Planning The Perfect Summer Road Trip To Niagara Falls

Planning a trip to Niagara Falls for your next vacation? In our opinion, the best way to see this natural wonder is to do a scenic road trip from Toronto! On the way, you will encounter hidden waterfalls, Canada’s most famous warship, and the largest botanical garden in the country, all to be found in the interesting historical city, Hamilton, Ontario. In today’s post, I have created a 5-day itinerary to Niagara Falls, highlighting the best places to eat, stay and play!

Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

While planning a trip to Niagara Falls, remember this…

  • You will need to rent a car if you want to follow this itinerary. So, make sure you have a valid driver’s license. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in Canada, but if you’re visiting from other countries, you’ll need an international driver’s license.
  • In Canada, the steering wheel is on the left-hand side of the car and we drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • We practice ultimate safety here. This means seatbelt must be worn at all times, for both drivers AND passengers. And, hand-held electronic devices are banned while driving.

Car rental company suggestions: We personally love using National Car Rental because as an Emerald Club member, we get to choose any car available on-site and go! You can find major car rental companies at Toronto Pearson International Airport, including Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Alamo. You can also rent a car in downtown Toronto if you prefer not to deal with the city traffic (traffic congestion in downtown Toronto can drive you crazy, especially in the area where they have streetcars).

Cool? Alright, now we have all the serious stuff sorted out, let the journey begin!

A 5-Day Itinerary: Summer Road Trip From Toronto To Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a popular summer road trip destination in Canada. From Toronto, there are so many great things to do and places to eat! Click through to get access to a complete 5 day itinerary! #canadaroadtrip #ontario #niagarafalls #toronto #travelguide #canada #bucketlist #tripplanning

Day 1: Exploring the Art & Culture in Toronto

Toronto Skyline from Toronto Islands

We’ve been to Toronto many times, and there’s no doubt an endless number of things to see and do in Toronto. But since we only have one day in the city, my top suggestion is to focus on the exciting art and theatre scene!

Morning: Start your trip at Canada’s largest museum of art, world cultures, and natural history — Royal Ontario Museum. Housing more than 6 million artifacts, the museum will take you on a journey around the globe and across ages. You will encounter ancient dinosaurs, discover a bat cave, and see the mysterious Egyptian mummies! For lunch, enjoy South American staples at Lena Restaurant!

Lena Restaurant - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Lena Restaurant

Afternoon: Take a leisure walk around the downtown area, which is brimming with both historic and modern architectures. Nathan Phillips Square, Osgoode Hall, St. Larence Market, Harbourfront, and the Distillery District are a few places you do not want to miss.

Distillery District is our absolute favorite where we visit every time we’re in Toronto. If you’re there, be sure to stop by Izumi, Ontario’s first sake brewery, and try sake tasting!

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Places to visit in Toronto for photographers - Distillery District

You can see CN Tower from many places in Toronto, but at the top of this 553m tall skyscraper, you will get unmatched views of the city skyline! The best time to visit CN Tower is at sunset. If this doesn’t sound unique enough to you, try the Edgewalk where you stand on the edge of the tower and see the whole city below you!

CN Tower Edgewalk Toronto

Evening: Craving for sushi? Then you must check out JaBistro – the best sushi restaurant in Toronto! Their fish is so fresh and their lightly charred aburi style sushi is amazing! Reservation is a must at this place.

Perfect your evening with a musical, play or concert! Last year, we saw The 7 Fingers Cuisine & Confessions and LOVED IT! Click here to find out what Broadway shows, plays, dramas, and comedies are running in Toronto.

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JaBistro - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

JaBistro

Accommodations: Downtown Toronto has many luxurious hotels, including Ritz Calton, Fairmont Royal York, Shangri-La, Adelaide Hotel, and Le Germain. 

Ritz Carlton - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Ritz Carlton Toronto

Day 2: Seeing the Best of Hamilton

Morning: Start your morning slow and enjoy a cup of coffee at an indie cafe! Some of the popular ones include Fahrenheit Coffee, Dineen Coffee Co., Jimmy’s Coffee, Balzac’s, and Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar. 

Early Birds - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Early Birds

Afternoon: Pick up your rental car if you haven’t already. Then, start driving out to the city and grab brunch at La Cubana in Ossington for some exotic Cuban food! This charming retro diner serves spectacular pressed sandwiches and unique Cuban coffee!

La Cubana - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

La Cubana

After the meal, make sure to go across the street to Bang Bang Ice Cream and have their notoriously fabulous ice cream sandwiches (or ice cream in the Hong Kong Waffle cone for photo ops).

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Bang Bang Ice Cream Toronto

Now we’re ready to hit the road!

The drive to Hamilton will take about 1.5 hours. Compared to Toronto, Hamilton is a small city, but one rich in history and surrounded by stunning nature! There are 2 attractions you must see here:

  1. Royal Botanical GardensIt is Canada’s largest botanical garden as well as a National Historic Site! Your admission fee ($16) will grant you access to multiple gardens, nature sanctuaries, and various walking and hiking trails! Be prepared to spend a few hours here. The highlight includes the lilacs (bloom in May-June and make up the world’s largest collection), irises and peonies (June) and roses (June to July).
  2. HMCS Haida National Historic Site: This is Canada’s most famous warship and also the last surviving Tribal Class destroyer in the world. It served from 1943 to 1963, through WWII, the Korean War and the Cold War. Now docked at Hamilton Harbour’s Pier 9, you can relive the history and experience how the sailors lived, worked and fought aboard the fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy! Allow an hour here.

Evening: Treat yourself to a hearty seafood dinner at Fsh & Chp! Everything is so fresh here! Our favourites include the signature fish & chips and lobster mac & cheese.

Fsh n Chp Hamilton - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Accommodation: You don’t get a lot of luxury options here. There are many business hotels that offer a comfortable stay, such as Sheraton, Homewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites.

Day 3: Wine Tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Morning: Ever wish you could just roll out of bed and take a lovely walk to the waterfalls. In Hamilton, this is not a dream. Named “The Waterfalls Capital of the World,” you can find as many as 100 waterfalls just minutes from the downtown core! All you have to do is find Bruce Trail and it will take you to many beautiful hidden waterfalls. Check out this website for more information. 

Hamilton Waterfalls - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Tiffany Falls / Source: City of Waterfalls

At around 11 am, continue on our road trip to Niagara Falls and start heading out to the next destination: Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Niagara on the Lake

Afternoon: Stop for lunch at the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. You can find a lot of restaurants along Queen St. HOBNOB and Cannery are the two popular options.

Niagara is a famous wine region and is the best place to sip on Canadian wines! After lunch, go on a winery tour and do a wine tasting! Make sure you try Icewines, Canada’s famous sweet wine. Once you take a sip you’ll understand how irresistible it is. Lakeview Wine Co., Peller Estates, and Inniskillin are great places to start off if you are not familiar with Canadian wineries. 

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Evening: Dinner at Peller Estates is a must. The chef serves up delicious regional dishes using the freshest seasonal ingredients to blow your mind! After dinner, dress up like an Eskimo and sip Icewines at Niagara’s only ice lounge. This is one of our favourite experiences in Niagara-on-the-Lake that you must not miss!

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At 10 pm, watch the spectacular fireworks dazzle the night sky above Niagara Falls. Fireworks only set off on weekdays.

Best Things to Do Ways To Experience Niagara Falls Summer

Accommodation: For the best view of the Niagara Falls, I recommend staying at Sheraton. You can watch the fireworks right from your balcony! Otherwise, The Oakes Hotel, Embassy Suites, Radisson, and Marriott are also good options.

Sheraton on the Falls Hotel - Summer Road Trip to Niagara Falls Ontario Canada - 5 Day Itinerary from Toronto

Sheraton on the Falls Hotel

Day 4: Outdoor Adventures in Niagara Falls

Morning: Today is a day full of outdoor fun! Out of all the different ways to see Niagara Falls, my favourite is through ziplining. Imagine how THRILLING it is to soar across the sky with a full view of Niagara Falls right before your eyes. It is an experience you can’t get anywhere else!

Top Niagara Falls Activities Zipline Adventure

Besides ziplining, another way to get an amazing view of the Falls is from up above! Go on a helicopter tour for stunning close-up views of the Falls. Ask for front seats if you can to get some great aerial shots like I did!

Niagara Helicopters Tour Ontario

Afternoon: Fuel up at Queenston Heights Restaurant on the Niagara Parkway, or at Queen Victoria Place in the entertainment district. Then, hop onto Whirlpool Aero Car and experience a unique ride above the Niagara River! Looking down at the class 6 rapids, you can almost feel the power of these fierce waters rushing below you. 

To top off the experience, hop abroad the Whirlpool Jet Boat for an exhilarating ride! It will take you through Niagara’s class 5 whitewater rapids and make you feel the fury of the river!

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Niagara Falls Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour

Evening: After a long day, it’s time for a hearty meal. Try Windows by Jamie Kennedy (inside Sheraton), you won’t be disappointed!

Day 5: A Quick Getaway to Toronto Islands

Our 5-day road trip to Niagara Falls has come to an end. It’s now time to drive back to Toronto.

If you are back to Toronto early and would like to explore the city more, I’d recommend checking out Toronto Islands and Casa Loma. Or, hit up some food spots, such as PAI, WVRST, and Ruby Watco.

Casa Loma Toronto


To help you keep track of all the places I have mentioned in this post, I have created a map:

Have you done a road trip to Niagara Falls before? Any activities or attractions that I miss?

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37 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. I love the zip lines over Niagara Falls. That is totally on our list. I would love to eat my way around the world and never leave Toronto. There seems to be so many international choices there. Toronto is such a cosmopolitan city.

  2. I am impressed with you for daring to do Edgewalk. I am way too wimpy for that. But maybe AFTER the sake and wine tasting experiences… Nah. I don’t think there are enough drinks to get me out there. I can’t even walk on the glass section of floor inside!

  3. Ha, I just did something really similar! I flew into Buffalo, NY – took an Uber to Niagara Falls, NY. Spent the day in Niagara Falls (NY and Canada), then drove through St Catherine’s and Burlington and on to Toronto where I spent about 5 days. Just got home last night. It was a lovely trip!

  4. Great itinerary, Cat. I love the overview and then the links to deeper articles on so many of the activities. Looks like a great five day get-away — though I think you’re braver than I am with taking on the Edge — I don’t think I would have made it!

  5. I love the idea of road tripping in Canada! The route you’ve outlined is perfect. We’re getting into sake for our upcoming trip to Japan, so we’d definitely stop at Izumi in Toronto’s Distillery District 🙂 I’ve never been to Hamilton, so it would be interesting to see a new Canadian city. Great post, as always!

  6. This is a perfect road trip itinerary! Niagara Falls is still on my to go list and I’d love to see it really soon! So many fun things to do from Toronto all the way to Niagara Falls.

  7. Wow! that looks like perfect activity filled itinerary for the world’s most coveted waterfalls. I hope to see it soon and take all the advice you have shared. Only that worries me that I drive left hand and on a short trip it is risky to drive on the opposite side. I get confused while taking turns. We are used to free lift while you guys will have free right.

  8. Wine and spirits Travel! Love it! Sushi! Yumm!! And then 100 waterfalls just minutes from downtown. I’m ready to go on a roadtrip!

  9. Looks like an amazing itinerary you guys had full of fun and adventure. The Whirlpool let boat looks amazing. Our kids would love this sort of things its right up their alley. Your pictures are amazing they make the sites come alive

  10. Thanks for the amazing road trip itinerary. I would love to visit Niagara Falls one day and eat the delicious food you mentioned! Gosh your photos are so beautiful. I just can’t wait to see it with my eyes!

  11. I’ve always wanted to go to Niagara Falls but I have never really thought about all the other things to do nearby. Seriously love all the adventurous things mentioned here. SO brave for doing the CN tower! I hope I can get myself to doing it when I visit!!!

  12. A really useful in-depth guide, we are thinking of going back to Canada in 2018. Although we may give the CN tower edge walk a miss.

  13. Wow Niagara Falls look so amazing! I really hope I can make it there one day, annoying I didn’t take the chance when I had it.

    Great post 🙂

    Lucy x

  14. This sounds like a fantastic trip! We unfortunately have no driving licenses, so we would have to find an other way to move around, but I’m sure this wouldn’t be impossible 🙂 I’d absolutely love to do the Zip-Lines, that sounds so great! Thank you for recommending also some good places to eat. The Fsh & Chp would be absolutely on my itinerary.

  15. This is a great itinerary for Niagara Falls. The Edge Walk on the CN Tower looks crazy. My favourite thing to do would be to hike the Bruce trail to see all the smaller waterfalls.

  16. Thank you for this post. Been to Toronto and Niagara but haven’t really thought of all the adventure we can do by the falls… Wow… I’m IN for the zipline:)

  17. If my hubby and I were to do year 2 in our RV we would definitely take it to Canada to do a roadtrip there. It is such a huge country with so much to do that we’d need another year just to hit the highlights! But since I can’t do that, I do think an autumn road trip could be in order!q

  18. I’ve heard from so many people that Canada is the better side to see Niagara, so I appreciate the 5 day itinerary! Would love to make it to Toronot at some point – and the Edgewalk at CN tower is on the list! Hamilton sounds like a beautiful small town to hit before some wine tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake – 100 waterfalls just minutes from downtown sounds amazing!!

    Thanks for the tip on staying at the Sheraton for the best views of the falls. I had no idea you could zip-line – what an adventure! Thanks for these great ideas!

  19. What a great itinerary. I haven’t spent any time in Toronto, so your picks looks great. I was just in Hong Kong, and your ice cream pic reminded me that I was planning on trying a HK waffle cone with ice cream, but totally forgot until right now! I’ve heard so many amazing things about the Toronto food scene, that I’m afraid I would just get stuck in the city for the whole 5 days.

  20. That seems like a perfect itinerary full of adventure, history, good food and stay. Canada is on our to-do list only for the Niagara Falls. The 100 waterfalls just a walk away sounds exciting. Would love to follow this once planning a trip. Thanks for sharing.

  21. So funny, I always thought about visiting Niagara falls . . . from US so this post brings me another perspective, the Canadian one, which is pretty cool! I liked your proposed itinerary so much that I pinned one of your pins for a future use. Thanks Cat!

  22. Brilliant itinerary and I’m so glad you included all these tempting places to eat. Always in the mood for Sushi! I’ve heard so many times approaching Niagra Falls from the Canadian side is much more spectacular, bonus to have all these other incredible spots to visit along the way.

  23. I was in Toronto for the first time this year, so can identify with many of the suggestions on your list! I saw CN Tower from one of the buildings in the financial district, and it was free! I’d like to try the wine tasting at Niagara, I’m sure it would make the experience more fun of seeing the falls! Next time, I’ll try to visit Toronto Island.

  24. I’m yet to explore the American continent. Niagara is ofcourse in the top of the places to visit. That said, here in India, we’re used to driving on the left side of the road and I don’t think I can manage driving in USA!!! That said I love this itinerary. Edgewalk is definitely in my list as well.

  25. So fun! I’ve never thought about visiting Niagara Falls before, but it seems like there’s just so much more to do than look at the water! I think trying out the Whirlpool Jet Boat would be a scream! I’ve seen videos about it before and think it would be a gas. I love ziplining, so I think trying out the zipline over the falls would be magical for sure!

  26. This summer I too had Nigara Falls visit, but from America side. Your 5 day itinerary plannery for Niagara Falls from Canada side is very interesting and thus I want to do it again from Canadian side. Edgewalking and Ziplining would be beautiful adventure to do here. Tiffany falls is also scenic.

  27. This is a fantastic itinerary.  I recently spent some time in Niagara but it was not summer so the water activities were out of the question.  However I love your winery suggestions (Peller Estates is magnificent) and the Ice wine is a must. Next time I go I would like to try some of the activities you mentioned like the zip lining. This seems fun an a great way to get an aerial view.   I guess I need to plan a summer trip next.

  28. I have been hearing about Niagra Falls since childhood. I have still not seen it. My aunt lives in California and I am planning to go with her. There is so much to do around Niagra. This reminds me I have to apply for my international driver’s license.

  29. Thank you for the comprehensive and detailed itinerary. Your photos are amazing. I have pinned this for future reference since Niagara Falls is on my bucket list!

  30. There is so much to do on a road trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Being English I’d love to try how the fish and chips are out there! The zip lining to the falls must give incredible views!. The Toronto Islands are a place I’ve not heard of and need to read more about!

  31. I quite liked the itinerary. It takes care of everything and I like that you have tips about everything. Well, of course I would love to see Niagara falls some day, I would love to try some desserts at Bang Bang Ice Cream and go for the botanical gardens.

  32. I was so impressed by the food options in Toronto! And that’s a gorgeous waterfall capture, so much natural beauty in this area!

  33. No way! They have ziplining now in Niagara Falls? What a great vantage point to take it all in! I haven’t been to Niagara Falls in years (and there definitely was no ziplining then 🙂 ) and there looks like a lot more to see and do. Really love that you made a great road trip out of this, starting in Toronto and ending at the Falls. There’s so many great things to see along the way, especially the wineries and scenic sites. And I really can’t believe you stood on the edge of the CNTower….yikes!!

  34. I love that you incorporated other parts of Canada in this, not just Niagara Falls! That Edgewalk in Toronto looks super exhilarating. I’ll have to consider this for summer.

  35. Key words: Road Trip! Every post that starts with these words, gets my attention immediately. I’ve never been to Canada but I plan to do it. I would definitely need to make some adjustments to my budget, but it would totally consider the Whirlpool Aero Car.

  36. This is making me want to go to Toronto! Hahahaha, of course, I would love to visit Niagra Falls too, but all of your suggestions along the way are amazing. The sushi presentation at JaBistro is gorgeous. I’m afraid of heights, so I’ll have to skip those activities 🙂

  37. Wow such a useful post for people who’re planning to visit the Niagara falls. My favorite part of this itinerary is the edgewalk on CN Tower. Ritz Carlton in Toronto looks really good and the view is amazing.

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