Buffalo to Watertown to Montreal to Toronto
August 5, 2018 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Let's just leave it at that I got a little behind in our roadtrip planning and I have so much to do. I appreciate any ideas or recommendations. Thanks for your help.

Interests (we are two adults, two teens):
- light hiking (we're all good to hike, light means an hour or two and we have energy to do more)
- good meals - doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, sometimes the cheap eats are the best but then again the fancier is worth the detour
- one off foods - ice cream, french fries, or such - we've been known to take detours for bbq or chocolate chip cookies or anything that sounds good
- interesting sights of any kind
- college or university campuses - a tour would be nice or self-guided, doubles as hike/walk
- We don't want to go too, too far off the path of our straight line, an hour off the path is two hours total and leaves less time for what's on the line!

Derby NY near Buffalo to Watertown NY.
We'd like to make this 4 hour trip take all day.
Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester or Syracuse?
Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva?
Southwick Beach State Park? I'd like to stop here but the fee may be 8/car or 8/person to visit the state park and it would be a short visit. Maybe there is a better beach, walk, water view?
Dinner at Sacket's Harbor at Tin Pan Galley, walk around, home to Watertown.

Clayton to Montreal.
Lunch or packed lunch or grocery store in Clayton or shortly into trip? Scenic route?
Anything here or just get to Montreal? We'll be leaving Clayton around 1:30 and could just get to Montreal early and hang about Mile End for dinner and walking about, (eh).

Montreal to Toronto.
This 5 hour trip can take all day! Food! Beaches! Scenic routes! Light hiking! Let's see parts of Quebec and Ontario and make it worth the longer trip through CA instead of back through NY!

posted by RoadScholar to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
for the last leg you could visit sandbanks provincial park - fantastic beaches! the surrounding area is quaint too, as in Kingston's downtown.
posted by fannybertram at 7:15 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Clayton - we enjoyed the Antique Boat Museum. If you have time to kill, the boat tours of the Thousand Islands that leave from Alexandria Bay are fun, or you could take the short shuttle boat to see Boldt Castle. Or if you wanted to leave early, swing up through Ottawa on the way (or on the way from Montreal home). Ottawa is a really cool city to walk around, and the tour of Parliament is interesting. Better food options than in Clayton or A-Bay, too.
posted by Kriesa at 7:18 PM on August 5, 2018

For hiking, a lot of people love chimney bluffs. Not sure exactly where it is but I think it's between Rochester and Syracuse so you'll be in the area.
posted by Amy93 at 7:25 PM on August 5, 2018

Montrealers don't say "eh" so please.

I take it you're staying in the Mile End, so grab coffee at the Olimpico and if you like book shopping there's S.W. Welch (used) and the Drawn & Quarterly store (new). I like the Jardin du Cari on St-Laurent around the corner from St-Viateur – Guyanese food – but it's not trendy or elegant. You can get fish & chips at Comptoir 21 (hipster fast food) or sit down and have something more leisurely at Bishop & Bagg.
posted by zadcat at 7:30 PM on August 5, 2018

Do you like history stuff? Upper Canada Village is on the way between Mtl and TO. I’m a sucker for those kinds of places and have been back a few times. There’s lots of light walking and many places/people to visit (Bakery! Typesetter! Water sawmill! Tinsmith! Blacksmith!) You could easily spend half a day.
posted by Cuke at 7:32 PM on August 5, 2018

@zadcat, sorry, good to know, got overexcited. Thanks for the suggestions for Mile End, love books and coffee and not-trendy food! Can't wait!
posted by RoadScholar at 7:34 PM on August 5, 2018

Seconding zadcat's Montreal suggestions (especially Drawn & Quarterly!), plus:

- In Mile End, stop by St. Viateur or Fairmount bagels for a single, fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel; also Kem Coba for ice cream.

- If you don't mind walking a lot, you could tour the McGill campus, enter Mont Royal at the top of Peel Street, hike to the top via the stairs to the main overlook, and then back down exiting in Outremont or on Mont Royal St. and then walking into Mile End.
posted by googly at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2018

All of the Dinosaur locations I've been to have been good.

It is now salt potato season in Syracuse; the Yelp list isn't accurate but they are definitely at the Clam Bar and Beer Belly.
posted by brujita at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2018

On the Montreal to Toronto leg of your trip, you'll pass through the Thousand Islands region along Lake Ontario. The area is gorgeous, and definitely worth a visit. You could go kayaking in the area, visit the Thousand Islands National Park, go to the city of Kingston, view the observation tower, etc.
posted by photoelectric at 11:31 PM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rochester is a good choice. I think Dinosaur is over-rated but I'm the minority. In that vicinity, you could do a walking tour of the U of R campus. Maybe Mt Hope cemetery but I prefer the Olmstead river walk (see "river campus" tab. Extend your hike down to Genesee Valley Park or up to High Falls and Brown's Race. The Genesee Brew House has a great view, decent food.

Most importantly, with two teens, Do Not Miss the Strong Museum of Play. Wait, hear me out: go upstairs to the History of Play and be amazed at the history of video games, play some arcade games, or check out the pinball fields.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:58 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Queen’s University campus is gorgeous - limestone buildings, ivy, lovely grounds. Kingston is a nice halfway point between Montreal and Toronto.
posted by walkinginsunshine at 7:29 AM on August 6, 2018

For food, as you drive along the 401, you may want to stop at the Big Apple.

Upper Canada Village does period meals.

Also historical is the Lost Villages Museum. You probably want to drive along the Long Sault Parkway.
posted by TORunner at 9:14 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're near Clayton, NY there's the Boldt Castle. On the way to Montreal near Cornwall is the Long Sault Parkway which is lovely (Nthing TORunner). A bit off the beaten track are the ruins of an old church in the little town of Glengarry, Ontario.

I made some recommendations previously in this AskMe for Montreal when you're in town but I have a few others. I like the road side fast food joints of Quebec so I have a few to recommend as you come into Montreal (if you like that sort of thing - we're not talking the culinary heights here but they are IMHO a window into Quebec culture) - Gibeau Orange Julep, Snowden Deli, the Dic Ann's in North Montreal. Honestly, though I think you can't miss with places to eat in Montreal. There's so many good places to eat.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:12 PM on August 7, 2018

Thanks, everyone, I wish we could have stopped at all the places. We had to stay fairly close to our path to not grossly increase daily driving.

We did the following:

U of Rochester tour, very good.
Did not go to Dinosaur, timing not great and we have such favorite bbq at home, thought Dino wouldn't hold up. Did enjoy the atmosphere of Next Door by Wegman for Sushi (an actual restaurant, nothing like a supermarket).

Chimney Bluffs on the way from Rochester to Watertown - this was very fun, few mile loop. The stop did add a bit of time to our route. We should have grabbed food (Wegman's grocery store?) on the way out of town because we were really hungry and realized we weren't going to make it to the little beach town for dinner so we ate at a random, funny, fried food, expensive roadside shack with a lot of locals. It was a fun experience but I would have preferred Wegman's subs and other treats we could have stashed before our walk.

Clayton Island Tours - loved this place in Clayton for a few hour tour of the river and a stop at Boldt Castle. We only had time to see the main building. Really enjoyable.
We took sandwiches from Vito's in Watertown. Five stars for the tour and the sandwiches.
Boldt Castle is interesting and probably a must-see if in the area, only accessible by boat, an hour and 15 minutes was the length of our stop and we rushed seeing everything.

We headed to Montreal, arriving at the beginning of rush hour, ugh.
Stayed in Mile End and visited most of the mentions above: the bagels, Kem Coba (really good and interesting, thanks @googly, would love to recreate the ice cream especially matcha), Comptoir (very good would not have stopped here without @zadcat's recommendation), Olimpico, and the stores.
Toured McGill and walked up to Mont Royal with @googly's directions, walking down the other side to Mile End.
Agree with @ashwgandha, hard to miss with the food options in Montreal.

We headed back pretty quickly not stopping at the Thousand Islands in Canada. We stopped at Cobourg Beach, very nice. The site seeing route was really not that different from the main highway where we took it. There may have been more to see near the Scenic Thousand Island Parkway but we didn't take that part since we saw it in New York.

Detoured briefly for a view of Niagara Falls in Canada, should have backtracked to the Rainbow Bridge as the Peace Bridge took an hour to pass over.
posted by RoadScholar at 8:39 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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