Oct 22, 2010

Enjoy a drive around Lake Ontario

Fall is a great time to slow down and take a driving trip. One of my favorite drives is around Lake Ontario. There are forts, falls, museums, lighthouses, sand dunes, and more.

From Rochester take the Lake Ontario State Parkway and continue on Route 18. The area is one of stunning views of Lake Ontario, orchards and many beautifully maintained cobblestone houses made from lake-washed stones. In Olcott visit the Lake Ontario lighthouse, a replica of the 1873 Olcott lighthouse that operated for 100 years. At Old Fort Niagara, located at the mouth of the Niagara River, living history presentations will bring a new appreciation for the important role the area played in the development of the United States.

Follow the Niagara Historic Trail south to Niagara Falls, stop on the way at Devil’s Hole and the Whirlpool to look at the swirling Niagara River. People come from all over the world to see Niagara Fall but New Yorkers often take them for granted.

To cross over into Canada one needs a passport or Enhanced Drivers License. The beautifully preserved Canadian village of Niagara-on-the-Lake has boutique shops and horse-drawn carriages trotting down the flower-lined streets.

Toronto is one of our favorite cities. Visit the fascinating Bata Shoe Museum and the baronial mansion of one of Toronto’s “well-heeled” – Casa Loma. When it was built in 1914 the telephone switchboard, used to communicate with the 98 rooms, had more daily activity than the entire city of Toronto. Built at a cost $3 million, the city of Toronto took it over for $27,305 in unpaid taxes 10 years after completion. Views of the city and gardens from the Norman Tower are beautiful. Another great view is from CN Tower with its glass-bottom floor. The multi-ethnicity of Toronto is reflected in its restaurants and Toronto theaters offer world-class presentations.

From Toronto take Macdonald–Cartier Freeway known at the 401. Stop for apple pie at the Big Apple near Coburg, where visitors can watch workers making the pies – over two million so far. Near Trenton drive along the Loyalist Parkway through Prince Edward County. Climb the dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park for a view of the wide sweeping sandy beach and Lake Ontario. Another great viewpoint is from Lake on the Mountain. Mohawks offered gifts to the spirits of the lake because it is nearly 200 feet above Lake Ontario and receives a constant flow of fresh water with no apparent source. A ferry shortens the connection to Kingston.

The Loyalist highway ends in Kingston, the first Capital of the United Provinces of Canada. Strategically located where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence, it is a gateway city to the famed 1000 Islands and all kinds of boating. Pick up on of the self-guided walking tour brochures of Historic Kingston and visit Fort Henry. Visit the Marine Museum and the Penitentiary Museum. The tour of City Hall is free and fascinating.

Ferries connect Kingston to Cape Vincent in the United States. Drive the Seaway Trail stopping in Sackets Harbor to visit the Seaway Trail Discovery Center and Sackets Harbor Battlefield to learn more about the War of 1812.

The trip, approximately 650 miles has something for everyone. Do the drive in segments or plan a week to really enjoy all the area around Lake Ontario has to offer. Fall is the perfect time for a driving trip.