Incredible Toronto to Vancouver Road Trip Across Canada

Are you driving from the Greater Toronto Area to the West Coast and need help planning the ultimate trip across the country? We are here to help guide your trip!

Some families hesitate to take a road trip across the country as they feel it can be overwhelming. However, remember that life is short, so why not make the most of it and enjoy this road trip worthy of many bucket lists?

It can be a great gift to give to your kids as they will remember the memories that are made for life, and Toronto to Vancouver is one of the Best Canadian road trips you can take!

Canada Family Road Trip planning tips

Distance on Drive from Toronto to Vancouver:

It is a long journey from Toronto to Vancouver as you will drive the Trans Canada Highway for approximately 4,265 km, passing through 3 provinces. Along the route, you will pass through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta before reaching your destination of British Columbia. 

Route 1 – Trans Canada Highway

DriveDistanceEstimated Drive TimeWhere to Stay
Toronto to Sault Ste Marie684 kms (425 miles)7 hours 45 minutesSault Ste Marie
Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay704 kms (437 miles)7 hours 40 minutesThunder Bay
Thunder Bay to Winnipeg 702 kms (436 miles)7 hours 40 minutesWinnipeg
Winnipeg to Regina 573 kms (356 miles)6 hoursRegina
Regina to Calgary 758 kms (471 miles)7 hours 20 minutesCalgary
Calgary to Revelstoke 408 kms (253 miles)4 hours 30 minutesRevelstoke
Revelstoke to Vancouver 565 kms (#351 miles)6 hours Vancouver
Estimates only; times will vary based on traffic and road conditions

There is only one route from Toronto to Winnipeg, which takes about 22 hours and navigates around the Great Lakes until you reach Manitoba.

Once you reach Winnipeg, you have the choice to take the Northern Route and explore Saskatoon and Edmonton or take the more scenic Southern Route that takes you through Regina, Calgary, and Banff.

Along the scenic Southern Route, you can explore lots of untouched natural areas, visit National and Provincial parks, and enjoy the views of the mountains and lakes.

Route 2 – US Route via I-94 W and I-90 W

An alternative route is to cross the Canada-United States Border to Seattle and then pass across the border again to reach Vancouver. Some key locations to include in your road trip are Detroit, Chicago, Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Billings through Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, and Seattle. Be prepared that there are tolls on this route. 

How Long Do I Need to Drive from Toronto to Vancouver:

The total trip is about 42 hours of driving time, which ideally should be split up into a minimum of 5 days to avoid fatigue and to enjoy the beautiful Canadian landscapes, natural areas, cities and towns, as well as a variety of fun attractions.

There are so many beautiful places along this Canadian route that you will want to stop and enjoy and visiting attractions is a great way to get out and stretch your legs. 

A good goal is to plan to drive between 5-8 hours a day, depending on the age of your passengers. An important part of this road trip is the destinations between Ontario and British Columbia, not just the final destination.

Realistically, to make memories and enjoy the Canadian road trip across the country, you will want to plan to take a week. You can definitely take longer to truly enjoy all of the amazing Parks Canada spots, unique landscapes, attractions and cities.

Best Time of Year to Drive from Toronto to Vancouver:

The most popular time of year to drive across Canada is in the summer, from June to August when the roads are clear and dry. However, this is peak tourist season, so it will be very busy with tourists.

If you have some flexibility, you may enjoy viewing the fall foliage along the Trans-Canada Highway during the early Fall (September to October), or you may enjoy the awakening of nature and wildlife in the Spring (Mid-April to May) due to rapidly changing weather and road conditions you want to avoid driving the Trans-Canada Highway from November until Mid-April.

Best Stops on a Toronto to Vancouver Road Trip:

Day One Toronto to Sault Ste Marie – 700 Km (8 Hours Driving Time)

Start your day exploring all the typical Toronto attractions found in our things to do in Toronto guide, and then hit the road to begin your road trip. As you head north from Toronto, you will head towards the beautiful cottage country in the Muskokas.

Muskoka is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking, boating, and paddling. If you are looking to enjoy the area by hiking, then check out Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve, Hardy Lake Provincial Park, or the Muskoka Wharf Trail, which offers various difficulties of hiking. Enjoy fishing or water sports on the scenic lakes of Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph.

If you’re travelling in the summer, then be sure to check the dates as Muskoka hosts various festivals and events throughout the summer, such as the Gravenhurst Dockside Festival of the Arts, Bracebridge Fire and Ice Festival, and the Muskoka Ribfest.

If you love the outdoors, then you may want to stop and check out all the amazing things to do in Algonquin Park, including lots of wilderness areas and wildlife viewing. On the way to Sault Ste Marie, the largest city you will pass is Sudbury. 

Sudbury has so many cool attractions to visit, including the Big Nickel, which is great for photographs, an interactive science museum called Dynamic Earth, where you can experience underground mining, and lastly, kids will love the hands-on exhibits at Science North.

As you get closer to Sault Ste Marie, you will enjoy the beautiful rugged coastline along Lake Superior, and you can stop to watch the boats pass through the Soo Locks. 

Day Two Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay – 700 Km (7.5 Hours Driving Time)

Northern Ontario has a vast array of beautiful landscapes, so plan to stop multiple times along the way and take some breathtaking photos. If you have some extra time before leaving Sault Ste Marie, then take the Agawa Canyon Tour and enjoy taking photos of the natural areas in the canyon.

CA Toronto to Vancouver Road Trip - Thunder Bay

Along this stretch of the drive, you will want to stop at the halfway point of the Trans Canada Highway at Chippewa Falls, which is a famous waterfall that was painted by the famous Canadian painters The Group of Seven.

Continue further and stop at Pancake Bay Provincial Park and enjoy the sandy beach on the shores of Lake Superior. The landscape in the North of Ontario is beautiful including the cliffs of Old Woman Bay.

If you are travelling with kids, you may want to stop at Paddle-to-the-Sea kids’ playground in Nipigon to give the kids a chance to burn some energy.

While it is a detour to the east of Thunder Bay, if you enjoy hiking, the outdoors and spectacular views you can’t miss stopping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Hike to the Top of the Giant Trail and Thunder Bay Lookout and enjoy viewing the geological features and breathtaking views of Lake Superior.

Along this route, there are some unique sculptures, including the Winnie the Pooh sculpture in White River, as well as a museum in the birthplace of this famous children’s character.

On the outskirts of Thunder Bay, you may want to stop to see the famous sculpture of Terry Fox, who was a Canadian hero who ran a Marathon of Hope to raise awareness for cancer.

Day Three Thunder Bay to Winnipeg – 700 Km (7.5 Hours Driving Time)

The drive from Thunder Bay to Winnipeg takes you through a scenic portion of northwestern Ontario and southern Manitoba known as the Canadian Shield. A small town along the route that you will want to stop at is Atikokan, which is home to Quetico Provincial Park.

In the park, you can enjoy canoeing on the pristine lakes, hiking rugged terrain, or viewing the scenic railway trestle bridge.

Once you reach Manitoba, enjoy a day at Falcon Lake by spending the afternoon swimming, boating or fishing and then spend the evening viewing the shops and restaurants at Falcon Lake Townsite.

Another cool attraction to visit is the Pinawa Dam, which you can explore as you walk along the dam and learn more about hydroelectric power and how it’s used in Manitoba in the visitor center. Those who enjoy history may want to stop at the Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site to see a fur trading post and learn more about the area’s past fur trading history. 

Day Four Winnipeg to Regina – 572 Km (6 Hours Driving Time)

Enjoy the Canadian prairies and all the interesting stops along the way, although there are some long stretches of highway between Winnipeg and Regina, so stock up on snacks before hitting the road.

CA Toronto to Vancouver Road Trip - Assiniboine Park

A major attraction in Winnipeg is Assiniboine Park. Kids will love visiting the zoo, and parents can enjoy the beautiful walking trails and gardens. Another unique stop along the route is the small town of Ste. Agathe has a cool artsy vibe as you can stretch your legs, stroll through town and enjoy the murals that teach about the history of the area.

There is not much to see between these two locations other than the Doll Museum in Brandon, the heritage Swinging Bridge and walking trails in Wolseley. 

Day Five Regina to Calgary – 758 Km (7 Hours Driving Time)

Before leaving Regina, head to Sandra Schmirler Leisure Center playground and spray pad if you are travelling with kids. After leaving Regina, one of the first stops you can make on this leg of the trip is the Tunnels of Moose Jaw which is an hour-long tour that gives you insight into the prohibition era in Canada.

The Tunnels of Moosejaw has three different guided theatrical tours to choose from including Chicago Connection, Bunker 24 and the Passage to Fortune.

A few other great stops before leaving Saskatchewan include the interpretive nature trails at Chaplin Nature Centre, the historic museum in Swift Current and the sand dunes at Great Sandhills Ecological Reserve.

As you enter Alberta and head towards Calgary, there are a few stops along the way that you will want to make, including the Medalta in the Historic Clay District, which is a ceramics factory, the interpretive trail at the Brooks Aqueduct, and the tranquil Japanese gardens in Lethbridge at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

Learn more about the true history of the area at the Unesco World Heritage Site (Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump), where you can learn about the buffalo hunting techniques used in the past by the Plains People.

Day Six: Calgary to Revelstoke – 408 Km (4.5 Hours Driving Time)

The best part of this entire drive is this section of the trip that takes you from Banff to Calgary, as the landscape is one of a kind, featuring the natural beauty of mountains, wildlife, historical sites and clear turquoise lakes.

Check out our detailed guide on the drive from Banff to Vancouver, however, some major stopping points include the popular tourist attraction of Moraine Lake which is a beautiful glacial-fed lake that has a magnificent view but is always super busy during the peak tourist season.

CA Toronto to Vancouver Road Trip - Banff Gondola

If you or the kids are not in the mood for hiking, consider riding the Banff Gondola to the upper boardwalk, where you can enjoy the fantastic vistas of Banff town and the nearby mountains.

There is so much to do in Banff with kids, including Upper Banff hot springs, Johnston Canyon hike, Johnson Lake hike, Bow Falls, and Cave & Basin National Historic Site. At the summit, you’ll discover a restaurant offering delightful food and beverage choices. If you are looking for some quiet lakes to visit then checkout Peyto Lake and Lake Minnewanka.

Some stops you will want to make as you travel through the Canadian Rockies include Lake Louise, Emerald Lake and the Spiral Tunnels at Yoho National Park, as well as Glacier National Park. All of these stops offer scenic views, hiking trails, and lots of opportunities for outdoor exploration.

If you enjoy history you may want to stop at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site to see the exhibits that explain the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its impact on Canada before stopping in at Revelstoke for the night.

Day Seven: Revelstoke to Vancouver – 565 Km (6.5 Hours Driving Time)

Revelstoke has rugged mountain summits, tumbling waterfalls, picturesque lakes, and lush cedar woodlands. It offers numerous exciting, family-friendly adventure opportunities to explore. 

Revelstoke is a small town with a thriving outdoor tourism scene, as you can enjoy hiking and biking some of the popular trails, including Mount Revelstoke Summit Trail, Eva Lake Trail, and the Frisby Ridge Trail for biking. 

Make sure if you’re travelling with kids to check out the two different mountain coasters at Mount Revelstoke. Kids will also enjoy becoming a River Pirate as they experience a pirate adventure on the Columbia River with Wild Blue Yonder Rafting Adventures, where you will experience pirate stories sing-along-song, all while floating down the river and taking in views of the wildlife.

Lastly, don’t miss seeing the Enchanted Forest, which is home to British Columbia’s tallest treehouse. 

Arriving at your destination of Vancouver which has an extraordinary setting, surrounded by mountains and the sea. Vancouver offers an experience for families of all ages, providing a blend of breathtaking scenery, exciting tourist attractions, and vibrant city life.

Check out our guide to spending a day in Vancouver.

More Tips for Road Tripping from Toronto to Vancouver

  • If you can’t decide which route to take, then take the shorter route on the way to Vancouver and then take the scenic route on the way back to Toronto.
  • Travelling from Central Canada to the West Coast means changing time zones, so be aware that Vancouver is 3 hours behind Toronto.
  • Book your attraction tickets ahead of time, as during peak season, activities can fill up early, and you don’t want to be disappointed.
  • Need help deciding what to pack? Use the printable Road Trip Essentials List.
download your free road trip checklist click here button

© Family Road Trip

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