Planning a cross-Canada road trip from Ontario to BC? So am I! Here are itinerary ideas for your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada, including a route map. Find the best road trip stops, where to stay, and side treks you might want to take.
With a country as big and diverse as Canada, there are SO many Canada road trip ideas to pick from. Without dipping into the United States, the shortest and fastest Toronto to Vancouver drive is 4,400 kilometers (2,735 miles) and 46 hours. Whew!
My recommended cross-Canada road trip route is slightly longer, at 4,650 km, 51 hours and seven days of driving. And I highly recommend you include a 1,000-km, 11-hour loop in Alberta, which is best done in three days minimum.
Plus, consider adding four mini road trips to your trip itinerary. One through Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario. Another in BC’s Rocky Mountain hot springs. And then two road trips near Vancouver: Sea to Sky Highway and Vancouver Island.
- Cross-Canada Road Trip MAP
- Toronto to Vancouver Drive: Where to STOP
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Cross-Canada Road Trip MAP: Toronto to Vancouver Drive
Here’s a map of my recommended Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada. The blue lines show your cross-Canada road trip route, plus side trip ideas. Red icons mark things to do. And grey icons mark great places to stay along the way.
To view map details: Click the top-left arrow to open legend.
To customize the map: Click the top-right box “View larger map,” click three circles and “copy.” Add/delete places you’re planning for your cross-Canada road trip.
TORONTO + Trip to Hamilton and Niagara
If you’re starting your cross-Canada road trip in Toronto, chances are you’re from here. But if not, definitely give yourself a couple of days to enjoy the city before your Toronto to Vancouver drive. We stayed outside of downtown for cheaper hotel rates, but the most convenient place to stay would be right downtown.
My favorite things to DO in Toronto:
- Medieval Times: SO much fun for all ages! Your ticket includes a large delicious dinner and two hours of medieval jousting. Come at least 30 minutes early to browse the shops, have a drink and get in the spirit. Be sure to wear your medieval best!
- Ripley’s Aquarium: A fantastic aquarium, with a shark tunnel, gorgeous jellyfish gallery and hands-on experiences. Buy your tickets online that morning to skip the line. For a quieter experience, come before lunch or after 7pm. We just parked in the parkade across the street.
- CN Tower: A classic site to visit in Toronto, and for good reason! Take a glass-fronted elevator up to three observation decks, including a floor-to-ceiling lookout floor and glass floor walk. The world’s highest outdoor walk on a building. Award-winning dining at the revolving 360 restaurant.
- Toronto Island Park: This park has an excellent amusement park for young kids, splash pad, beautiful beaches, trails and restaurants. Take the ferry or hire a boat taxi at the port.
For Toronto tours or packaged trips nearby, check out Viator.
Where to STAY in Toronto:
- Chelsea Hotel (downtown): A lovely downtown hotel with two indoor pools, sauna, hot tub, onsite dining, wine bar and games room. Also excellent for families. Gongs, treasure chest prizes, waterslide, supervised Kid Centre, Club 33 Teen Lounge and onsite Market Garden with kid-friendly buffet options.
- The Ritz-Carlton (next to Aquarium): An ultra-luxurious hotel with onsite dining, spa, indoor saltwater pool, hot tub and sauna. Rooms have deep soaker tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows with views. Also fun for families, with packages including in-room movies, tent and a liquid nitrogen ice cream-making class! Families get access to the Club Lounge with breakfast, lunch, snacks and board games.
- Hotel X (waterfront): Luxury hotel in Toronto with a gorgeous rooftop pool, elegant restaurant, beauty boutique, spa and exclusive theaters. Rooms have oversized windows with amazing lake or city views. Some have balconies, too. For families: cribs, mini robes, age-appropriate bath products, and supervised Play Centre at Ten X Toronto Athletic Facility.
SIDE ROAD TRIP to Hamilton and Niagara:
This mini road trip from Toronto is still on my bucket list! Driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls is 130km and 1 hour 15 minutes. Add about an hour’s drive to stop at the African Lion Safari. Niagara-on-the-Lake is about 30 minutes north of Niagara Falls. You could either return to Toronto for the night or stay in the Niagara area.
Things to DO on a road trip from Toronto to Niagara Falls:
- African Lion Safari: This safari gets fantastic reviews for things to do near Toronto! Some guests prefer driving through the safari in their own vehicles, and others on the bus where you get a guided experience. Includes a lake tour, terrific splash pad and eating options. Or, bring your own food. Plan for 2-3 hours.
- Niagara Falls: Of course I have to include this spectacular waterfall in Canada! Although it’s very touristy, you can get a quieter experience on the riverside walk. Horseshoe Falls is the most impressive of the three waterfalls. Check out the virtual tour.
- Niagara-on-the-Lake: Known for its vineyards, breweries and excellent drinks. Need I say more?! Plus, beautiful resorts and private places to stay right on a vineyard.
Places to STAY in southern Ontario:
- Vittoria Hotel & Suites (Niagara Falls): An elegant 3-star hotel with an onsite pool and restaurant, and an easy walking distance to Horseshoe Falls. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with large walk-in showers.
- Best Western Plus Cairn Croft (Niagara Falls): A basic but comfortable hotel option for families. Features a large indoor courtyard with pool, play area and arcade games. Plus, onsite dining.
- Riverbend Inn & Vineyard (Niagara-on-the-Lake): A brilliant Georgian mansion … right on a private vineyard. All rooms feature a cozy fireplace, private bath and sitting area, and some have a balcony. Onsite dining and 1890s salon bar.
For more places to stay in the Niagara area including private cabins, check out Romantic Getaways in Ontario.
TORONTO to SAULT STE MARIE
This is the first leg of your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada. Driving west from Toronto through Northern Ontario gives you plenty of gorgeous scenery. You mostly hug the northern shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. And there are plenty of dramatic cliffs courtesy of the Canadian Shield to make us happy!
Now, I will warn you: Plan in some patience. Much of the highway from Toronto to the Manitoba border is single-lane traffic. Which means it has Ontario’s painfully slow 90km speed limit. And it’s a main shipping route.
The first leg of your cross-Canada road trip from Toronto to Sault Ste Marie is 700km and about 7 hours. I suggest a quick stop at Blue Mountain Village, which adds about 80km and 50 minutes to the drive.
North of Barrie, stay on Highway 400 for the quickest and most scenic route. This hugs the lovely Georgian Bay on Lake Huron, and takes you through Parry Sound, Pickerel and French River. Enjoy the divided highway until Sudbury, where it narrows to single-lane traffic.
Where to STOP on the drive from Toronto to Sault Ste Marie:
- Blue Mountain Village: A beautiful mountain ski resort community about two hours from Toronto. Stroll in and out of cute shops. Grab a bite to eat. Go on a short hike or start that road trip with a massage. It’s perfect for stretching your legs!
- Science North (Sudbury): An impressive hands-on science center with four floors. Includes an IMAX(R) 3D, nocturnal room, butterfly gallery and a roaming porcupine.
- Scenic stops: Killarney Provincial Park hiking and French River Provincial Park waterfalls. Both parks have excellent paddling options, too.
What to DO in Sault Ste Marie:
- Agawa Canyon Tour Train: Spend a day exploring the scenic Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park. It’s a 4-hour train ride in and 4 hours back, with a 1.5 hour stop for hiking to waterfalls and lookouts.
- Canadian Bushplane Museum: Coming from northern Alberta, I laugh at how Canadian this is! Reviewers love it, saying all ages could spend a few hours here. Fly in the simulator. Radio in fires from the fire tower. Followed by a waterfront picnic outside.
- Sault Ste Marie Boardwalk: A lovely place to stroll along the river. The boardwalk connects nice restaurants, pretty parks, a mall and the historic locks.
Where to STAY in/near Sault Ste Marie:
- Cabin at Big Basswood Lake: The perfect lakefront cabin in Northern Ontario! A quintessential Ontario experience to include on your Canada road trip. This cabin includes a large deck, gentle-sloping beach, sauna, fireplace and canoes. Just over an hour east of Sault Ste Marie, so you’ll need to add this to the next leg of your trip.
- Delta Waterfront: We had a great experience here, and it’s right on the waterfront and boardwalk. Has an indoor pool and restaurant. Rooms are clean and comfortable.
SAULT STE MARIE to THUNDER BAY
Driving from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay is 700km and just under 8 hours. This scenic drive follows Lake Superior’s northern shore, with plenty of beautiful parks to stop and enjoy the views on your Toronto to Vancouver drive.
I absolutely love Northern Ontario’s landscape. Dramatic cliffs and massive boulders of the Canadian Shield combine with thick woods and tumbling water for incredible waterfalls and pristine paddling. You could spend a lot of time camping, hiking and paddling here. If you don’t have a lot of time, my favorite hikes are at the Sleeping Giant and Silver Falls.
Where to STOP on the drive from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay:
- Hiking along Lake Superior: Lake Superior Provincial Park cliffs, waterfalls, pictographs, swimming, and incredible hiking and paddling. Pukaskwa National Park with towering cliffs, secluded beaches and a swaying suspension bridge over a waterfall.
- Short stops: Pretty Rossport to stroll along the lake and get a snack at Serendipity Gardens Cafe. Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park for a nice short hike, and nearby Eagle Canyon for a suspension bridge and zipline adventure.
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is spectacular! There are SO many hiking options here. The best hikes are full-day and quite challenging, so plan to stay here for the night. There’s a pretty campground near a lake with a decent beach, with cabins, too.
- Terry Fox Monument commemorates where Terry Fox ended his cross-Canada run for cancer awareness. A short stop off the highway with panoramic views and a nice visitor center.
Things to DO in Thunder Bay:
- The Marina is a pretty park right on Lake Superior. Wander the pretty pathways past sailboats and fountains. Watch the boats go by at one of the onsite restaurants.
- Fort William Historical Park: Certainly one of the best preserved and presented historic forts in Canada, this is a fantastic stop for anyone who likes history. We loved the climb to the tower lookout, throwing an axe (don’t ask how well I did!), re-enactments and petting the farm animals. Good onsite restaurant and canoe rentals available.
- Incredible hikes: Thunder Bay is surrounded by incredible scenery, and it’s easy to access! Favorite nearby hikes include Pigeon River overlooking Lake Superior (30 minutes south of Thunder Bay) and The Cascades (right in Thunder Bay).
Where to STAY in/near Thunder Bay:
- Yurt at Rossport: An elegant and super cozy glamping experience, with fireplace and access to sauna, hammock, gazebo, firepit and BBQ. Rossport is 2 hours east of Thunder Bay. It’s the perfect overnight stop before for hitting the trails at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and then continuing onto Thunder Bay.
- The Courthouse Hotel: An historic, comfortable hotel overlooking the Sleeping Giant and Lake Superior. Walk to many cute shops and restaurants. Price includes breakfast.
- Delta Waterfront: A lovely hotel right at Marina Park overlooking Lake Superior. Onsite restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor patio with views of the Sleeping Giant.
THUNDER BAY to WINNIPEG
Driving from Thunder Bay Ontario to Winnipeg Manitoba is 700km and about 7 hours. If you take the detour to explore Quetico Provincial Park’s back-country, it’s 760km and 8.5 hours from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg.
Where to STOP driving from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg:
- Silver Falls Provincial Park probably has my NUMBER 1 favorite waterfall ever! You first get a taste of the dramatic cascading Dog Falls from a lookout. Then the trail wraps around and you can dip your toes … wherever you dare! I LOVE the drama of these waterfalls. Trail access is only 30 minutes from Thunder Bay and it’s about a 2-hour hike, so you could also do this hike while staying in Thunder Bay.
- Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is the second highest waterfall in Ontario, and it’s a beauty! It’s easy to access right along Highway 17. The small visitor center is excellent, as are the wooden boardwalks. Has camping onsite and short easy hikes. Plus, the nearby town has excellent ice cream!
- Quetico Provincial Park is perfect for those wanting a back-country experience on a cross-Canada road trip. It’s world-famous for backcountry canoeing with over 2,000 lakes.
- Kenora is cottage country, with beautiful lakefront homes you can rent. Just passing through? Stop for lunch at 901 Westside, pick up some Lake of the Woods craft beer for later, and stretch your legs on a short hike in Rushing River Provincial Park. Need some in-car entertainment? Check out an audio tour guide.
Things to DO in Winnipeg:
- The Forks: A great hub for food, shopping and short walks along the river. Order food-to-go and enjoy it with a picnic blanket at the park.
- Canadian Museum for Human Rights: A moving, “carefully done” museum covers human rights issues in Canada and around the world in a beautiful 8-level building.
- Riel House National Historic Site: An insightful tribute to a significant part of Canadian heritage. A small building and quick stop, but worthwhile.
- Assiniboine Park: Spend the day exploring the zoo (complete with polar bears!), English gardens and paths, playgrounds, miniature train, museum, restaurants and theatre. In the summer, the park hosts free concerts and ballet!
Where to STAY in Winnipeg:
- The Fort Garry Hotel & Spa: Near The Forks and the waterfront, this super-elegant historic hotel and spa is the ideal place to stay in Winnipeg. Features an onsite restaurant with daily live jazz (LOVE this!). Plus, a spa, gym, indoor pool and bathrobes.
- Victoria Inn: Dinosaur-themed pool area with waterslides, onsite restaurant, and rooms with bunk beds. My kids love bunk beds! Only 15 minutes to the Assiniboine Park.
WINNIPEG to CALGARY via Regina Route
As much as I love my provincial neighbours of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, your Western Canada road trip from Winnipeg to Calgary will be rather boring. But the good news is that it’s mostly divided highway with a maximum speed of 110km/hr, so you zip along pretty well. Just get those playlists and audio books ready!
Driving Winnipeg to Calgary is 1,335 km and about 13 hours 20 minutes. I recommend stopping in Regina to break up the drive, which is 6 hours from Winnipeg and 7.5 hours from Calgary. Regina has some wonderful places to stay and interesting things to do on your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada.
Things to DO in Regina:
- Stone Hall Castle Tours: A labour of love, culminating in a surprisingly fun lesson in history. This beautiful building is decorated with a thousand-year-old Greek limestone, tapestries, original Old Masters oil paintings, and furniture between the 16th and 18th centuries. Stop for a tour or spend the night. Guests love it!
- Saskatchewan Science Centre: A decent science centre with three floors of interactive exhibits. Experiments, stage shows and 3D IMAX theatre. Explore topics like space, light, gravity, nature, electricity, math and engineering.
- RCMP Heritage Centre: Explore the rich history and contributions of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) since 1873.
Where to STAY in Regina:
- The Hotel Saskatchewan: This beautiful hotel has an onsite restaurant, fitness centre and hot tub. Rooms are comfortable, but I think I’d just want to sip coffee in the lobby and marvel at the elegant surroundings!
- Atlas Hotel: Comfortable and super-fun for kids! Water park has 2 water slides, hot tub, pool, toddler area and spray pad. Plus, an onsite pub.
Things to DO in Calgary:
- Calgary Zoo: A fantastic zoo, with proceeds helping to protect endangered animals. Visit almost 900 animals from around the world, including giant pandas, giraffes and penguins (my favorite!). Beautiful gardens, decent food and playgrounds.
- Explore Calgary’s beautiful parks: My favorite three are Prince’s Island Park downtown with Shakespeare in the Park and lots of buskers, Bowness Park with a boating lagoon, and Riley Park’s pretty gardens, large wading pool and fun playground.
- Wander Stephen Avenue shops and cafes, and have a picnic at the fountains of Olympic Plaza. Check out the incredible architecture of Studio Bell and the new Calgary Public Library. Then head to the old Simmons Building for a drink overlooking the beautiful Bow River.
Where to STAY in Calgary:
- Le Germain (downtown Calgary) and Hotel Arts Kensington (overlooking the river) are my two favorite places to stay in Calgary. Both are classy and very comfortable, have excellent onsite restaurants, and in excellent locations for seeing the best of Calgary on foot.
- Sheraton Cavalier (NE just off the Highway) is a comfortable and fun place for families to stay in Calgary. It has a great pool and hot tub area with a waterslide, and it’s just off the Trans-Canada Highway. Plus, on onsite steakhouse, bistro, pub, Starbucks and fitness center.
- Kananaskis Mountain Lodge (1hour west of Calgary): If you’d rather head straight for the mountains, I personally recommend Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. Features 5 restaurants, spa, indoor heated pool and children’s area with activities. Also, the Lodge can arrange various activities, like cycling the nearby paths, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and ski trips.
ALBERTA ROAD TRIP: Alberta Badlands, Edmonton + Rocky Mountains
Alberta has SO much to see and do on a cross-Canada road trip. As much as I love the Calgary drive to Banff, you’d definitely be missing out if you didn’t do this circle route idea.
This Alberta road trip from Calgary takes you through the Alberta Badlands (aka where the dinosaurs roamed). Up to Edmonton (aka the famous West Edmonton Mall). Over to Jasper (a fairly quiet mountain town). And down the incredible Icefields Parkway route through the mighty Rocky Mountains. If you take this Alberta road trip route down to Banff, it’s 1,085 km and about 12 hours. Plus many stops.
I recommend staying in Edmonton, Jasper and Banff. Then you’ll be ready to start the BC leg of your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada.
Things to DO on the drive from Calgary to Edmonton:
- Royal Tyrrell Museum: One of the world’s largest collections of dinosaurs, including those that walked Alberta’s Badlands. Well curated and laid out.
- Hiking in the Badlands: Check out Horseshoe Canyon on your way to Drumheller. Head south a bit to marvel along the short Hoodoos Trail. Then, after visiting the Tyrrell Museum, check out Horsethief Canyon before heading north to Edmonton.
- Canadian Badlands Passion Play: If you time your visit right in July, I certainly recommend experiencing “the greatest story ever told.” When the angel chorus surrounds you from above the natural amphitheatre, it’ll take your breath away.
- Sylvan Lake beach: If you crave beaches and lakefront activities, Sylvan Lake Park is perfect! The beach is beautiful and has boardwalk huts selling ice cream, burgers and beach clothes. You also have nearby go-karts, waterslides and pedal boats!
Things to DO in Edmonton:
- West Edmonton Mall: A massive mall with more than 800 stores, nine world-class attractions, two hotels, over 100 places to eat and drink, tons of unique shops and tons of things to do. Waterpark. Amusement park. Theatre. Shooting range. Golf range. Skating rink. Yep. It’s pretty great!
- Whyte Avenue: Cute area for boutique shops, restaurants and pubs.
- Legislature Building: Built in 1912 in the Beaux Arts style. Tours and the visitor centre are great, but locals come for the pretty gardens and fountains with river valley views.
- Muttart Conservatory: Four biome pyramids in the river valley with more than 700 plant species. Three are climate-regulated, home to arid, temperate and tropical. And the fourth changes 5-7 times during the year, with fun seasonal features, too.
Where to STAY in Edmonton:
- Metterra Hotel (Whyte Ave): Stay in the prettiest area of Edmonton, right next to the cute boutiques of Whyte Ave and near the river valley. Chic and lovely, featuring a library with fireplace and rooms with a spa bath and bathrobes.
- The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald (downtown): An elegant historic hotel from 1915 overlooks the river valley, with luxurious rooms, spa, indoor pool and afternoon tea on weekends.
- Fantasyland Hotel (West Edmonton Mall): You can’t really beat the access to the massive West Edmonton Mall, by staying right in the mall. Plus, it’s right next to the theatre. I also love the theme rooms. Sure, some are rather cheesy. But the jacuzzi tub is fantastic, and the pirate ship looks so fun for kids! Price includes parking.
Things to DO in/near Jasper:
- Miette Hot Springs with two hot pools and two cold plunge pools. Not too busy, good food onsite and surrounded by amazing mountain peaks. I stayed in the nearby bungalows, which were comfortable and cozy with a wood stove.
- Maligne Canyon is just 15 minutes east of Jasper. It’s a mossy limestone canyon with well-groomed trails past incredible waterfalls. And in winter, my uncle and aunt love ice climbing here.
- Athabasca Falls is 30 minutes south of Jasper and a gorgeous waterfall on the Athabasca River. If you take the highly recommended Rocky Mountain road trip from Jasper to Banff on Highway 93, you can add it as a stop then. But don’t miss it!
A helpful resource for visitors to Jasper National Park is the Parks Canada website.
Where to STAY in Jasper:
- Pyramid Lake Resort: A beautiful lakefront resort with a private beach, canoeing, fishing and hiking. Also has onsite dining, gym, hot tub and rooms with a fireplace. You’re across the highway from Maligne Canyon and 5 minutes from downtown Jasper.
- Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: A lovely hotel overlooking Beauvert Lake with a spa, outdoor pool, 8 restaurants and an award-winning golf course. Onsite activities include horseback riding in summer and skating and cross-country skiing in winter.
Things to DO on the drive from Jasper to Banff:
- Icefields Parkway road trip: Simply take your time driving the breathtaking Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) through the Rocky Mountains. In my humble opinion, this is the BEST Canada road trip (and I’ve taken a LOT!). It’s a slow-go, especially if you get stuck behind a camper, but you should go slow so you can quickly pull over to take in the zillion amazing views.
- Chateau Lake Louise: The perfect stop for high tea, lunch, spa therapy, a hike or gondola ride up a mountain. It’s after most of the jaw-dropping lookouts you’ll be stopping at along the way, so you’ll need a break!
For more specific stops in the Rocky Mountains, check out my Solo Road Trip from Calgary to Jasper.
Where to STAY in Banff:
- Hidden Ridge Resort: Features a gorgeous outdoor hot tub area and private cabins with real wood fireplaces, balconies and lofts. Just on the outskirts of Banff, with a free shuttle into downtown. We loved staying here with our beagle.
- Fairmont Banff Springs: Built in 1888, this gorgeous National Historic Site is styled after a Scottish Baronial castle. Features a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, 11 restaurants and 14 shops. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth stopping for tea and to marvel at its beauty!
- The Rimrock Resort: Another fantastic property in Banff with unbeatable views. The suites are incredible, with a fireplace and large decks. But even standard rooms include a sitting area with views. Features a spa, indoor pool, hot tub and restaurant. Near the Upper Hot Springs.
Things to DO in/near Banff:
- Banff Gondola: Marvel at the six surrounding mountain ranges from the rooftop observatory. Enjoy a world-class meal at Sky Bistro, watch the sunset and gaze at the stars. Tip: If you take the Banff Gondola up after 5pm, you pay 20% less.
- Johnston Canyon: This short, easy and beautiful hike takes you along a pretty creek through a wooded canyon, filled with squirrels and chipmunks. At the end, you’re rewarded with a refreshing waterfall. I’ve only been to the first waterfall, but hikers say it’s worth it to continue to the upper falls and ink pots.
- Banff Via Ferrata Climb: This looks so fun… and slightly terrifying?! Make your way up the cliffs of Canada’s highest mountain range, with fixed anchoring cables, ladders and a suspension bridge. Up to phenomenal views of Banff. No experience necessary!
- BC hot springs road trip: Love Banff Hot Springs and want more? Take Highway 93 south to visit Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs and Lussier Hot Springs! They’re within an hour of each other and the farthest (Lussier) is under three hours from Banff. Each one is unique and special. Lussier is remote and completely natural. Fairmont is a lovely resort. And Radium is surrounded by towering peaks. Start at Lussier and work your way back, spending the night at Bighorn Meadows Resort near Radium.
For more things to DO near Banff, check out Romantic Getaways near Calgary.
And for more places to STAY near Radium and Golden, visit BC Getaways for Couples.
BANFF to KELOWNA BC Road Trip
I’ll start this next leg of your Toronto to Vancouver drive in Banff Alberta. But depending on your cross-Canada road trip route, you might start this leg in Calgary (add about 1.5 hours) or Golden (subtract about 1.5 hours).
Driving from Banff to Kelowna is 480km and just under 6 hours. This route is incredibly beautiful, and incredibly busy. It slows down to single-lane traffic for most of the route just after Lake Louise.
And it’s fairly common for the route between Lake Louise and Golden to be temporarily closed for avalanche control. Check before you go, and plan for lots of patience.
Where to STOP on the drive from Banff to Kelowna:
- Golden: A mountain town for the adventurous! Golden is surrounded by three mountain ranges, at the point where two heritage rivers meet, and has easy access to FIVE national parks. Yep, you know it’ll be busy. Superb hiking, climbing and skiing. Incredible whitewater rafting and heli-skiing.
- The Enchanted Forest: A fun family road trip stop in BC, perfect for kids to get rid of some energy. Climb BC’s tallest treehouse. Row a boat through beaver ponds. Spy fairies on your magical walk through a lush forest.
Things to DO in Kelowna:
- Kelowna Boardwalk: My favorite part of Kelowna! At the north end, enjoy quiet walks through Rotary Marsh Park and Tugboat Beach. Stroll past pretty parks, lakefront resorts, restaurants and marina. And then take in the action at Kelowna City Park, which often hosts buskers and festivals. The downtown shops and restaurants are fun, too! A special shout-out to Lost Together, a fantastic second-hand clothing consignment shop.
- Winery tours: Our favorite tours are Mission Hill and Summerhill. And while they both have excellent restaurants with amazing views, Quails’ Gate is really excellent!
- Kangaroo Creek Farm: I was surprised by how much I loved hanging out with kangaroos! Especially feeding those babies… Lots of friendly staff around to give you snacks to feed the kangaroos and to take pictures. Cash only.
Where to STAY in Kelowna:
- Delta Grand Okanagan Resort: A terrific resort right on the boardwalk, with easy walking distance to the best of Kelowna. Features in indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, spa, fitness centre, excellent restaurant, wine bar, lounge and adjoining casino and marina.
- Manteo at Eldorado Resort: A more private resort experience, 10 minutes south of downtown Kelowna. Features a private beach, boardwalk, movie theatre, indoor pool, sauna, steam rooms, games room and restaurant. Enjoy meals and views from the lakefront patio. Variety of room options, including fireplace, balcony and 3 bedrooms. Price includes parking.
Find more awesome BC hotels, spas and cabins at BC Romantic Getaways.
KELOWNA to VANCOUVER
Welcome to the final leg of your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada! The fastest driving route from Kelowna to Vancouver is 390km and 4 hours 15 minutes. This takes you through Merritt and down to Hope, where you meet up with the Trans-Canada Highway.
But if you can, I recommend heading south of Kelowna through the beautiful Okanagan Valley. The views are wonderful, and you have lots of fantastic stop ideas past lovely towns, vineyards and orchards. You can go all the way to the beautiful Osoyoos area before heading west, which is 520km and just over 6 hours. Or, shave off some time by taking Highway 3A just past Kaleden, which is 450km and 5 hours 20 minutes to Vancouver.
Where to STOP on the drive from Kelowna to Vancouver:
- Penticton: Beaches on two lakes, and a canal in between for floating. Orchards and award-winning wineries. Skiing, hiking and art galleries. Penticton’s long, hot summers and dry winters make it a fun place to explore.
- Osoyoos: A small community of 5000 in the deep south of Okanagan Valley, known for its warm waters, orchards, vineyards and impressive peaks.
- Harrison Hot Springs: Soak in the mineral pools and views of mountains and gardens. Or, stop for a quick walk along the lake and a bite to eat. Either way, it’s a great BC road trip stop before getting to Vancouver.
Where to STAY in/near Vancouver:
- Shangri-La Hotel (downtown): My favorite hotel in Vancouver, with a spa, outdoor pool and hot tub, private yoga and excellent restaurant. You’re right next to luxury shopping on Robson Street, and 3 blocks from Vancouver waterfront.
- Rosewood Hotel Georgia (downtown): An exquisite luxury hotel, with excellent family-friendly perks. Features the Rose Bud children’s program, 52-foot heated indoor saltwater pool, spa, dining and lounge. Beautiful spacious rooms include heated bathroom floors and bathrobes. Families can select connecting rooms or a family suite for 5+.
- Glamping tent near Vancouver (Maple Ridge): Want to experience Vancouver but want to stay someplace quieter? This stylish tent is surrounded by woods and overlooks a gurgling river from your private deck. Tent has a full bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers, BBQ and electric fireplace.
Things to DO in Vancouver:
- Stanley Park: 1,000-acre park at the west end of downtown Vancouver, with 5.5 miles of pathway right along the ocean. Also home to the Vancouver Aquarium, beaches, pools, restaurants and more. The perfect place for a picnic.
- Shopping, including luxury and boutique shops on Robson Street (downtown) and eclectic shops, galleries and tours on Granville Island. Both have a variety of great cafes, perfect for people-watching.
- Take a road trip up the northern coast to spectacular coastal and mountain scenery. And then hop on a ferry and explore Vancouver Island, the perfect place for all-things ocean getaway. See details in the next section!
Road Trip Ideas near VANCOUVER BC
What’s the perfect way to end your Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada? With these two mini road trips near Vancouver! These two road trip ideas from Vancouver offer some of the most stunning scenery you’ll see on your cross-Canada road trip.
NORTH VANCOUVER: Sea to Sky Highway Road Trip
Follow the gorgeous coastline north of Vancouver for spectacular waterfalls and peaks that plunge into the ocean. For a one-day road trip from Vancouver, take the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) through Squamish and onto Whistler. Driving from downtown Vancouver to Whistler is 120km and just under 2 hours.
You can either return to Vancouver for the night or stay in Squamish or Whistler. Find beautiful places to stay in BC Romantic Getaways.
Things to DO on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler:
- Shannon Falls (Squamish): The third tallest waterfall in BC at 1,099 feet (335 meters) and easily accessible from the Sea to Sky Highway. Take the 200-meter paved path to the waterfalls and nearby hikes.
- Sea to Sky Gondola (Squamish): Take a year-round gondola up to spectacular views of Howe Sound, walking and hiking trails, a suspension bridge and restaurant.
- Whistler Village: A pretty mountain village with incredible facilities from hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In winter, it’s all about skiing, ski jumping, snowshoeing, skating and sledding. In summer, you have hiking, biking, beaches, ziplining, mountain-top dining, and gondolas, including a glass-bottom and peak-to-peak ride!
Curious about Shannon Falls? Check out the video on Best Waterfalls in Canada.
VANCOUVER ISLAND BC Road Trip Idea
Although technically past your Toronto to Vancouver drive, you won’t be disappointed with a BC road trip around Vancouver Island. Victoria will charm you with its hospitality and history. The coast will wow you with its beaches, crashing waves and luscious rainforests. And its spa resorts, treehouse cabins and enchanting inns will make you want to stay forever!
Vancouver Island has Canada’s warmest climate. It’s known for anything ocean-related. Beaches, whale watching, sea kayaking, sailing, surfing and perfect sunsets. Plus, stunning gardens, giant trees, epic rainforests, caving and golf. It’s the perfect place to conclude your cross-Canada road trip.
Access Vancouver Island by plane or ferry, to either Victoria or Nanaimo. And find incredible places to stay on Vancouver Island in BC Romantic Getaways.
Things to DO on your Vancouver Island BC road trip:
- Ucluelet and Tofino: A popular spot for all-things ocean, including beaches, surfing and rainforest hikes. Ucluelet has a variety of water tours, including sea kayaking (my favorite!). A 4-hour drive from Victoria and 2-hour drive from Nanaimo.
- Sooke: A beautiful coastal area with beaches, hikes and treehouse cabins! Plus, it’s less than an hour’s drive from Victoria.
- Victoria: Tour the boutiques in Fan Tan Alley. Soak in its maritime culture at Fisherman’s Wharf. Roam the beautiful parks, including Butchart Gardens, Beacon Hill and Abkhazi Garden’s tea house. And afternoon and high tea at the luxurious Fairmont Empress.
So, what do you think? If you take this ULTIMATE cross-Canada road trip, it would take about 7,650 kilometers (4,753 miles) and 87 hours of driving. Wowee!!
My recommended Toronto to Vancouver drive through Canada breaks this into 7 days of driving (at minimum). Plus mini road trip ideas: 2 days to Niagara Falls, 3 days through central Alberta, 1 day to BC hot springs, 1 day Sea to Sky drive near Vancouver, and 2 days on Vancouver Island. If you add in one day to explore each city stop along the way, this entire Western Canada road trip will take 25 days.
Have you done the Toronto to Vancouver drive? Do you recommend other places to stop and things to do? Please share in the comments below!
You may also like:
- EAST COAST Road Trip CANADA: Toronto to Nova Scotia
- Romantic Getaways in ONTARIO
- BC Getaways for Couples
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