Next summer (end of July 2012) I'll be attending a wedding in Milwaukee. My wife and I have never been to any of the states up around the Great Lakes and were wondering where our time would be best spent (approx. 10 days). Google maps says its only an 8 hour drive and we were thinking this will be a leisurely drive with an opportunity to visit some places we've never been.

Should we do the drive through Michigan, to see Detroit, then cross into Canada at Windsor or Flint and Port Huron, or stick with the 80 and go through Toledo, Cleveland, and Buffalo?

2 Answers 2


Careful here. If Google says "8h drive" this means absolutely no red lights, no traffic jam, going max allowed speed all the time and no pit stops. I would double that for a realistic estimate, or plan 3x as much if you want to stop for roadside attractions every now and then.

I have been to Toronto during winter. The area on the Canadian side is pretty built up with ugly urban sprawl and I didn't like it that much.

I dont know what type of sightseeing you want to do, but the Canadian side of the great lakes seems to be mainly city attractions (skytower, museums etc.), and not much outdoor stuff...

  • Hmmm...having never driven in that part of the country is it much different than say, Southern California? (i.e., no freeways.) Around here if Google says 8 hrs you can usually do it in less time.
    – The_Buff
    Oct 13, 2011 at 20:11
  • 1
    Just my experience. Eventually they have more accurate traffic data for the US than here? I also tend to get lost in places i don't know quite often and take the wrong turn, end up in the wrong lane etc., especially if i miss a sign or the directions are unclear. But thats the price i have to pay for being to manly to use a gps :) Oct 13, 2011 at 20:28
  • So what you're saying is--North of the great lakes = urban sprawl. What does South of the great lakes = ? On our trip I'm willing to stop and see anything interesting, whether it be natural or man made. Mostly I've never been in that part of the country (or up into canada) and was wondering what is worth seeing, or would give me a good sense of the area.
    – The_Buff
    Oct 20, 2011 at 20:36
  • i have never been south of the great lakes, so not sure. Oct 20, 2011 at 20:46
  • @The_Buff "North of Lake Ontario" and "North of Lake Superior" are very different. You won't find urban sprawl around Wawa :-) Oct 25, 2011 at 16:12

If you're thinking about visiting the area surrounding the great lakes I would suggest crossing at Niagara Falls but not spending too much time at the falls themselves. Niagara Falls is somewhat urban but really tacky. I would suggest spending time in Niagara-on-the-Lake which is the centre of wine country in Southern Ontario. There are great hotels, inns, B&Bs as well as theatre and great restaurants. Peller Estates and The Charles Inn are my favourite places for dinner. The wine route winds all the way up to a town called Grimsby just before Hamilton. Stick to the smaller wineries like Thirty Bench, Angels Gate or the underground Megalomaniac http://winecountryontario.ca/ Wineries like Angels Gate or Vineland Estates have a great lunch too.

Since you've got 10 days you can drive to Toronto (2 hours from the border) or if you're really feeling adventurous I highly recommend the Muskoka area in July/August (4.5 hours from the border).

  • Muskoka looks fairly close to the border, and Toronto sounds interesting. It just occured to me that I would be taking a rental car across the border. Is that normally considered okay up in those parts? I'm close to the mexican border and I can assure you that the rental agencies around here frown on that. :)
    – The_Buff
    Nov 16, 2011 at 21:54

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