With several Cities Close to Canada and 13 US states sharing a border, there is so much to see and do in cross-border destinations. Whether you want to explore the outdoors or dive into local culture, these five weekend getaways offer something for everyone.
History buffs can tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort Henry or visit Canada’s Penitentiary Museum in Kingston, Ontario.
Border Cities and Weekend Escapes: An Overview
Canada is home to dazzling natural beauty, world-class outdoor activities and unique cultural experiences. But it’s also a land of welcoming cities, some soaring with glass and steel and others holding onto old-world cobblestones.
Ottawa is one of the best examples. Only four hours from Toronto, the city is packed with cool things to do including world-class museums, Parliament Hill and an underground bunker. Plus, it’s just across a bridge from Quebec, making it easy to explore Gatineau. In the winter, don’t miss the chance to skate on the Rideau Canal during Winterlude.
Stratford is another Ontario escape that’s popular for a weekend getaway. The city is home to the acclaimed Stratford Festival, so you’ll be treated to great theatre throughout the year. Other highlights include the charming Point Pelee National Park, a birding hotspot known for its magic Monarch butterflies and spectacular beaches.
Or, head to Muskoka, where towering pine trees, stunning lakes and rocky shorelines are a paradise for water lovers. The area is also known for its renowned wineries and historic boutique hotels.
Plan Your Border Adventure
When planning your trip, consider the season. While many cities are popular year-round, summer is high tourist season and prices are higher. Consider traveling in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall for more affordable pricing and less crowds.
Located just 1.5 hours from Toronto, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a favorite getaway for wine lovers, featuring dozens of award-winning local vinos. This historic wine country is also home to a reconstructed 1812 military base, where costumed interpreters reenact daily life from the time period.
The Canadian city of Kingston is known as the “City of Waterfalls” and is a great choice for families. It offers a trendy restaurant scene, local boutiques and galleries, award-winning breweries and more. It’s also conveniently located near the Thousand Islands region and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort George National Historic Park.
Ottawa is a great place for history buffs to explore, with a range of world-class museums and historical attractions. A visit to Ottawa during Winterlude is a must for skating on the Rideau Canal and admiring spectacular ice sculptures.
Cultural Gems and Historic Sites of Cities Close to Canada
If you love museums and history, a visit to Niagara Falls will fill your weekend with culture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a slew of top-rated attractions, including the Parliament Buildings and the Rideau Canal, as well as world-class galleries and a museum of natural history. You can even take in the views from the Skylon Tower observation deck.
Toronto is an ideal place for a family weekend getaway and features a bustling Harbourfront area and an excellent children’s zoo. The city also offers plenty of shopping, including a popular duty-free outlet. Its sister city, Hamilton, is another fun pick for families and is a great destination for nature lovers. Here you’ll find beautiful trails for outdoor exploration, a reptile zoo and nature center and the Stratford Ecomuseum.
The cosmopolitan city of Montreal is another top option for a culturally-rich weekend getaway. This world-class destination boasts a trendy restaurant scene, historical districts and a lively Chinatown with the best dim sum in town. It’s a great spot for families as well, thanks to its friendly atmosphere and affordable hotels, including a boutique hotel in Old Montreal.
Dining and Culinary Experiences with Cities Close to Canada
The food scene in some of these border cities is just as spectacular as their scenery. Banff, for example, was ranked 14th on the list of Canada’s most beautiful places, and its city is full of famous dine-ins, breweries and local cultural shops.
The port city of Kingston is also a great choice, thanks to its rich history and proximity to the Thousand Islands. The city has a hipster vibe with coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants that line graffiti-laden streets. You can take a waterfront trolley tour and explore museums and other cultural attractions, or simply wander the charming town streets and admire the architecture.
In Prince Edward County, a popular weekend escape from Toronto, you can explore bucolic small towns and farmland with a stay at a cozy bed and breakfast or luxury resort. The area is home to many small boutique cheesemakers and wineries that you can visit for a taste of local flavor. Or, if you are feeling a bit of adventure, head to Squamish, which is known as the adventure capital of Canada, and enjoy world-class hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and kite boarding.
Planning Your Cross-Border Weekend Getaway
Whether you’re looking for a quick urban escape or an invigorating wilderness adventure, you’ll find plenty of options near the US border. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Toronto is an easy flight from many US destinations and boasts a trendy restaurant scene, historic buildings like the Parliament Buildings and loads of museums. If you’re into wine, check out Niagara-on-the-Lake which has beautiful vineyards and boutique hotels.
Ottawa is also an excellent choice for a weekend getaway with lots to do in the city and nearby attractions. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Rideau Canal during Winterlude to skate. And see spectacular ice sculptures or explore the country’s history at the Canadian War Museum. Also the National Gallery of Canada.
Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia, is another scenic option that can easily be reached for a weekend trip. It’s home to incredible old-growth forests, pristine beaches and lots of outdoor adventures like kayaking and sailing. Visit in spring to enjoy the blooming gardens and in winter to take part in snow activities. And live out your Frozen fantasies at the Hotel du Glace, Canada’s only ice hotel.