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Interesting stop midway between Niagra Falls, ON and Quebec City?

Hello....we are traveling next summer (barring Covid issues) from Niagra Falls to Quebec City. We'd rather not do the drive 10 hours in one day, but would rather break it up into two 5 hour days. I'm looking for suggestions for an interesting place to stop somewhere between the two locations. Montreal is an obvious stop, but I'm looking for something smaller/quieter. Something picturesque?? Something of interest??? A nice town to walk through...antiquing??? Open to suggestions... TIA. Kris

Posted by
26070 posts

Ottawa? Shame you won't pass through in leaf season - it is glorious around Ottawa.

Posted by
3789 posts

I am always ashamed as an obvious Canadian member to not know enough about tourism in my own region. 😣 I don't drive that route, or haven't t in 30 years. I find the area on the south bank of the St. Lawrence east of Quebec City to be the easiest to pop in and out of quaint places, but that isn't helpful for you.
I know people rave about the road trips and cottages in the Eastern Townships. These are south and east of Montreal and though it means crossing the St. Lawrence twice it might be worth the diversion.
If you are not interested in Montreal, then bypass it. There is a toll road west of Montreal, I think the 30 that takes you from hwy 401 to the southern shore. That takes you into the towns and region of the Eastern Townships. Google offers a number of articles/recommendations if you google 'eastern townships road trips'. Even our CAA(Canadian Auto Club) considers it trip worthy. See what is interesting and check a map. It is old farm country, so antiquing could be a boon. I suspect there would also be websites with antiquing regions to consider.
Keep in mind when you want to travel. Quebec province (well Ontario too) is known for massive roadworks in the summer that can have you parked on the highway for 1 or 2 hours- somewhere-and possibly more than once enroute. I note there is a secondary hwy 132 that hugs the south shore of St. Lawrence that might not have road works that major. It could still extend your trip by 1-2 hours due to speed limits, but it might allow for stopping at i ter3sting spots along the way. What might not be available is tourist lodging.

Posted by
4946 posts

I have been to Ottawa as well as Montreal. Both cities are great to visit.

Ottawa is a beautiful capital city with an impressive Parliament building and more. It is rather small for a capital, and you can see much of it in one full day. Montreal is a major city and would require more time.

Lot sure about driving and the traffic.

Posted by
3789 posts

As much as I think Ottawa is a great town particularly for summer visits, it really isn't 'enroute' to QC unless you decide to use it to avoid Montreal by traveling hwy 50 along the north shore of the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence. Between Ottawa and Montreal along the 50 is Fairmont Chateau Montebello - the largest log 'cabin' in the world. It isn't a cabin at all but an entire log hotel. That shore promotes stopping and wandering as well, but personally, if I was to add in Ottawa, that Niagra to QC would become a 4 day trip.
Not to dissuade you, but you, but your first few hours leaving Niagra Falls puts you into high density bedroom cities and that means traffic. So, there will be slow downs around Toronto. If you take the toll road around Montreal, then you avoid that congestion. If you want to go into Montreal, add another hour or 2.

You may even want to consider the US route on the south shore of Lake Ontario from Niagra Falls (US side) and enter Canada east of Cornwall.
I know we have some Montreal contributors. Maybe they can put a better spin on traffic and routes, as well as a quieter overnight stop.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi, If you don't want to drive off of hwy 401 to go to Ottawa then I would suggest Brockville. It is very picturesque along the waterfront/marina with plenty of green areas and tables to eat lunch. The next Tall Ships festival there is in 2022. The main drag has many thrift/antique shops to browse. If you pass through on a summer weekend you will also enjoy the farmer's market. I also recommend driving off the 401 to drive along the Thousand Islands parkway and the Long Sault parkway. Another point of interest is the Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg. It is a pioneer museum village that you can walk through.

Posted by
26070 posts

Good idea, Kingston. I'd totally forgotten it. My last time there was for the funeral of a very good friend while at University in Montreal and I've never been back. That's 48 years in round figures. Totally forgot. Wow.

Posted by
3547 posts

Kingston came to my mind too. It is roughly, very roughly, half-way in terms of distance. In terms of driving, 10 hours between NF and QC is a fantasy. Heavy traffic on the expressways to and around Toronto can add another hour or maybe two. Montreal also has congested autoroutes that will stretch your time on the road. So your stay in Kingston will necessarily be fairly brief. But it is a scenic old harbour town of historical significance (to us, at least). Most prominent feature, across the harbour from downtown, is Fort Henry, built to defend both the settlement and the mouth of the Rideau Canal. It never fired a shot in combat but is picturesque anyhow. With two universities, not to mention a couple of prisons, Kingston offers satisfactory pubs and dining.

Posted by
7 posts

These are wonderful suggestions! Thank you so much!! I'm certainly hoping that by this time next year, the covid issue will be under control. Thanks again!!

Posted by
7 posts

ALSO.......... I'm amazed at how many places are already booked a year in advance! Thanks again for your suggestions!

Posted by
6756 posts

Wishing you a good COVId free trip to and from Niagara Falls and Quebec City

Posted by
3789 posts

I would double check your booking strategy closer to travel dates. Some close calendars too far in advance. Given the current situation, I would expect more of that. In a year, can they offer every room? Every second room? Or even be open at all? They may also want to review their pricing depending on the situation.

Posted by
989 posts

Ottawa was a great surprise when we visited back in 2015! Beautiful historic/government area with awesome tourist zone adjacent. We drove up to Montreal from Vermont and then over to Ottawa before heading back to the Adirondacks in New York.

Posted by
1666 posts

hey hey kegpott
as MariaF states, you may be too early to be booking hotels rooms this far in advance, maybe by end of year. some may be closed and some may not have their calendars up and ready to book.
can't help with your driving stops but do hope you spend a few days in quebec city. we were there for 5 days before a fall color cruise. rented a car for a day trip and you have a car.
canyonsa.qc.ca take a walk thru the park/canyon, crossing suspension bridges, waterfalls, gorgeous views
sainte-anne-de-beaupre a huge gorgeous church with pretty architecture. we stopped inside to walk around and light candles for my family.
montemerency falls (justinandlauren.com/ montemerency-falls-quebec or justinandlauren.com/quebec-city)) a blog about their visit to this gorgeous waterfall, higher than niagra falls. various views from a cable car, a suspension bridge, steep staircases along the falls, or at the bottom.
ile d' orleans (garden of quebec) an island across the st laurence river about 30 minutes from the city. a whole nother world there, french speaking, farming and agriculture traditions, old style houses hundred years old, chocolate and cheese shops, wines/liquers, stunning views. stop along the way at little shops in browse and taste products, locally made souvenirs, restaurants/cafes for a meal. we bought goodies and wine from a deli store and had our own picnic.
walk the cobblestone streets of the city, ride the funicular up or down, walk the promanade along the river, the walled city of old quebec, visit norte dame cathedral, wander in the famous hotel chateau frontenac and have a drink at the famous bar, take the ferry over to levis, J A Moisan, the oldest grocery store, try poutins, crepes-savory/sweet. cider and hot chocolate, meat pies, rabbit, maple syrup treats.
localfoodtours.com enjoy
aloha

Posted by
1144 posts

NOTL and Old Quebec are the tops for me. When you cross the border, try to cross at Fort Erie and take the Niagara Parkway along the lakeshore all the way to the falls area . It's a decent drive lined with some nice and gaudy homes. If I remember right, one of them is a Swiss chalet-type home.

Kingston and Ottawa are both worth stopping off at. If you decide on Kingston, leave the highway and head to Picton first for lunch. From here, do not return to the highway but head to Glenora - there is a car ferry here (I hope it still exists) which leads to a more pleasant drive into Kingston. My son studied in Kingston. It has a nice, if small, old centre with a few quirky stores and many pubs and eateries. If you can, and the situation allows it, the 3 hour evening dinner cruise is well worth it. After a few drinks at the right table, the corny entertainer (if the same one) will have you dancing and spitting in your wine. The cruise in Quebec (my wife loves dinner cruises) is also worth taking and is a bit more expensive.

Ottawa is worth a couple of days. There are a number of museums and during the summer - hopefully next year - the downtown area has a number of street performers performing all over the place, and a busker festival during the August long weekend. As a side note, I heard on the radio today that local tourism is up twenty percent this year.

Posted by
11798 posts

Most people speak very highly of the thousand island area. We stopped at Kingston (and Montreal on the way to Quebec) but I don't remember being particularly impressed with it.

On the way back to the states I enjoyed Magog. I don't know why? I wouldn't really recommend it. I enjoyed interacting with French speaking locals in a more rural setting - outside of the cities where most people are fluent in English as well as French.

In Quebec City, I was treated like a hero by an owner of a tavern for attempting to converse in my God-awful French rather than expecting everyone to speak English. He said, "It show, respect."

Posted by
52 posts

Kingston is a great stop if you are looking for a city, albeit much smaller than Ottawa but its a great destination especially in the summer. If you are looking for something smaller Picton/Prince Edward County (PEC) is a worthy stop as iw Gananoque and the Thousand Islands area. Different but definitely worth some time.