Where should I stop on my road trip?
April 9, 2012 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a week-long summer road trip starting in Chicago and working my way around lake Erie with major stops including Cleveland, Niagara Falls, Toronto and perhaps Detroit on the way back. What significant destinations/attractions should I consider? Specific interests inside.

There are two things I'm most interested in. First would be contemporary art such as galleries and museums or institutions catering to visual arts. Second would be natural attractions (rivers, lakes, mountains) with specific emphasis on interacting with the environment by jumping in a canoe, going on a hike, not just parking the car and staring at something. For the sake of this trip I'm not particularly interested in dining, live music/shows, or history.
posted by joinks to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The big art museums in Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit are all great. Niagara-on-the-Lake has a bunch of good galleries, potteries, etc.

Lastly, Point Pelee is a fabulous spot for a hike.
posted by ldthomps at 1:16 PM on April 9, 2012

Ann Arbor (hour west of Detroit) has two items on your list:

Canoe Livery - you can rent a boat, paddle a while and they'll pick you up from up/downstream.

University of Michigan Museum of Art - has both contemporary and more traditional art. The rotating shows are excellent and almost always cutting edge, and the building itself is quite lovely modern architecture.

It's about 4 hours from Ann Arbor back to Chicago.

Also, both Detroit and Windsor have pretty nice art museums.
posted by agentmitten at 1:19 PM on April 9, 2012

Hamilton, Ontario is the "Waterfall Capital of the World". I recommend Webster's Falls because it's a nice hike and there are lots of good photo opportunities.

Hamilton is easy to stop at as you're passing through Niagara Falls to get to Toronto.
posted by sngbk at 1:23 PM on April 9, 2012

Response by poster: FWIW I'm in Ann Arbor several times a year and will most likely not be stopping there, but keep the suggestions coming!
posted by joinks at 1:25 PM on April 9, 2012

When in toronto, plan to spend an afternoon walking along Queen Street, there are lots of amazing small art galleries all along it
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:42 PM on April 9, 2012

yes. the cleveland art museum is amazingly wonderful. please do not miss it.

also, if you make it all the way to toronto, then check out the bata museum
posted by chasles at 1:43 PM on April 9, 2012

I assume you are driving through Buffalo; the Albright-Knox Gallery has a decent collection of post-war and modern art. If you like the work of Charles Burchfield The Burchfield Penney gallery is nearby. A short drive away is a Nature and Art Center at his former home. If Arts in and Crafts, is your thing the Roycrofters were based in East Aurora. As for architecture and landscape design the entire area is rife with great examples of Frank Lloyd Wright Archicture and many other great examples from Art Deco to Richardson Romanesque to industrial design, e.g. grain elevators. The Albright-Knox is also situated amid a Frederick Law Olmstead park (St. Catherines has one too, if want to stop by on the way from The Falls to Hamilton--also the Welland Canal and the The Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame--well that might have limited appeal).

For natural wonders you can't beat Niagara Falls---well Victoria Falls, actually does. But, they don't have the maid of the mist or some of the other attractions on both Canadian and American Sides. There many great parks on both sides, Including on Grand Island. Don't forget your passport.
posted by Duck_Lips at 1:47 PM on April 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

oh and also frank lloyd wright did some good stuff in buffalo.
posted by chasles at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2012

oh carp. duck_lips beat me to the punch on that one. i need to start previewing...
posted by chasles at 1:51 PM on April 9, 2012

Beaten to the punch by Duck Lips, who clearly knows Buffalo well.

Anyway, for a specific link, there is the Darwin Martin Complex, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I'd recommend this over, say, Darwin's Greycliff.

Another of my favorite buildings is the Guaranty Building, an early Louis Sullivan skyscraper.

For the outdoors, you can go whitewater rafting in the Letchworth State Park gorge.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 1:53 PM on April 9, 2012

The Toledo Museum of Art stands out in relation to the city and other museums in the region. Really is a don't miss. Have a good time.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2012

There's the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, of course. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is nice too, if you're there anyway for the waterfalls.

The rivers around Paris Ontario (maybe 1.5hrs' drive SW of Toronto) offers a lot of kayaking/canoeing possibilities. The water will be low during your trip, but it's still lovely to glide along and see the herons perched on the river banks. This is the company I've used -- as a total first-time novice, I found them to be great. I think they offer overnight trips too, if you're into that.

And, I know you're not looking for food stuff, but if you like meat and BBQ, Camp 31 near Paris ON is ah-may-zing. Try fit it in if at all possible!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 3:50 PM on April 9, 2012

I would stop at Put In Bay and Cedar Point in Ohio. Also, seconding the art museum in Toledo, it's really nice and often gets high profile exhibits that you wouldn't expect a city of that size to get.
posted by echo0720 at 4:15 PM on April 9, 2012

I have to put in a word for Erie's Presque Isle State Park (I'm a native). There are beaches when the water is warm enough, and it's easy enough to rent a boat and explore the lagoons. And I know you said you're not into food, but I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend a milkshake from Sara's at the entrance to the park.
posted by FakePalindrome at 4:36 PM on April 9, 2012

The Judith Racht gallery in Harbert (near New Buffalo), MI has quite interesting shows.
posted by sulaine at 4:37 PM on April 9, 2012

The Buffalo and Toronto info here is already perfect, but I'll just add that if you're doing Niagara Falls, the Niagara Glen hikes are pretty cool, and one trail overlooks the Niagara River Whirlpool.
posted by peagood at 5:50 PM on April 9, 2012

Gairloch Gardens of the Oakville galleries is a great contemporary art venue right on lake Ontario in a suburb west of Toronto.

I thought the Roycroft stuff in Auburn NY was really neat, as was the Martin House, a Frank Llloyd Wright house they are restoring in Buffalo. Neither are contemporary art.

In downtown Toronto, Toronto Island & Harbourfront have canoe rentals but they are aimed at people with little actual boating experience. There is a guy who organizes canoe & kayak rentals on the Humber river & Rouge rivers which I have heard are good. The Humber is a national heritage river because it's how aboriginal people and late Europeans travelled up into the hinterland and eventually Georgian Bay.

Sounds neat, hope you have fun
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 9:41 PM on April 9, 2012

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