The world is divided into two categories of road-trippers. There are those who zip along expressways with one eye on the speedometer, the other on pit-stop opportunities.
And then there are those who exit the expressway occasionally to wander small villages or big cities, hike a nature-blessed park, or check out some roadside curiosity. A chip truck, perhaps.
While we're often among the hell-bent-on-getting-there road-trippers en route to visit family in Montreal, there's no denying the adventures and sightseeing along Canada's legendary expressway, the 401.
Considered the busiest highway in North America (also called the King's Highway 401 or MacDonald-Cartier Freeway), it stretches from Windsor, Ontario, to the border with the province of Quebec, where it connects to Autoroute 20 for the drive to Montreal.
With Canada's rich history, you'll find tea rooms, be able to practice your French, and explore indigenous communities, such as Six Nations (Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes). You can poke around the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto or the Upper Canada Village living museum near Morrisburg. Feast on local specialties (a hearty hominy-and-bean soup at the Village Cafe in Six Nations) or visit a brewpub (there are many). Cycle along the region's rivers and lakes, or dip a kayak or canoe into the waters.
A few of our favorites? Some are minutes from the main highway, others a bit farther. Travel with a good map or GPS, expect to get lost, expect to find some terrific adventures of your own, and be happy you're not paying luggage fees.
Her Majesty's Royal Chapel
of the Mohawks
Most photos of this chapel, built in 1785, don't show the lovely stained-glass windows (Six Nations policy doesn't allow pictures to be taken inside) or a tablet with a phonetic rendering in the Mohawk language of the Lord's Prayer. 301 Mohawk St., Brantford, Ontario;
Royal Botanical Gardens
Canada's largest botanical garden is vast, boasting five cultivated gardens (including roses, Medieval and medicinal), 50 plant collections, plus hiking trails. 680 Plains Rd. West, Burlington, Ontario; 905-527-1158; rbg.ca.
Bata Shoe Museum
You don't need Bieber fever to enjoy a museum dedicated to shoes. Besides crooner Justin's purple sneakers, the history of what we put on our feet is fascinating. In the collection are boots with 9-inch spikes on the bottom for crushing chestnuts. Back in storage, however, are Elizabeth Taylor's strappy Halston heels and Elvis' patent-leather loafers. 327 Bloor St. West, Toronto; 416-979-7799;
1000 Islands Parkway
Stretching roughly from a town called Ivy Lea to Gananoque and beyond, the road follows the St. Lawrence River with scenic views, boating, biking, museums, charming villages. For information:
Along the Thousand Island Parkway, watch for small trucks selling french fries, usually with vinegars (malt or white) and salt for seasoning, or topped with gravy and cheese for the classic poutine. They may also sell sandwiches; we visited one near Landsdowne selling fried bologna.
St. Viateur bagels
Blazing ovens finish the bagels here - dense, sesame-coated, and delicious. 263 St-Viateur West, Montreal; 514-276-8044;
This brand of coffee and doughnuts fuels many road-trippers to Canada.
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
We've got a weakness for art museums and often take refuge from traveling's rigors among the art. 1380 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal; 514-285-2000; mmfa.qc.ca/en.
Montreal's public markets
Our favorite is Atwater Market, with its mix of butchers and bakers and honey purveyors. Browse, then enjoy a bite to eat at one of its cafes. 138 Atwater Ave., south of Rue Notre-Dame.
Watch your speedometer - speed limits are in kilometers per hour, not miles. Gas is sold by the liter, so you'll need almost 4 liters for a gallon.
More information Tourism Ontario
- Judy HevrdejsEndText