streets or soak up the sunshine at Boston Common. Dine al fresco at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace or head down to Newbury Street for some window shopping. For an escape from the famously rowdy city, Cape Cod has New England charm in a calmer setting by the water and The Berkshires is home to the outdoor music festival, Tanglewood.
Main and lead photo by Ran_
Caleigh Alleyne is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor of The Creators Commune.