Marketing Manager, Central Counties Tourism
Find out your road trip personality and head for the ultimate road trip destination, York Durham Headwaters.
With the airline industry still ramping up to accommodate travellers, a good old-fashioned road trip might just be the best solution for airport-weary vacationers.
Luckily, Ontario is full of attractive vacation destinations for Toronto-based weekend warriors or those in need of a more serious break. The region of York Durham Headwaters (YDH), for instance, is one such jewel. With plenty to see and do, it can be reached in about an hour from the heart of the city.
A short drive away
YDH is a large section of the province that sits atop Toronto like icing on a cake. It’s just north of the city and a little over to the east. And while Canada’s Wonderland is the most popular tourist attraction in this area, there’s much, much more to explore.
“The charm of the region is in its small historical towns, boutique shops, and the little restaurants found in rural areas,” says Marketing Manager for Central Counties Tourism, Jessica Elliott. “We have, for instance, a lot of honey farms and some of these producers are also making mead. Foodies can even don a bee suit and learn about bee farming directly from the ones doing it.”
Visitors to the region can also pick their own bouquets at flower farms; have a drink at an outdoor patio found at a brewery, cidery, or winery; test the waters at a beautiful spa; or hang out at a luxe resort (both Hockley Valley Resort and the Millcroft Inn and Spa are in the region). “You can also come to YDH to zipline, play golf, go horseback riding, or be a rancher for a day,” says Elliott.
Head out on the highway
If you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, the YDH tourism organization has got you covered. The organization recently launched an itinerary planner that will help you find your road trip type. “Road trip personalities are determined through a simple this-or-that format,” says Elliott. “The categories are adventure seeker, art lover, foodie fanatic, passionate putter, and family fun.”
If you discover you’re an adventure seeker, for instance, an itinerary might include a pit stop at Reptilia Zoo to get up close and personal with 250 species of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids from around the world or, if outdoor adventure is more your thing, a trip to the Terra Cotta Conservation Area is in order. It covers 250 hectares of rugged terrain on the Niagara Escarpment. Thrill seekers can head to Markham for the Joyride 150 Indoor Bike Park to pump and jump until too tired to carry on. Treetop trekking, go-kart racing, and paddleboarding can all be found in the YDH region as well.
A different type of adventure
Foodie fanatics will find their own, more sedate adventure in YDH. “Aside from the wineries, cideries, and breweries, farmers’ markets and farm shops offer the freshest produce and meat you can find,” says Elliott. “You can try your hand at making butter or taste maple syrup right from the source.”
And if you’re an art lover, you can’t miss the 6,000-square-foot Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa or the artist-led Alton Mill Arts Centre, with 25 artist studios. If you like to combine art and architecture, Whitby-based Station Gallery can be found in an old railway station and Williams Mill Creative Arts Studios in Georgetown is part of an original sawmill.
We have so many hidden gems here and we really do have something for everyone.
There’s an amazing amount to see and do in YDH, making it the ultimate road trip destination. “We have so many hidden gems here and we really do have something for everyone,” says Elliott. “We have beautiful rolling hills and amazing landscapes. Then we have cities and rural areas with truly passionate, wonderful businesses that are working hard to do something different and create amazing experiences for people coming to the area.”
For more inspiration, visit YDH’s itinerary planner at yorkdurhamheadwaters.ca and hit the road.
HEARTWOOD FARM & CIDERY
This farm and cidery, located in Erin, is a working farm that creates artisanal small-batch cider using apples from its own grove, maple syrup tapped from its trees and other locally-grown produce. With fantastic names like “Eve Goes Badass,” you know you’re in for a special treat.
Looking for a natural high? At the Treetop Natural Eco-Adventure Park in Oshawa or the Zipline Adventure Park in Stouffville, you can fly high with the greatest of ease… mostly. Test your skill scrambling through wooden barrels, teetering over precarious suspended bridges or zipping along the tree line at 60 km/hour.
PATHWAYS ON PLEASURE VALLEY
If you’re looking to explore nature in a more laid-back way, Pathways on Pleasure Valley offers horseback riding throughout 225 acres of peaceful forest trails. Make sure to pre-book a trail ride before you head to the valley.
ROYAL ASHBURN GOLF CLUB
Got time for tee? Head to Royal Ashburn Golf Club in Whitby, where undulating lush green terrain awaits. Rated as one of Canada’s top 50 golf courses, this 18-hole course can accommodate beginner or expert players.
ONTARIO HONEY CREATIONS
You can’t make a Bee’s Knee’s cocktail without delicious honey. At Ontario Honey Creations you can select from a wide range of seasonal honey, honey vinegars and meads. Want to know more about what the buzz is all about? Don a bee suit and visit the hives to gather your own jar of the sweet stuff.