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Scenic drives in Hamilton

10 Best Day Trips from Hamilton

  1. St Jacobs
  2. Crawford Lake Conservation Area
  3. Burlington
  4. Niagara-on-the-Lake
  5. Port Dover
  6. Mountsberg Conservation Area
  7. Oakville
  8. Peterborough
  9. Paris
  10. Horseshoe Valley

Top 10 scenic day trips from Hamilton

A proud port city on the edge of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is dramatically divided by the lush, scenic ridge of the Niagara Escarpment. Its metropolitan area has a population of 785,000, making it the 10th-largest city in Canada and the 5th-largest in Ontario. Founded by George Hamilton after the 1812 war, the city is home to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Royal Botanical Gardens, Bruce Trail and McMaster University. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is also worth a visit – established in 1914, its gallery boasts over 9000 works from various schools, including Contemporary Canadian, Historical Canadian and 19th century European.

Once a steel boomtown, Hamilton suffered once that industry declined but rebuilt its economy on the back of service, retail and creative industries, as well as a flourishing independent local business scene. As part of its regeneration, many heritage buildings were restored and resurrected as galleries, museums and boutiques, and there’s also been a renaissance in terms of cuisine. Art and culture are prioritized too, with boho Downtown areas like James Street North hosting collaborative arts spaces, art and craft shops and cafes.

St Jacobs
Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Preparing for your day trips from Hamilton

All of these day trips from Hamilton are manageable but there are a few tips to bear in mind, especially if you happen to be driving in winter.

For one thing, remember that daylight hours are very limited during winter when you’re this far north – you’ll only see daylight between 7am-4pm at best. You may also find that (especially on more isolated roads), some gas stations are closed, while those that are open may operate restricted hours.

And at every time of year, be sure to carry plenty of water, snacks and warm clothing. In the unlikely event of an emergency, dial 911 immediately.

Let’s start our engines for those road trips!

St Jacobs

Just 55 minutes from Hamilton along Highway 6 N and ON-401 W, St Jacobs is an eminently doable day trip which includes super scenery and the chance to experience a fascinating alternative culture. That’s because it’s home to a traditional Mennonite Community – who travel around in horse-drawn buggies and live in the same simple, fulfilling way they’ve done for centuries. Check out their history at the Mennonite Story Interpretive Center and if you’re yearning for a dash of modernity after all that gentle fundamentalism, swing by the local outlet mall for some retail therapy.

Crawford Lake Conservation Area

How about another short trip that’s a world away? Crawford Lake Conservation Area is a measly 35 minutes from Hamilton via Highway 6 N and it’s the perfect day trip if you want to respectfully learn more about Indigenous North American culture. There’s a painstakingly reconstructed 15th-century Iroquoian village with tons of interactive artefacts and exhibits. Plus, visit in July and you’ll witness a mind-blowing spectacular set to heart-pounding drum beats – The Grand River Champion of Champions Pow Wow.


Just 20 minutes from Hamilton, Burlington is a breath of fresh air nonetheless. A laid-back, boho city with a scenic waterfront, it’s perfect for relaxing strolls and popping into independent shops, cool cafes and tasty restaurants. Nestled halfway between Toronto and Niagara Falls, this city has been voted one of Canada’s best to live in – so you might be tempted to up sticks after your day trip. It boasts Canada’s biggest botanical gardens, an impressive public art gallery and a picturesque pier that stretches 137m over Lake Ontario. And that’s not all – Mount Nemo Conservation Area is nearby if you fancy strapping on your hiking boots for a stride.



Not the same as Niagara Falls (worth a little visit too), Niagara-on-the-Lake is a charming town just one hour’s drive east of Hamilton via Queen Elizabeth Way. It calls itself ‘Canada’s Loveliest Town’ – sometimes you’ve got to blow your own trumpet, right? But actually, it is a really sweet day trip destination, with attractions like the Shaw Festival Theatre, charming colonial houses, and several wonderful wineries (save the tasting til later unless you’ve got a designated driver). All said, definitely worth an hour’s drive.

Port Dover

If traffic’s good, you can reach Port Dover from Hamilton in around 50 minutes via Highway 6 S. And if you happen to arrive on any Friday the 13th, you’re in for a big surprise – there’s a longstanding tradition that thousands of bikers descend on the town with their leather patches and sparkling mean machines. But what else is good in Dover? Plenty as it happens – relax on the beach, grab tasty bar snacks at The Arbour (a traditional hangout) and sample some rare and unusual cheeses at Dover Cheese Shop. Remember though, don’t eat your purchases too close to bedtime – no one wants nightmares after a lovely day.

Mountsberg Conservation Area

Want to take a walk on the wild side? Hop in your car, strap on your seatbelts and take the 35 minute drive via Highway 6 N from Hamilton to Mountsberg Conservation Area. This part of Canada really puts the ‘great’ into Great Outdoors, with hiking trails through the Sugar Bush and Pioneer Creek Trail, fishing and kayaking. But our favourite spot is the Mountsberg Raptor Centre. Set up to raise awareness about Birds of Prey in Ontario, its residents are unable to be released into the wild because they’ve been rescued after injury or were raised in captivity and it’s amazing to experience owls, hawks and eagles up close – with special sessions available for a fee.



25 minutes from Hamilton via QEW S and 403 W, Oakville has much to recommend it as a day trip destination. For starters, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is simply stunning and even has an outdoor pool (if weather permits a paddle), and it’s also home to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, featuring such luminaries as Sandra Post, Michael Weir and Jack Nicklaus – whose famous Glen Abbey Golf Course is nearby if you fancy a round. Downtown Oakville is also worth exploring – lots of chic boutiques and hip restaurants. Take in a game of golf with your partner and then treat yourselves to lunch and a shopping spree or chase that little ball around the course yourself while they make their credit card melt – the choice is yours.


Two hours northeast of Hamilton via ON-407 E, Peterborough is a day trip destination it’s worth getting up early to discover. Attractions include 19th century engineering miracle Lock 21 (biggest hydraulic lift lock in the world), and the Canadian Canoe Museum, where you’ll learn how to carve a paddle all of your own (top skill if you’re ever up a certain creek without one). If you’re fond of sweet treats (and aren’t on a super-strict diet), this is also one of the world’s butter tart capitals. There’s an impressive factory as well as Ontario’s butter tart trail – follow the crumbs and you’re good.


No, not the Texas one. Or the France one. Paris, Ontario is just 40 minutes from Hamilton, but still has a certain je ne sais quoi. Dubbed the ‘Canada’s Prettiest Little Town’ by various glossy travel tomes, it certainly is easy on the eye, while hotspots like Penman’s Dam, Paris Plains Church and the Paris Museum & Historical Society stimulate the mind as well as the senses. If you want something more lively than the boutiques, cafes and spots, try kayaking or hiking in the lush surrounding scenery. All in all, this is a delightful daytrip for anyone interested in unique history and scenery.

Horseshoe Valley

Two hours and 10 minutes north of Hamilton via ON-400 N, Horseshoe Valley Resort is always an excellent day trip destination. A superb ski and golf resort that offers activities all year round, this location offers fun for all your family. Visit in winter and take full advantage of the 29 downhill snowboard and ski runs, terrific terrain park, expansive beginner carpet and 30km of pristine cross-country trails. Alternatively, turn up in sunny season and enjoy cross country and downhill biking, golf, kayaking on the lake and treetop trekking on the aerial assault course and zip lines. As well as hiking, off-road riding and even off-season skiing and boarding on the special freestyle water ramp.

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