Oh, Canada. Once you visit, it truly feels like a second home. One thing that I absolutely loved about visiting Ontario last year was that it was foreign enough that I felt like I was on an adventure, but it is just similar enough to life in the States that I didn’t completely feel like a fish out of water.
There are many amazing things about Ontario, but there are also many little details that you should know before you plan a trip to the country’s most populous province!
1.) Do NOT, by any means, take the ON-407!!!
This is probably the most important tip, and honestly my experience with the 407 ETR was what really drove me to write this post.
Your GPS will most likely try to get you to take this highway if you end up in the Toronto region; it spans from Burlington to Oshawa, roughly. If you want to take this highway for a short trip (say, from Vaughan to Brampton), it will likely cost you $10 CD or more. However, if you ride the entire route? Good luck with that one, buddy.
Let’s just say that I was not made aware of how expensive this toll route is until after the fact, and it cost me approximately $70 CD. Even translated into USD it was a painful amount!
2.) When going through Customs…
I entered Canada through Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, Michigan. A friend who had visited a few weeks prior had instructed me to provide the Customs officer with my passport, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and even my military ID. None of this was necessary. The Canadian Customs officer actually thought it was funny that I had over-prepared! The U.S. officer (when I was in Buffalo, NY) was highly annoyed, though.
Although you should have those things handy, I would only suggest making a written agenda and keeping it nearby, just in case the officer wants to ask about your plans while in the country (the Canadian one did). Also, if you will be taking turns driving with another person, make sure that the owner of the vehicle is the one who is driving when going through customs. While it likely won’t matter, it is always nice to be on the cautious side.
ALSO! If you are underage in the United States for consuming alcohol, you CANNOT bring any beverages that you purchased in Canada back over the border. And no matter how old you are, you cannot drive with an opened container of alcohol. Furthermore, while marijuana is now legal in CA, you should know not to bring it back to the States.
3.) Ontarian highway speed limits are slower, but everyone goes the same speed as Americans.
Most highways will have a speed limit of 60 km/h, which is the equivalent of… I don’t know, but it’s not fast. You can technically get a ticket for going above 70 km/h, but pretty much everyone goes that fast anyway.
And don’t let the term “kilometer” scare you. Your car already has them written on your speedometer, right beneath the mile equivalent.
4.) To find cheap parking in Toronto, park at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.
I parked there for nearly an entire day (even a little past midnight), and it was just $5 CD. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. Better yet, VMC is a subway center! So you are within walking distance of the subway, and therefore have access to all the rest of Toronto.
5.) You don’t need to know French!
Not even if you’re in Ottawa.
6.) Ontarian poutine is not all that.
If you want good poutine, you need to go to Quebec. However, Poutini’s on Queen Street is a good place to start if you really are craving some while you’re in Toronto.
7.) If you’re in Toronto, eat at Dumpling House.
You will not regret it! It is very cheap, and once you have eaten there, no other dumpling you eat will ever trump the delicious, savory taste of lamb dumplings. Ugh, I can just taste it in my mouth just thinking about it.
8.) Treasure the time that you’re there!
Ontario is such a beautiful province full of wetlands, waterfalls, beaches, thriving metropoles, access to four of the Great Lakes, and large provincial parks. There truly is something for everyone. It is truly an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.
So, do you think a vacation in Ontario is right for you? Read this post to find out where you should spend you next trip. Then, make sure to follow me to get all of the latest travel posts, and occasionally, a post about music! My social media info is in the sidebars and below.