small town ontario

5 small towns to visit four hours from Toronto

Small towns four hours away from Toronto typically offer a peek at the rugged landscape that defines much of Ontario. If you're willing to drive more than 250 kilometres from the city, you can see parts of the province that are entirely different than the rural areas that surround it, from the rocky shores of Lake Huron to the wind-swept Islands of the St. Lawrence River. It's yours to discover.

Here are my picks for small towns worth visiting within a four hour drive of Toronto.

Tobermory
Quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in the country, Tobermory is a small town tucked at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. The urban area is tiny, but that's not why you go here anyway. It's the proximity to the stunning Lake Huron shoreline and the numerous shipwrecks resting in the remarkably clear water.

Gananoque
Located along the St. Lawrence River, Gananoque serves as home base for exploration of the Thousand Islands. It's a quaint place with a scenic main drag that swells immensely from its yearly population of just over 5,000 in the summer months, which makes it a hub of activity. Stay in a B&B in town and make a few jaunts on the river.

Leamington
The tomato capital of Canada can push the fruit-theme a bit too much, but beyond all the attention this town gets for ketchup production, it's actually just a quaint place with old buildings and a nice waterfront. Its proximity to Point Peele National Park is also a boon.

Parry Sound
Found at the northern tip of Muskoka, Parry Sound is a rugged town that fills up with tourists in the summer but also serves as a reminder that the area hasn't always just been about cottage culture. There's a long industrial history here, which you can spot in historic buildings and the very importance of the port itself.

Smiths Falls
Nestled on the Rideau Canal, Smiths Falls has multiple locks that attract boaters through the summer. It's a good jumping off point to explore the rugged landscape between Kingston and Ottawa, though it's also got that sort of old charm that well established small towns in Ontario seem to exude. Many of the buildings on the main drag date back to the mid 19th century.

What's your favourite small town within four hours of Toronto? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of Tobermory by twurdemann in the blogTO Flickr pool.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

The Scarborough Bluffs park and beach are an ideal summer retreat

Glen Stewart Ravine is an oasis on the east side of Toronto

Airport officials warn of long waits in Toronto this summer

Huge new Costco opening in midtown Toronto next month

Bizarre interaction between Toronto police and pedestrian caught on video

This Toronto neighbourhood is a total mess right now

You can no longer drive away from parking tickets in Toronto

TTC is no longer closing the subway on weekends