Active Living, Balance, Down time, People, Places, Student Life

In which road trips are good for the soul

A summer sunset view

A summer sunset view.

With August comes the stark realization that summer is almost over.

Alright, there. I’ve said it. There’s no turning back now. How did it breeze by so fast?

Maybe it was the initial bout of odd, cold weather we had that had us foregoing our shorts and sandals and instead prolonging the usage of our boots and jeans. Maybe it was summer school taking over our days and nights spent going over lecture notes and readings. Heck, it might have even been that this is the last summer before you’ll see your friends on a regular basis again.

There’s a sweet feeling to summer – underneath the waves of heat and the sun beaming down on you, everything seems so much more significant and impactful. For me, this summer I had a belated epiphany as to what I want to do with my life and career: photography and media production. But the sparks of this epiphany came from a luxury that only comes hand in hand with the free time I had during this season: road trips.

Just casually sitting on the hood of my car

Just casually sitting on the hood of my car

I’m not sure what it is about road trips, but somehow you learn a lot about yourself on the kilometres of concrete ahead of you, especially on trips with good friends. I partially attribute this to the Beat movement of the 60s and onwards, particularly Jack Kerouac and his novel On The Road (which is a classic!) romanticizing the road trip. But I recommend that for the last month before school starts up again, you should travel to someplace elsewhere, other than home or Toronto. Don’t know where to begin? I have a few places that I’ve been to this summer, close to Toronto that you can check out with a bunch of your closest friends!

Some of the photos I took in Port Stanley!

Some of the photos I took in Port Stanley!

First up: Port Stanley. When my friends and I climbed into my Honda and took off, neither of us had really done any research as to what Port Stanley would be like. We were looking for a beach (that wasn’t Sauble or Wasaga or Woodbine) and the photos we’d seen looked very nice. Port Stanley is southwest of Toronto, about 2 and a half to 3 hours away, and is bordering Lake Erie. The whole place was like a vacation; soft sand practically devoid of rocks and sticks, a cozy town with delicious restaurants, very friendly locals, tons of sailboats, neighbouring towns with rich histories. You can check out some events they have going on from their tourism website!

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A view of blue from high above the Bluffs!

Note: The Bluffs are very steep.

Next: Scarborough Bluffs. Now, this one is still technically in Toronto, but it still feels a world away. The Bluffs have a more scenic element to it; huge, towering cliffs, a natural curved-and-closed-off shape, and calm water. When I went, it was a perfect day for paddle boarding under soft breezes and cutting through the water like creases on velvet. There’s also an adventurous part to it: for the restless people in my group, we hiked up the trails and were rewarded with a gorgeous view at the top. One of my favourite places to visit.

Toronto Islands are super pretty at dusk!

Finally: Toronto Island. You caught me here; this one most definitely is in Toronto and is not a road trip (rather, a boat trip), but for those who don’t have access to a car nor the time to travel very far, Toronto Island is a more than sufficient, wonderful place to go. The Island is actually comprised of three sections: Ward’s Island, Centre Island, and Hanlan’s Point, each with their own respective advantages. Ward’s Island is more residential, but perfect for long bike rides. Centre Island is always popping! There is always something going on, and during the summer they open up their little carnival which is perfect for treats, nostalgia, and funnel cakes. Hanlan’s Point is the more scenic part of the island, with picaresque beaches and lots of greenery. Hanlan’s also has a clothing optional beach for those looking to vanquish those tan lines. If you’re looking for more info, my friend Jasper wrote a blog post about his day on the Islands!

Views From Toronto Island

And there you have it: those are my top 3 destinations for “road trips” close to (or in) Toronto. While summer seems like the only time to embark on a road trip, U of T also has various clubs, like the University of Toronto Outdoors Club, that plan trips throughout the school year.

Have you been to any of these places? What were your opinions on them? Let me know in the comments!

-Albert