Article by Caitlin Carpenter, with the scoop on two Toronto day trip options for couples via mass transit.
Getting outside the city for a day or weekend can be the key to recharging and discovering new adventures. If you’re looking for a way to cut down you carbon footprint, save a little gas money, and avoid sitting in traffic jams, a Toronto day trip on mass transit may be the ticket. All you’ll need is a book to enjoy as you sit back and let someone else drive for a change.
Whether you’re looking for an Ontario exploration with the kids, a romantic evening, or a girls’ weekend, we’ve got you covered. Today we’re sharing the second of a three-part series on a few memorable day trip options you can take from Toronto on mass transit.
Day Trip Adventures for Couples
While taking mass transit may not sound like the typical start of a romantic day, navigating your way to a nearby city (and having time to actually talk face-to-face or watch a movie on your iPad) can be part of the fun. Whether you’re an outdoorsy adventurer or an urban foodie and movie buff, you can find a new way to enjoy southern Ontario – while leaving the traffic jam behind.
Hamilton’s Westdale Village
Hamilton – Ontario’s steel centre – is not generally known a place to escape for a weekend evening with friends or a date night. But there are more things to do here on your day trip than you might guess. Up-and-coming Westdale Village, for example, is a compact, established neighbourhood that features varied boutiques, including men’s and women’s clothing and a biscotti bakery.
Head to dinner at one of three great restaurants: My Dog Joe (a casual café with amazing baked goods and coffee), Koosh Bistro (delicious twists on favourites, such as pork tenderloin with an orange ginger caramel sauce), and The Bean Bar (the To Die For Grilled Cheese – with beef short rib meat, cheddar, and caramelized onions – is true to its name).
After dinner, head to the historic and tiny Westdale Theatre. Showing current releases, and with the original snack bar, enjoy not only the nostalgia of the interior but the quality sound and picture as well.
Buses and trains go from Union Station to Hamilton’s Go Centre or Main St W and Longwood Rd bus station (only half a km away from Westdale) at half-hour intervals weekdays and Saturdays, so there’s no excuse not to head here to check out the highlights.
Cycling St. Catharines
The Niagara Escarpment Green Belt area is one of the best places to cycle, with its challenging inclines, multitude of urban and rural paths, and flat agricultural areas. Start at the Welland Canal Viewing Centre (Lock 3), an elevated platform provides a rare peek into the bridge of gargantuan ocean-going carriers as they descend with the lock. If you’d like to head downtown, try Rise Above Café and Bakery, a great vegan shop with fantastic doughnuts on Thursdays.
From downtown St. Catharines, head south over the St Paul W St Bridge to the two kilometer, stone-dust path known as Participark Trail along 12 Mile Creek. At the trail’s end, head to Morning Star Mill. This free and beautiful attraction is the only operating water powered gristmill in the Niagara Peninsula.
After exploring the mill grounds, head to Short Hills Provincial Park, a 735 hectare day-use park containing a number of excellent cycling and hiking trails which wind through forest and meadow. These trails are quite hilly and recommend for mountain bikes only.
The summer Toronto-Niagara Greenbelt Express train from Union Station to Niagara Falls stops in Saint Catharines. The two hour trip offers some great scenery and a chance to relax. Bring along a bike (there are designated bike storage cars on the train) or rent one (there are a few shops including Liberty Bikes near the GO station) to explore the area and the Niagara Escarpment mountain bike trails. In the spring or fall, you can also take the GO Train to Burlington, then hop on the GO Bus for St. Catharines.