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Is my itinerary the best Ontario loop?

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Aug 31st, 2015, 10:57 PM
  #1
Lev
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Is my itinerary the best Ontario loop?

Hi,
I am planning to arrive to Toronto in the end of September and be in Ontario for 10 days that includes the day of arrival to Toronto (YYZ airport) and departure from the same airport back to the US. We decided to concentrate on Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston – 1000 islands area.
We were at Niagara Falls area (American and Canadian side) a few years ago and also stayed for a few days in Montreal and Quebec City during another trip.
Here is what we are planning to do:

Day 1. Arrive to Toronto YYZ airport around 4 PM. Stay in Toronto for 5 nights – 4 full days.

Day 2, 3, 4, 5 Explore Toronto: CN Tower, Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Old Town, Queen’s Park, Dundas Square Area, The Annex, Chinatown, Queen West, Markets and Historic Distillery District. Also Harbourfront and maybe take a ferry to the Toronto Islands.

Day 6. Rent a car in town and drive to Ottawa. Stay in Ottawa for 3 nights – 2 full days.

Day 7, 8 – Explore Ottawa and the Gatineau Park in Quebec: Parliament Hill and area, National Gallery of Canada, ByWard Market, Scenic drives and walks around Ottawa (Sussex Drive and Rockcliffe Parkway, Gatineau Park).

Day 9 – Drive from Ottawa to Gananoque and take a scenic boat tour out of Gananoque. Continue to Kingston. Stay overnight in Kingston.

Day 10 – Drive from Kingston to Toronto Airport (YYZ). Drop a car at the airport and catch a 4 PM flight back to the US.

What do you think about this itinerary?
Is 4 days in Toronto, about 2+ days in Ottawa, probably evening and morning in Kingston a good split?
According to MapQuest the distance between Kingston and Toronto airport can be covered within 3 hours even with some traffic. What time would you recommend me to leave Kingston to have time to drop the car, reach the terminal, get through customs, etc.?

Thanks. Lev.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 05:44 AM
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Your relatively relaxed schedule should give you a good sample of this part of Ontario. You might see the start of the fall foliage colour. Your last paragraph is a concern, however. The 401 expressway is extremely busy, especially once you approach the urban sprawl of Toronto. Pearson Airport is on the west side of the city, giving plenty of urban highway where traffic can snarl any time of day. I'd regard four hours as a minimum to get to your car return depot.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 01:42 PM
  #3
Lev
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Thank you Southam.
Having 5 nights in Toronto, 3 nights in Ottawa and 1 night in Kingston is it what you would recommend based on my itinerary?

Lev.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 02:55 PM
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I also think you have divided up your time appropriately, giving you a taste of the three locales. I concur with Southam that you need to allow plenty of time to get to the airport. As well as traffic issues, lineups at Pearson can be long and you will have to go through US customs and immigration as well as security before you get to your gate.

You might consider doing the Toronto stay at the end of your visit so you will be closer to the airport and can judge better how long the drive will take. Another option is to take the toll highway, 407, from east of Toronto to Airport Road which usually is much less congested than 401.

On your way to Ottawa, I suggest you go north on #37 to #7 east which will take you right to Ottawa. Much more scenic and relaxing than the boring 401.

While in Ottawa be sure to visit the magnificent Museum of History. It is in Hull, Quebec, but that is just across the river and very close to the National Art Gallery.

Sounds like a great trip. I wish you happy travelling in Canada.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 03:39 PM
  #5
Lev
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Thank you eliztravels2,
Would you suggest to spend some time in Presqu'ile Provincial Park and Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County on the way from Toronto to Ottawa and then take #12-#62-#37 North and #7 East to Ottawa?
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Sep 1st, 2015, 04:22 PM
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If you get rolling in Ottawa early enough you can spend most of an afternoon in Kingston, a pleasant small city with a major university (and federal prison), the Royal Military College for armed forces students, plus lots of history from the colonial era. The nearby Fort Henry, built in the early 1800s, is scenic and does tours and re-enactments in the summer but the only tours are for groups when you get there http://www.forthenry.com/
Some folks take the short ferry ride to Wolfe Island across from the mouth of the harbour, not quite a Thousand Island but close. http://www.wolfeisland.com/ferry.php The Kingston Brewery in the heart of downtown offers craft ales, hearty food and a jumble of Ontario and military memorabilia. http://kingstonbrewing.ca/index.html
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Sep 2nd, 2015, 05:20 AM
  #7
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I think your itinerary is just about right. I agree with eliztravels2 that on the way to Ottawa you should get off Hwy 401 at Belleville and then take Hwys 37 and 7 to Ottawa. It will be much more picturesque, especially at that time of year with the leaves in full colour. I wouldn't bother with Presqu'ile of Sandbanks Parks--they are nice for camping, but really don't have much for the passing visitor. Instead, make a stop in Perth, a historic town with many fine stone buildings and interesting shops and restaurants.

In Ottawa, I agree that the Museum of History shouldn't be missed. Gatineau Park will be in its fall glory, but if it is a weekend, it will have hordes of visitors. Check the National Capital Commisson website to see what is happening in what they call the "Fall Rhapsody". http://www.ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places-to-visit/gatineau-park

From Ottawa to Gananoque try to make a small detour to Merrickville south of Ottawa. It is a lovely village at one of the locks on the Rideau Canal. When you reach Hwy 401, get off shortly west of Brockville and take the Thousand Islands Parkway to Gananoque for your boat tour.

There are some good suggestions for Kingston here. I would add Bellevue House, the home of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald.

Enjoy your visit
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Sep 2nd, 2015, 10:17 AM
  #8
Lev
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Thanks for the recommendation, laverendrye to skip Presqu'ile and Sandbanks Parks and get off Hwy 401 at Belleville and take Hwys 37 and 7 on the way to Ottawa with a stopover in Perth. We will be in Ottawa on Sunday and Monday and will concentrate on Ottawa on Sunday and leave Gatineau Park for Monday to avoid the crowds.
We've added Museum of History to the list and we will definitely make a detour to Merrickville and take the Thousand Islands Parkway to Gananoque as you recommended.
Would you also recommend a stopover in Oshawa on the way to Ottawa?

Southam. We will arrive to Kingston some time in the afternoon and hopefully will have enough time to explore Kingston following your recommendations.

Lev.
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Sep 2nd, 2015, 12:29 PM
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Toronto to Ottawa is a comfortable 6 hours with stops for lunch and coffee. Avoid Oshawa. It is definitely not worth a stop-over.
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Sep 2nd, 2015, 06:26 PM
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I don't think you have time to stop in Oshawa, but certainly Parkwood Estate National Historic Site, the former home of RS McLaughln the motor baron, is a good reason to visit.
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Sep 3rd, 2015, 09:21 PM
  #11
Lev
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eliztravels2,
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Sep 3rd, 2015, 09:27 PM
  #12
Lev
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eliztravels2, you recommended to take the cashless toll road
407 to avoid a potential traffic on the way from Kingston to Toronto airport. I will have a rental car. How will I pay the fee? Will it be possible that the rental company will charge my credit card more than I was supposed to pay (the fee plus additional money for not paying the fee on time, etc.)?

Lev.
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Sep 4th, 2015, 08:49 AM
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You are most likely to be charged an administrative fee by your rental company on top of the toll for using 407. Ask at the time you rent--it could be $30 or more. The toll and fee will be automatically charged to your credit card by the rental company--it could take up to a month. The toll for 407 from Brock Road at Pickering to 427 where you will exit for the airport will be about $20. This adds up to quite an expense.

I would simply allow more time and and stay on 401 and allow sufficient time for possible traffic snarls.

What time does your flight leave Toronto?
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Sep 4th, 2015, 09:25 AM
  #14
Lev
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Thank you laverendrye. I have 16:15 Air Canada flight to Boston.
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Sep 4th, 2015, 09:47 AM
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That's a busy time at the airport, so I would allow the full 3 hours recommended for security and US customs/immigration clearance. Add on the time to return your rental car.

Driving time from Kingston to Pearson under optimal conditions should be just under 3 hours. I would add at least 30 minutes in case of delays, but as you will be driving through Toronto around mid-day, traffic should be moving fairly well. So a 9:30 departure from Kingston should see you there in time.

You might want to consult the Ontario Ministry of Transport Website before leaving Kingston to check on any construction delays or serious accidents holding up traffic. It also has an automated traffic hotline (511).
http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/tra...79.459648&z=10

Approaching Toronto, AM680 has traffic reports every 10 minutes to keep you up to date.
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Sep 4th, 2015, 09:52 AM
  #16
Lev
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I'll depart Kingston no later than 9:00 am to be on the safe side. Are there any other cashless toll roads in Ontario and Quebec near Ottawa I need to avoid?
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Sep 4th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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I’ve never driven a rental car on the 407, Lev , so the thought of an additional admin. charge did not occur to me until you asked the question. As Laverendrye suggests, a hefty fee would not come as a surprise. No other toll roads in Ontario. Our gas taxes and therefore gas prices are higher here than the US but we don’t go in for toll highways much.

If you feel like a break and have the time while going through Oshawa a detour to Lakeview park is lovely on a nice day. Simply go south at the Simcoe street exit till you hear the splash, then back up a few feet ;-) ! There is no entrance fee. It’s a municipal park so designed for picnics and strolling, not camping, beaches and wildlife like Presquile and Sandbanks (which are both lovely, but deserving of more time than you have). Same huge lake, different perspective.
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Sep 4th, 2015, 07:00 PM
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<>

No, 407 is the only one.
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Sep 7th, 2015, 08:43 PM
  #19
Lev
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Thank you eliztravels2 and laverendrye.
I will be in Toronto for 4 full days. Would you recommend to take a ferry to Toronto Islands? I have checked the map and there are 3 ferries to:
- Hanlan's Point;
- Centre Island;
- Wards Island;
We'd like to walk along the coast line, enjoy the scenery.
Which ferry would you recommend to take?
Maybe to take a ferry to the Hanlan's Point and return back to mainland by another ferry: either from the Centre Island or Wards Island.. What would you suggest?

Lev.
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Sep 8th, 2015, 03:27 AM
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I would definitely recommend taking the ferry to the islands. Most people go to centre island where most of the activity is. It is well worth it to explore the rest of the islands, however. There is lots of space, a nude beach, a small community of residents living in quaint cottages who have fought tirelessly over the years to have their leases renewed by the city, even an old war time barracks type of building which is a retreat for artists of all kinds. You get a great view of the Toronto skyline. I believe you can rent bicycles and there are lots of wide paved paths.

Another recommendation is for the Bata Shoe Museum. It is on Bloor west of ROM. Not large, but they have fascinating exhibits and you don’t have to be a shoe addict to enjoy it. You could have a light lunch at the cafe in the Royal Conservatory of music, next door to ROM. And also while in the neighbourhood, there is the lovely Philosohper’s Walk, which runs south from ROM thorough the University of Toronto campus. Lots of student life and old architecture. It more or less parallels Yonge street so you aren’t too far from a subway start.
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