cheap weekend escape toronto

The top 10 cheap weekend escapes from Toronto

Cheap weekend escapes from Toronto are perfect for those of us with plenty of stress and not a lot of money. While nothing comes even near-free these days, if you've got a couple hundred bucks lying around, you too can be one of the privileged cavalry stuck on a 400 series highway on a Friday afternoon. Yippee!

Here are my picks for the top cheap weekend escapes from Toronto.

Go camping at a Provincial Park

This one is a no-brainer. Provincial parks are the poor person's cottage, and in many cases, every bit as fun. Prices typically range between $25 and $50 a night depending on the location of one's campground and what amenities it has to offer (showers, electricity, etc). Backcountry camping rates are much lower than car-camping rates.

Be in awe of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one of the best cheap weekend getaways in the province. Just over an hour away from Toronto, you can get there cheap if you hop on the Megabus and stay at one the city's many motels. Those with a car can explore the entire region in a weekend without breaking the bank, so long as you skip the casino. 

Rent a rustic cottage

There are plenty of inexpensive cottage rentals to be found on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. It takes some time to comb through the listings, but it helps to know what areas to start in. If you're looking to save, it's best to skip Muskoka and try other cottage regions.

Hit the beach at the Breakers

The Breakers is one of the resorts that you count yourself lucky to have come across. It's clean, the accommodations are nice (if basic), and it's located on one of Ontario's nicest beaches in Cobourg. The resort offers both motel-style rooms and housekeeping cottages.

Go camping but with a roof

You don't have to camp at provincial parks. The many cottages and cabins offered at Ontario campgrounds are a step above car camping that still won't blow the budget. Rates start at $55 for a ranger cabin in Algonquin Park and go up from there depending on how much space you need.

Try out an oTENTik

If you're not into the tent thing, but you also don't need much by way of amenities, another option is to try out one of Parks Canada's oTENTiks. These structures are a combination of a cabin and a tent, and make rainy days and snooping bears way more bearable than paltry tent. For now these hybrid structure can be found at Thousand Islands National Park.

Do Muskoka on the cheap

The rugged beauty of Muskoka will generally cost you an arm and a leg, but there are a few exceptions to this rule, one of which is Spring Lake Resort. Something between a motel and a bonafide lakeside resort, it's a way to partake in cottage country without going broke. Plus the lakeside setting is beautiful.

Hamilton Calling

The word might already be out that Steeltown is on the rise, but it's yet to be completely overrun by Toronto tourists. Over and above the many amazing waterfalls in the area, the food scene is booming and live music ain't no slouch either. You can rent a cheap motel or B&B in lieu of more expensive downtown accommodations.

Witness the rebirth of Buffalo

There's a ton of reasons to make the two hour drive to Buffalo these days. Beyond the burgeoning food scene on Ellicott St. and the charm of neighbourhoods like Elmwood Village and Allentown, the many adaptive re-use projects in the works reimagine the city's industrial past while putting its marvellous architecture back on display.

Explore Turkey Point

Consistently one of the best values when it comes to vacation regions within two hours of Toronto, Turkey Point cottages benefit from the warm temperatures of Lake Erie and the rural roads that near the beach make for great cycling. Head southwest!

Lead photo by

Parks Canada


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